House of the Dragon has proven itself a worthy sibling series to HBO fantasy juggernaut Game of Thrones. The new series, a prequel to the massively popular show based on the writings of celebrated author George R.R. Martin, swooped in and landed with the heft of one of its winged stars, and season 1 is now Certified Fresh. By comparison, seven of eight Game of Thrones seasons are Certified Fresh with scores ranging from 55% on the final season to 97% on season 4.
Spoiler alert: The following contains spoilers from the first season of House of the Dragon. If you haven’t watched the entire season and wish to avoid spoilers, stop reading here.
Season 1 of House of the Dragon first introduced viewers to young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and her childhood companion Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), and then quickly aged them up to become adult competitors in their own game of thrones. Emma D’Arcy took over as Rhaenyra and Olivia Cooke as Alicent, while Matt Smith plays Prince Daemon Targaryen, Paddy Considine was King Viserys Targaryen (now deceased), Eve Best is Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, and Steve Toussaint plays Lord Corlys Velaryon, “The Sea Snake.”
As time passed over the first season, beloved characters died, as is custom in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels and related short stories. It took some time for King Viserys, for example, to succumb to a mysterious disease that saw his flesh eaten away boil by infected boil. Poor Lady Laena Velayron (Nanna Blondell) chose death by dragonfire than to die on the birthing bed like her aunt Aemma (Sian Brooke), queen consort to Viserys. Prince Daemon dispatched at least two not-so-beloved characters by slicing them in half with his Valyrian steel blade Dark Sister, and Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) smashed in the head of Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson) when the king’s council member dared accuse the queen of regicide.
(Photo by Ollie Upton / HBO)
In the penultimate episode, “The Green Council,” Princess Rhaenys (the queen that never was) had the opportunity to take out Queen Dowager Alicent, false-king Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), and the greens with one word to her dragon Meleys: “Dracarys!” Alas, it would have made for a very short series. The episode is now ninth on our list of House of the Dragon episodes ranked by Tomatometer.
Rhaenys’ inaction in episode 9 made way for the death of teenage Prince Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) in the finale, which started strong on the list at No. 1 and a perfect 100% Tomatometer score, but has since fallen to the second spot with a 92% score on 36 reviews (at the time of this update).
(Photo by Ollie Upton / HBO)
Read on to find out which episodes were most favored by critics compared to those that were — only slightly less favored to be honest. There’s not a single Rotten episode in the season.
Critics Consensus: While the copious day for night cinematography will prompt viewers to adjust their brightness settings, "Driftmark" is an exceedingly satisfying excursion into family spats and taboo reunions.
Synopsis: As the families gather on Driftmark for a funeral, Viserys calls for an end to infighting, and Alicent demands justice.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Making for deeply uncomfortable family viewing, "King of the Narrow Sea" trades dragonflame for dangerous liaisons and goes a long way towards deepening House of the Dragon's web of intrigue.
Synopsis: After Rhaenyra cuts short her tour of Westeros, Daemon introduces the princess to the Street of Silk after dark.... [More]
Critics Consensus: While the longest time-skip yet diminishes some of this installment's most shocking moments, the commanding introductions of Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke make clear that "The Princess and the Queen" will remain compulsively watchable combatants.
Synopsis: Ten years later. Rhaenyra navigates Alicent’s continued speculation about her children, while Daemon and Laena weigh an offer in Pentos.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Stolen dragon eggs and awkward matchmaking add up to an installment that is designed to lay foundations rather than dazzle in its own right, but "The Rogue Prince" succeeds in nesting juicy conflicts.
Synopsis: Rhaenyra oversteps at the Small Council; Viserys is urged to secure the succession through marriage; Daemon announces his intentions.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Holding true to the Westerosi rule that no wedding goes according to plan, "We Light the Way" is a disturbing midpoint for House of the Dragon, punctuated by shocking brutality and Queen Alicent coming into her own.
Synopsis: Daemon visits his wife in the Vale. Viserys and Rhaenyra broker agreements with the Velaryons. Alicent seeks the truth about... [More]
Critics Consensus: Beginning with conspiratorial whispers and ending with a roaring declaration of war, "The Green Council" is a discomfortingly suspenseful kickoff to the long-awaited Dance of Dragons.
Synopsis: Tensions begin to rise in the royal court as the new coronation draws near; while Alicent enlists Cole and Aemond... [More]