The Heirs of the Dragon

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"The Heirs of the Dragon"
House of the Dragon episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byMiguel Sapochnik
Written byRyan Condal
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byFabian Wagner
Editing byTim Porter
Original air dateAugust 21, 2022 (2022-08-21)
Running time66 minutes
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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"The Heirs of the Dragon" is the series premiere of the HBO fantasy drama television series House of the Dragon, an adaptation of the second half of George R. R. Martin's book Fire & Blood. The first episode of the first season was written by series co-creator Ryan Condal. The episode was directed by Miguel Sapochnik.

As the first episode of the series, it introduces the setting and the main characters of the show.


In 101 AC,[a] King Jaehaerys I Targaryen (Michael Carter), having outlived all his children, convened a Great Council to select an heir and avoid a potential war of succession. While Prince Viserys (Paddy Considine), Jaehaerys' oldest grandson, was chosen, several lords supported Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best), Jaehaerys' oldest living descendant.

Nine years into Viserys's reign, his wife, Queen Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke), is again with child. After many failed pregnancies, Viserys is certain Aemma will bear a healthy son. A great tournament is organized to celebrate the impending birth. Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), the Hand of the King, insists that Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), Viserys's brother and heir presumptive, is unfit to rule, citing his brutal methods as Commander of the City Watch, but Viserys ignores his advice.

At the tournament, Viserys' only living child, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), and her companion, Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), Ser Otto's daughter, are intrigued by Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), a handsome, common-born knight who defeats the popular Daemon in both jousting and melee. Meanwhile, Aemma suffers a breech birth that drastically risks both her life and her baby's. Viserys allows Grand Maester Mellos (David Horovitch) to perform a caesarean section, hoping to save the child, though knowing the procedure will kill Aemma. The infant, named Baelon, dies hours after his mother. Rhaenyra's dragon Syrax cremates their remains during the funeral.

At Ser Otto's request, Alicent makes a condolence visit to Viserys. Ser Otto later informs the Small Council that, at a local brothel, Daemon mockingly referred to the deceased Baelon as "the heir for a day." When confronted, Daemon says Viserys never supported him and claims he is a weak king manipulated by others, particularly Ser Otto. Outraged, Viserys removes Daemon as his heir in favor of Rhaenyra and banishes Daemon from King's Landing.

Viserys tells Rhaenyra a secret passed down through the generations: their ancestor Aegon the Conqueror dreamt of a threat from the North that Westeros can only defeat if a Targaryen sits on the Iron Throne. The lords of Westeros swear fealty to Rhaenyra as crown princess, while Daemon and his lover, Mysaria, (Sonoya Mizuno) depart atop his dragon, Caraxes.



"The Heirs of the Dragon" had 9.99 million viewers, which made it the biggest series premiere for HBO.[1] The size of the audience caused HBO Max in the US and Crave in Canada to crash for some users.[2] Downdetector reported 3700 instances of the application not responding.[2] HBO said the viewership represented the largest single-day viewership for a series debut in HBO Max's history.[3] This claim has not been verified by a third party such as Nielsen, which only tabulates viewership for HBO's linear channel. On August 26, it was mentioned by HBO that the view number has risen to 20 million across the United States.[4]

In the United Kingdom, the episode was watched by 1.39 million on Sky Atlantic and became the biggest drama launch ever on Sky.[5]

Critical reception

The episode received highly positive critical reviews. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the episode received an approval rating of 86% based on 147 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's critical consensus said, "Bearing the weight of a hallowed TV lineage, "The Heirs of the Dragon" won't fully fire viewers up for another Game of Thrones, but solidly sets the board with plenty of blood."[6]

Writing for IGN, Helen O'Hara gave the premiere episode a rating of 8 out of 10 and said, "House of the Dragon's premiere marks a strong, well-cast start to the Game of Thrones spin-off. This feels very close to its predecessor in tone and content, but immediately establishes a struggle for power around an amiable, weak-willed king, and vivid new characters to fight those battles."[7] Alec Bojalad of Den of Geek gave it a four out of five stars and deemed it as "in many ways better [than 'Winter Is Coming'] as it's a far more focused experience," and further praised the acting (particularly Smith's) and the jousting scenes.[8] Rebecca Nicholson of The Guardian, in her review for the first six episodes, called the first episode "spectacular" and that "it rattles through everything that made its predecessor, Game of Thrones, such a titan of the small screen."[9] Grading the episode with a "B", Jenna Scherer of The A.V. Club described it as "If this first episode is anything to go on, House of the Dragon will be a more staid affair than Game of Thrones, for better or worse." However, she criticized the production design, particularly "the outfits, technology and jargon", for being "identical to the ones in Game of Thrones" despite taking place two centuries earlier.[10]


  1. ^ In this world, the calendar system is based on the conquest of Westeros by Aegon I Targaryen, with AC meaning "After the Conquest."


  1. ^ Hailu, Selome (August 22, 2022). "'House of the Dragon' Premiere Draws Nearly 10 Million Viewers, Biggest HBO Series Premiere Ever". Variety. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Lukpat, Alyssa (August 22, 2022). "HBO Max Crashes for Thousands in the Minutes After 'House of the Dragon' Premieres". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  3. ^ Hailu, Selome (August 22, 2022). "'House of the Dragon' Premiere Draws Nearly 10 Million Viewers, Biggest HBO Series Premiere Ever". Variety. Retrieved August 23, 2022.
  4. ^ Katz, Brandon (August 26, 2022). "HBO's 'House of the Dragon' Premiere Viewership Soars to 20 Million". TheWrap. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  5. ^ Ritman, Alex (August 23, 2022). "'House of the Dragon' Becomes Sky's Biggest U.S. Drama Launch in U.K., Beating 'Game of Thrones'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  6. ^ "House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 29, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ O'Hara, Helen (August 19, 2022). "House of the Dragon: Series Premiere Review". IGN. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  8. ^ Bojalad, Alec (August 21, 2022). "House of the Dragon Episode 1 Review: The Heirs of the Dragon". Den of Geek. Retrieved August 23, 2022.
  9. ^ Nicholson, Rebecca (August 22, 2022). "House of the Dragon review – this Game of Thrones prequel is gorgeous, opulent television". The Guardian. Retrieved August 23, 2022.
  10. ^ Scherer, Jenna (August 21, 2022). "House Of The Dragon kicks off with a bloody, brutal premiere". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 21, 2022.

External links