REVIEW: “House of the Dragon” Episode 10 — “The Black Queen”

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House of the Dragon Episode 10 - But Why Tho (1)

House of the Dragon comes to an end with Episode 10 and it’s a fitting one that honors Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), not just as the opposite of Alicent (Olivia Cooke), but as a sovereign worthy to rule. If Episode 9 showcased how Aegon was unfit to rule, House of the Dragon Episode 10, “The Black Queen,” showcases how Rhaenyra can pull support and find her ground. Not just with men, but with the respect of the Queen Who Should Have Been, Rhaenys.

One of the most prominent themes of House of The Dragon has been how Rhaenyra moves through a world made by and for men. We have seen her survive, and we have seen her struggle. Now with the Targaryen Civil War brewing, Rhaenys has arrived in Dragonstone. But as Daemon prepares for war, Rhaenyra has found herself in her birthing bed, stuck losing a child while she’s also expected to seize power. Despite her stark opposition to being a mother, and winding up with birth as her battlefield, she has embraced it now.

The callbacks to earlier in the season aren’t just showing fanservice, they are indeed showcasing how Rhaenyra has grown and become more than who she was and who people thought she could be. But instead of detaching Rhaenyra from her motherhood or femininity for power, the series combines it. She is powerful and she is a mother. She is powerful and she is a woman. While Alicent works for men, Rhaenyra commands them, soothing the storm. House of the Dragon began with men refusing to bend to Rhaenyra, and now she holds them to the fire, pushing them to calm. Even if that man is her husband who refuses to allow for calm.

There is a balance in her power and claim that doesn’t ask others to give it to her but also doesn’t force them. There is strength in her restraint and calmness that is seen and respected by the only ones around her not looking to fill graveyards. This thoughtful planning for war is also what showcases Rhaenyra’s ability to act not with reactive anger, but with measured temperance. And it’s what ultimately brings the one person who has not respected her this entire season, to her side, Rhaenys.

Emma D’Arcy delivers a powerful and measured performance as Rhaenyra. Matt Smith makes Daemon even more despicable. But it’s Eve Best and Steve Toussaint as Rhaenys and Corlys who become a standout. While House Velaryon has continually delivered some of the best moments of the season, Rhaenys and Corlys’s chemistry is beautiful. There is love and respect between them, a marriage that isn’t just existing out of necessity. This report between the two allows House of the Dragon Episode 10 to climax beautifully but not out of force.

House of the Dragon Episode 10 may be seen as slow or uneventful by some, especially in the first half. That said, its pacing is executing every move it set up in the first nine episodes of the season. On top of that, with four more seasons to follow, there is more to come. Yes, this episode builds for something we are not seeing this episode it also delivers and that part is key.

You can not close out a season on set-up alone, and so, this season’s end is a bitter one. It’s one where measured resolve ends with firey anger and children bubble resentment and powerplays to the surface. While the Rhanyra seeks to keep the world from fire, Aemond seems to light the fire himself. It’s a tough end and an open wound to carry into the next season of the series.

House Of The Dragon Episode 10 was slow until it wasn’t. It showed audiences more dragons than we’ve seen so far and the terror they reap. With my stomach in my throat for the last act of the episode, the showrunners expertly built tension and executed in setting the stage bleakly for a match that is going to be exciting to watch from our couches when the series returns with Season 2 in 2025. With one look, D’Arcy ends Season 1 with anger and contempt, and a brewing storm.

House of the Dragon is available to stream now, in its entirety on HBO Max.


"House of the Dragon" Episode 10 — "The Black Queen"
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

House Of The Dragon Episode 10 was slow until it wasn’t. It showed audiences more dragons than we’ve seen so far and the terror they reap. With my stomach in my throat for the last act of the episode, the showrunners expertly built tension and executed in setting the stage bleakly for a match that is going to be exciting to watch from our couches when the series returns with Season 2 in 2025. With one look, D’Arcy ends Season 1 with anger and contempt, and a brewing storm.

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