When Game of Thrones ended, the popularity of the show seemed to end too. After the eighth and final season, with most fans severely disappointed with the way the stories were wrapped up, many believed that any spin-off would likely fail. There was a bitter taste in the fandom’s mouth, and HBO lost most of the fans’ goodwill.
However, when House of the Dragon aired, it became the largest premiere in HBO’s history with over 10 million viewers. Week after week, the show dominates Twitter as interest grows. The show’s success is unsurprising; it combines the budget and action of the later seasons of Thrones with the writing quality of the earlier seasons. The show’s conversations have served to expose and reveal the characters in a way that hooks the audience, delivered by a brilliant cast.
Spoilers for House of the Dragon
10 “King’s Landing Will Learn To Fear The Color Gold” Daemon Leads The City Watch (Episode 1)
Game of Thrones fans are familiar with the City Watch in King’s Landing, also referred to as Gold Cloaks, due to their uniforms. The pilot episode of House of the Dragon shows the gruesome origin of the City Watch. In a sequence full of blood, severing of body parts, and executions, the City Watch doles out brutal punishment.
Before their first night patrolling the capital, Prince Daemon gives a pep talk as the Commander of the City Watch. He compares them to a pack of hounds and declares that crime won’t be tolerated any longer. It sets up the brutality of the Gold Cloaks’ actions perfectly.
9 “What Will You Do About The Vulture Who Perches Upon Your Thrones?” Rhaenyra Lectures Her Father (Episode 4)
The rumors about Rhaenyra and Daemon’s tyrst at the pleasure house spread quickly, and it takes Viserys some time before he summons Rhaenyra to confront her. He lectures her, telling her she’s lucky he doesn’t disinherit her, before informing her that she can no longer chose a husband.
Rhaenyra accepts the decision before calling her father’s own mistakes out. Namely, his blind trust in Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King. She stands up for herself, pointing out Hightower had her spied on in order to push his grandson to become heir in her place. She vows to do her duty as the heir, but challenges him to do his duty as the king.
8 “Perhaps My Prince Recalls When I Knocked Him Off His Horse” Westeros’ Sickest Burn (Episode 2)
House of the Dragon returns to the familiar set of Dragonstone by the second episode of the series. The King sends a delegation to retrieve a dragon egg that was stolen by Daemon, and Ser Criston Cole is part of that delegation.
Daemon informs Ser Criston that he doesn’t recall the knight’s name. In one of the greatest burns in Westeros history, Ser Criston reminds Daemon that he defeated the Prince in a tourney a few years back. The line is delivered with such nonchalance that Daemon must have felt like he was being thrown off of his horse for a second time.
7 “I Knew You Couldn’t Finish” Rhea’s Final Words (Episode 5)
Daemon has made it clear that he despises his wife Rhea Royce, and that he never wished to be married to her. After being denied Rhaenyra’s hand in Episode 4, Daemon returns to the Vale in secret. When Rhea comes across him, she quickly realizes his motives.
Daemon gets Rhea’s horse to throw her off, seriously injuring her. Rhea mocks him with what could be a double entendre considering they’ve never consummated their marriage. It’s Daemon who gets the last laugh as he picks up a heavy rock and walks back to her, his intentions all too clear.
6 Daemon’s Silence Spoke Louder Than Words (Episode 3)
The final battle scene of Episode 3 had the internet talking for days. Daemon’s charge into the Crabfeeders resembled the action that fans of Game of Thrones loved and celebrated. The scene also demonstrated that sometimes with dialogue, less is more.
From the moment Daemon returns to his army’s camp, all the way to the very end of the episode, the Rogue Prince does not say a single word. His actions and expressions speak for themselves in what is very easily one of the greatest character moments in the Game of Thrones universe.
5 “I Only Now Realize How Well Calculated It Was” Viserys Takes Charge (Episode 4)
From the first episode, fans compared Otto Hightower to the devious and scheming Littlefinger from Game of Thrones. Week after week, fans watched in frustration as Hightower’s manipulation of the King went unchecked. He successfully positioned his daughter Alicent to become the new Queen Consort, and was aiming to get his grandson named heir to the Iron Throne.
It was with great delight that fans watched as King Viserys summoned Hightower to call out his actions. Even as Hightower offered platitudes and sycophancy, Viserys did not back down. In the end, he removes the Hand’s pin from Hightower, effectively firing him.
4 “If You Wish To Be Restored As Heir, You’ll Need To Kill Me” Rhaenyra Schools Daemon (Episode 2)
Rhaenyra swooped down on Dragonstone, resembling her sixth great-granddaughter Daenerys as she flew her dragon Syrax. With a calm countenance and a cool demeanor, Rhaenyra walks right up to Daemon, speaking to him in High Valyrian. She questions his actions, the choices he’s made, and then gives him an ultimatum.
Before Viserys made Rhaenyra heir, Viserys disinherited Daemon as next in line for the throne. Knowing this, Rhaenyra challenges and goads Daemon to take real action instead of acting out, the implication that he’s essentially throwing a tantrum. Rhaenyra’s words strike a chord and allow her to successfully retrieve the stolen dragon egg from Daemon.
3 “Do You Know What Color It Glows When Oldtown Calls Its Banners To War?” Alicent Makes A Fashion Statement (Episode 5)
All weddings in Westeros should be considered a bad omen. Alicent Hightower’s tardiness to Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding feast was highly noticeable to viewers and those in attendance at the feast.
When Alicent does finally enter, it is in the middle of King Viserys’ speech, and her green dress makes the king pause. It is revealed that for House Hightower, green is the color used to call the banners to war. After discovering Rhaenyra lied to her, Alicent’s motives are clear: she wants her son on the throne.
2 “Do You Want Me To Kill Him?” Ser Criston Is The Realest (Episode 3)
On her half-brother’s second birthday, Rhaenyra is at an all-time low. Her position as heir is being threatened by the scheming of Hightower and the lords of the realm. Jason Lannister attempts to woo Rhaenyra in an effort to gain her favor, and eventually her hand in marriage. All of this leads to her having an argument with her father, so she gets on her horse and rides off.
As a member of the Kingsguard, Ser Criston follows and stops her before she goes too far. When she reveals what distresses her, Ser Criston offers to murder Jason Lannister on her behalf, proving just how loyal he truly is.
1 “Aegon Called His Dream The Song Of Ice And Fire” The Targaryens Knew About The Prince That Was Promised (Episode 1)
Game of Thrones fans are very familiar with the prophecy surrounding The Prince That Was Promised and the Long Night. Those same fans were shocked to discover that House Targaryen knew about the Long Night centuries before it came to pass. Unfortunately, at some point between House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones, the knowledge was mostly lost.
The Long Night was a major part of Game of Thrones. The storyline was expressed mainly through Jon Snow’s experiences on the Wall, but also through Daenerys once she finally arrived in Westeros. It’s fitting that in the end, the last two members of House Targaryen played the biggest roles in defeating the Army of the Dead.
NEXT: Each Surviving Game Of Thrones Character (& When They Should Have Died)