Fire will reign.
House of the Dragon finished up on Sunday night, and it was pretty epic. This show has been going on since the end of August, so I've been waiting for a long time to publish this ranking. There were some really great episodes here, especially near the top. I wouldn't say I dislike any of the episodes in this season. They were all good, but some of them were very frustrating. Anyways, here's my ranking of all ten episodes of the inaugural season of House of the Dragon.
10. Second of His Name (Episode 3)
This episode killed the momentum that was continuing through the first two episodes for me. Second of His Name vanquishes the conflict that was setup in the first two episodes and jumps forward two years without hesitation. Suddenly, all of our characters are in different spots and the whole story becomes a bit of a mess. It was still an entertaining episode, but it was frustrating and didn't feel like it was building on the tension and conflict that was so prominent in the first two episodes.
9. King of the Narrow Sea (Episode 4)
King of the Narrow Sea was a recovering victim from the first time jump. It was still slow and still felt like it hadn't fully gotten back the tension that the first two episodes built up. I like the deteriorating relationship between Alicent and Rhaenyra. You see the two of them start to dislike each other. The cracks in the Targaryen dynasty begin to show, but the episode gets very talky and was still not on the level of the first two episodes.
8. The Princess and the Queen (Episode 6)
Another post-time jump episode, The Princess and the Queen deals with a ten-year gap between this entry and the previous. Half of our characters are played by different actors. We are introduced to a whole new generation of Targaryens. And, while this is still a frustrating episode because of the time jump, it does a really good job of introducing Viserys and Alicent's kids as well as Rhaenyra's. It sets the stage for a fantastic final stretch of this season.
7. The Green Council (Episode 9)
The Green Council felt very much like a set-up episode for the finale. That said, it's a very good set-up episode. Viserys is dead. The glue that was holding the realm together is gone, and we now see how the Hightowers are dealing with it at King's Landing. You see Otto Hightower truly emerge as a villain, and you also see Alicent's moral struggle. Everyone knows Aegon is not fit to rule, but Alicent is convinced that Viserys's final words implied that he wanted Aegon on the Iron Throne. It all culminates with a coronation before all of King's Landing, as Rhaenys threateningly crashes in on her dragon and sends Alicent and Aegon a signal of the coming war.
6. The Rogue Prince (Episode 2)
The sophomore episode of this show deals with the fallout of the first episode and continues to build discomfort and unease amongst House Targaryen. Once again, it nails the foreboding tone that gets me is invested in this show. While it isn't as intriguing as the pilot, The Rogue Prince is a great continuation of the forward momentum that was started in The Heirs of the Dragon.
5. Driftmark (Episode 7)
This is another fabulous episode of House of the Dragon that would be higher if it wasn't so dark. I know that was a complaint for Game of Thrones, but you cannot see a good chunk of this episode because there's just no light. However, when there is light and you are able to see, there are some fantastic, fantastic moments. The first of a few fights between Aemond / Aegon and Luke / Jace breaks out and Aemond loses an eye. This carries over into a highly intense scene as Alicent attacks Rhaenyra and the Targaryen tension reaches a peak. I think the final moments with Laenor are weird and don't pay off in the rest of the season. He's bound to come back eventually, but I feel like it would've made sense to bring him back in the finale and show us what he's up to.
4. The Lord of the Tides (Episode 8)
This is the calm before the storm. The Lord of the Tides was a tragically poetic episode where we see the whole of House Targaryen sit down and eat dinner together in Viserys's final moments. This is the only episode that does a great job with a time jump. Since you know the history between these characters, the time jump only serves to let that seep in. There's not a ton of new information that's presented besides Lord Corlys's potentially fatal wounds. This leads to a conflict with who will be the new Lord of Driftmark. That whole plotline was great, but the dinner scene and Viserys's last words to Alicent are two pivotal moments in the show. I want to put this episode higher. But there are three great episodes above it.
3. The Black Queen (Episode 10)
The Black Queen was an extremely satisfying finale to season one that promises big things for season two. We now see Rhaenyra and Daemon's perspective on Viserys's death and Aegon taking the throne. They know a war is imminent, but Rhaenyra plays it smart and tries to find a peaceful way to resolve this. Peace is shattered when Lucerys travels to Storm's End to deliver a message and finds Aemond. Aemond chases him in a thrilling dance of dragons that ends in one of the most shocking moments I have ever seen. Lucerys's death was absolutely heart-breaking and leaves me so intrigued for what season two will bring. It's still slower than I'd like. But The Black Queen was fantastic.
2. The Heirs of the Dragon (Episode 1)
As an introductory episode (for me) into the world of Game of Thrones, this episode nailed it. It was intriguing. It did a great job of setting up this peaceful situation that just collapses, causing you to feel this looming sense of doom. It was so foreboding while also having complex characters that I enjoy spending time with. This immediately got me hooked on House of the Dragon, which was impressive considering the fact that I've never seen Game of Thrones.
1. We Light the Way (Episode 5)
This episode is my favorite of the bunch, but, to be honest, the top four on this list are all basically tied for me. We Light the Way is a fantastic mid-season finale that sees our characters at a wedding. Rhaenyra is getting married to Laenor Velaryon, and you know something is about to go wrong when you find out that Laenor is actually gay. The wedding itself is a tragic chapter in this story as we see tensions come to a head; Alicent has fully turned against Rhaenyra, Criston Cole is going crazy because of Rhaenyra, and Viserys refuses to accept that something within his family is wrong. This is the episode that truly put forth the Targaryen conflict. And it was fabulous.