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House of the Dragon is still considered one of the most enigmatic shows of 2022, even after a month since season one’s conclusion. The series restored the faith of Game of Thrones fans in the direction of the franchise. It also had a significant outreach to the general public and sent Twitter into a frenzy every Sunday night.

Before House of the Dragon fades into memory, as it is currently on a hiatus for possibly as long as two years while season two films, I feel it’s the perfect time to look back at the top 5 episodes of House of Dragon season one.

[Warning: Spoilers from season one of House of Dragon are below!]

5. Episode 7 “Driftmark”

“Driftmark” was a classic family outing, as it essentially saw the entire ensemble cast unite once again for Laena Velaryon’s funeral. The episode is chock full of fun, family drama, and dragons.

We see the infamous moment where Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton) claims Vhagar, the giant dragon beast. At the time House of the Dragon takes place Vhagar is the largest dragon to soar around Westeros. This is followed by an extended scene of Aemond riding Vhagar, giving the audience an amusement park ride experience. 

Dragon. Top 5 Episodes of House of the Dragon
Still from “Driftmark”. House of the Dragon (HBO).

The real highlight of the episode is when Aemond returns from riding Vhagar to be confronted by both Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Laena’s children for stealing Vhagar.

A massive tussle occurs between the children, resulting in Lucerys Velaryon (Harvey Sadler) blinding Aemond in his left eye. The dialogue-heavy scene later in the Driftmark throne room is one that will be remembered. It’s what most would consider the first real confrontation between Rhaenyra and Alicent (Olivia Cooke). 

The episode closes with an insane twist. It appears that Daemon (Matt Smith) and Rhaenyra are conspiring to kill Laenor Velaryon  (John Macmillan) so that Daemon and Rhaenyra can marry. It is later learned that Laenor was in on the plot so that he could escape to Essos and be free of Westeros.

4. Episode 4 “King of the Narrow Sea”

This episode is what could be considered the ‘scandal episode’. Daemon returns from his war with the surprise that he has been named King of the Stepstones, the same land he was just warring at. In the meantime, Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) is currently on a Westeros-wide tour taking marriage proposals from various lords. Conveniently, Rhaenyra returns to King’s Landing at the same moment Daemon does. 

What the audience does not realize is Daemon has been gone fighting this war for years. Most of the audience could tell from episode one that it is really Daemon that Rhaenyra wants and vice versa. After encountering each other again, Daemon helps Rhaenyra sneak out of the Red Keep and takes her on a romance novel-esque stroll through King’s Landing. 

When Daemon brings Rhaenyra to the brothel is where things take a turn. As he begins to make advancements on her, he abruptly leaves. Rhaenyra returns to the Red Keep, only to encounter another one of her secret lovers, Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel). However, Criston Cole is a Knight of the Kingsguard, meaning he is unable to marry Rhaenyra or father any children. Rhaenyra and Criston go against tradition and “couple”, the term Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) uses when he reveals Rhaenyra’s actions to King Viserys (Paddy Considine). 

This episode was certainly House of the Dragon’s attempt at a love-triangle story, which carries throughout the rest of the season. Rhaenyra and Daemon continue their secret admiration for each other, while Alicent and Criston Cole watch in disgust. This episode plays a huge role in Alicent’s eventual betrayal of Rhaenyra.

3. Episode 1 “The Heirs of the Dragon”

The episode that started it all, “The Heirs of the Dragon” brought fans back to the world of Westeros in the finest way possible. From the very beginning, we get a deep and enriching look at the Targaryen dynasty and their dragons. It’s the first time in the Game of Thrones universe in world history that we have seen more than two Targaryens together on screen. The episode efficiently lays the groundwork for the series ahead. 

The episode mainly revolves around the story of how Rhaenyra comes to inherit her heirship to the throne. King Viserys is bent on having a son to be his heir, going as far as to let his own wife die in childbirth in hopes for his son to be born.

All of this creates a clear rift between King Viserys and his daughter Rhaenyra. They settle their differences by Viserys naming Rhaenyra as his heir, and having the lords of Westeros swear fealty to her. 

 Rhaenyra Targaryen
Rhaenyra (Millie Alcock) from “The Heirs of the Dragon”. House of the Dragon (HBO).

I believe Daemon Targaryen is responsible for drawing in a large portion of the audience in this episode. He is essentially this show’s Tyrion Lannister, with a twist. Daemon is responsible for a good portion of the drama that ensues throughout the entire season, and people just naturally gravitate toward that. 

2. Episode 10 “The Black Queen”

The episode focuses solely on Rhaenyra and Daemon’s family on Dragonstone. The episode opens with Rhaenyra and Daemon learning of both King Viserys’s death and Aegon II Targaryen’s usurping of the throne. This news triggers Rhaenyra to give birth to a stillborn baby, in a very gruesome scene. The episode essentially sends Rhaenyra on a psychological journey. 

Throughout the episode, Rhaenyra loses a child, is crowned Queen on Dragonstone with her father’s crown, and loses another child at Storm’s End. The death of Prince Lucerys is one that book readers had anticipated but left the general audience stunned.

Rhaenyra decided to essentially go the Cold War route against Daemon’s wishes, causing strife between the two that left the audience angry. Through Rhaenyra’s decision to not go to war yet, she sent her sons Jace and Luke to both Winterfell and Storm’s End to meet with the lords and remind them of their house’s oath to her.

As we learned in past episodes of Game of Thrones, decisions have consequences. Even if Rhaenyra may have been doing the right thing, she loses a son for it as Aemond, riding Vhagar, devours Lucerys and his dragon Arrax after confronting them at Storm’s End. 

1. Episode 8 “The Lord of the Tides”

To me, this episode really defines what a Game of Thrones show is. Beautiful dialogue, amazing set design, costumes are top-notch, drama is as rich as ever, and the episode ends with a heartbreaking death. The episode is essentially about who will inherit Driftmark once Corlys Velaryon passes away. King Viserys originally decreed it would be Lucerys Velaryon, the apparent son of Rhaenyra and Laenor Velaryon.

Matt Smith House of the Dragon
Daemon (Matt Smith) from “The Lord of the Tides”. House of the Dragon (HBO)

Vaemond Velaryon, Corlys’s brother, comes to King’s Landing to press his claim as heir to Driftmark, on the basis of Lucerys Velaryon being a bastard child. Rhaenyra and Daemon arrive to plead their case to the Hightowers, who are now doing the king’s bidding, as he has fallen gravely ill. 

What ensues is probably the greatest scene of the season. Viserys arrives in the throne room, on his last day alive, to defend his daughter and brother in a moment when they truly need him. Proceeded by King Viserys’s arrival, Vaemond Velaryon out of frustration calls Rhaenyra’s children bastards. Viserys claims he will have Vaemond’s tongue for that when immediately the camera pans to Vaemond as he is suddenly beheaded by Daemon in an absolutely brutal fashion.

This scene, while being my personal favorite, also became a fan favorite scene. “The Lord of the Tides” is a true masterclass episode, one that will is the most memorable for me from season one. 

House of the Dragon is currently streaming on HBO Max. Do you have a favorite episode from season one of House of the DragonLet us know in the comments down below! and if you haven’t already, check out our review of the House of the Dragon season one finale.

Review: House of the Dragon Season 1

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Drew Reed

Hey I'm Drew Reed, Staff Writer here at The Cosmic Circus. I love Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Lord of The Rings and many more fantasy and sci-fi universes. You can find me on twitter @ DrewReed1099

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