With the way HOTD ep 9 left things, we were expecting a war in HOTD episode 10 but it's the show's uniqueness to be something that the people don't anticipate coming!
House of the Dragon episode 1 started with a voiceover that announced how this would be a story of the downfall of the house of the Targaryens as Targaryens themselves could only be responsible for bringing that. And with HOTD episode 10, this entire season has kept the precedence, the backstory for how and why this house that had dragons as its most potent asset fell down and lost Westeros. The last episode especially feels like a crumbling pain that puts forth the point of how many blows a person can take before they rise up from the ashes. (spoilers ahead)
Episode 9 is focused on the betrayal of the greens towards the House of the Targaryens and such a massive step deserves to be responded to just as Daemon does in episode 10. But it's the sheer intelligence of Rhaenyra who while grieving the loss of her father and her child decides to not be the first one to pick up the sword and wage a war. Together they plan to chart a course of action, irrespective of Daemon deciding on a different course of action altogether.
From the moment Rhaneyra gets the message of her father dying to the moment she loses her unborn child during a painful premature delivery, she doesn't get a moment to grieve. Even though she is against waging a war that Daemon is hell-bent on doesn't mean she isn't furious at the betrayal by the greens especially her dear friend Alicent. But her firm stance over the very unique map of Westeros that ignites by a fire burning below it makes her a queen who's different from everyone, before whom people bent the knee. Every moment in this episode is breathtaking and memorable, from the painful childbirth, the funeral turned coronation, the ignition of the map, the discussion of the action further, and the dragons.
But the last few minutes of HOTD episode 10 at the Storm's End and in the rainy sky take your breath away. There are many times you will remember episode 1 as a warning in episode 10. Especially King Viserys I warning about dragons and how Vhagar and Arrax both went out of control of their masters. Aemond and Lucerys were having a bout with each other but not with the intention to kill. Rhaenyra's caution to not become the queen of ashes as dragons turn everything to ash is the future of Daenerys in GoT while her face at the end is that of a woman who has lost so much in one day and hasn't even mourned which mirrors Daenerys.
House of the Dragon does mirror GoT in many forms but at the same time is different from it in many ways. While Game of Thrones was as vast as a bird's eye view, House of the Dragon is that much more concise and intimate. It just focuses on one house and its members entirely, and the best part is that the story and camera both know it and go through weaving intricate details. You always stay with the characters placed against the backdrops of vast backgrounds and their emotions through their body language, eyes, and dialogues. Sex is not used as a tool of invitation to watch the show which might be a disappointment to many but it's a step forward by not reducing women to mere sex objects. The focus is on the struggles of women in a realm run by men whether it's on the childbed or fighting for their rights.
But as usual, relationships are always at stake for the throne. Though the time jumps do make HOTD a hard watch as the first five episodes seem entirely separate from the rest five where some of the emotional development of the characters is lost, it makes up for an intriguing watch even though it definitely relies more on emotions and in-depth storytelling, unlike Thrones. Watching both GoT and HOTD, has a different kind of tune in itself, going on within you which would make it unfair to compare the two. While all the characters seem equally interesting though not that emotionally invested, it's Daemon, aka chaos in a bottle who will always remain a mystery. Portrayed exceptionally well by Matt Smith, he steals the show away each time and Aemond seems to be an extension of him or he mirrors him which makes this series all the more exciting. And of course the dragons!
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