Ranking Episodes From ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 1!

It’s the first week without House of the Dragon airing, and fans are mourning the ending of 2022’s biggest show. Looking back on the season’s most memorable moments, we’re ranking the first 10 episodes of the series, reflecting the viewership ratings and audience reactions.

House of the Dragon has arguably been the biggest, most talked about show this year, proving to be HBO’s worthy successor of Game of Thrones. While final numbers for the season’s later episodes still haven’t been officially released, ratings soared every week, some episodes compared to and beating out its predecessor. After the fiery mishap that was season eight, some could say HOTD creators took a gamble with trying not to anger fans, but the prequel proves the fandom is alive and flourishing. Taking a look at ratings and audience reception, here’s a ranking of season one’s 10 episodes!

10. Episode 3 – “Second of His Name”

“Second of His Name” is rated with an 8.7 on IMDB and 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, coming in last on their list as well. Being an earlier episode lost in the mix of so many great moments, most coming later on in the season, puts it at the disadvantage of being forgettable. Following the official marriage of Viserys and Alicent two years later, there’s some mundane politicking around the Red Keep as they celebrate Aegon’s second name day. Rhaenyra’s faced with awkward family tensions while dealing with the stress of finding a potential husband. Time and time again, young Rhaenyra proves her determination, and here it’s through successfully killing a boar during a hunting party, and returning to her family by making a statement drenched in blood. King Viserys is in a happy moment of drunken bliss during this episode, denying Otto’s attempts to change his heir to Aegon. All this is going on while the real action lies with Daemon as he helps Corlys Velaryon and his army defeat Craghas the Crabfeeder and the Myrish pirates at the Stepstones. This is the first time we get to see a dragon put their flame to the test, with Daemon and Caraxes saving the day — plus Laenor and his dragon Seasmoke — after being underestimated by Ser Vaemond (Corlys’ brother). We saw the up close grittiness of Daemon putting his fighting skills to the test, as he single handedly tore apart the Crabfeeder’s men in a scene reminiscent of Game of Thrones’ “Battle of the Bastards.” The moment certainly brought some well-needed action to the show, which was on a slower start as it set pieces in place for the upcoming story. 

9. Episode 2 – “The Rogue Prince”

“The Rogue Prince” is number seven on Rotten Tomatoes’ list with 85%, and has an 8.4 rating on IMDB. According to Variety’s reports, the second episode has the highest number of definitive viewers, at a whopping 10.2 million. Similar to the third episode, it falls to the fault of being grouped in earlier, mostly forgetful episodes that are really laying the foundation for the show’s conflict. Rhaenyra chooses Ser Criston Cole, a prominent member of Team Green during the civil war, for the open spot on the Kingsguard based on his actual strength and combat experience. Meanwhile, Alicent is becoming closer to Viserys following his wife’s death as Otto is driving their scheme for the Hightowers to become entangled with the ruling Targaryen family. The forming of their relationship is the first wedge that drives childhood friends Rhaenyra and Alicent further from each other, as it’s mostly kept a secret from Viserys’ daughter. It also introduces the importance of the Velaryon family and their unification with the Targaryens as Viserys is pressured to search for a new wife. And, it’s the first implication that something is wrong with Viserys health wise as a festering pinky wound grows. Then we have Daemon, who went back to Dragonstone and stole a dragon egg meant for Rhaenyra’s brother who died with mother Aemma. Rhaenyra shows off her wits yet again by taking matters into her own hands, confronting him on dragon Syrax and getting the egg back, all while Otto fails in his own plan to get it back himself. She’s able to have a long overdue heart-to-heart with father Viserys upon her return, really pushing the meaningful relationship the two have — despite being overshined by the following scene where he proposes his marriage with Alicent. 

8. Episode 9 – “The Green Council”

“The Green Council” has an 8.7 IMDB rating and 85% at number nine on Rotten Tomatoes’ list. The penultimate episode is Greens centric as Alicent, her family, and the small council scramble with their coronation plan following the death of King Viserys. There’s a bunch of suspenseful build up of whispers and a race against time through the streets of King’s Landing to find Aegon, leading to his official crowning. Here, it’s Team Otto vs. Team Alicent, as she grasps with her father’s conspiring and manipulation. After such a powerful, final episode with Viserys, this one is a little dull — and that may have to do with the fact that you can’t help but have more sympathy for Team Black — but still intriguing to see their declaration of war that officially kicks off the Dance of the Dragons. Plus, Eve Best shines in this episode as Rhaenys, the Queen that Never Was, as she stands up to Alicent after being made a captive following Viserys’ death. Then in the final moments during Aegon’s coronation, she makes her way to her dragon Meleys and escapes, quite literally with a grand exit bursting through the dragon pit floorboards of the sept. She had everyone yelling at their screens to “Dracarys” away the Greens, yet she refrained and simply stood her ground before leaving to tell Rhaenyra. The whole final scene of the coronation in front of tons of King’s Landing civilians and the surprise dragon is undeniably epic. Overall though, in comparison to other episode nines of Game of Thrones, this is one of the weaker entries, but moments from it still hold their own. 

7. Episode 6 – “The Princess and the Queen”

“The Princess and the Queen” rounds up the top five with 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and is the lowest-rated IMDB episode with an 8.1. The commanding introductions of Emma D’Arcy’s adult Rhaenyra and Olivia Cooke’s adult Alicent made the episode feel like a soft reboot of the premiere. It brought the first major time jump, skipping ahead 10 years, which was arguably a bit jarring for a mid-season episode. Nevertheless, D’Arcy’s successful birth of her third child and the march through the castle to show the baby to evil Queen Alicent at her beck and call made for a powerful moment. There were also some glimpses of humor in intimate moments between Rhaenyra, Laenor, and actual baby daddy Ser Harwin Strong, which made for some calming scenes amidst the chaos of the discovery that Rhaenyra’s sons are bastards. While book fans wished to see more of the development of Rhaenyra and Harwin’s relationship and how she found a happy place in the Red Keep with him, they still appreciated the glimpses we did get. The characters’ happiness was short lived though, as Alicent’s conniving right hand man Larys Strong was shown admitting to orchestrating a fire that killed his brother Harwin and their father Lyonel (also the Hand of the King). This opened up the door for Alicent’s father Otto to make his grand comeback as Hand and pushed Rhaenyra to take her family to Dragonstone. As for Daemon, we saw contentment with wife Laena and daughters Baela and Rhaena in Pentos come to an end after she dies in childbirth, in the most fitting death a dragonrider can have: she asks Vhagar to burn her within her final moments. 

6. Episode 1 – “The Heirs of the Dragon”

“The Heirs of the Dragon” holds an 8.7 rating on IMDB and an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. The first episode is HBO’s most-watched series premiere ever, accumulating a viewership of 9.99 million — in comparison to Game of Thrones, which debuted with 4.2 million viewers. The long-awaited premiere feels like a solid opener for the prequel series as audiences jump into the world of Westeros again and familiarize themselves with some of the major players involved in House Targaryen. It sets a tone with a voice over from Emma D’Arcy as she narrates the question of succession between Viserys and Rhaenys, which is mentioned numerous times throughout the season, and shows how King Jaehaerys I named Viserys heir. It’s directly called back to at the end of the episode when Viserys ultimately names Rhaenyra his heir — the first female to be in that role — after losing his wife Aemma in childbirth to save his son, who subsequently died too. The episode sets up the ongoing theme of horrific births we see various female characters in the show go through later on. Also, there’s instant on-screen charisma with all the actors as fans wasted no time in picking their favorite characters. 

5. Episode 5 – “We Light the Way”

“We Light the Way” has an 8.9 rating on IMDB and 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, serving as a great midpoint of the season and this ranking list. It’s the final time we see Emily Carey as young Alicent and Milly Alcock as young Rhaenyra, who both gave their all to their respective roles. Plus, it follows the classic Westeros tradition of a wedding going horribly wrong and ending in death. After episode four’s exploration of Rhaenyra’s sense of sexuality, she now has to settle down in marriage with Laenor Velaryon, who also happens to be gay. Knowing this, Rhaenyra strikes a secret pact with him to put on a political front for their families’ reunification while getting to have their own side pieces. Too bad Criston Cole isn’t equally as happy about this deal, because that relationship instantly dies as he turns to anger for the possibility of being considered Rhaenyra’s “whore” and her not wanting to run away to Essos with him. Resenting Rhaenyra now and the fact that he broke his knight’s duty vow for her, he goes berserk and brutally kills Laenor’s lover Joffrey at the opening feast announcing the expected marriage. He was about to kill himself in the garden afterward, but Alicent stopped him, resulting in an alliance between the two, birthed from their newfound hatred for Rhaenyra. This opened a slew of hilarious memes — which Criston’s actor Fabien Frankel himself embraced — as the audience immediately turned on the character. The episode also featured Alicent’s iconic entrance in her now signature green dress, signaling the divide between House Targaryen and House Hightower. Talk about a drama filled episode, the opposite of a rom-com. 

4. Episode 4 – “King of the Narrow Sea”

“King of the Narrow Sea” is fittingly at number four with 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB gave it an 8.5 rating. Audiences get to see further distrust form between Alicent and Rhaenyra as their respected sex lives as high-born young women are paralleled. Daemon returns and tempts young Rhaenyra, exploring the streets and brothels of King’s Landing. This is the first time we see the two start a physical relationship, though that ends up getting put on hold after Daemon bails out when it seems like he can’t handle the power Rhaenyra exudes. He teaches her to embrace sexuality and be more laxed, which ultimately drives her to lose her virginity that same night to Ser Criston Cole after a little convincing. Filmed by female director Clare Kilner, the episode’s sex scenes were shot beautifully and pleasing to the eye, regarded as very respectful from the perspective of women viewers. In contrast, we see how displeased Alicent is in her life despite ending up as queen consort to Viserys. She’s unhappy to bed a deteriorating old man, who just so happens to be her best friend’s father, and when she hears about Rhaenyra’s late night rendezvous with Daemon, she confronts her while Viserys does the same to his brother. Talk about making sex political. This episode makes clear the resentment Alicent has for Rhaenyra, who despite the two being similar ages living in the Red Keep, they live on varying degrees of freedom. Everything leading up to the last couple of episodes is built up of reasons for the eventual war, and this is a highlighted series moment for exactly that. 

3. Episode 10 – “The Black Queen”

“The Black Queen” sits at number two with 93% on the Rotten Tomato list and has a 9.3 rating on IMDB. The episode that explores the birth of Team Black is HBO’s most-watched series finale since Game of Thrones’ season eight itself, pulling 9.3 million viewers. While viewer counts aren’t the highest of the season, it could be the result of the episode leaking online two days before its premiere. Despite the spoilers and some unhappiness from fans after it made it seem like Aemond accidentally killed Lucerys, it’s undeniable that the episode was still pretty epic. It brought some haunting images of our first dragon fight (though, can that really be considered an honest fight?) as Vhagar loomed gigantically over Arrax before he and Lucerys ultimately met their demise. There wasn’t any dialogue in the final scene when Daemon presumably tells Rhaenyra the heartbreaking news, but we did get a feel of her emotions from body language and a final shot of her angry face, which speaks for itself — the Queen is ready for war. There was some audience backlash from the obvious distancing Daemon seems to be doing from Rhaenyra, fit with a heated choking scene after she reveals the Targaryen prophecy of ice and fire, which he never knew about. It’ll be interesting to see where the series takes their relationship in future seasons, especially relating to the book material. Additionally, the episode had Rhaenys break the news to Rhaenyra about the Greens coming after her, and after reluctance, she finally follows husband Corlys in pledging allegiance to the Black Queen. The setting up of Team Black in the finale proves they’ll be tough to mess with in the upcoming war. 

2. Episode 8 – “The Lord of the Tides”

“The Lord of the Tides” is IMDB’s highest-rated episode, sitting at 9.4, and is number three at 91% for Rotten Tomatoes. There are so many memorable moments from the freshman season, but this one is a stand out for Paddy Considine in particular, who is featured in one final, Emmy deserving performance as King Viserys before he dies at the end of the episode. On his deathbed, he urges his entire family to get along so he can find peace in his final moments, and for a short moment, it seems as though Alicent and Rhaenyra are able to reconcile their tensions while at the family dinner. And, we get one final badass scene of Viserys taking his place on the Iron Throne after making a grand entrance to support Rhaenyra. This brought the heartwarming scene of brother Daemon helping him to his seat and picking up his crown, which was actually improvised by Matt Smith. Meanwhile, Aemond and Lucerys’ rivalry is budding during the various toasts, where Aemond makes his infamous dedication to the “Strong” brothers. This episode brought the final time jump the series will have after going through a bunch over the course of eight episodes, settling once and for all on the young adult actors we currently have for Rhaenyra, Alicent, and Daemon’s children. In succession to episode seven, these two are a great package deal for the precursors of the war, showing previous tensions and some final moments of peace before everything really hits the fan. 

1. Episode 7 – “Driftmark”

“Driftmark” has an IMDB rating of 9.2 and is the highest-rated episode on Rotten Tomatoes at 94%. Fresh off its time jump to the adult versions of Rhaenyra and Alicent, the episode was exciting seeing everyone in the same place, despite the circumstances being for Laena’s funeral. It’s truly the moment the seeds of the war were planted, with the big confrontation scene between Rhaenyra and Alicent happening as the latter called for justice after Lucerys took Aemond’s eye out. We saw the true birth of the ongoing feud between nephews (Rhaenyra’s sons) and uncles (Alicent’s sons) after brave little Aemond tamed the old beast of a dragon that is Vhagar. Plus, it brought fans to the reunion of Daemon and Rhaenyra who finally consummate their relationship. The two tie the knot at the end with a private, stylistic, Old Valyrian wedding after plotting Rhaenyra’s husband Laenor’s death — who, in the very final scene, surprises audiences that he’s actually alive and escaping. This was a welcomed change from the books, which determine him as dead and nothing else, with fans rooting for him to get out before the rest of the chaos resumes. As the critics’ consensus for Rotten Tomatoes calls it, the episode is an “exceedingly satisfying excursion into family spats and taboo reunions.” 

Which episode was your favorite from the season?

About the Author

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Karissa Schaefer

Karissa Schaefer is a senior Journalism major with minors in Publishing and Psychology at Emerson College, focusing on all things entertainment. As she navigates the city of LA, she is a fall '22 intern at AfterBuzz TV and Better Together with Maria Menounos.