The Heirs of the Dragon
|"The Heirs of the Dragon"
|House of the Dragon
|Original air date
|August 21, 2022
|List of episodes
"The Heirs of the Dragon" is the first episode of medieval fantasy television series House of the Dragon. Running 66 minutes long, it premiered on August 21, 2022. It is written by co-creator and co-showrunner Ryan Condal, in an adaptation of George R. R. Martin's Fire & Blood. Music was composed by Ramin Djawadi. The episode was directed by co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik.
As the first episode of the series, it introduces the setting and the main characters of the show. The episode centers on the royal family, House Targaryen, and the question of succession. The title of the episode takes its name from the 12th chapter in Fire & Blood ("Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession").
Viserys hosts a tournament to celebrate the birth of his second child. Rhaenyra welcomes her uncle Daemon back to the Red Keep.
The lords of the Seven Kingdoms gather at Harrenhal in the year 101 AC to elect a new heir to the Old King, Jaehaerys I Targaryen, who has outlived his two sons. Fourteen claims are considered at first but only two candidates remain for the final election: Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (the only child of Jaehaerys' eldest son) and Prince Viserys Targaryen (the eldest son of Jaehaerys' second son). The Great Council elects Prince Viserys to succeed his grandfather.
It is now the ninth year of Viserys' reign. His only child, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, lands at the Dragonpit after a morning flight on the back of her dragon, Syrax. Her friend, Lady Alicent Hightower, and her sworn shield, Ser Harrold Westerling of the Kingsguard, are waiting for her and escort her back to the Red Keep.
On her way to a small council meeting, Rhaenyra visits her heavily pregnant mother, Queen Aemma Arryn. At the council Lord Corlys Velaryon, master of ships, warns King Viserys about the growing influence of the Triarchy—an alliance of the Free Cities of Lys, Myr and Tyrosh—in the narrow sea and the consequences it could have on Westerosi ports. Corlys' report is dismissed by Alicent's father, Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King. Lord Lyman Beesbury, master of coin, complains about the Crown's expenses on the newly improved City Watch—now nicknamed the "gold cloaks"—under the command of the king's younger brother, Prince Daemon Targaryen. Otto turns the discussion to the upcoming "Heir's Tournament" to the delight of the king who is certain his unborn child will be a boy.
We continue to follow Rhaenyra's day as she first meets with her uncle, Prince Daemon, in the throne room where he gives her a Valyrian steel necklace, and then as she spends time with Alicent in the royal godswood.
Viserys is treated by Grand Maester Mellos and his assistant, Maester Mickon, for an injury on his back inflicted by the blades of the Iron Throne before he visits his wife as she enjoys a bath. They discuss her condition and their upcoming child. Viserys reiterates his conviction that it will be a boy as he had a dream about it. Aemma informs him this will be her last pregnancy as, after losing five children in difficult childbirths, she cannot bear the idea of mourning another.
At night, Prince Daemon leads his gold cloaks in the streets of King's Landing to round up the known criminals of the city. They apply harsh justice: the rapists are gelded, the thieves have one hand cut off, and the murderers are executed. In the small council the following morning, Otto finds Daemon's methods excessive and cruel. According to Daemon, it was a necessary action to limit future criminal activity in the city, especially with all the nobility arriving in the capital to attend the tourney. It also reinforces the reputation of the Watch that has been declining before Daemon was named as their new commander. Viserys agrees with Daemon to the annoyance of Otto, but warns his brother that his point was made and to not be too harsh in the future.
At the start of the Heir's Tournament, Viserys announces to the attendance that Queen Aemma has started her labour. Several participants take their turn to joust one another until it is the turn of Prince Daemon to choose his next opponent. He chooses Ser Gwayne Hightower of Oldtown, Otto's eldest son. None of the riders fall in the first tilt. In the second tilt, Daemon aims his lance at the legs of Gwayne's horse, however, resulting in both Gwayne and his horse falling to the ground. After this unchivalrous act, the participants of the tourney become more and more violent resulting in several injuries and deaths. Daemon and a minor knight named Ser Criston Cole compete in the final joust. Criston succesfully unhorses Daemon in the joust after several tilts, but the prince refuses to accept his defeat and a contest of arms begins. Daemon wields his Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister whereas Criston chooses a morningstar. In the end, Ser Criston wins this fight too and is awarded with the favor of Princess Rhaenyra.
News of complications during the child delivery are brought to Viserys during the tourney. He goes back to the Red Keep where Grand Maester Mellos tells him the babe is in breech and there is a risk of losing both the mother and the child. Mellos proposes a procedure that consists of cutting the mother's belly to free the child. This could save the babe, but will certainly kill Aemma. Viserys accepts. Queen Aemma dies in agony as the boy Viserys dreamed about is born. Unfortunately, the newly born prince, named Baelon, dies hours later. Several days later, the court is gathered outside the walls of King's Landing around Aemma and Baelon's funeral pyres. Rhaenyra commands Syrax to lit them after being gently urged by her uncle Daemon.
In view of the recent events, Otto wants to discuss the king's inheritance and proposes that Rhaenyra should be named heir as a means of pushing Daemon away from the throne. The grieving and furious Viserys does not want to hear of it at the moment and leaves the small council chamber. That night, Otto suggests to his daughter Alicent to go visit the king in his chambers and bring him confort in these dire times.
Daemon hosts a drunken orgy in a brothel of the Street of Silk with some of his gold cloaks and toasts his late nephew. Otto later informs Viserys of this event, insisting that his sources claim Daemon styled Baelon "the Heir for a Day". Viserys summons Daemon to the throne room to hear his brother's side of the story. Daemon does not deny Otto's accusation and Viserys decides to follow Otto's suggestion to name Rhaenyra as his heir instead of Daemon. He orders him to leave the royal court and to go back to Runestone in the Vale, the lands of Daemon's wife. Daemon later leaves the capital on his dragon, Caraxes, with his paramour, Mysaria.
Viserys summons Rhaenyra to the room where the skull of Balerion the Black Dread is kept. He inform her of his decision and reveals to her that Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen monarch, had a dream about a threat to mankind. He insists that should she become queen after him, it is of the utmost importance that she maintain an unified Westeros to be prepared to face such a menace when it will strike. Rhaenyra is later sworn in as the official heir to the Iron Throne and the Princess of Dragonstone by Viserys and the lords assembled in the throne room.
- Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen
- Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen
- Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (voice-over only)
- Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower
- Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon
- Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen
- Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria
- Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole
- Milly Alcock as Young Rhaenyra Targaryen
- Emily Carey as Young Alicent Hightower
- Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling
- Sian Brooke as Queen Aemma Arryn
- David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos
- Bill Paterson as Lord Lyman Beesbury
- Gavin Spokes as Lord Lyonel Strong
- Michael Carter as King Jaehaerys I Targaryen
- Steffan Rhodri as Lord Hobert Hightower
- Elliott Tittensor as Ser Erryk Cargyll
- Garry Cooper as Ser Ryam Redwyne
- Julian Lewis Jones as Lord Boremund Baratheon
- David Hounslow as Lord Rickon Stark
- Frankie Wilson as Captain Randyll Barret
- Mikhail Sen as Maester Mickon
- Rhys Parry Jones as Master of Revels
- Luke Tittensor as Ser Arryk Cargyll
- Gary Raymond as High Septon
- Andrew Bicknell as Dragonkeeper
- David Cann as Dragonkeeper
- Mirjam Germann as Dragonkeeper
- Matthew Carver as young Laenor Velaryon
- Nova Foueillis-Mosé as young Laena Velaryon
- John Arnedo as Gargantuan brute
The first episode of House of the Dragon obtained 9.986 million viewers in its premiere airing in the US on HBO and HBO Max. This number is equivalent to the audience of the sixth season of its predecessor, Game of Thrones. The episode also broke HBO's record for their biggest premiere, and was the highest ratings for the channel since the final episode of Game of Thrones. Five days after the original airing of pilot that number had already doubled to 20 million and the series was officially renewed for a second season. The episode scored 93% on Metacritic and 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. The episode leaked online a few hours before its scheduled airing.
- "The Heirs of the Dragon" at HBO
- "The Heirs of the Dragon" at the Wiki of Westeros
- "The Heirs of the Dragon" at the Internet Movie Database
- "The Heirs of the Dragon" on Wikipedia
- HBO.com: House of the Dragon Season 1
- House of the Dragon, Season 1, "The Heirs of the Dragon".
- Entertainment Weekly: House of the Dragon biggest HBO premiere
- Entertainment Weekly: House of the Dragon Season 2 Renewed
- Metacritic: House of the Dragon - Season 1 Episode 1: The Heirs of the Dragon
- Rotten Tomatoes: House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 1