With its 6th episode, House of the Dragon gave us heartache, twisted blackmail, intense birth (and death) scenes, pettiness, and more dragons! We are really in the Game of Thrones, now! The best part is the drama that’s still to come.
We'll dissect and decipher all the drama shortly, but first, don't miss our new show, "Decoding Dragons," where my talented co-host, Liza Phoenix, and I break down all things House of the Dragon (also available on YouTube and podcast format)! We dive deep into lore, symbolism, easter eggs, and more of Westeros and the Game of Thrones universe. If you don’t have 40 minutes to listen or watch, but you do have a few minutes to read, continue forth, my Lords and Ladies. If you don’t want to get burned by spoilers, I suggest watching up through Episode 6 before continuing on!
Now that you know where to get your questions answered, let’s get into Episode 6 named "The Princess and the Queen."
Easter egg already: "The Princess and the Queen," or the Blacks and the Greens, is the title of a short story written by George R.R. Martin. This, along with the other short story, "The Rogue Prince," is what was expanded upon to create the novel Fire and Blood. Recall that "The Rogue Prince" was the name of Episode 2 of The House of the Dragon.
Last episode was the first time we didn’t get a timeline jump in this entire series. It went from the smooth transition of those events to a giant timeline jump of 10 years, the largest one we’ve gotten so far! Episode 6 opens with Rhaenyra giving birth in a seemingly connected callback to her mother in Episode 1. She gives birth successfully and then immediately hears the Queen wants to see the baby, a boy. She immediately understands the gravity of the request, which we will dive into a little bit, and decides to take the child herself. Yep, 30 seconds after giving birth, she stands up and attempts to dress (with the help of her nurses). She even delivers the remaining pieces of pregnancy—the placenta, in case that’s not obvious—as she’s attempting to stand to get dressed. Petty on another level!
The introduction to the older actors for these characters happens pretty succinctly after that. Laenor finds Rhaenyra and helps her walk through the Red Keep and up the stairs. They arrive in the Queen's quarters where she is getting fitted for yet another green dress. King Viserys pops in to say hello to his new grandson. When asked the name, Laenor quickly responds with Joffrey. (Remember, his lover from the previous episode that Ser Criston Cole beat to death was named Joffrey Lonmouth.) Queen Alicent then checks the hair of the baby and sees darker strands. This sets the precedent for the entire episode.
Alicent sees what has happened and insults Laenor with the phrase, "Keep trying, maybe one day you’ll get one that looks like you." Then she lays into King Viserys. Viserys is looking feeble and old, proving that his illness is really taking its toll. She expresses the frustration to her husband about the fact that all of Rhaenyra's children are not Laenor's. She knows this to be true due to the hair color. We’re now all on #HairWatch! This was the gravity of the request earlier, when Alicent wanted to see the new baby immediately. If it can be proven that Rhaenyra’s children are bastards, then Rhaenyra's claim to the throne would be challenged, tarnished, and potentially revoked. This would leave Alicent's children free to take the throne without a question of succession.
Viserys has clearly heard this spiel before and is completely sick of it. At the next High Council meeting, Rhaenyra and Alicent have claws out. Rhaenyra, still raw from childbirth, proposes a marriage between her first-born son and Alicent and Viserys' daughter Helaena. At first glance, this is a pretty intelligent betrothal on all political fronts. In the deep minds of these women, though, we can dissect that it is yet another chess move in the game of petty that has been developed in the last 10 years. Alicent is very dedicated to her faith, and the Targaryen tradition of incest disgusts her. While Rhaenyra is playing to Viserys’ desire to keep the royal family’s blood pure, Alicent will not hear of it. Instead, she deflects the proposal to draw attention to Rhaenyra’s leaking breasts. It happens, the woman just gave birth! Alicent then offers a "meh, I’ll think about it, but no" and gives Viserys the GoT version of "over my cold, dead body" by way of "when I am cold in my grave."
Easter eggs: The #hairwatch is a callback to Ned Stark discovering King Robert Baratheon's children are indeed not his own. Baratheons have a strong seed of brown and black of hair, and all of Robert’s children were "golden-haired." This was proof that his children were indeed bastards, and thus was a puzzle piece to the start of the Game of Thrones. "The seed is strong" phrase is a nod to this scenario as it is believed that Rhaenyra’s children are all Harwin Strong's. More on this later.
We got to go inside the dragonpit in this episode and watch one of Rhaenyra's children, her eldest son, train/claim his dragon, Vermax. In this scene, we are also able to see the dynamic of all of the cousins. Alicent's two sons, Aegon (who we saw as a 2-year old in Episode 3 and is the eldest), Aemond (who is currently Alicent's youngest child), and Rhaenyra's 2 sons, Jacaerys (Jace) and Lucerys (Luke) are all together in the dragon pit watching Jace train Vermax. Aegon, Jace, and Luke all pull a prank on Aemond, who does not yet have a dragon, and dress up a pig as a dragon for him. As a result, Aemond sneaks into the depths of the dragon pit to try to see one for real, and he gets terrified when a new dragon, Dreamfyre, breathes fire his way! This creates more strife between Alicent and Rhaenyra as Alicent blames Rhaenyra's children solely for the trick. She then goes and finds Aegon and tells him to stop picking on his brother, so she does, indeed, know the truth.
Then, we get a beautiful glimpse at a dragon we have been waiting for! Daemon is cruising on Caraxes, and his now wife, Laena Valrayon, comes swooshing by on Vhagar!! Vhagar is currently the largest dragon, and has had a few other riders. It was a long-awaited screen arrival for a dragon we have only ever heard about, and it was worth the wait!
Easter eggs: We’ll start with Dreamfyre. There’s a rumor that Daenarys' dragon eggs are 3 dragon eggs stolen from a clutch given by Dreamfyre. The thief ran to Pentos, and they never found them. The similarity they gave Dreamfyre to Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion is fueling more of this "rumor." Vhagar is a she-dragon originally ridden by Queen Visenya during Aegon’s Conquest of Westeros. Vhagar flew next to Balerion the Black Dread (the skull in the Red Keep) and Meraxes. She is the dragon that tiny Laena was asking King Viserys about during their courtship in Episode 2. Foreshadowing anyone?
In true GoT fashion, there has to be some heartbreaking deaths. The first starts with a scuffle in the training yard of the Red Keep. Ser Criston Cole—yes he’s still around and fueling the petty fire around Alicent against Rhaenyra—is training all of the sons together. He is very obviously favoring Aegon and Aemond (Alicent's sons) and not training Rhaenyra’s sons (Jace and Luke) properly. Harwin Strong notices this and takes charge. This results in a scuffle that Criston provokes by brazenly suggesting Harwin of acting like Jace and Luke’s father. Harwin then beats the shit out of Cirston, which ultimately leads to Harwin being sent back to Harrenhal, accompanied by his father, Lyonel, who is Hand of the King.
Earlier in the episode, we got a glimpse of Alicent apparently still being friendly with Larys Strong. He was the antagonist from the previous episode, planting seeds about Rhaenyra's possible pregnancy to Alicent near the Godswood. In this scene, they are sharing a dinner, and Alicent voices the concern about wanting her father around to be on her side. She feels she does not have anyone listening to her about Rhaenyra’s discretion. Larys takes this into his own hands and interprets it in a twisted way. He hires prisoners who are currently sentenced to death to murder both his father and his brother. This would be Lyonel and Harwin, who arrived at Harrenhal that evening. As a cover, Larys had the prisoners' tongues cut out so they could not talk. Larys then essentially blackmails Alicent with this information and tells her that he’s sure she’ll find a way to pay him eventually. Creeper.
The next death is a similar parallel to Aemma Arryn (Rhaenyra’s mother) in Episode 1. Laena Velaryon is attempting to give birth to a breech baby. Dameon looks on as the maester gives him the same choice Viserys had. Before Dameon answers, Laena trudges out of the room. She approaches Vhagar on the beach and yells "Dracarys" at her! Vhagar is obviously confused, and not listening to what Lanea is telling her to do. Eventually, through tears, pain, and more instruction, Vhagar sets her rider ablaze. Daemon chases after her and witnesses the end, and he is shocked. He has to tell their children, twins Rhaena and Baela Targaryen. Feels!
Easter eggs: Remember, above when I mentioned the phrase "the seed is strong"? That’s significant because Rhaenyra's children are actually Strong boys. As in they are Harwin Strong’s sons. Also, remember that Harrenhal is where the Great Council of 101 AC was in Episode 1, and it's where Arya was Tywin's cupbearer in the original GoT series.
At the end of the episode, Rhaneyra decides it’s time to pack up and peace out to Dragonstone. She and Laenor have been discussing “fleeing the storm” before it arrives, and she feels as if it is time to do so. Her lover, Harwin, is killed whilst she is traveling, and therefore she's yet unaware of his death. Daemon and Laena were in Pentos this episode, and with Laena gone, we wonder if Daemon will be arriving at Dragonstone soon as well.
All in all, this was a fast moving episode with a lot of moving pieces! What do you think will happen in the next episode? Are you enjoying the series so far? Be sure to watch "Decoding Dragons" on Couch Soup on Tuesdays and YouTube on Wednesdays! Let me know what you thought about seeing Vhagar for the first time on screen!