Episode 7 of House of The Dragon came and went with little fanfare. While the previous episodes have brought time jumps, political pettiness, death, and betrayal, this one brought disjointed character interactions, very little action, and more incestual tradition.
Before we get too far into the episode, here’s a quick reminder to catch 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 Game of Thrones. If you don’t have 20 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 the seventh episode before continuing on!
Ok, let’s go ahead and get into what happened in Episode 7, named “Driftmark.”
This episode is the second in the series to not have a large timeline jump. This one immediately follows Episode 6 and opens with the funeral for Laena Valaryon. Recall in the last episode, she tragically asked Vhagar to end her suffering whilst attempting to deliver a breech baby. Remember Vhagar is the oldest, largest living dragon in the current timeline. Episode 7’s title reflects that it fully takes place on Driftmark, the seat of the Velaryons. We saw Driftmark in Episode 5 when King Viserys visited to propose the betrothal between Princess Rhaenyra and Laenor.
Daemon and Laena’s twin daughters, Rhaena and Baela, share some sweet moments with Jaecarys, or Jace, who is Rhaenyra’s oldest son. The funeral and celebration following this, though, was stale and disjointed compared to the other episodes of the season. The saving grace was learning that this was actually the first episode shot of the entire series while actors were still learning their characters and shaking the new glitter off their freshly pressed costumes. That being said, the moment immediately following the funeral was quite compelling.
If you remember from Episode 6, Aemond Targaryen, Alicent’s younger son, was being bullied by his older brother Aegon and by Rhaenyra’s two sons, Jace and Luke (Lucerys). The three boys had dressed up a pig to imitate a dragon since Aemond did not yet have one. Boy did he do something about that! Since Laena is no longer Vhagar’s rider, Aemond had been keeping an eye out for her amongst her dragon anguishes of grief. Once night fell following Laena’s funeral, Aemond went through the sand dunes and found Vhagar sleeping. After convincing her not to scorch him with some well-placed High Velaryon, Aemond mounts Vhagar utilizing the fishing nets Laena had affixed to her to help the climb. After Vhagar shakes and stretches her wings, she bolts upright, throwing Aemond off the saddle. Once he’s gained his grip, though, she turns and shoots down, just to ensure he is a worthy rider.
Through a beautiful flight sequence, we can see the bond between dragon and rider beginning. Yay! Things are not so happy once Aemond and Vhagar land. Boo! Baela and Rhaena watched Aemond ultimately steal Vhagar to their dismay. They, along with Luke and Jace, were an unhappy welcome party after this inaugural flight. Baela, who was yet to have a dragon of her own, claimed she should have inherited Vhagar. But Aemond’s twat face slapped her with a “Too bad, so sad, you snooze, you lose!” This results in a scuffle breaking out in which Aemond proves himself to be a decent fighter. It’s a game of numbers and insults, though, and when Aemond calls Luke and Jace bastards, Luke ends up slashing Aemond’s face with a knife.
Easter eggs: Vhagar is the dragon that Liza and I were so excited to meet last episode! At this point in the story, she is the oldest dragon at about 130 years old. She flew with Balerion the Black Dread in Aegon’s conquest of Westeros, and Aegon’s sister-wife Visenya Targaryen was her first rider. Dragons in George R.R. Martin’s universe continue to grow until they die, so her apparent struggle to maintain altitude at first is simply due to her being so heavy. The music during the flight sequence is also a callback to Daenarys in the original GoT series. It is a mixture of Dani’s theme and the original GoT theme. In regards to the legitimacy of Rhaenyra’s children, it is known in the source book for this series, Fire & Blood, that the Targaryens do have some Baratheon lineage in their family. In fact, Rhaenys Targaryen, Colrys Valaryon’s wife and the “Queen Who Never Was” has brown hair in the books, making it less obvious and more muddy that Rhaenyra’s children are not of her and Laenor’s seed. It’s possible they could be born with brown hair, but the show took creative liberties in this regard.
The result of the children’s scuffle is a meeting of the powers-that-be in the Driftmark throne room. Aemond is having his eye stitched up by the maesters with Alicent bearing down over their shoulder. The maesters proclaim that Aemond will lose the eye, and Alicent loses her shit. Viserys, who has already stumbled over his words this episode and mistakenly called Alicent by his late wife’s name (Aemma), will hear no more of the rumors of Rhaenyra’s childrens’ legitimacy. Alicent calls for Luke’s eye, in which Viserys says “hell no” and tries to go to bed. Alicent then grabs that infamous catspaw dagger from Viserys’ belt and chargestowards the Blacks.
All eyes center on Alicent and Rhaenyra while the dagger is aimed perilously close at Rhaenyra’s eye. Alicent is pissed because she feels like she has followed all the right paths and steps in life while Rhaenyra has consistently defied authority and messed with people’s lives, yet is still allowed to inherit the Iron Throne. Alicent ends the confrontation with a slash down Rhaenyra’s wrist. Notably, this is the first scene in which we see each person wearing the different colors they will be known by later, meaning Rhaenyra is in a black dress and Alicent is in her Hightower green. The factions moving forward for the Dance of the Dragons are called the Blacks and the Greens.
After this tumultuous confrontation, the Greens take off back to King’s Landing, and the Blacks head back to Dragonstone. We see Vhagar, Sunfyre, and Dreamfyre fly above the ships sailing back to King’s Landing, solidifying the line being drawn of who will have which of the current living dragons. In moments of contemplation, Rhaneyra expresses her desire to wed Dameon—yes, her uncle. After the funeral mentioned above, and prior to the children’s scuffle, Rhaenyra and Dameon had partaken in adult activities down on the beach, following Targaryen tradition and leaving us all cringing.
After this, and following the face-off with Alicent, Rhaenyra understands that she will need fire and power to defeat her enemies. She proposes to wed Daemon, who just lost his wife, and who makes the observation that Rhaenyra and Laenor are still legally wed. She wants to follow the tradition of Aegon the Conqueror who married both of his sisters, but she does not wish to be viewed as a tyrant when she becomes queen. Daemon asserts that Rhaenyra will need to be a strong queen, even if she does not want to be a tyrant, that people will need to fear her to respect her. Together, Dameon and Rhaenyra come up with a plan to murder her husband Laenor Valaryon so that they can wed monogamously. Daemon bribes Laenor’s boyfriend Qarl with quick passage to and a quiet life in Essos (also gold). Qarl then confronts Laenor at swords’ points in his father’s throne room, with a witness running to get guards. When they return, Laenor is burned to an unrecognizable amount, seemingly dead.
Whilst this mission is playing out, we see Rhaenyra and Dameon secretly wed on Dragonstone. With her sons and a maester as witnesses, they follow ancient Valyrian tradition in a beautifully weird blood-binding ceremony. At the very end of the episode, we see a shaved head of Laenor and a hooded Qarl escaping on a boat. This is heartbreakingly sad because Rhaenys and Corlys Valaryon now believe they have lost both of their children, yet it’s also relieving because Laenor and Qarl are able to live their life free of judgment in Essos using Dameon’s contacts, and Laenor is giving Rhaenyra the marriage and life she both personally wants and politically needs.
Easter eggs: The costumes worn by Dameon and Rhaenyra in their wedding scene is a call back to the dragon keepers outfit. This is to keep their Targaryen and Valryon tradition pure and true in their ceremony. The red on their robes is also supposed to represent blood spreading like fire. Dragons, amirite?
Lines have been drawn, and knives have come out, and there are still 3 episodes to go! I was not the biggest fan of this episode, but I’m hoping the next one kicks up the intrigue. Are you watching? What did you think of this episode? Don’t miss Decoding Dragons breaking down all things House of the Dragon and leave a comment about what lore you’d like us to dive into next here on Couch Soup!