At long last, the royal babies become main players in the war to come in ” House of the Dragon.”
While House of the Dragon viewers mourn that Milly Alcock is no longer playing the young princess Rhaenyra, those in Westeros grieve over three characters who left us as quickly as they entered. Laena Velaryon, Ser Harwin Strong, and his father, Lionel, all perished in fiery deaths before I could even register them as important enough characters to predict their chances of survival.
In Episode of House of the Dragon, of Seven, nearly the entire cast is present for Laena’s funeral at Driftmark. The gathering includes Rhaenyra, Laenor, their two eldest sons, Daemon, his two daughters, Corlys, Rhaenys, Ser Vaemond, Ser Criston Cole, King Viserys, his three children with Queen Alicent, and Otto Hightower, who has once again been made the Hand of the King. Daemon, the little devil that he is, giggles during Vaemond’s eulogy. Vaemond spoke about how strong House Velaryon is, hoping its blood would never run thin. Since three of the five Velaryon children are technically not Velaryon in any way, Daemon found the sentiment quite amusing. Rhaenyra’s firstborn son, Jacaerys, later tells his mother that they should be in Harrenhal mourning the death of Ser Harwin Strong instead—implying that he’s aware of who their real father is. Rhaenyra shuffles him off to comfort his cousins, Baela and Rhaena. Rhaena? So we now have a Rhaenyra, a Rhaenys, and a Rhaena. Oof. Daemon naming one of his daughters “Rhaena” is also one of the creepiest ways he’s shown his affection for his niece yet.
There are some other WTFisms going on at the funeral. Helaena Targaryen captures a large spider while reciting a story about a dragon to herself. Larys Strong unnervingly keeps staring at the Queen. Laenor stands halfway in the Ocean and cries. Corlys tells his little grandson that he’ll rule Driftmark after everyone he loves is dead. People grieve in mysterious ways, I guess. For what felt like five minutes, the characters kept looking at each other from across the room, hesitating, and leaving without saying anything. Daemon and Viserys do this twice before speaking. The King tells him that the gods are cruel for taking Laena so early, and Daemon retorts that it seems that the gods have been especially cruel to him. A harsh burn! But he’s not wrong. Viserys looks truly awful, by the way. The power of TV magic keeps him alive.
At night, Rhaenys tries to convince her husband, Corlys, to give Driftmark to Laena’s children after his death, instead of Laenor’s. Her two daughters are actually Velaryon, and it’s no secret by now that Rhaenyra’s sons are not Laenor’s. “History does not remember blood, it remembers names,” he replies. This kind of sounds like a nonsense statement, but it’s true that Rhaenyra’s sons bear the Velaryon name until they ascend the Iron Throne, while Laena’s children are technically Targaryens. Sure, they’re all cousins who married each other! But it’s important to Corlys, nonetheless.
Those cheering for the incestuous relationship can rejoice.
Speaking to Daemon for the first time in 10 years, Rhaenyra says that her marriage to Laenor is losing purpose. They talk on the beach during a very Game of Thrones-y scene that’s so dark it’s nearly impossible to see. Rhaenyra feels that Daemon abandoned her at King’s Landing, but he reminds her that she was only a child at the time. You hear that, #Daenyra shippers? A child. Those cheering for the incestuous relationship can rejoice, however, as the uncle and niece both kiss and have sex after Rhaenyra quips that she is “no longer a child.” Gross.
Meanwhile, Aemond Targaryen (the kid without a dragon), tracks down the late Laena’s dragon, Vhagar. She’s a massive creature—and the last remaining dragon from the era of Aegon’s Conquest. Vhagar threatens to kill the brat after he wakes her up from a nap, but he holds out his hand and says some stuff in Old Valyrian. Jurassic World logic applies here, where all you have to do to stop a velociraptor from tearing you to shreds is to hold your hand out and say “no, but thanks!” Aemond climbs up to the dragon’s harness and commands her to fly. Reluctantly, she does. Congrats kid, the largest dragon in the world is now yours. They fly around a bit at night, though it is still very dark. I’m sure the VFX team was happy to be working under the cover of near total darkness for this one, but I really could have used some moonlight. When Aemond returns, he proclaims to Laena’s children, “Your mother’s dead and Vhagar has a new rider now.” Jeez, man. The once-rumored scene depicting children beating the shit out of each other arrives, and it’s not pretty. After mocking Rhaenyra’s sons for being bastard children, the young Lucerys slashes Aemond’s left eye with a knife.
It’s here that Rhaenya and Alicent officially become the adults of the show—and their offspring become its main players. In presence of the king, Rhaenyra explains that her sons were forced to defend themselves once Aemond questioned the legitimacy of their birth, which is technically an act of treason. Blame whirls around the room until Aegon admits that everyone knows Ser Harwin is Jacaerys and Lucerys’s true father. They have his curly brown locks, for crying out loud! Only Viserys, the king who miraculously lives on, is still blind to the fact. “This internal infighting must cease. We are a family!” King Viserys screams. Queen Alicent calls his decision for them to all kiss and make-up, “insufficient.” She invokes Hamurabi’s Code, insanely declaring an eye for an eye. “If the King will not seek justice, the Queen will,” she states, ordering Ser Criston to bring her Lucerys’s eye. This is escalating quickly. What happened to Queen Alicent?! She’s going absolutely mad. Grabbing Viserys’s dagger and making a beeline to Lucerys herself, Alicent is stopped by Rhaenyra, who whispers that the kingdom now, “sees you as you are.” She slices Rhaenyra’s arm a bit (which will just require some stitches!), then drops the knife.
According to Alicent, she has long resented Rhaenyra for sleeping with whomever she wanted with no repercussions. Meanwhile, Alicent was forced to court Rhaenyra’s elderly father, have three children with him, and pretend to uphold court like everything was fine. That definitely blows, but is it a motive for murder? Especially when that murder would mean you killed the heir to the crown? Sadistically, Otto loves that this side of his daughter finally came out. He says that Aemond claiming Vhagar “to their side” was worth a thousand eyes. In a not-so-subtle wind-down of murderous rage, the sides of the civil war to come are shown staring down at each other from across the room. On one side, you have Rhaenyra and her sons, Daemon, and Corlys. On the other, you have Alicent, her three children, her father, Larys Strong, and Ser Criston Cole.
Later, Laenor apologizes to Rhaenyra that he wasn’t there to protect her, vowing to be a better husband. The princess has other plans. She asks Daemon to be her next husband to strengthen their claim to the throne, but her uncle reminds her that they cannot be wed as long as Laenor is alive. “I know,” she replies. Daemon pays Laenor’s guardian knight to kill Laenor, robbing the Velaryons of both of their children in quick succession. In reality, some random guy has been burned beyond recognition, while Laenor and his knight escape in a small dinghy heading East. I gave him a 70% chance of surviving this week, which feels justified by him both “dying” and surviving.
Rhaenyra and Daemon quickly wed, cutting themselves with dragon glass and drinking each other’s blood like Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly. Alas, we reach the end for tonight. It seems like no one is making a single good decision in Westeros, which can only mean that the kingdom is all going to shit when King Viserys finally keels over.