Alicent thinks Viserys crowned Aegon king but she's wrong. Here's what really happened on House of the Dragon S1

Have you forgotten the nuances of House of the Dragon season 1? Catch up now before the second season begins.
House of the Dragon season 2 key art. Image: HBO.
House of the Dragon season 2 key art. Image: HBO. /

Fans of George R. R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire series have been spoiled for content in recent years, despite the author's delays in completing the book series. In addition to Game of Thrones and its rumored sequels, HBO has created a new series, House of the Dragon, based on the infamous Dance of the Dragons.

Unlike its predecessor, House of the Dragon doesn't have a strict guideline for its content. The plot is based on events recorded in the book Fire & Blood, but Martin chose to write the Targaryen histories through unreliable narrators. This allowed the show more creative license to play with events and showcase the period's complexities.

House of the Dragon was pitched back in 2016, but it actually came to screens on Aug. 21, 2022. The first season featured ten hour-long episodes, setting the pieces in place for the conflict between Rhaenyra and her half-siblings.

Below, we provide a brief synopsis of the season as well as more detailed episodic plots, so you can prepare properly for the new season, coming to HBO and Max on June 16, 2024.


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House of the Dragon season 1 plot synopsis

House of the Dragon begins approximately 200 years before Game of Thrones, when the Targaryens were firmly seated on the Iron Throne. However, power struggles were just as common. At the beginning of the series, we see that King Viserys was chosen over his cousin Rhaenys to succeed their grandfather on the throne.

While this seemed to settle the matter for years, Viserys faced a succession crisis himself. He only had a daughter, which meant the throne was set to pass to his brother, Daemon, when he died. After Daemon showed too much defiance, Viserys named his daughter Rhaenyra as his heir.

After the death of his wife, Viserys chose to marry Rhaenyra's best friend, Alicent. This tore a rift between the friends, particularly when Alicent gave birth to a son: Aegon. Rhaenyra feared that her father would choose his new son over her, as he was chosen over Rhaenys.

Viserys assured Rhaenyra that she would not be displaced, but a political divide developed between Rhaenyra and her supporters and Alicent and hers (the Blacks and the Greens). While Alicent and her father argued that Aegon should be king, as the first-born son, Rhaenyra and Daemon (now her husband) argued that she should rule.

When Viserys died, the tensions came to the surface. Because of a misunderstanding, Alicent believed that Viserys had chosen Aegon over Rhaenyra. This gave her the strength to crown Aegon and imprison or eliminate any of Rhaenyra's supporters. Rhaenyra was crowned by Daemon.

As the competing monarchs sought support from the noble houses, Alicent's son Aemond killed Rhaenyra's son, Lucerys. This first blood ensured that the war was personal, and it would not stop until one side was eliminated.

House of the Dragon episodic breakdowns

While the above synopsis provides you with an opportunity to catch up on the main plots, there are many alliances and conflicts that are missed from such a big-picture perspective. Therefore, we have broken down each episode below, with major plot lines detailed for the biggest House of the Dragon fans to refresh their memories on every detail.

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

Episode 1: "The Heirs of the Dragon"

The first episode introduced the audience to the members of the royal family: King Viserys, his wife Aemma, their daughter Rhaenyra, and his brother Daemon. Also at court are Otto Hightower, Hand of the King, and his daughter Alicent, who is Rhaenyra's best friend.

The primary focus of this episode is who will succeed Viserys to the throne. Otto tells Viserys that Daemon is too violent and unpredictable to be king, but the only alternative is Rhaenyra. Aemma is pregnant, however, and Viserys is sure that her child will be his heir.

The baby is breach, and the doctors tell Viserys to choose: his wife or his child. He chooses the baby, who dies after just one day of life. Otto informs Viserys that Daemon was mocking "the heir for a day," and Viserys banishes Daemon and names Rhaenyra his heir before all the great lords.

While Viserys and Rhaenyra try to rebuild their relationship, Otto is scheming. He tells Alicent to go comfort Viserys, which sets her up as both the king's confidant and a path to reconciliation with Rhaenyra.

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Episode 2: "The Rogue Prince"

The second episode takes place six months after Rhaenyra was declared Viserys's heir. She takes part in some of his council meetings, but he generally ignores her suggestions about how to approach a military conflict. He tells her to choose a new member of the Kingsguard, and she chooses the handsome Criston Cole.

Viserys and his counsel learn that Daemon stole the dragon egg that had been intended for Viserys's son, intending to marry his mistress and give the egg to their child. Otto gets permission to retrieve the egg, but Daemon refuses to give it to him. Rhaenyra appears on dragonback, reclaiming the egg instead.

While Rhaenyra is proving herself a capable Heir, the Small Council urges Viserys to remarry and continue trying for a son. Corlys Velaryon, Viserys' cousin by marriage, suggests his twelve-year-old daughter Laena. However, Viserys instead chooses Alicent Hightower, who has continued comforting him and advising him for months.

With both Daemon and Corlys feeling snubbed by Viserys, they decide to disobey his orders to avoid the conflict in the Stepstones. They form an alliance to take on the Triarchy and win glory through war.

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Episode 3: "Second of His Name"

Episode three starts with another time jump, this time of three years. The major plot points involve Daemon and Rhaenyra, as each tries to navigate what they interpret as Viserys's rejection. Daemon and Corlys are still at war, but it isn't going well. Their enemy is clever, and Viserys won't send them any additional support.

Other than his spite toward his brother, Viserys is largely happy. Alicent gave him a son, Aegon, and is pregnant with another child. To celebrate his son's second nameday, Viserys holds a hunt for a white hart stag. Rhaenyra storms away and is attacked by a wild boar, which she kills herself. She also finds the stag, but allows it to go in peace.

In addition to being upset by Viserys marrying Alicent and having a boy, Rhaenyra is frustrated by her father's attempts to marry her off. He rejected Jason Lannister, but was counseled to either marry her to Aegon or Corlys and Rhaenys's son, Laenor.

Viserys promises Rhaenyra that he won't replace her and won't choose her husband for her. However, she must cooperate in finding a husband herself. While they reconcile, Otto Hightower tells Alicent that Aegon should replace Rhaenyra and that, if he doesn't, the siblings will go to war.

Trying to prove that royal siblings don't have to be in conflict, Alicent pushes Viserys to help Daemon. He agrees, but when Daemon learns about the coming support, he goes on a suicide mission, intent on winning the war himself. Despite taking some major hits, he does succeed in killing the leader, the Crabfeeder, and giving Corlys's troops the opportunity to end the war.

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Episode 4: "King of the Narrow Sea"

Although Rhaenyra agreed to try to find a powerful husband, she rejects all potential suitors during her courtship tour. Instead, she is interested in Daemon, who returned from war with a crown and the title "King of the Narrow Sea." Despite his earlier defiance, he gives the crown to Viserys, and the brothers are reconciled.

Alicent and Rhaenyra also start to rebuild their friendship, but Daemon brings out the defiance in Rhaenyra. They sneak out and go to a brothel, where they nearly sleep together. However, Daemon pulls away and Rhaenyra goes home, seducing Criston Cole instead.

Otto Hightower found out about Daemon and Rhaenyra's activities and tells Viserys. Alicent overhears him. Viserys confronts Daemon, who implies he did sleep with Rhaenyra and asks to marry her. Viserys attacks him and sends him away again. Alicent confronts Rhaenyra, who promises she didn't do anything with Daemon.

With conflicting accounts, Viserys and Rhaenyra make a deal. She will marry Laenor Velaryon to avoid scandal, and he will remove Otto from court.

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Episode 5: "We Light the Way"

In keeping with her deal to Viserys, Rhaenyra prepares to wed Laenor. As he is gay, she offers that their marriage only be for show, with both able to bring in outside lovers. Criston Cole proposes that they run away together, but Rhaenyra just wants him as a lover.

Otto confronts Alicent before leaving court, warning her that Rhaenyra will be a threat to her children. Larys Strong then tells her about Rhaenyra taking contraceptives, which convinces her that she did sleep with Daemon. When she asks Cole, he admits to having slept with Rhaenyra himself.

The wedding is a source of much conflict, as Alicent arrives in green, declaring a social war on Rhaenyra. Daemon arrives after having killed his wife, still trying to play the situation to his advantage. It all gets chaotic, however, when Laenor's lover tries to befriend Cole. He misunderstands the conversation and beats the man to death.

In the aftermath of the killing, Rhaenyra and Laenor have a secluded wedding, more for function than show. Criston Cole plans to kill himself, but Alicent stops him, wanting him as an ally in the coming years.

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Episode 6: "The Princess and the Queen"

Episode six begins with another time jump, with the actors for Rhaenyra and Alicent changing over to mark the ten year skip. The women are now proper enemies, both vying for Viserys's ear and approval.

Rhaenyra gives birth to her third son, who Alicent believes is illegitimate. Viserys won't listen, so Criston Cole provokes a fight with the princes' biological father, Harwin Strong. The fight seems like proof that the accusations are true, so Harwin returns to his home with his father.

Rhaenyra tries to ease tensions by suggesting that her son Jacaerys be engaged to Alicent's daughter Helaena. This would unite both sides of the family behind Rhaenyra's claim, but Alicent rejects the idea.

Alicent turns to Harwin's brother, Larys, who has become a confidant willing to get his hands dirty. He hires prisoners to kill Harwin and his father, an attack on Rhaenyra and her children that puts Alicent in his debt.

Daemon has stayed away from Westeros, traveling with his wife Laena and their children Baela and Rhaena. He is conflicted on whether or not to return home, when his wife goes into labor. Daemon is given the same choice that Viserys was in the first episode, but refuses to kill Laena for the baby. Instead, she drags herself outside and commands her dragon to burn her alive.

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Episode 7: "Driftmark"

In the aftermath of Laena's death, the whole family comes together for her funeral at Driftmark. Daemon and Rhaenyra reconnect in their shared grief and plan to marry. Daemon pays Laenor's lover to fake Laenor's murder and run away with him, so Rhaenyra will be allowed to marry him instead.

However, the Targaryen children are up to trouble of their own. Aemond, Alicent's second son, is the only child of Viserys without a dragon, so he claims Laena's dragon. Rhaena, who also doesn't have a dragon, feels the dragon belongs to her. They get into a fight, with Rhaenyra's children backing Rhaena. Aemond calls Rhaenyra's sons illegitimate and tries to kill one of them, so the other slashes him with a knife, cutting out his left eye.

Both Rhaenyra and Alicent plead their children's case before Viserys, with Alicent arguing that Rhaenyra's sons be punished for maiming Aemond and Rhaenyra arguing that he had committed treason by questioning her children's birthright. Viserys refuses to do anything, so Alicent attacks Rhaenyra, cutting her arm and intending to take Lucerys's eye.

In the end, none of the children are punished, but Viserys announces that he will cut out the tongue of anybody who questions Rhaenyra's children again. The childrens' grandmother, Rhaenys, privately suggests that the claim to Driftmark pass to the girls, rather than the boys, because their bloodline is not under question. Corlys refuses.

The staged death of Laenor goes forward, and Rhaenyra and Daemon get married.

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Episode 8: "The Lord of the Tides"

With another time jump of six years, succession is once again in crisis. Corlys Valaryon seems close to death, and his brother challenges Lucerys as his heir. Rhaenyra and Daemon return to King's Landing to fight for Lucerys' claim. There, Alicent and Otto rule while Viserys grows increasingly unhealthy.

The children are now much older, and their personalities are much more apparent. Aegon is drunk all the time, and Alicent covers up his sexual assaults. Despite his behavior, the Hightowers clearly hold the power now. Rhaenyra begs her father to defend her claim and her children's, and he appears during the challenge to support her.

Viserys announces that Lucerys is the rightful heir to Driftmark, and Rhaenys announces that her granddaughters are to be betrothed to Rhaenyra's eldest sons. When Corlys's brother continues to deny the princes' legitimacy, Viserys demands his tongue and Daemon kills him.

The whole family comes together for a final meal, where Viserys begs them to make up. Alicent and Rhaenyra begin to make amends, and Alicent recognizes Rhaenyra's claim to the throne. However, Aemond starts a fight with Rhaenyra's sons and ends the dinner on a sour note.

After dinner, Viserys is in a state of confusion. He attempts to continue a conversation with Rhaenyra about Aegon the Conqueror's prophecy, but he does so with Alicent instead. Hearing the name Aegon, she misunderstands and believes that he has declared her son the rightful heir on his deathbed. Then, Viserys dies, calling out for his first wife, Aemma.

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House of the Dragon Episode 9 - Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

Episode 9: "The Green Council"

Alicent rushes to tell her father about the king's death and that he had chosen Aegon as his heir. This prompted Otto to begin coup proceedings. He locked down the castle and refused to announce Viserys's death until the Green Council had assembled to put Aegon on the throne.

From there, the race is on to find the new king. Alicent wants to advise him to have mercy on Rhaenyra, while Otto wants her and her children executed. He is currently with Mysaria, Daemon's former mistress, but Alicent gets to him first and demands that Rhaenyra be given the chance to live.

Otto prepares for the coronation, capturing or killing anyone who doesn't support his plans. A set of twins, Arryk and Erryk, wind up on opposite sides when Ser Erryk decides that Aegon will be a bad ruler. He helps Rhaenys escape, who bursts out of the Dragonpit on dragonback during Aegon's coronation.

While Rhaenys had the opportunity to kill Alicent and her family, she chose to leave them, flying off to warn Rhaenyra of what has happened.

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Episode 10: "The Black Queen"

Rhaenys arrives at Dragonstone and tells Rhaenyra and Daemon that Viserys is dead and Aegon has been crowned. Rhaenyra suffers a stillbirth, and Daemon plans to go to war. Sir Erryk arrives with Viserys's crown, and Daemon declares Rhaenyra queen.

Alicent arrives to offer Rhaenyra a peace agreement, so long as she backs Aegon's claim to the throne. She considers it, but Daemon persuades her against it. Corlys offers his fleet to Rhaenyra, and she sends her eldest sons off to secure alliances.

Lucerys flies to Storm's End to convince the Baratheons to side with Rhaenyra, but Aemond is already there arguing for Aegon. Aemond tries to start a fight with Lucerys over his lost eye, but Borros Baratheon refuses to let anyone die. Lucerys begins to fly away, but Aemond tries to intimidate him on his own dragon.

When Lucerys's dragon retaliates, Aemond's dragon eats both dragon and rider. Though Aemond told his dragon not to attack, he has caused the first death in the Dance of Dragons. Back at Dragonstone, Daemon tells Rhaenyra what happened. The strength of her grief ensures that no peace can be made between the Greens and the Blacks.

House of the Dragon is available to stream on both HBO and Max.

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