Previously on House of the Dragon …
Last week, Princess Rhaenyra fulfilled her duty as heir to the throne and finally found a suitable husband in Laenor Velaryon. In typical Westerosi wedding fashion, things go horribly wrong and Ser Criston Cole, Rhaenyra’s former scorned lover, beats Ser Joffrey to death. In addition to the wedding, Alicent learns the truth of Rhaenyra’s maidenhood, King Viserys’ condition continues to worsen significantly, and Prince Daemon murdered his wife Rhea.
Spoilers ahead for episode 6, “The Princess and the Queen.”
We open 10 years in the future from where episode 5 left off, with Princess Rhaenyra giving birth to her third son. The moment the baby is born she is informed that the Queen wants to see the baby, and assumedly not because she’s trying to be a good grandmother. Rather than allowing her husband or one of the handmaidens take the newborn to see the King and Queen, Rhaenyra makes her own way through the castle to take the baby to her father and step father. Alicent does nothing to cover the fact that she truly only wants to see the baby to confirm its appearance, and while King Viserys remarks the newborn Joffrey has his father’s nose, the Queen does not share his opinion.
“Do keep trying, Sir Laenor; sooner or later, you may get one who looks like you.”
In the Dragonpit, Jacaerys and Lucerys Velaryon, the eldest sons of Rhaenyra and Laenor, are joined by Aegon II and Aemond, the sons of King Viserys and Alicent. After watching Jacaerys learn to control his dragon, Vermax, we see the Velaryon boys join together with the mischievous Aegon II to play a prank on his younger brother, who does not have a dragon of his own. When Aemond is gifted a pig dressed with wings to taunt the fact, he makes his way into the bowels of the dragon pit where he is nearly barbecued by the she-dragon Dreamfyre. He is returned disheveled to his mother by none-other than Ser Criston Cole, who has taken on quite the responsibility with the children it would seem now that he wants to be as far away from Rhaenyra as possible and Alicent convinced him not to commit suicide.
The other large family tree development is that Prince Daemon has taken a second wife in Lady Laena Velaryon, and the pair have two daughters — Baela and Rhaena. The family is currently residing in Pentos, providing entertainment to the people of the city by riding the two large dragons belonging to the parents. Caraxes, Daemon’s dragon, has grown much larger in the past decade, but even his impressive size is thwarted by Laena’s dragon — the might Vhagar, the current largest dragon alive. If you don’t know why that particular dragon is a big deal: Vhagar is one of the original three dragons that Aegon the Conquerer used to conquer Westeros over 100-years-ago.
The Prince of Pentos offers the Targaryen family a permanent residence in exchange for defending the city with their dragons, should the Triarchy attempt to conquer it, mentioning that the Triarchy has already joined with Dorne. While Daemon seems enthralled by the idea of having a permanent residence that belongs to him for his family to continue to grow in, Laena longs to return to her ancestral home on Driftmark.
Alicent expresses her opinions on Jacaerys and Lucerys to her husband, remarking that having one son that looks “like that” is one thing but having three is an insult. King Viserys loves his eldest daughter and heir and maintains his trust in her, warning Alicent not to express her thoughts to anyone else. Of course, Alicent does express these opinions to the one person she knows hates Rhaenyra as much as she does, Criston Cole, who remarks that Rhaenyra is like a spider who “sucks her prey dry.”
Alicent makes her way to her eldest son, Aegon II, interrupting him as he pleasures himself while standing in a window. The Queen chastises her son not for his window activities, but instead for the prank he pulled on his younger brother with the reminder that in order for their family to survive, they must stick together.
In King’s Landing, Criston Cole is training the boys that are old enough in sword combat. It’s not surprising when the member of the Kingsguard pays clear favor to Aegon II and Aemond, treating Jacaerys and Lucerys cruelly or not paying attention to them at all. Ser Harwin Strong notices this, and assumedly as their biological father feels it his place to say something about it to Criston. When the other knight makes a snide comment suggesting Rhaenyra’s son’s true father, Ser Harwin gives him a taste of why he’s called “Breakbones” and pummels the man into the dirt in front of many eye witnesses — including King Viserys.
When Rhaenyra learns of this news she eavesdrops on Lyonel Strong (the current Hand of the King, as a reminder), who is reprimanding his son for his reckless behavior — his son has opened himself, the Princess and heir, and his House to vile accusations. Back in her own bedchamber, Laenor drunkenly stumbles to return to his wife. He expresses that he wishes to return to the sea to fight the Triarchy, which Rhaenyra ultimately uses her status to forbid him from doing as she is aware of her now precarious position.
At a Small Council meeting, Rhaenyra and Alicent tangle over matters of the state — Alicent unwilling to spend money on defending the Stepstones and Rhaenyra reminding everyone present that war is more expensive should they be left to be conquered. Acknowledging the tension between herself and her former best friend, Rhaenyra offers to marry her son Jacaerys to Alicent and Viserys’ daughter Helaena. King Viserys is highly enthusiastic about the idea, and Alicent (of course) is not.
Ser Lyonel Strong attempts to resign as the Hand, but refuses to specifically answer as to why — which makes sense given that coming out and saying “my son has fathered three bastards to your daughter, the heir to the throne” would probably result in much more unpleasant things than unemployment. Viserys refuses to allow him to resign but does give him leave to deliver his son, Harwin, to their family hold — Harrenhal.
After hearing the Queen’s complaints about having no one on her side, Ser Larys Strong decides to prove her wrong. Recruiting three criminals — “a murderer, a deviant and a traitor to the crown” — and cutting out their tongues to ensure their secrecy, Larys begins to take on a much more intense role beyond being the whispering in Alicent’s ear. Before setting out to Harrenhal, Ser Harwin bids farewell to Rhaenyra and his sons, the eldest of which assumes the truth and confronts his mother about it.
In Pentos, Laena is in labor and it is going very poorly. As the maester of Dragonstone, Gerardys, expresses to Daemon he’s done all that he can and gives the Rogue Prince the same choice that was given to King Viserys with Aemma, Laena manages to make her way out of bed. The Lady Laena makes her way to her dragon, Vhagar, and begs the dragon to give her death on her terms — “Dracarys.” Daemon steps outside in time to see his wife consumed by dragonbreath.
Back in the Red Keep, Rhaenyra expresses to her husband that she wishes to return to Dragonstone and raise her children there, away from the pit of vipers in the Red Keep. As the family returns to her ancestral home, Lyonel and Harwin Strong arrive at Harrenhal, followed closely by Larys’s Cicada Taskforce — who proceed to lock the two lords in their rooms and burn the whole place down.
Larys gives a pretty disturbing voiceover about how children are “a weakness, a folly, a futility” and how “love is a downfall” over a montage of images: soldiers removing the bodies of Larys and Harwin from the burnt rubble, Baela and Rhaena mourning over their mother’s burnt skeleton as Daemon fails to comfort them, and Viserys mourning over the wedding ring of his first wife Aemma as rats scuttle around his room. Larys explains to Alicent he was acting on her request and in her interest and that Otto can now be reinstated as Hand of the King. She pretends to be shocked and appalled, but really we all know this is what she wanted.
House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max. Stay tuned with Nerds & Beyond here as we publish episodic recaps for the series.