12 ‘Game of Thrones’ Episodes Fans Need to Watch Before ‘House of the Dragon’

The Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon will soon be premiering on HBO. And it will tell the story of the Dance of the Dragons — a brutal and bloody civil war among House Targaryen that took place two centuries before the original series.

In the beginning of Game of Thrones, House Targaryen was a fallen dynasty and dragons had gone extinct. But in House of the Dragon, the family is at the height of their power and in control of all the dragons in the world.

The fact that the family went from being one of the most powerful in Westeros history to being nearly wiped out was an important part of Game of Thrones. And it’s why Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) rise to power was a central focus of the story. Now, fans will get to see all of the reasons why. Here are the 12 episodes of Game of Thrones you need to watch to prepare for House of the Dragon.

Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke in a close-up or Daenerys Targaryen
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen | Helen Sloan/HBO

12. Fans meet Daenerys Targaryen in Season 1, Episode 1 ‘Winter is Coming’

Before you watch the premiere of House of the Dragon, you should watch the very first episode of Game of Thrones. In that episode, it’s clear that Daenerys will be a main character, despite the large ensemble cast.

The episode introduces Daenerys as a timid and controlled woman whose brother forces her into a marriage. And it sets up the character’s journey throughout the series. The episode also reminds viewers of the status of House Targaryen when the original series began.

11. A tough and determined woman is born

The sixth episode of season 1 featured a pivotal moment that hinted at the fierce woman Daenerys would eventually become. In one of the most shocking scenes of the first season, Khaleesi is forced to eat the raw heart of a horse during an ancient Dothraki ritual. But the blood all over mouth couldn’t hide her beauty, stamina, or determination. For many fans, this was the moment that they fell in love with the tough Targaryen.

Also in this episode, Daenerys watches her controlling and uncaring brother die after years of living in fear. Justice was finally served, and Daenerys became the official heir of the Targaryen dynasty.

10. The ‘Game of Thrones’ season 1 finale shows how much Daenerys changed

Throughout the first season, Daenerys becomes a much more confident and powerful woman. And by the season finale, it’s clear how much she has drastically changed. After losing her husband and unborn baby — and getting abandoned by the Dothraki people — Daenerys walks into the flames while Khal Drogo’s (Jason Mamoa) funeral pyre burns.

But she emerges unharmed by the fire and takes her place as one of the most powerful people in the series. The iconic moment of a naked, charred Daenerys cradling her newly hatched dragons is now part of TV history.

9. Dragons save the day in the season 2 finale of ‘Game of Thrones’

One of the major differences between House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones is the amount of dragons in the story. After Daenerys hatched her dragons — Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal — they saved their mother in the season 2 finale. She also used them to get revenge on Pyat Pree.

This episode makes it clear just how much of a connection the Targaryens have with dragons — and that they know exactly how to use them in their favor. Which is an important part of the upcoming prequel.

8. Mastering her Dragons in season 3

For many fans, the fourth episode of season 3 was the absolute peak for Daenerys in the entire series. She showed just how much she had mastered her dragons when she got tired of being insulted by slave master Kraznys — and decided it was time to get Drogon back.

The Mother of Dragons takes control of the Unsullied, and orders them to kill the masters. Then, by simply saying the word “Dracarys,” Drogon immediately unleashed his flames on Kraznys. It was a thrilling and satisfying victory for Daenerys, which also foreshadowed her ruthless nature and the dark turn she would eventually take.

7. Becoming Mhysa in the season 3 finale

At the end of season 3, the Breaker of Chains had built herself an army of Unsullied and freed hundreds of slaves. This led to the freed slaves lifting Daenerys on their shoulders, as she had officially received god-like status.

Now that she was queen and “Mhysa” in the season 3 finale, Daenerys was more encouraged than ever on her quest for the Iron Throne.

6. Riding her Dragons for the first time

While Daenerys was in Mereen, her friends got killed off, her dragons were chained up, and Drogon had left the city. In Season 5, Episode 9, “The Dance of the Dragons,” her enemies tried to end her reign once and for all with the opening of the fighting pits. And when the Sons of Harpy surrounded her and her allies, it looked like they would succeed.

But that’s the moment when Drogon suddenly appeared. He proceeded to torch the Sons of Harpy before Daenerys mounts the scaly creature and she soars through the air riding her dragon for the very first time.

5. Setting the Khals on fire on ‘Game of Thrones’

In “Book of the Stranger” — the fourth episode of season 6 — Daenerys found herself in a vulnerable position after being captured by the Dothraki army. When she’s taken to their spiritual home of Vaes Dothrak, the world’s most powerful Khals tried to figure out what to do with her.

But Daenerys wasn’t interested in waiting around for their decision. As the Khals gathered, she had the doors sealed and then proceeded to burn the place down. But of course, she emerged unharmed. Which caused the Dothraki people to kneel before her.

4. Daenerys squashes her enemies in ‘The Battle of the Bastards’

Season 6, Episode 9 “The Battle of the Bastards” is considered one of the best episodes of the series. But it didn’t just focus on Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) at Winterfell.

The episode began with Daenerys squashing her enemies in Mereen during an epic action sequence. And it featured her flying Drogon as the other dragons torched the fleet of attack ships, while the Dothraki army showed up to finish off the Sons of Harpy.

3. Burning Jaime Lannister’s army

Daenerys didn’t get off to a great start when she arrived in Westeros in the war for the Iron Throne. Despite having a massive army and three dragons with her, she suffered some defeats at the hands of Jaime Lannister’s army.

But in Season 7, Episode 4 “The Spoils of War,” the Mother of Dragons reminded everyone that she shouldn’t be messed with. She attacked the Lannister loot train and set the roof on fire to prove how indestructible she is. She also managed to avoid Jaime’s spear with the help of Drogon.

2. Going ‘Beyond the Wall’ in ‘Game of Thrones’ season 7

When Jon Snow and others went beyond the wall in Season 7, Episode 6, and got stuck behind enemy lines, Daenerys shows up to save them. But this made her vulnerable, and this was exactly what the Night King wanted. He manages to take out one of her dragons (Viserion) in a gut-wrenching scene, but she keeps fighting.

1. Becoming the villain in ‘Game of Thrones’ season 8

Yes, this was an unexpected and controversial turn, and one of the boldest and most shocking moments in the series. But we had to put it on our list. In Season 8, Episode 5 “The Bells,” Daenerys turns from hero to powerful villain when she burns down King’s Landing to kill Cersei Lannister (Leana Headey).

It was definitely rushed character development. But before her demise, she briefly served as Queen Daenerys Targaryen, Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. And gave a speech in the next episode where viewers truly felt her power.

All eight seasons of Game of Thrones are available on HBO Max. House of the Dragon premieres Sunday, August 21 on HBO.

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