House of the Dragon
Sam Adams: I tell you my secret now. I see. Charlotte Greatest people.
Speaker 2: Know I am the. Oh.
Sam Adams: What’s in the box?
Speaker 2: Yo, my God, you’re blowing up.
Sam Adams: Down here all day. Oh, hello and welcome to Slate Spoiler specials. I’m Sam Adams, the senior editor at Slate. And today I’m joined by fellow senior editor Rebecca Onion. Hello, Rebecca.
Speaker 3: Hi, Sam. Thanks so much for having me for this fancy occasion.
Sam Adams: Today, we are spoiling the season one finale of House of the Dragon entitled The Black Queen. We will also be discussing the season as a whole a little bit towards the end. But let us jump right into this, Rebecca. Last week on the ninth episode, we spent really for the first time, the entirety of the episode with sort of one side of what we know is going to be this sort of upcoming civil war. The Greens, Alicent Hightower and Co at King’s Landing. And this episode is pretty much the reverse of that. We spend almost all our time in Dragonstone with Damon and Rhaenyra at all. So let’s talk about we get into this Ah, first scene is Rhaenyra talking to her young 13 year old son Luchasaurus about his impending or possible inheritance of drift. Mark. You’ve read the books, which I have not. You kind of know everything that’s going to happen here. I speak to The Witcher.
Speaker 3: If they stick to it. Yeah.
Sam Adams: Yes, we’ll see. But what did you think of this set up here? Maybe having a sense of where this was all going?
Speaker 3: Oh, my God. A poor little guy. He just was doomed. I feel like in Westeros in general, when some or a preteen is anxious, it’s just not going to work out for them. Probably like this show, I feel like sort of shares the ethics of Westeros in that way. Like if someone is a little bit shy or like a not prepared to exercise dominance, it’s like it’s curtains for them. And so I knew that he was going to die at the end of this unless the show took a dramatically different turn from what happened in the book, which it chose not to.
Sam Adams: Yeah, he’s it off like pretty serious rickon stark vibes in this.
Speaker 3: Yeah. Yeah. Center ability which is good.
Sam Adams: Not a desirable quality in this particular world.
Sam Adams: So when he was little spiel to her child is interrupted by the arrival of Renee’s the queen, who never was, who has just come back from King’s Landing on Dragon’s back. Immediately requests an audience with Rhaenyra and her husband, Damon. And what does she tell them? Rebecca?
Speaker 3: Your dad slash brother is dead and it is on. So Renee’s has the sort of interesting Kasper. She has to both break this news and then also immediately explain how she got to be there, like how she escaped. Damon immediately gets that she had the chance to kill all of these traitors, as Damon perceives it, and did not do it. And so Damon immediately is like a little bit suspicious. And Rhaenyra is just like, This is not good. And she immediately starts to feel pains of the real variety. She’s, I think, maybe like five months pregnant or six months pregnant or something. And she starts to really start to feel cramping.
Sam Adams: Does it seem like we’re niece’s? Account of what went on at King’s Landing is a little bit sort of slanted in her favor. She says that Alison basically imprisoned her or tried to coerce her into joining forces with her. Then she managed to make a daring escape. Damon immediately assumes that viscera is despite the fact that the last time he saw him, one of his eyes that he’s like, Oh, he must have been killed. And Renee says, Well, I don’t know how he died, letting them assume the worst, if not encouraging them to do so.
Speaker 3: Assume the worst about the grains.
Sam Adams: Yes.
Speaker 3: I get why you’re saying that. And it’s also it’s interesting because later on we’ll get there. But later on, it sort of comes to seem that Renee doesn’t actually sort of know where she wants to come down or who she wants to ally with, although I think by the end of the episode, she’s figured it out, but she’s not entirely sure how to play this. And part of me wonders if she’s just kind of like trying to hedge it a little bit, like see how things are going to develop. I don’t know. Maybe she is plotting.
Sam Adams: She’s an interesting character because Allison sort of offered to her last week, was basically look like we know you both should have been queen. I can’t make you queen or king or anything. Now, I can’t stand the throne either, but we can sort of collab to exercise power from behind the throne the way women do. And Renee is like, Yeah, I know, I’ve already done this my whole life. I don’t think I want to do that anymore, especially not with you. She doesn’t see any outcome of this where she is going to end up getting what she wants, what she should have had. So she’s kind of trying to ally herself, but also, it seems eventually kind of coming to the conclusion that really, you know, there’s no reason to kind of put herself out there in this particular struggle.
Speaker 3: Well, it’s interesting, too, because, you know, we find out later on the episode that her husband is actually alive, which I sort of had guessed, what happens if he was completely dead, then I feel like things would just be boring on the Valerian side. So for a while I sort of thought that she was hedging her bets. Because she was waiting for him to find out what he thought. Or like she didn’t want to kind of choose one side or the other without consulting him. But it turns out we see in this episode that she’s actually pretty mad at him, I think rightly, for leaving and being gone for six years right after both of her children were killed. But I think she still has some sort of loyalty to his word or loyalty to the idea of him as like a decider. And I’m not sure that she would want to come down on one side or the other without asking him.
Sam Adams: Right. Right. So basically, this news arrives. Bernero not surprisingly, pretty pissed off having some sort of, you know, belly pains, pregnancy difficulties. Damon immediately is like, yeah, it’s wartime. Let’s go first sort of making plans just to sort of defensively because he’s like, well, you know, you look at our our combined forces, you’re in Dragonstone and we have like I think he says like 30 knights and 300 bedded arms. Yeah. Which is obviously.
Speaker 3: 300 men with crossbows.
Sam Adams: Which is like kind of pathetic when it comes to the resources of King’s Landing and all the houses who are likely to sort of be immediately loyal to whoever has been placed on the iron throne. But of course, they have dragons and they have they have more dragons than the other side, even though they have them. Rainier sort of pushes back here and says, look, I don’t want to be queen of the ashes. So she is pressing for peace. And it’s interesting, you know, to have that a word that Alison used in the last episode as well in her pitch to read this. You know, look, there can be peace in the realm. And that was what vicarious wanted to. And he was not very sort of strong or effective. I mean, he kind of kept the peace in the sense that, you know, there weren’t any like big wars. But he mostly did it by backing down and staying out of stuff and not really proactively protecting it long term.
Speaker 3: I feel like he gets a bad rap as a leader a little bit because I feel like the idea is that he does end up reigning over a period of time when there’s not war, which is good for a king, in my opinion. But he set up this fucked up situation like 100%. And so the question is, is Rhaenyra going to be more of a desirous kind of king or more of a demon kind of king?
Sam Adams: There’s a sort of deliberate irony here in that as these things are starting to come to a head. And the sort of the first matter of business is they have this really awesome kind of glowy light up table and dragonstone Oh.
Speaker 3: My God, I love that table.
Sam Adams: It is the. They call it the painted table, right? Yeah. But it’s you know, they sort of put all these candles underneath it and it lights up and all the various houses and landmarks kind of glow this lovely dragon of red from underneath. And so they’re sort of taking stock of, you know, which houses are theirs, which houses are the other sides which can be possibly swayed in one direction or the other. And the conclusion they come to is that, you know, they don’t really like sort of have the goods right now. And maybe if they get a few more houses on their side, there can be an even even match.
Sam Adams: But this is certainly not something that’s going to be decided quickly if there is an actual war. And she at least considers, she says for a moment like, you know, what is what’s the purpose of a queen? So talking to herself that way, even though she has not been formally crowned and in fact has had her throne usurped from her, the purpose of the queen is to sort of keep the peace in the realm. And if that means maybe my giving up my title so that there’s not this war, maybe I need to do that. And I think it’s ironic that I mean, that is the closest thing to sort of the platonic ideal of like leader lead temperament that I think anyone who’s demonstrated in all 10 hours of the show so far.
Speaker 3: Yeah, it’s interesting because why didn’t she think about that before? Like, I don’t know. I mean, I guess there wouldn’t be a very good show without it. But the fact that, like this entire time, she could have backed down any time, you know, I mean, I guess she didn’t know that they were going to usurp her 100%. But surely she could have guessed, what with Otto Hightower, like pulling the strings around Alison and the existence of the Aegon, the younger and all this. I think she could have guessed it and could have just backed down a while ago.
Sam Adams: Well, she had Alison. Or maybe a little guilty of kind of believing the best in people or believing that because the king, you know, various announces succession. He had all these people, all the Lords have swear to it and acknowledge it publicly. And it seemed like that would be enough. And then Alison was, you know, taken by surprise when she thinks that vizier is kind of on his deathbed, has changed his mind and named their son Aegon to the throne instead. The whole misunderstanding there, he’s talking about the prophecy of a different Aegon, yada yada, yada. But she at least believes sincerely that he changed his mind. And the king’s word is what goes, no matter how close to death he was when he gave it takes us to the small council and he’s like, Oh yeah, we were already doing that. It’s nice that the king said that, but we were going to do that anyway. And she’s like, What? You know, does a little like, you know, Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone Face.
Speaker 3: And not only all that, but she also believes that her older son that what does the woman call him in this episode? Drunken Conover looking like he’s just that whore. He’s never shown any promise that we’ve seen, and she believes in him somehow.
Sam Adams: So things are heating up here as we near the end of the season.
Sam Adams: But before we get to that, let’s take a break. I have a special announcement for you today. For a limited time, you can get six months of sleep plus for just $29. That’s 50% off. As a member, you’ll get no ads on any of our podcasts, Unlimited reading on the Slate site and member exclusive episodes and segments from other shows like Slow Burn, Amicus and The Political Gabfest. Slate’s podcasts covered major news events from elections to social issues to historic court decisions. Our shows also discuss what makes a song a smash, analyze what’s going viral and decode cultural mysteries. If we become a part of your listening routines, we ask that you support our work by joining Slate Plus, sign up for Slate Plus now at Slate.com slash spoiler. Plus to access all Slate’s content and support our work. Again, that’s just $29 for six months through October 28th. So sign up now at Slate.com slash spoiler plus.
Sam Adams: And we’re back. So, Rebecca, things are heating up, getting into the end game here. But first, we have the little matter of your pregnancy to discuss. Which would you like? Tell our listeners what happens next?
Speaker 3: Okay, so when she gets the news of Aegon’s ascension and the usurpation, she basically seems like she goes into an early and very painful labor. So this is her sixth birth. Her birth attendants are all like, What is the problem? Look like you’ve done this so many times. But yet this is like the worst one by far. She’s going through this painful labor as the the sort of the men are in the the throne room talking about what’s going to happen next. So you see them talking about what’s going to happen. And then she’s like screaming and like moaning in the background. Eventually, the child comes out and I can’t tell what the deal is with it. It’s a girl and it’s obviously very premature. It’s dead when it comes out.
Sam Adams: Yes, exactly. What’s going on here? I don’t know. But this baby comes out looking off weird and like it was not going to make it regardless of whether or not there had gotten bad news on this particular day or not. But any case, things are not going real well for her and they do not improve out of higher Tower shows up with a delegation from King’s Landing basically saying, Hey, I just thought I’d come here and give you the choice to like swear allegiance to the new king and give up your claim to the throne. But any case that doesn’t work, Damon offers to take his head off immediately, and he decides it might not be the best idea. So she says they will have her answer upon the morrow.
Sam Adams: But the answer, as of course, we know, is going to be no. They realize this is the time to kind of shore up their alliances. They do find out that the caller’s who has been M.I.A. For six years, has actually accomplished more than anyone else in the entire history of the show and somehow managed to secure the step stones. This is where the battle with the crab feeder was back in the first few episodes. Damon did cut that dude in half, but somehow did not actually manage to occupy the land and overthrew the tri arc. So it just kind of went back to, you know, whoever is ruling it in the first place.
Sam Adams: But Coriolis has taken control of it. That means he basically owns nearly all the shipping lanes into King’s Landing, which means we’re going to get some siege warfare next season, which is not something this universe on TV has shown us before. But there’s still a few houses short. So Reinier comes up with the idea to send emissaries to these houses. Someone comes up with the bright idea that wouldn’t it be more impressive if we sent like your sons on Dragon back? That’ll be much more persuasive. So they are sent. Jase is sent off to, you know, I think, like three different kingdoms in the north. She’s like, Look, just go to Storm’s end. The Brazilians have already sworn an oath to us. You just got to remind them that they swore that oath. He’s a proud man. So Bursaspor Athens. Very proud man. So he’ll be, like, super impressed that you are, like, showing up in a dragon. Just be like kissing your feet, and that’ll be that. Just go do this easy thing. My little 13 year old son come back and we’ll all be good. That’s not what happens.
Speaker 3: He gets a stern sound and it’s stormy. As soon as he comes into the courtyard, he sees that there is a giant or dragon parked there, and that is vague. Ah. And so he’s he sees it and he knows Damien’s here and he goes in and indeed Daymond is there. And so looks like the Greens had a similar idea and they had it earlier. And when Luke starts to state his case, he has a message to deliver. And Boris, we’re at the end is kind of like like you guys are. You guys are reminding me of my obligation. Well, the Greens are already sent like basically treats and promises and instead or Ramirez taking the route of reminding them of their promise.
Sam Adams: Yes, Ayman does have an offer, which is, hey, remember when you, like, stabbed out my eye when we were kids? What if you stabbed out your own eye right now and then maybe even Boris Breathing does not want the current king’s brother and the rightful queen’s son try to murder each other in his hall. So he’s like, Yeah, not under my roof.
Speaker 3: And so Luke finally gets out of there and kind of hightail it out to the courtyard. And it’s the storm has kicked up and it is super thunder and lightning and rain and scary. But he sort of has no choice. And I thought it was very moving the way he talked to his dragon. He basically was trying to get his dragon to sort of calm and gentle listen to him. He did a great job getting the dragon into the air and sort of flying way out of the storm. But of course, Almond is following him from there. And I don’t really love the CGI dragons in the show. It’s like not my favorite thing about the Game of Thrones world. But I have to say that it was cool to see this dragon fight for this Dragon Chase bigger like three or four times the size of Luke’s Dragon.
Sam Adams: This is a really interesting sequence for me, and I gather you can speak to this in a second, Rebecca, but I gather this is tweaked somewhat from from the book. But the way it plays out on the show is that Amond who is granted. Kind of a psychopath and a bully, maybe just trying to, like, sort of spook his nephew, you know, kind of buzzing him from above, ends up forcing him down, sort of to fly through this, you know, narrow sort of valley between rocks where the larger dragon can’t fit. Pushing this to the point where Luke could get hurt or killed, but he’s not actually going to do it himself because he’s got either enough of a conscience or enough of a sort of like, you know, sadistic, calculating bullies mind to it’s like better if he can, like, force this kid to hurt himself rather than actually like attacking him directly.
Sam Adams: And the problem is and I think this sequence is actually very effective at reminding us, I mean, these are both basically boys. I mean, Amon, did, you know, technically past the age of 18, But they are both kind of children raised in an environment where they’ve never had to like, you know, take responsibility for anything they do or develop a conscience. Certainly like a man’s frontal lobe is not finished growing yet and they don’t have full control over their dragons.
Speaker 3: So that was so cool. That was really interesting.
Sam Adams: Yeah. So Luke, Luke’s Dragon X gets a little tired of like this giant dragon trying to come at him. So he while Luke sees this coming as, No, no, you know, he’d be, he’d be in high valyrian anyway, you know, lets loose his gout a flame towards the air. Not even clear if it hits him. Clearly, he’s not going to do too much damage if it does, because Vega’s now 12 times his size. But it’s enough to piss Vega off. Aim. It also sees her coming. He starts yelling in English, you know, which I don’t think the dragons even are supposed to understand. Yeah. No, no, no. He’d be. He’d be. He’d be there. Like he had no that dragon just, like, roasted by toe or whatever. I’m mad.
Speaker 3: Right?
Sam Adams: Yeah, they are just like, swipes around and basically, like, bites the dragon and half. He doesn’t, like, freeze frame it and check like which little CGI pieces going where, you know, clearly like something that is bitten in half in all the various parts in whatever configuration fall into the ocean. Erickson Luke or dead shit is fucked at this point. Like there’s no there’s not going to be any more peace at this point.
Speaker 3: But what do you think Amanda’s going to say when he goes back? Do you think he’s going to claim it, or do you think he’s going to try to describe what happened and and like sort of disavow it a little bit?
Sam Adams: I think the look on his face is really it really like, oh, my God, I messed up. Yeah. This is not like, oh, I’m so glad that my annoying little cousin is dead. It’s certainly not a moment of trying to like oof, I’m sure he’s going to try to spin it. I think everyone at King’s Landing knows that he is a liar and a coward in addition to a bully, and so they’re not going to believe him. But I think the more important thing is that it’s really not going to matter because, Renee, her son, is dead. You know, she has just lost a child in childbirth. Now she’s lost her little son. You know, the last scene of the episode is this is this great sort of silence, you know, slowed down, you know, trek through the kind of great hall, the map room of Dragonstone, you know, up into her face. So she gets the news and she as she turns around and this is actually an interview with the showrunner where they describe this in the script, but you can see it anywhere you even if you haven’t seen it. And the phrase is, there’s war in her eyes. Oh, yes, yes. And that’s.
Speaker 3: Great.
Sam Adams: That’s the end of the season. That look is like all you need to know that like, stuff is going to go bad when we come back. But before we get into that, here’s another word from our sponsor. And we are back.
Sam Adams: So, Rebecca, here we are at the end of season one of House of the Dragon. What do you make of this season as a whole? Where did you come into it? What did you think at the beginning, and how do you think of where we ended up?
Speaker 3: Felt a little bit like a chore at the beginning. Like I just was. I had a hard time sort of separating people out. I had a hard time finding anyone to really care about. I just didn’t understand why we were supposed to care about the Targaryens, which I still somewhat the target audience, are not my favorite people when it comes to Game of Thrones houses, and they’re like inherent interest to me. I may just be stark brainwashed from from Game of Thrones. And I’m really looking forward to the second season when Jason’s at that Winterfell, but it’ll be very interesting to see.
Speaker 3: I think once we’ve settled into the older, especially the older two queens facing off against each other, the actresses, I both really I like watching both of them quite a bit and I’m excited to see how the dynamic develops and I’m cautiously optimistic. I feel like we’ve gotten a bunch of through clearing done and obviously the audience for the show has been huge, so it’s not like it really affected anybody’s like allegiance to this series. But I do feel a little bit like this was like a prequel season or something. So in terms of what’s going to happen next season and what you’re interested in seeing it, we didn’t talk very much about Damian, everyone’s favorite character and what he did in this episode, which was to basically threaten to strangle his wife who just lost a baby in childbirth. Also, he refused to go in to see her when she was calling for him during the birth, which I don’t know, maybe he has PTSD from his other wife dying in childbirth, but I don’t know. That was kind of a dick move. But it’ll be very interesting to see how their marriage develops. That’s one thing I’m really excited about.
Sam Adams: Well, the showrunners have assured us they are already writing the scripts for season two. They’re going into production some unspecified time soon, and both they and HBO are hoping to get the show back on the air before the end of 2023. So, Rebecca, I hope that neither of us gets flambé by a dragon before then and we are able to come back and talk about this then.
Speaker 3: I would love for both of those things to happen or not happen as the case may be.
Sam Adams: That is our show. Please subscribe to the Slate Spoiler special Podcast Feed. And if you like the show, please rate and review it in the Apple Podcasts store or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have suggestions or movies or TV shows, we should spoil, or if you have any other feedback you’d like to share, please send it to spoilers at Slate.com. Our producer today is Kristy Taiwo Makanjuola. Alicia montgomery is the vice president of Audio at Slate for Rebecca Onion. I’m Sam Adams. Thanks for listening.