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House of the Dragon’s big finale fight was what we’ve been waiting for

[Dune voice] That’s dragon power

Aemond, flying among blue skies and clouds, looks stunned after his dragon bit the head off another dragon in House of the Dragon Image: HBO
Pete Volk (he/they) is Polygon’s Senior Curation Editor, with a particular love for action and martial arts movies.

The season finale of House of the Dragon season 1 delivered on the title of the show more than any other episodes in the show’s run, with a dragon-centric hour of drama and intrigue. There was dragon inventory, dragon recruitment (via song!), and finally, our first dragon-vs.-dragon battle in the Thrones television universe.

And it was just as intense as the prophecies foretold. Would it be a Game of Thrones prequel if no one died?

[Ed. note: Major spoilers for the House of the Dragon finale]

In “The Black Queen,” Rhaenyra sends her oldest sons out to recruit potential allies in the upcoming Targaryen Civil War. Jacaerys is sent to visit the Arryns and the Starks, while Lucerys is sent to Storm’s End to meet with Lord Baratheon. Lucerys, who earlier in the episode expressed concerns to his mom about his future responsibilities as heir, gets a pep talk from her and a stern reminder to not start any problems.

Rhaenyra looks at her son Lucerys while standing next to the Painted Table, her hands resting around his face. Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

Lucerys rides his dragon Arrax over to Storm’s End, and as he lands, we can see the hulking presence of Vhagar, Aemond’s gigantic dragon, lurking in the background. When Lucerys enters the castle, Aemond is there, smirking, having already made a deal with Lord Baratheon — allegiance to Aegon in exchange for Aemond marrying one of Lord Baratheon’s daughters.

A brief conflict breaks out. Aemond calls Lucerys “Lord Strong” and demands the young prince take out his own eye. But Lucerys refuses (naturally), and books it, getting on Arrax and attempting to fly away in stormy weather. Aemond and Vhagar follow, their presence revealed in a jaw dropping image, with Vhagar lurking among the clouds below Arrax like a giant sea monster ready to break through the waves.

As Vhagar and Arrax draw closer, the two inexperienced young riders lose control of their respective winged steeds. Against Lucerys’ commands, Arrax breathes fire on the much larger Vhagar, which does little more than annoy the gigantic dragon. And then, in the episode’s most climactic moment, Vhagar devours both Arrax and Lucerys in one bite, as Aemond helplessly attempts to stop his dragon from retaliating.

A big boi dragon swoops out of nowhere to attack Lucerys’ while he’s looking the other way, biting him out of the air and ripping his dragon apart, swallowing the bloody bits that fall from the sky Image: HBO

It’s a great moment for the show’s first dragon battle, really laying out the danger of using these creatures in war — something mentioned by Rhaenyra earlier in the episode, out of concern for ruling over an empire of ash if she uses the dragons to take back King’s Landing. It’s a full circle moment for Aemond and Lucerys’ arc this season, Aemond initially lost his eye after stealing Vhagar many years (and episodes) ago. Now their conflict has become even more representative of the show: Though war seemed inevitable with last week’s coup, it’s now been inescapably escalated thanks to two Targaryens who couldn’t hope to control the beasts they’ve ostensibly tamed.

It’s also appropriately brutal, with little bits of Arrax falling out of the sky as Vhagar tears into the much smaller dragon, coupled with Aemond’s shock at the situation and his inability to control Vhagar. He now has a decision to make when he gets back to King’s Landing — does he strut in proudly, having taken out one of his brother’s key rivals for the future of the throne, or will he walk in meekly, ashamed for accidentally causing a major escalation in this conflict?

Either way, it’s a big RIP to Lucerys, the latest casualty of House of the Dragon’s larger conflict. Maybe you’re with your (probable) dad now.

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