In Game of Thrones, the Starks couldn’t stop telling everyone that “Winter is coming.” But in House of the Dragon, we may finally learn how that became their family motto. After a violent and exciting series premiere, the prequel ends its first episode with one last twist that could have huge implications beyond even this show. Here’s what you need to know to understand House of the Dragon Episode 1’s big ending.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for House of the Dragon Episode 1.
House of the Dragon Episode 1 ending explained
At the start of House of the Dragon’s first episode, King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is confident that his wife is about to give birth to a son, thereby giving him an heir to the throne. Instead, both his wife and newborn son perish during labor, leaving Viserys with a difficult decision: He can name his unruly brother Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) as heir, or he can defy tradition and pick his daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) instead.
After some unfortunate gossip about Daemon makes its way back to the king, Viserys chooses his daughter. Following a ceremony to clinch the deal, father and daughter have an unexpected conversation in which he reveals a terrible secret the Targaryens have been passing down from king to king for generations.
Viserys reveals to Rhaenyra an old prophecy that claims that one day in the future, a terrible enemy will descend from the north of Westeros and threaten all of humanity. It’s up to the Targaryens to guard this secret and prepare for what we as the audience know is the arrival of the Night King and his White Walkers.
Or, to make a long story short: Winter is coming. (During Viserys’ speech, we also see how the Targaryens clued in House Stark many years before Game of Thrones.)
This would seem to change franchise canon since there was no mention in Game of Thrones of the Targaryens knowing about the White Walkers ahead of time. But does it? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think.
House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones canon
If you think about it, it makes sense that Daenerys would have no idea about this prophecy. After Robert’s Rebellion, her father (the “Mad King”) was murdered. The secret of the prophecy was likely lost with either him or his first-born son Rhaegar, who got bashed to bits by Robert Baratheon in a battle.
Either way, if you’re worried that House of the Dragon is breaking canon, you can rest easy. In an interview with Vanity Fair, co-showrunner Ryan Condal confirmed that franchise creator George R.R. Martin actually gave him the idea.
“That came from George,” Condal says of the prophecy.
In the same interview, Martin himself hints that he plans to incorporate this prophecy into the main A Song of Fire and Ice books — if he ever finishes them.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to learn how this prophecy influences the events of House of the Dragon. Will we see the Targaryens make preparations that pay off hundreds of years later in Game of Thrones? Or will their bitter infighting pave the way for the countless lives lost to the Night King and his undead army? We’re about to find out.
Correction: This article has been updated to fix a mistake regarding the Targaryen family tree. We regret the error. Thanks, Jeff!