‘House of the Dragon’ Cast and Showrunner Break Down That Finale Ending: ‘This Moves the Goal Posts for Suffering’

Did [SPOILER] really mean to kill [SPOILER]?

Note: Spoilers follow below for the “House of the Dragon” finale.

HBO’s “House of the Dragon” finale set the stage for the civil war to come in a heartbreaking way, as the episode ended with the death of Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) at the hands of Aemond’s (Ewan Mitchell) dragon Vhagar, which is the match that lights a flame inside Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) to commit to war against her half-brother Aegon.

Episode 10, titled “The Black Queen,” found Rhaenyra learning of her father Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) death and discovering that Aegon has been crowned king in her stead all in the same conversation. But instead of immediately leaping to war with Aegon and Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke), Rhaenyra spent most of the episode looking for a way to hold her claim to the throne peacefully.

Unfortunately, the death of her son Lucerys at the hands of Aemond is a point of no return, and the look in Rhaenyra’s eyes at the end of the episode foreshadows the bloodshed to come.

“It’s really a bullying sequence, a torture sequence, a chase sequence where Luke is trying to escape,” co-creator and showrunner Ryan Condal explains of the dragon chase sequence in a look inside the episode. “No real hope of Arrax fighting Vhagar and anything good happening at the end of that. But Luke relies on the speed of his dragon and the maneuverability to try to escape, and just when it seems like he has, Vhagar is there waiting for him.”

The big question that fans of the show and George R.R. Martin’s book series were left with was, did Aemond mean to kill his nephew?

“I think what you’re seeing in that moment there is the last vestiges of the little boy that’s left in Aemond, and maybe he was trying to scare Luke, but I don’t think ultimately he intended to kill him,” Condal explained. “But now he’s done it and he has to decide whether or not he’s gonna own it in his travel back to King’s Landing. Because obviously if the usurping of the throne and them crowning Aegon in the dragon pit wasn’t the start of the war, certainly killing one of the Queen’s sons is.”

Mitchell, who plays Aemond, understands where the character’s hatred towards Lucerys is coming from.

Ewan Mitchell as Aemond in “House of the Dragon” (HBO)

“I think anyone who is wronged like Aemond was and has his eye taken out, you’re gonna feel some sort of hatred whether it’s subconsciously or consciously towards the person who did it,” the actor explained in the same video. “But what Aemond ends up doing in the skies above Storm’s End ultimately starts the domino effect of the Dance of Dragons.”

D’Arcy says the loss of Lucerys will forever change Rhaenyra going forward.

“What I think is really affecting about it within a series where there is a lot of loss, there’s a lot of death, there is lots of pain of different sorts, and yet somehow I think this moves the goal posts for suffering,” D’Arcy said. “Once you’ve lost both your parents and you’ve lost a lover, maybe you think you know grief. And then I think what’s so awful is that losing Luke tells us she knows nothing about grief and completely changes her outlook on the world going forward.”

We’ll see how that results in an all-out war with Aegon and co. in “House of the Dragon” Season 2, which hasn’t yet started filming but is deep in the preparation phase.

Condal previously told TheWrap that “House of the Dragon” will be a shorter close-ended series compared to “Game of Thrones,” so expect to see closure within a couple of seasons.

“This particular story, the one that I’m telling right now, the Dance of the Dragons as the original series, it doesn’t have that breadth to it,” Condal said. “Not to say it’s any less interesting. It’s a really great series. But I think also part of making a series is knowing when to drop the curtain on it and call an end.”