Well, at long last, the war over the Iron Throne, the moment we've all been waiting for since episode one of House of the Dragon, is officially here.
And with it the ostensible reason for the show's existence. It's taken multiple cast changes and decades of time passage, but by the end of episode ten the war was officially underway.
And an innocent young prince was the first casualty.
But we'll get to that in a moment, first let's start at the beginning.
1. Luc, the second youngest of Rhaenyra's three bastard children, believes his grandfather, Lord Corlys, is going to die
He doesn't yet know that his grandfather King Viserys has died, but he says, "The Sea Snake is going to die isn't he?"
As part of this discussion, Luc makes it known, "I don't want Drift Mark." Then, as only the young can, he continues talking to his mother, Princess Rhaenyra, "I'm not like you, I'm not so perfect."
Rhaenyra, who has three bastards, stifles a laugh and responds, "I am anything but (perfect). My father looked after me and helped prepare me for my duties. Your mother will do the same."
And if you didn't think as soon as she said this, "Uh oh," then you haven't been watching Thrones long enough.
Because if there's one thing we've learned in all these episodes it's that a mother's love is never, ever enough. In fact, the more a mother loves, often, the more cursed her child's fortune turns out to be.
2. The Queen Who Never Was, Rhaenys, arrives on her dragon with news that King Viserys is dead
I still find it unlikely that no one could get news to them at Dragonstone before now, but Rhaneys lets Rhaneyra know that not only is her father dead, Aegon has been crowned as his successor.
Daemon, immediately hotheaded, says Queen Alicent murdered King Viserys and stole the crown.
While the second part is exactly what most would think at Dragonstone, would it really be surprising to anyone who had seen Viserys that he died? And if Alicent had wanted Viserys to die, why wait as long as she did to kill him? I mean, he nearly died at the family dinner and half his face is wasted away. It's honestly surprising that he was still alive, not that he might die.
The QWNW has a warning: "The greens are coming for you Rhaenyra and for your children. You should leave Dragonstone at once."
3. As if she wasn't stressed enough, Rhaenyra goes into labor upon hearing the news
This will be her her sixth child and her screams loom over all the conversations about preparing for war and the defense of Dragonstone.
Rhaenyra tells the boys about their grandfather's death and Aegon on the Iron Throne news while in labor.
Soon thereafter we get a graphic stillborn baby birth.
One of the themes of this first season has been childbirth and it's often gruesome consequences. From Queen Aemma's death in the first episode to Daemon's wife being burned to death mid-pregnancy to Rhaenyra's stillborn baby here, the birth of a child is brutal.
At the funeral pyre for the stillborn baby, a King's Guard member arrives with a crown and pledges lifelong loyalty to Rhaenyra. She's crowned and everyone kneels around her.
Significantly, Princess Rhaenys doesn't kneel.
4. Lord Corlys has survived, meaning all the fighting over his successor was worthless
And that his brother lost his head for no reason.
But no one knows which throne he'll support.
As Rhaenyra and her council debate allies and foes, all stand around the map debating the correct course of conduct for her to adopt. Rhaenyra, much to the council's dismay, is cautious.
5. Amidst this debate, Otto Hightower arrives at Dragonstone with a message from the newly crowned King Aegon
Rhaenyra, in a bit of a showy messaging, lands her dragon on the Dragonstone bridge, wearing her crown.
"I'm Queen Rhaenyra now and you are traitors to the realm," she says.
Otto's message is simple: Acknowledge Aegon as king and you get to keep Dragonstone and your children will be well taken care of.
This does not strike Daemon as a good offer: "I would rather feed my sons to to the dragons than...have them serve your cunt of a king."
Rhaenyra rips Otto's hand of the king pin off, throws it off the bridge, and calls him a "fucking traitor."
But then she sees the message, a page from the book torn out long ago, when she and Alicent were still young girls in King's Landing. The message gives her pause.
She promises an answer for King's Landing in the morning.
6. Rhaenyra struggles with her choice: "I do not wish to rule over a kingdom burned to the ground."
Discussions abound about the power of the dragons, they have 13, King's Landing has four. Plus, there are other uncommitted dragons, the five star recruits of the realm as it were.
Furious that she won't immediately fight, Daemon chokes Rhaenyra, engaging in direct violence with her for, I believe, the first time. Rhaenyra attempts to explain to Daemon the prophecy of the song of ice and fire, but then realizes, Daemon hasn't been filled in: "He never told you, did he?" says Rhaenyra.
7. Lord Corlys returns after over six years, still alive, and having won whatever war they've been fighting for decades in the Step Stones.
Rhaenys says he abandoned her after their children were both killed. (Remember we still don't know exactly who knows about their son's survival.)
"Our pursuit of the iron throne is at an end, we shall declare for no one," says Corlys, rendering a neutral verdict on the coming battle for the Iron Throne. Rhaenys says their grandkids won't be safe, the Velaryon's can't just refuse to pick a side.
8. Daemon isn't present in the war room as Lord Corlys strides into the Dragonstone throne room.
"Hope is the fool's ally," says Corlys as he discusses the potential allies of Rhaenyra. But then he pivots: "This Hightower treason can not stand, you have the full support of our fleet and house, your grace."
Lord Corlys says they can, by virtue of their ships and the war he won, control the shipping lanes and keep goods from arriving at King's Landing.
Buoyed by his support, Rhaenyra says she wishes to see who her allies are before she decides to enter war.
Princes Jace and Luc ask to be sent on the dragons to seek allies. They argue they can fly faster on dragons than the ravens can carry messages, plus, they say, the dragons will send a powerful message.
Jace flies north and Luc flies South.
But first Rhaenyra has them swear to avoid conflict, "You go as messengers, not as warriors," she says.
Now this is not Monday Morning Quarterbacking here, I immediately turned to my wife and said, "She's not sending any protection with them? Just letting them ride off on their dragons into what might be a war?"
How does no one veto this idea?
This is one of my big hang ups with this first season, everything bad is eminently foreseeable. Sometimes in Game of Thrones good choices were rewarded with bad results. But so far in Dragons every bad choice is immediately greeted with bad results.
It's just all too predictable.
9. Daemon goes singing to dragons who don't have riders in an effort to add more dragons.
Dragon eyes and Daemon eyes have flickers of recognition.
Maybe Daemon will get these five star recruits after all.
10. Luc arrives at the Baratheon estate after Prince Aemond, and his gigantic dragon, has already arrived.
Somehow I didn't know that Aemond's dragon was this much bigger than Luc's dragon.
It feels a bit like Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader is already there in Cloud City only they don't know yet and trouble looms.
Luc passes a message to Baratheon to remind him of his father's oath to support Rhaenyra. Baratheon asks Luc if he can marry one of his three daughters. Luc says he can't because he's betrothed to his cousins already, Daemon's daughters. "So you come with empty hands. Go home pup," says Baratheon.
At this moment, Aemond strides forward, tossing a knife to Luc and demanding that he remove his eye to pay for the eye Aemond has lost. Baratheon keeps the boys from fighting, but from here you know Luc's going to die.
Luc gets on his dragon in the midst of a huge storm and Aemond chases him through the storm on his dragon.
But eventually Aemond loses control of his dragon -- maybe they aren't so loyal after all -- and Aemond's dragon, which used to belong to Daemon's wife, slices apart the much smaller dragon, killing Luc in the process.
That's it, when Daemon delivers the news a vengeful Rhaenyra won't stand for it, we have war.
Okay, what's my verdict on season one? I'd give the show a B. Most shows don't hit their stride until seasons two or three and there was a great deal of exposition, and years, to cover to set the table for this story.
But I keep coming back to a couple of points of criticism, first, there's no real humor in this story. There's no character like Tyrion who can leaven the darkness with some laughs. Everything is very ponderous and serious. There are almost no moments of levity. It's needed, badly.
Also, if you didn't like "Game of Thrones," and weren't already invested in this show for that reason, was this first season so compelling you would watch it anyway? I don't think so. So this first season got a viewership benefit the show and its writing and plotting don't yet deserve. Maybe it will deserve it by season two or three, but so far, we haven't gotten any indication this show will live up to the high standard of Game of Thrones.
Finally, I cared who sat on the Iron Throne in the original Game of Thrones. We all had rooting interests and debated which direction the story would head. That's because the show was riddled with mysteries.
I have to admit, I don't really care who sits on the throne and I don't even have anything to debate with any other viewers now that season one is over. No one has shown me that they really deserve or don't deserve the ultimate seat of power. Maybe they will in future episodes, but shouldn't we have rooting interests already? And shouldn't we be able to debate some of these characters and their motivations in earnest? So far we can't. There are, quite simply, no mysteries.
It feels like we already know everything.
And it's hard to really fall in love with a show without mysteries.
Nevertheless, I'll be watching, I would imagine, when season two returns in a year or so.
See y'all then.