House of the Dragon season 1 recap: 6 major things to remember before season 2

After nearly two years, House of the Dragon returns with its highly-anticipated sophomore season.
House of the Dragon Episode 10
House of the Dragon Episode 10 /

House of the Dragon is finally returning and I, along with the full fandom, cannot wait to see what's in store for us next. Those who have read Fire & Blood know the major moments we'll be seeing, but of course, as we saw with the first season, changes will likely be made for the second installment. Now that the Targaryen civil war, a.k.a. the Dance of the Dragons, is about to begin, there will be a lot of bloodshed and death in the new episodes. With a show like this, we can also expect betrayal and heartbreak.

Before the season 2 premiere, "A Son for a Son," is released this Sunday, June 16 on HBO, we're breaking down the six major moments of season 1 you absolutely need to remember. If you don't have time to do a rewatch, all you need to do is keep reading!

House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

1. Rhaenyra is named King Viserys' heir

The start of House of the Dragon season 1 begins with the topic of succession. King Viserys I Targaryen needs to name an heir, but with only one child who is a girl, his options are limited. In episode 1, his wife Aemma is pregnant and Viserys is certain she's expecting a boy. Unfortunately, Aemma dies in childbirth and their son, Baelon, dies shortly after. During his time of grieving, the Small Council convinces Viserys to choose an heir; in case anything were to happen to him, they need the line of succession set. After becoming angry with his brother Daemon, Viserys goes the unconventional route and chooses his daughter Rhaenyra.

When Viserys tells Rhaenyra that she's his heir, he also fills her in on a family secret. Aegon I Targaryen, a.k.a. Aegon the Conqueror and the man who put House Targaryen on the Iron Throne, dreamt of a time in which a huge threat would come to Westeros. He called this dream "a song of ice and fire," which, of course, is the events that Game of Thrones follows. Viserys tells Rhaenyra that a Targaryen needs to be in power when this happens in order to save the realm. This secret is one she carries with her forever.

House of the Dragon - Emily Carey as Alicent and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra /

2. Rhaenyra and Alicent have a falling out

A central conflict (if not the conflict) of House of the Dragon is Rhaenyra's relationship with Alicent. Though they grow up as best friends, everything changes when Alicent's father Otto forces her into marrying Viserys. The two girls' dynamic, understandably, is different after this, but they still have love for one another. Things become more complicated when Alicent hears that Rhaenyra may have had sexual relations with Daemon, something that Rhaenyra denies. Alicent is furious about this, feeling like Rhaenyra can get away with anything while she has to remain dutiful.

Throughout the first season, Rhaenyra and Alicent continue to be at odds due to the circumstances around them, though I still believe there's a love between them, even in season 2.

House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

3. There are many time jumps

One thing to definitely remember about season 1 is that it spans decades, so we get to see multiple important time periods in Westeros history, along with new actors that play older versions of characters. In the first half of the season, Rhaenyra is portrayed by Milly Alcock and Alicent is played by Emily Carey, but with episode 6 comes a 10-year time jump. After that, Emma D'Arcy plays Rhaenyra and Olivia Cooke plays Alicent.

Season 2 won't feature many time jumps, if any at all, actually. The first season includes a lot of exposition, introducing viewers to the Seven Kingdoms nearly 200 years prior to the events of Game of Thrones, and there's a lot to explain. But now that the war is beginning, there's too much to cover at this time to afford flash-forwards.

House of the Dragon season 1 episode 7 - Matt Smith and Emma D'Arcy /

4. Rhaenyra and Daemon get married

Though Rhaenyra and Daemon have their first sexual encounter in the fourth episode of season 1, it's not until episode 7 that they get married. Yes, they are uncle and niece, but in Westeros at this time, it's not uncommon for Targaryens to marry their relatives. That's not to say Rhaenyra and Daemon's relationship isn't controversial, however. When Viserys hears that the two might've gotten together in the first half of the season, he banishes Daemon from King's Landing. Right then and there, Daemon asks Viserys to let him marry Rhaenyra, but he refuses.

Though Viserys has a lot of love for Daemon, Rhaenyra is his baby. He only wants the best for her and wants to keep her as pure as possible. Feeling like Daemon might've ruined her is a heartbreaking, almost unbelievable, idea for him to think about. Daemon's reputation in the realm also makes him a questionable character for Rhaenyra to wed, but no one can deny their power together.

House of the Dragon Episode 9 /

5. Alicent misinterprets Viserys' last words

One of the biggest changes from the source material in House of the Dragon season 2 is how Viserys and Alicent's son Aegon ends up on the Iron Throne. Of course, Rhaenyra was named his heir years prior, but after Viserys fathered a son, many wondered if he would end up being the king. On his deathbed, Viserys talks to Alicent but mistakes her for Rhaenyra in his bad health. He brings up Aegon the Conqueror's dream, reminding her to follow it once he's gone. But because Alicent doesn't know about the song of ice and fire, she believes he's talking about their son, Aegon.

Alicent takes what she interprets as Viserys' last words to heart, and is adamant that her son belongs on the throne. Aegon's followers are quick to support his claim, and while Rhaenyra and her family are at Dragonstone, the people of King's Landing crown Aegon as their king. To Rhaenyra and her followers, Aegon usurped the throne, which means things get ugly.

House of the Dragon Episode 10 /

6. Aemond kills Lucerys

In the final episode of House of the Dragon season 1, Rhaenyra loses two children — one during childbirth and another at the hands of Alicent's son Aemond.

One major point of conflict for Rhaenyra and Alicent comes in episode 7 when as young boys, Lucerys cuts Aemond's eye with a knife, which results in him losing it. In search of vengeance years later, Aemond flies after Lucerys in the season 1 finale while riding Vhagar, as Luke is on Arrax. Whether it's an accident or not, Vhagar chomps down hard on Arrax, and Luke is killed. The episode ends with Rhaenyra hearing the news, and by the look on her face, she's absolutely ready to start the war.

More revenge will be sought in House of the Dragon season 2, so expect nothing less than shocking moments. The Game of Thrones prequel returns this Sunday, June 16, airing on HBO and streaming on Max at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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