House of the Dragon picks up 10 years after the last episode. Rhaenyra gives birth to her third child, another boy, after a grueling labor. The newborn is quickly summoned by Alicent just after Rhaenrya delivers. Rhaenyra asks why but doesn’t wait for an answer. She says she’ll take the baby herself.
The maids get Rhaenyra dressed and wipe the sweat off her face. The delivery of the placenta creeps up on her in the middle of all this fuss. Laenor arrives just as Rhaenyra is walking out. He accompanies her to go see Alicent. Suddenly, Rhaenyra feels a sharp pain. Instead of turning back at Laenor’s insistence, she pushes on.
Laenor is annoyed over this ongoing feud between Alicent and Rhaenyra. “This is absurd,” he says. They cross paths with Ser Criston Cole, who is now guarding Alicent instead of Rhaenyra.
They get to Alicent’s room, and the king arrives soon after. Vicerys only has one arm, and the decade has not been kind to him. He’s thrilled over the birth of another Targaryen boy. When asked about a name, Laenor quickly says the child will be named “Joffrey,” which is in honor of his former lover who died at Criston’s hands.
When Viserys mentions that Joffrey has his “father’s nose,” Alicent and Rhaenyra share a look. Alicent pulls back the blanket and sees that Joffrey doesn’t have Targaryen or Velaryon white hair. “Do keep trying Ser Laenor, soon you may get one who looks like you,” Alicent quips. She knows exactly what’s going on here.
Rhaenyra and Laenor leave Alicent’s room. Rhaenrya is frustrated over the fact that Laenor didn’t consult her about the baby’s name. “I deserve some say in the affairs of my own family,” he says. Rhaenyra claps back that he hasn’t been all that concerned. He’s not winning this argument. When he looks back at their path, he sees the trail of blood Rhaenyra left behind.
Baby Joffrey Is Introduced To Harwin
Back in their quarters, Ser Harwin Strong is waiting with Rhaenyra and Laenor’s boys, Jace and Luke. The boys chose a dragon egg for the baby. Harwin sweetly gives Rhaenyra a hand to sit down. There’s an intimacy between them, that’s for sure.
He looks over at the baby and wishes to be introduced to the child. Rhaenyra, Laenor, and Harwin are all of what’s going on here and with each other. There’s definitely been an agreement between them. Laenor hands the baby off to Harwin, who holds his son for the first time. Harwin jokes over Joffrey being asleep in front of him. “A certain insolence runs in the family, I’m afraid,” Rhaenyra says.
Jace and Luke head back down to the dragonpit, where Vermax is brought before Jace while Aegon, Aemond, and Luke stand behind him. Jace is told that once the dragon is bound to him, they will refuse command from anyone else. Even though he’s older, Aemond still doesn’t have a dragon.
Aegon tells Aemond that they have a surprise for him. Since he’s the only one to not have a dragon, they tease him by bringing him a pig they’ve dubbed “the Pink Dread.” Aemond is not amused by this prank. He looks down into the dark dragonpit below where the dragons reside. He heads in there but quickly gets spooked by one of the dragons.
Alicent Spreads Fear & Trashes Rhaenyra
Alicent tries to spend time with her daughter, Helaena, who is timid and enjoys studying insects. This mother-daughter relationship isn’t exactly the strongest. Aemond is brought to Alicent after being discovered in the depths of the dragonpit yet again. He tells her about Aegon and Rhaenyra’s boys making fun of him for not having a dragon. Alicent promises him that one day he will ride a dragon.
Alicent blames it all on Rhaenyra’s boys and calls them “savages” to Viserys. Alicent uses this time with Viserys to get in some words regarding Rhaenyra’s baby daddy drama. “To have one child like that is a mistake. To have three is an insult to the throne, to you, to House Velaryon, and the match you battled so hard to make for her,” she says.
Viserys replies, “The consequences of an allegation like the one you toy at would be dire.” He asks her not to speak of this again, so she vents to Criston about it. The scorned lover tells Alicent what she wants to hear. He says Rhaenyra is a “spoiled” c**t” and a “spider who stings and sucks her prey dry.” Someone is holding quite the grudge.
Alicent finds her eldest son jerking off while standing on the windowsill that looks out onto King’s Landing. He quickly blames the pig prank on Jace when asked. “If Rhaenyra comes into power, your very life could be forfeit. Aemond’s as well. She can move to cut off any challenge to her succession,” Alicent stresses, stoking the fear in Aegon.
She is adamant that he realizes that he is the “challenge” to Rhaenyra’s claim “simply by living and breathing.” Alicent adds that he is the king’s firstborn son, and everyone knows that one day he will be king and not Rhaenyra.
Meanwhile, Daemon is now married to Laena Velaryon, and they have two daughters, Baela and Rhaena. Laena is expecting a third child. They’re living in Pentos at the moment and are offered permanent residence there in exchange for helping fight a war. While Laena is against the idea, Daemon’s going to entertain it.
He says they’ve had a good life in Pentos and can do as they please. They have no responsibilities, and there are no schemes or fights over succession. “We are more than this, Daemon,” Laena says. “We are the blood of Old Valyria. We don’t belong here.” Laena wants their child to be born in Driftmark, and their kids to be raised there.
Criston & Harwin Go At It
Criston has been instructed to teach Alicent and Rhaenyra’s kids to fight. Lyonel and Viserys watch over the innocent swordplay. Harwin shows up to get a look at what’s going on and watch over his boys.
Harwin irritates Criston by questioning his ability to teach, so Criston retaliates by putting Jace again Aegon. Harwin says it’s hardly a fair match since Jace is so much younger. Aegon quickly has Jace on the ground, but Jace fights back. Criston urges Aegon to show no mercy, and Harwin eventually has to step in. He chastises Criston for teaching Aegon to be cruel.
Criston doesn’t stop and turns his attention to Harwin. He brings up Jace and Luke’s parentage situation, and Harwin loses it. He punches the daylights out of Criston right in front of Vicerys. Rhaenyra is quickly told of what went down and goes to find Harwin. She overhears Harwin and Lyonel fighting. Lyonel, along with pretty much everyone else, is well aware that Harwin is the true father of Rhaenyra’s children. This could mean exile or even death for Harwin, Rhaenyra, and the boys. Lyonel knows the Strong family is incredibly compromised by Harwin’s actions.
As Rhaenyra is trying to think of how to handle this, Laenor stumbles in drunk with Qarl Correy. He brings up that a storm is brewing in the Stepstones, and he’d love to be back in battle. Rhaenrya thinks he’s mad when there are so many questions here at home about the boys. They talk about their agreement. He says he has played his part “faithfully.” Rhaenyra commands him as heir to the throne to stay.
Daemon and Laena have a similar talk in Pentos. Regardless of the depths of the feelings between them, Laena reminds Daemon that they are a family.
Rhaenyra Tries To Unite Her Family
At a small council meeting, Rhaenyra and Alicent are blatantly at odds with each other the whole time. Rhaenyra asks everyone to stay back at the end of the meeting. She admits that she’s felt the strife within their families recently, and she apologizes for any wrongdoing. But they are of one house and need to stay united.
Rhaenyra proposes that Jace and Heleana should wed. “Let them rule together,” Rhaenyra says. Vicerys loves the idea. Rhaenyra adds that if Syrax delivers eggs, then Aemond will have his choice of them.
In the middle of her proposal, her milk comes in. This quickly puts an end to the meeting, and Alicent says they’ll consider it. Alicent tells Viserys is “desperate.” Viserys wants Alicent to let this grudge go, but Alicent vows to hold onto it until she’s dead.
Lyonel comes to Viserys to resign as Hand of the King over what happened in the yard. Viserys thinks Harwin being expelled from the City Watch is more than enough punishment. “There is a shadow over my house, and it grows ever darker,” Lyonel says. Visarys demands to know why. Alicent encourages Lyonel to talk, but he refuses. Vicerys does not accept Lyonel’s resignation. Lyonel asks to accompany Harwin back to Harrenhal to get him settled in.
Laena Velaryon Dies On Her Own Terms
Alicent and Larys Strong have dinner together and discuss the Harwin situation. Larys knows Viserys won’t exile Rhaenyra so he’s turning a blind eye into the rumors. Larys brings up that his father can’t give “unbiased council” to the king because he’s compromised by Harwin. Alicent misses her father. Larys notes that even she can’t say Otto would be impartial with the king. “No, but he would be partial to me,” Alicent says.
Larys concocts a plan and heads down to the dungeons to talk to men who’ve been traveling to death. He’s prepared to offer them mercy if they pay a little price: having their tongues cut out.
Laena encounters a troubling labor with her third child. The baby won’t come. The maester tells Daemon that it doesn’t look good for mother or child. Laena takes command of her own destiny after learning about her child’s fate. She goes to Vhagar and collapses in front of him. She yells “Dracarys” over and over until Vhagar finally burns her alive. Daemon watches this all happen with his own eyes. Laena dies a dragonrider’s death, just like she wanted.
Harwin is granted time to say goodbye to the boys before he leaves and promises to return. Rhaenyra is upset but tries not to show it. He kisses little Joffrey before he departs. After Harwin leaves, Jace asks if Harwin is his father. “Am I a bastard?” he asks his mother. Rhaenyra responds, “You’re a Targaryen. That’s what matters.”
Rhaenyra knows this gossip is not going to die down about her boys, so she takes matters into her own hands. She tells Laenor that they’re leaving King’s Landing. She’s tired of the whispers. She even says Laenor can bring his lover if it’ll entice him to leave. Laenor asks Rhaenyra about her position as heir. They’re both well aware of what Alicent can do if she’s not here.
Lyonel & Harwin Perish At Harrenhal
Lyonel and Harwin arrive at Harrenhal. In the middle of the night, smoke fills the rooms. Harwin fights to get into his father’s room as the fire rages around him, but Lyonel is locked in. Both Lyonel and Harwin are burned alive as the cursed Harrenhal burns again.
Rhaenyra, Laenor, and the boys make their way to Dragonstone just as the tragedy at Harrenhal occurs. Larys talks openly with Alicent about what happened at Harrenhal. He says everything while dancing around it. “It is said to be a cursed place,” Larys says. A shocked Alicent knows Larys had his other father and brother killed. Larys says he was only trying to fulfill her wishes. “I assume you will write to your father now,” Larys tells Alicent.
She replies, near tears, “Larys, I did not wish for this.” Larys, with all of his Littlefinger energy, is playing a game, and Alicent best keep up. “I feel certain you will reward me when the time is right,” Larys tells Alicent.