Things are massively dour at the beginning of this episode, given the immolation of Laena (Nanna Blondell) at the end of the previous. We begin at her funeral, where the Velaryons fire disgusted looks at Daemon (Matt Smith). The ever-perceptive Ser Criston (Fabien Frankel) thinks that Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) staring at Alicent is suspicious. In the wake of Larys’ uncle’s death, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) has been restored as the King’s Hand, and kicks a half-comatose Aegon (Ty Tennant) after he gets pissed at the funeral. Reaching out a hand of solidarity to Daemon, Viserys (Paddy Considine) invites his brother back to Dragonstone. “I need nothing,” says the King of the Stepstones, who doesn’t seem all that upset by the death of his wife.
Delving deeper into Laena’s death after the funeral, Rhaenys (Eve Best) blames her husband Corlys (Steve Toussaint) for wanting the crown so much that it killed his only daughter. Knowing that Laenor’s (John Macmillan) children with Rhaenyra (Emily D’Arcy) are not his, Rhaenys wants the line of Driftmark to pass to Baela (Bethany Antonia), Laena’s daughter. “History does not remember blood,” says Corlys, who doesn’t like the idea of depriving Laenor of the title of Master of Driftmark. “It remembers names.”
Taking a romantic uncle-niece stroll down the beach, Rhaenyra talks to Daemon about her predicament with Laenor – one that has left her feeling cold. She says that although they tried to conceive, they never could. With Daemon released from Laena, Rhaenyra seems happy to pinch him. “I’m no longer a child,” she says as she kisses and then, yes, has sex with her uncle on the beach. Lovely stuff.
Meanwhile, setting off an almost-fatal chain of events, Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton) – up to this point a bullied and rather feeble child – sneaks up on Vhagar, the dragon now riderless after Laena’s death. Somehow he manages to tame it and ride it through the sky, which doesn’t escape the attention of the Targaryen twins Baela and Rhaena (Eva Ossei-Gerning). Along with Jacaerys (Leo Hart) and Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), they tackle Aemond about it. “Your mother’s dead, and Vhagar has a new rider now,” Aemond says. He has no qualms about punching girls, and a proper fist-fight breaks out. He reveals to Lucerys that his father is not really Laenor, which exacerbates the fighting. Finally, throwing sand in Aemond’s face, Jaecerys gives Lucerys a chance to use his knife – which he does, stabbing Aemond in the eye.
All hell breaks loose when the adults find out, and Rhaenyra, still holding on to the lie that Laenor is her children’s father, tells the court it was treasonous of Aemond to question their paternity. Aemond tells Viserys that it was Aegon who passed this truth on to him. “We know, Father,” says Aegon. “Everyone knows. Just look at them.” Astonishingly, Viserys is still blind to his daughter’s true nature. Alicent, who by now cannot stand the sight of Rhaenyra, tries to force Criston to take an eye of Lucerys or Jaecerys. When he refuses, Alicent takes a knife from Viserys and runs towards Rhaenyra, managing only to draw blood from her arm after an intense confrontation.
When things have calmed down, Otto visits Alicent to tell her that he admires the fire in her belly and that the fire in Vhagar’s belly will be extremely useful to Aemond and to them. After this there is a sweet scene between Rhaenyra and Laenor in which Laenor tells his wife that he will stick around because she deserves better. This sweet scene is immediately annulled when Rhaenyra sees Daemon and proposes that they marry. “We have always been meant to burn together,” she says. Daemon tells her that they can only be husband and wife if Laenor is dead. Rhaenyra holds his gaze. Oh dear.
Then, in a pulsating final sequence, we see Daemon pay Ser Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan) to kill Laenor. The pair have a violent sword fight. Corlys and Rhaenys discover their son’s body in the fire, burnt beyond recognition. This is roughly faithful to the House Of The Dragon books, but what isn’t is what follows: racing out to row a boat, Qarl meets a hooded man escaping over the waves with him. Who is it? IT’S LAENOR. HE’S ALIVE.
- “She wanted to come home and he denied her” – Rhaenys pins the blame for her daughter’s death squarely at Daemon’s feet after he kept the family in Pentos
- “Exhausting, wasn’t it – hiding beneath the cloak of your own righteousness” – a great line from Rhaenyra to Alicent as Alicent attempts to stab her
- “I hate the gods for making me as they did” – Laenor curses his homosexuality, a trait that he thinks has made his life more complicated
‘House Of The Dragon’ releases new episodes at 2am every Monday on Sky Atlantic and NOW