The House Of The Dragon Finale Finally Delivered Big Dragon Action

This article contains spoilers for the "House of the Dragon" season 1 finale.

There were certain promises "House of the Dragon" made before it premiered. It aimed to keep the parts of "Game of Thrones" you loved, but without the baggage from the divisive finale. The show promised political intrigue and epic fantasy battles without the disappointing deus ex machinas, and the last minute character assassinations. It promised family rivalry and incest without — well, they kept those, actually.

The point is, the show had simultaneously both a very high bar and a very low bar to clear. "Game of Thrones" is one of the biggest shows of the past decade, but it also ended in a rather disappointing way. By some miracle, however, "House of the Dragon" delivered. Sure, it still suffered from some interminably dark scenes, and from time skips that killed momentum, but still, it delivered on its promises — even the biggest one. That's right, the biggest promise "House of the Dragon" made was presenting a "Game of Thrones" story but with dragons involved in the battles. After a season of cool stuff, one thing was still missing: the dragons. Sure, we had seen them on the show here and there, like in the fight against the Crabfeeder (RIP, you sweet pirate king), but it was not until the finale that we truly got a dragon-on-dragon fight, and you know what? It ruled.

After a season full of events so unfortunate even Lemony Snicket would call it unlucky, as well as more than a few misunderstandings, we saw Lucerys Velaryon flying off to Storm's End on the back of his dragon, Arrax. It ended up being the worst possible time to show us the home of House Baratheon for the first time, because what followed was not as much a fight as it was a horror show.

Someone didn't watch 'How to Train Your Dragon'

The whole scene is shot like a horror movie, set during a raging storm in the middle of what appears to be nighttime (or is it very clear and light out? Ya burnt!) as Lucerys realizes he is not alone in Storm's End, but Vhagar and Aemond are already there. Director Greg Yaitanes truly makes us feel as afraid as Lucerys, because we know how dangerous a bloodthirsty anime villain like Aemond can be, especially for the nephew who took his eye. We also know that Vhagar is a freaking huge (and very chonky) dragon that has been alive for hundreds of years, while Lucerys' Arrax has only been alive as long as he has (if not less time than that).

Indeed, Yaitanes treats Vhagar sort of like the shark in "Jaws," delaying the moment the winged death fully shows up as much as possible, focusing instead on Lucerys' fear. When we do get our first glimpse of the flying behemoth, it is but a titanic shadow that covers the entire screen and engulfs Arrax like a tiny lizard. This makes us feel the full-sized impact of living in a world with breathing, living, flying nuclear weapons. Of course anyone in Westeros would be terrified of the Targaryens — who wouldn't? Vhagar alone can level the entire continent just because she feels like it.

Beware the flying death

It's significant that the "battle" barely lasts a minute, with Vhagar annihilating and ripping Arrax and Lucerys apart in an instant the moment she decides she wants to kill them, while Aemond is absolutely useless in trying to keep his dragon under control. This is what makes the scene even more terrifying: It harkens back to Viserys' early line that "the idea that we control the dragons is an illusion," because of course it is. It is already near impossible for Lucerys to control tiny baby Arrax; how the hell could anyone even begin to control something as absurdly big and primal as Vhagar, or Balerion?

This puts Daemon's argument about the Blacks having more dragons than the Greens in a new light, as well as Rhaenyra's attempts at peace: Now we know that nothing good comes from using dragons in war. The Dance of the Dragons is finally upon us, but the show is not teasing a romantic future in which knights in shining armor ride fantasy flying horses that breathe fire. Instead, "House of the Dragon" is threatening to show us the absolute horror of a world where the same knights in shining armor are powerless to stop giant flying beasts that can breathe fire from killing their riders, each other, and everyone in their path just because they feel like it. That is the promise of "House of the Dragon," and it is both scary and thrilling. Bring on season 2.

"House of the Dragon" is currently streaming on HBO Max.