In this week’s episode of House of the Dragon, generational struggles are passed down as the warring factions of the Targaryen and Velaryon houses come together for Laena’s funeral. Tensions that have simmered for years reach their boiling point, and Rhaenyra makes a fateful decision. Read on to see what happened in “Driftmark”!
We Are Family
The episode opens on Laena’s funeral, with the entire main cast gathered together. Meaningful glances are exchanged between all parties, with Alicent trying desperately to avoid making eye contact with Larys as Rhaenyra avoids Daemon. The children are all there as well, with Helaena happily singing songs to a spider while Aegon broods. He’s angry that he’s betrothed to his “idiot” sister and gets drunk pretty much immediately while he ogles every serving girl who walks by. Corlys gently brings up Lucerys’ future inheritance of Driftmark as Laenor’s second son (pause for laughter), but the young boy is not handling the idea of mortality well. He tells Corlys that he doesn’t want his birthright, as Driftmark passing to him would mean that “everyone else is dead.” Bleak but accurate, kid. Meanwhile, his brother Jacaerys tries to comfort Rhaena and Baela with moderate success.
Turns out Laenor and Aegon both handle their emotions by getting drunk, as Otto beats Aegon after finding him passed out on the stairs. Laenor’s lover Qarl is sent to fetch Laenor from the sea as he grieves his sister. Viserys tries to mend his relationship with Daemon and offers him a place in King’s Landing, but Daemon colorfully says no while calling Otto a leech, exiting in a huff.
Corlys and Rhaenys talk alone, with Rhaenys saying plainly what everyone knows: that Rhaenyra’s children are not Laenor’s. With Laena dead, Rhaenys asks Corlys to name Rhaena the heir to Driftmark as a trueborn Velaryon. He stubbornly refuses to admit the truth, wanting his name to pass to the future king even as it’s obvious that his blood won’t be anywhere near the throne. He feebly tries to justify his legacy building by invoking the injustice done to Rhaenys, but she coldly tells him it was never about her. She doesn’t want power, and that’s all Corlys wants. She just wanted her children to be safe, and now Laena is dead, and Laenor is trapped in a loveless, dangerous marriage.
Walking After Midnight
Rhaenyra and Daemon take a walk on the beach, finally discussing the rift between them (note: might want to turn up the brightness on your TV and turn down the lights in order to see, well, any of this scene). Rhaenyra shares how she felt abandoned without Daemon, who she sees as her partner, while Daemon shared a bit about his own struggles in Pentos. The heart-to-heart ends with the two having sex on the beach.
We pan to young Aemond, who is tired of being second to the boastful Aegon. Laena’s dragon Vhagar is unclaimed but set to go to her oldest daughter, and he decides that’s not happening. After a bit of tension, as Aemond wakes the powerful creature from his slumber, Vhagar accepts him as his rider. The two fly over the sea and something awakens in the previously timid prince.
He arrives back at Driftmark with a spring in his step and is immediately confronted by Jayce, Luke, Baela, and Rhaena. Rhaena is furious that he would claim Vhagar when it was her right to do so, and Aemond essentially shrugs and mocks her grief. A fight breaks out between all four of the tweens, especially when Aemond goes for the jugular by bringing up Jayce and Luke’s questionable parentage. Both Rhaena and Baela get in some solid punches, but Aemond has no qualms about whacking them right back. He picks up a huge rock but isn’t able to do much with it before Jayce grabs a knife and cuts his eye out (these kids don’t play around).
An Eye For An Eye
Predictably, this goes over so well with the assembled parents. Alicent throws the hissy fit to end all hissy fits, finally losing her polished façade as Viserys miserably pleas for everyone to just get along already. She wants a literal eye for an eye. Rhaenyra pushes Viserys towards her side by noting that Jayce was defending himself from Aemond’s accusations regarding his parentage. This is a touchy subject for the king, who furiously demands to know where he heard such a ridiculous rumor. Aemond throws his older brother under the bus. Aegon’s still drunk, and he tells Viserys he couldn’t possibly remember who exactly told him about Harwin Strong because, basically, everyone in Westeros is thinking it. Viserys snarls that anyone else who questions Jace and Luke’s right to the throne is going to lose a tongue.
Alicent loses what shred of sanity she has left. Frustrated with her husband’s unwillingness to see the truth and her belief that Rhaenyra always gets her way, she grabs a knife and attacks Rhaenyra. Ever the strategist, Rhaenyra barely fights back and even goads Alicent, knowing that a room full of witnesses to Alicent’s temper can only help her cause. Alicent slashes Rhaenyra’s arm before pulling back as she regains her senses. Rhaenyra suppresses a smile as she theatrically lets the blood drip to the floor. She has emerged victorious yet again.
Alicent retires to her room as Otto visits. She expects him to be angry, but he’s impressed she actually has a spine. He tells her she’ll need that resolve for the fight ahead and points out that even if Aemond lost an eye, they just gained a major advantage in Vhagar. He’ll win this for them yet. On the ship leaving Driftmark, Larys approaches Alicent. She thanks him for being on her side and asks for his assistance in the future, which he agrees to provide when the time is right.
Partners in Crime
Laenor goes to Rhaenyra, sorry that he wasn’t there when she and the children needed him. He pours his heart out, promising to be there for them and be the husband she deserves. He’s even sending Qarl away, blaming his sexuality for their problems. Rhaenyra strongly pushes back against this in a sweet speech, saying that his honor and his heart are his best qualities. However, she also seems done with not having a true partner.
She goes to Daemon, and the two watch the dragons Vhagar, Sunfyre (Aegon’s), and Dreamfyre (Helaena’s) fly after the departing guests. Rhaenyra proposes marriage to Daemon, noting that no one would challenge her claim to the throne with him at her side. Plus, her marriage to Laenor is boring, and she loves Daemon (and having passionate sex with him). Daemon calls her out on the implication that Laenor would have to die to make this dream a reality, and she only gives him a knowing smile.
Here follows the one time in this whole saga that someone actually gets a happy ending. Not wanting to kill Laenor but really wanting him out of the way, Rhaenyra and Daemon hatch a plot. Daemon goes to Qarl with a plan to “kill” Laenor, but in a twist, the trio fake Laenor’s death. The lovers sneak off to Essos together, literally sailing into the sunset. It remains to be seen if they will be allowed to maintain their hidden exile, but at least for now, everyone gets what they want as Daemon and Rhaenyra marry in a seaside ceremony.
House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.