(House of the Dragon spoilers will be found below.)
The House of the Dragon season finale gave us an enormous miscalculation by Aemond Targaryen, the “one-eyed Becky” who can’t control his own dragon. This sounds about right for a Daemon wannabe whose villain origin story sources from a gifted pig. Further, Aemond’s actions not only tipped the scales for Rhaenyra to have the worst day(s) ever but also officially launched the Targaryen civil war.
With that outcome looming for next season, I wanted to rank all of the dragons of House of the Dragon because we’re going to (eventually) see at least 17 of them in this Game of Thrones prequel series. Of course (and this is to be expected), we haven’t seen all of them yet, and with a few of them (revealed so far), we’ve only seen them in fleeting glimpses, so I’ll rank the most impactful dragons that we’ve seen in this first season. As silly as it sounds, I’ll list the beasts from “worst” to “best” on how likable they are, rather than how badass they might be (because they’re largely acting on instinct, but we’re free to enjoy the results or not). Also, they’re CGI-rendered beasts, so let’s lighten up.
[Note: Dragons who won’t be ranked here (due to lack of action and through no fault of their own) include Tyraxes (rider: Joffrey Targaryen), Moondancer (rider: Baela Valraryon), Gunfire (rider: King Aegon Targaryen), Dreamfyre (rider: Helaena Targaryen), and Silverwing (thus far unclaimed).]
Vhagar is on the dragon sh*t list right now. Granted, this isn’t entirely her fault, but she’s a very bad, loathsome beast who chomped Arrax (and Lucerys Targaryen) into shreds. The last thing this duo saw alive was ^^^ this face, which swiftly led to this carnage.
Let’s talk this out, though. Vhagar has been through some stuff. She lost her rider, Laena Valaryon, who forced her own dragon to kill her. Then Aemond claimed her, and she had to deal with his faux-swaggery BS every day. And arguably, what we saw from Vhagar sources directly from her horrible rider’s inability to control her. The cackling Aemond made a grave miscalculation by trying to “scare” Luke after being denied the eye-for-the-eye payback that he demanded, and Vhagar (seemingly enraged by a little fire to the face from a comparatively tiny dragon) simply decided to swallow Arrax for a snack. We’ll talk about this more in a moment, but right now, I’d like to stress that both Vhagar and Aemond are to blame, but Aemond really should have known better. He seemed genuinely shocked that a giant dragon ate the hell out of Arrax and Luke.
This brings up the question of whether Vhagar was truly out of control, or if Aemond is simply out of his league by riding the oldest (and biggest) dragon in the world. All of that too-little-too-late shouting in High Valyrian (for Vhagar to “serve” him) wasn’t going to go too far after all of his laughing and spurring on Vhagar to chase Arrax and Luke. Then there was Aemond’s “oh f*ck” face once he realized what he’d done. Good.
Vermax (with Jacaerys riding) took flight out of Dragonstone at the same time as Arrax and Luke did during the season finale, but looking cinematic is much of what Vermax ended up doing. And yes, he is awfully cute (I mean, look at this dude), and hopefully, he’s doing alright, I’m docking some points for his failure to swoop in and help rain a little fire upon Vhagar. Granted, this probably would have led to Vhagar eating Vermax, too (and that would have been an even worse scenario for Team Black), but (as the saying goes) it’s the thought that counts.
What did we see Vermithor (also known as the Bronze Fury) do during the finale, exactly? Not too much besides spew some fire and listen to Daemon sing in High Valyrian without torching him. That’s some admirable restraint, and if Daemon ever deserved a torching, the episode in which he choked Rhaenyra would be the one. Vermithor was the mystery dragon teased in a trailer, and people wondered if this would possibly be Cannibal, but no dice. Vermithor — who currently has no rider — will undoubtedly be called upon for Team Black in the coming civil war. Daemon was attempting to claim/tame this relatively large dragon, and hopefully, Vermithor will climb onboard and help even out the scoreboard. After all, the Targaryens have more dragons than the Hightowers do, but the Targaryen dragons haven’t been to battle yet. And I can’t fault Vermithor for anything yet besides failing to at least singe Daemon’s hair.
There’s really not too terribly much I can say for Syrax at the moment because she’s been sidelined from action lately, given that Rhaenyra’s been busy birthing several children (sadly, including a stillborn daughter). However, Syrax should be credited with being a young dragon who appears (so far) to be obedient, which might seem weird to say about a dragon that’s also catlike in her behavior. Also, she’s been cranking out eggs, which will no doubt be strategically valuable in this war and in the future. And she’s now the Queen’s dragon! That counts for a lot.
Alright, so there’s been plenty of debate on whether or not Rhaenys should have torched the Hightowers while she had the chance. All hell broke loose when her dragon, Meleys, burst through the Dragon Pit floor (likely as the foretold Beast Beneath The Boards) during the coronation ceremony. Civilians did die, but Meleys only acted in accordance with her rider’s wishes. And although she clearly would have enjoyed incinerating the Hightowers, she held back from doing so and waited for a “dracarys!” that never came. I desperately want Meleys to be the dragon that gets to torch something big later on in the game, but for now, she’s a damn good and obedient beast.
Poor Caraxes is seemingly being thrown to the wayside (while Daemon courts Vermithor with those docile tones) for an older, larger dragon after serving Daemon as well as possible at the Stepstones. So pour one out for the jilted dragon who hasn’t done anything wrong besides not be an absolute unit. Caraxes acted sufficiently menacing while Daemon pressed members of the kingsguard to express their allegiance to Rhaenyra. Granted, Daemon’s own motives were conflicted as hell throughout the episode, but Caraxes brought results. He served his rider well!
In the current House of the Dragon chronology, Seasmoke is sitting unclaimed on Driftmark after Laenor Valaryon very well couldn’t take his dragon while escaping to gay paradise after the faking of his own death. So, we gotta feel sorry for Seasmoke and also acknowledge that this ever-so-nimble dragon actually saved Daemon’s ass from the Crabfeeder’s forces. If not for Seasmoke, we wouldn’t have gotten to see the many turns that Daemon’s character has taken after initially appearing as a mere salty rogue prince. So, credit should go to where credit is due and all that.
None of this show’s dragons are winners yet, which makes ranking them tough. This top spot is materializing due to a whirl of messy emotions from the season finale’s climactic battle, which wasn’t even close to a fair battle because Arrax never stood a chance against Vhagar. Clearly, Aemond disastrously screwed up and failed to control a massive dragon, possibly proving that he never should have claimed Vhagar in the first place. Yet that claiming is done, and Vhagar is Team Green, which has now kickstarted the Targaryen civil war into full force.
It’s all great storytelling, but the initial collateral damage would be poor Arrax and Luke. Both dragon and rider are young and inexperienced, so we can excuse how wee Arrax unloaded some fire in Vhagar’s face. And that’s when Vhagar decided to continue going rogue and refuse to let Aemond reel her in. The key realization here is that, yes, Luke didn’t know what he was doing, but he didn’t intend to go into battle. He merely intended to be a messenger while delivering a message from his mother. And that’s when Aemond started demanding Luke’s eye, and after Aemond was denied that satisfaction, he went into maniac mode while spurring Vhagar to chase Luke and Arrax.
This ended with the demise of the young dragon and his rider, and Rhaenyra will rain fury on the Hightowers as a result. Countless people and many dragons will undoubtedly die as a result of Aemond’s stunning miscalculation. It’s tragic, and the audience will likely pay tribute to this fallen duo for years to come. So for that reason, Arrax gets to be the most pivotal (and therefore, the best) dragon of this ranking, and also, my god, this (barely visible) scene — where the frightened Arrax and Luke prepare to flee — is a soul crusher. Their bond was one for the ages and illustrates why the Targaryen dynasty rose to power in the first place.
the way arrax and luke are literally running to each other 💔 pic.twitter.com/E3E22zR1SR
— millie ⌖ totj era soon (@cmdrcrosshair) October 17, 2022
Arrax wasn’t powerful enough, by far. And he wasn’t the most badass dragon, but he won the audience’s hearts. RIP.
HBO’s House of the Dragon airs on Sundays at 9:00pm EST.