Warning: The following article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 1, “The Heirs of the Dragon“
Daenerys Targaryen was one of the central characters in Game of Thrones and her impact is still felt — even in the new prequel series House of the Dragon. Dany was played by Emilia Clarke and she was one of the last Targaryens alive during GOT. She was sold off by her brother to Kal Drogo and spent the series breaking free from her own chains, freeing other slaves, and gaining dragons and powerful armies to return to King’s Landing and claim the Iron Throne. Events didn’t unfold the way that she had hoped and she was killed soon after.
Daenerys’ story was so meaningful that HBO decided to move forward with a show about her Targaryen ancestors. House of the Dragon takes place during the height of the Targaryen empire. King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) sits upon the Iron Throne and he’s entrenched in family drama. His daughter Rhaenyra, played in her youth by Milly Alcock and in her adulthood by Emma D’Arcy), is a dragonrider whose claim to the throne is in question because she’s a girl, and people have concerns about his brother Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) because of his brashness. With all of this going on, it’s clear that the creators want audiences to keep Daenerys in mind.
House of the Dragon episode 1 begins with a narration to bring everyone up to speed. King Jaehaerys (Michael Carter) has died and he has given the crown to Viserys instead of his elder grandchild Rhaenys (Eve Best). The words onscreen detailing this time imply that Daenerys has not been forgotten in this prequel. The text reads: “It is now the ninth year of King Viserys I Targaryen’s reign. 172 years before the death of the Mad King, Aerys, and the birth of his daughter, Princess Daenerys Targaryen.” Most of the text then fades away and the remaining words are, “172 years before Daenerys Targaryen,” which makes her name the focal point.
Flying through the skies and the music
Afterward, young Rhaenyra is seen flying over King’s Landing on her dragon Syrax. Her silver hair flowing in the wind and the House Targaryen theme music that plays summons Dany to mind. This theme was played during some of Dany’s most pivotal moments in the original series when she was with her dragons. Music composer Ramin Djawadi has said that he wanted to keep the DNA from GOT alive in House of the Dragon, and with this story centering on the Targaryen bloodline, it’s hard not to think of Dany.
After the death of Queen Aemma Targaryen (Sian Brooke) during childbirth, a funeral is held for her and her infant son. Both of their bodies are bound outside as people gather to watch. Daemon offers Rhaenyra words of comfort before she calls upon Syrax by saying the High Valyrian word, “dracarys,” compelling the dragon to burn the bodies using dragonfire. Daenerys famously said the word dracarys for Drogon to use his dragonfire on multiple occasions throughout the seasons of GOT. At this time, the Targaryens are fluent in High Valyrian and they speak to each other in the language, Rhaenyra’s delivery has a thicker accent.
By the end of the episode, King Viserys has decided to make Rhaenyra his heir and he tells her of a great secret. They’re in the cellars of the Red Keep where the massive dragon Balerion the Black Dread’s skull rests. He asks his daughter what she sees when he looks at the dragon, and she says that people think they’re gods because of their connection to the dragon. He tells her that King Aegon had a dream about a terrible winter that would come from the distant north and how this vision is passed down from each Targaryen ruler to the next one. This dream was called “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Viserys warns her that if the world of men is to survive then a Targaryen king or queen must be seated on the Iron Throne.
This scene foreshadows what would eventually befall Westeros during Game of Thrones and the Long Night. The Night King brought his army of White Walkers to spread cold and darkness over the land, and they were fought off in Winterfell by Daenerys, Jon Snow, and their forces. The king on the throne refers to Jon, who is a Targaryen by blood, seeing as he’s the true born son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and the Queen refers to Daenerys. Viserys’ admission creates a direct link to the ending of Game of Thrones, and once again proves how important Daenerys Targaryen is to the series.