Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon Episode 10

Dracarys!

Who wins the Dance of the Dragons? House of the Dragon Season 2, explained

The Targaryen civil war has officially begun.

The first season of HBO’s House of the Dragon doesn’t just end with the death of Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault), but also with the unspoken commencement of the Dance of the Dragons. The infamous Targaryen civil war is one of the most notable and disastrous conflicts in Westerosi history, and Season 1 patiently planted the seeds for all the drama and tragedy that will inevitably occur.

However, Season 1 stops short of actually diving headfirst into its central war, which means viewers may be curious about what lies ahead. Here’s what House of the Dragon viewers should know about the Dance of the Dragons, including which side wins the conflict.

Major House of the Dragon spoilers ahead.

Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) stands next to his dragon, Caraxes, in House of the Dragon Episode 10.HBO

Let the Dance Begin — The Dance of the Dragons will see the Greens and the Blacks finally come to blows. As the Season 1 finale suggests, nearly every Westerosi house will be dragged into their war. It also sees the Targaryens lose many of their dragons, which sets the stage for the dragon-less version of Westeros that viewers see in Game of Thrones’ first season.

It’s not just the dragons that will suffer, as the Dance sees many of House of the Dragon’s characters die at the hands of foes or traitors. Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell), for instance, dies during a dragon battle with his uncle, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), which also kills both Caraxes and Vhagar, their dragons.

Whether Daemon dies as well is subject to debate. His body was never found, and while it could have been lost or sundered beyond recognition, it’s also possible he survived and disappeared into obscurity, much like Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan) did at the end of House of the Dragon Episode 7.

Either way, Aemond and Daemon are far from the only characters who meet their end during the Dance of the Dragons.

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole and Tom Glynn-Carney as Aegon II Targaryen in House of the Dragon Episode 9.Ollie Upton/HBO

The Greens vs. The Blacks — With the exception of a few Velaryons, nearly everyone at the center of the Dance of the Dragons dies during the war. That includes Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett), Joffrey Velaryon, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban), and Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel). The war even climaxes with the deaths of both Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) and Aegon II Targaryen ( Tom Glynn-Carney).

Rhaenyra’s death comes after she’s betrayed and brought before Aegon II as a prisoner. Aegon II feeds Rhaenyra to his dragon, Sunfyre, but shortly afterward, Aegon II is poisoned and killed as part of a plot concocted by Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint). With Rhaenyra and Aegon II dead, the Iron Throne passes to one of Rhaenyra’s surviving sons, Aegon III Targaryen.

Aegon III subsequently marries Jaehaera Targaryen, the sole surviving child of Aegon II and Helaena Targaryen. The two never have any children together, so Jaehaera’s death two years after the end of the Dance ultimately marks the end of the line that grew out of King Viserys I Targaryen’s (Paddy Considine) marriage to Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke).

Alicent, meanwhile, dies the same year as Jaehaera, and it’s said she spends her final year secluded in her chambers in the Red Keep, talking to herself and weeping.

Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Episode 10.Ollie Upton/HBO

The Inverse Analysis — In the end, Rhaenyra and Daemon’s children rule over Westeros. One could therefore argue that it’s the Blacks who emerge victorious from the Dance of the Dragons. However, no one involved in the Dance really comes out on top.

The civil war exacts a heavy toll. The conflict not only permanently traumatizes many who survive it, including Aegon III, but leads to the extinction of the dragons that made House Targaryen so powerful. The Dance, in other words, sets the stage for the Targaryens to eventually be ousted from power by Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark.

To label any of the Targaryens involved in the Dance of the Dragons as “winners,” therefore, feels a bit disingenuous. Interpret the tale for yourself as you see fit, but don’t get too attached to anyone.

House of the Dragon Season 1 is available to stream now on HBO Max.