Let’s Break Down That Shocking Moment on the ‘House of the Dragon’ Season Finale
Book readers and Game of Thrones veterans were likely expecting a major death in the season finale of HBO’s House of the Dragon, but it still made many of us gasp out loud at the senseless brutality of it all.
House of the Dragon season finale spoilers ahead!
When I was reading Fire & Blood, while there are many moments that paint both the Greens and Blacks as morally grey-to-black, the death of Lucerys “Luke” Velaryon was one of the moments that broke my heart. On House of the Dragon, the adaptation has not let us spend much time with any of the second generation of characters. They exist to push certain plot elements forward and that is it. But as “The Black Queen” opened up with Luke’s little face being sad, I knew we were saying goodbye to a tiny king.
Earlier in episode eight, Luke got put in the center of fire because he is next in line to inherit Driftmark through his claimed father’s family. However, since everyone knows he is illegitimate, it only caused for his claim to be questioned, his great uncle to be killed, and Luke to be left with the sadness of knowing everything he could gain would come at someone else’s death. When his mother, Rhaenyra, allows him to go as a messenger to Storm’s End to try and get the allegiance of Boros Baratheon, any watcher of television can spot that we’ve spent an odd amount of time on him, so death is near.
That, coupled with the rain, is the setup for some bloodshed. As he arrives on Storm’s End, he sees that another dragon has arrived, the large and intimidating Vhagar—which means his old enemy and uncle, Prince Aemond, is also there. Boros may have made pledges to Rhaenyra in the past, but now he’s got a bunch of daughters to marry off. Aemond is bringing an offer of marriage, where Luke is bringing orders and demands. As Luke prepares to leave, Aemond is trying to bring up old wounds and wants Luke to cut out one of his own eyes to make up for Aemond’s missing one.
Now lets go back to the kid fight club scene that started this all.
After Laena’s death, she left behind her dragon, Vhagar. Vhagar was the dragon of Queen Visenya Targaryen, one of two wives of Aegon the Conqueror. At the time of the show when we see her, she is the largest living dragon and the oldest. Aemond claimed Vhagar, on the show, the same day as Laena’s funeral, and as a result, her two daughters attacked Aemond when he returns. Now, since they did decide to jump Aemond, he was acting in self defense, but Aemond was being a massive asshole, so maybe he should have just not escalated a situation where he was outnumbered. In the scuffle, when it seemed like Aemond would kill his brother Jace, Luke slashed at Aemond and it took out his eye.
Now, Aemond tries to use that blood feud to goad Luke into attacking, but Boros tells them not to battle in his hall. Luke attempts to escape on Arrax, but Aemond gives chase with Vhagar. Arrax is a much younger and smaller dragon, fourteen years old at most to over one hundred and sixty years. Arrax ends up breathing fire at Vhagar without being ordered to, likely because, as Dany once said, “A dragon is not a slave.” When their instincts flare they will act to defend themselves. Vhagar then attacks and snaps Arrax in half, with Luke on top of him. We don’t see much of anything, and that is the darkest bit.
Luke is dead, and the even temperament that Rhaenyra was attempting to show is now dashed at the bottom of the ocean.
There has been a lot of back and forth about who really deserves the “blame.” Well as an Into the Woods fan, I say that what really matters is not the blame, but how we got here. The Wheel of Westeros has always been broken and everyone has gotten caught up in it. For me, if we are to really put it on anyone, it is this system that says a first-born child’s right to rule is determined by gender. As Otto says when he arrives on Dragonstone, that is the thing that matters, and that is why we are in this conflict.
“Men would rather see the realm put to the torch, than see a woman ascend the iron throne.”
(featured image: HBO)
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