After half a season, House of the Dragon has finally made its expectant time jump in Episode 6 to approximately 129 AC—ten years after the wedding between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (now Emma D’Arcy) and Laenor Velaryon (now John Macmillan). The time jump means a group of new actors and a cast of new characters; it also means having to learn a bunch of weirdly spelled names all over again.
Thankfully, Episode 5’s wedding more or less foreshadowed these new relations. Rhaenyra and Laenor now have three children. Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong (Ryan Corr), the son of the King’s Hand and the man who came to Rhaenyra’s rescue during the wedding brawl, is now Commander of the City Watch, and also a vague member of the household. Alicent Hightower (now Olivia Cooke) and King Viserys (Paddy Considine) still have three children, now all grown up. And Daemon (Matt Smith) ended up with Laena Velaryon (now Nanna Blondell), whom he danced with at the wedding. They have two children.
So that’s eight children and three power couples: Rhaenyra and Laenor (3), Alicent and Viserys (3), and Daemon and Laena (2). These three families will represent the forces vying for control over the Iron Throne once Viserys finally kicks it, which, somehow, after collapsing at the wedding and coughing all decade like a Night’s Watchman in the cold, he hasn’t yet done.
But he will be dead soon, and when he does, war will finally break out. (And we can get some actual battle scenes!)
Until then, here’s what happened in House of the Dragon Episode 6.
Hard Cut to: Childbirth
The episode opens on an older Princess Rhaenyra giving birth to her third child, Joffrey. After the birth, a servant tells Rhaenyra that the Queen, Alicent, wishes to see the child, a request that angers the Princess and heir to the Iron Throne. She decides to take the child to Alicent herself and is soon accompanied by a nervous Laenor, who seems to have been absent for much of their married life.
Rhaenyra is greeted by a seemingly concerned Alicent who tells her to rest—she will not—and an ecstatic Viserys, who remarks how the baby has Laenor’s nose, a comment others in the room take with awkward glances.
Rhaenyra and Alicent are still feuding since the Daemon incident, when Rhaenyra lied to her friend about having been with her uncle. That lie brought Alicent closer to Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), the other son of the King’s Hand, who first whispered the rumor to Alicent in the courtyard. The wedding also seems to have brought Rhaenyra closer to Strong’s brother, Ser Harwin, who rescued her from the small riot. As for the rioter, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), Alicent’s disrupting of his courtyard suicide appears to have brought him onto team Hightower; he is now her Kingsguard.
So things have been reshuffled in King’s Landing. Still, King Viserys seems oblivious to all this infighting and to the rumor circulating the royal court: that Rhaenyra’s three children are bastards belonging to Ser Harwin, and not offsprings of Prince Laenor. (As with Joffrey Baratheon’s hair in Game of Thrones, the color discrepancy in Rhaenyra’s three children should signal some sordid royal affairs.)
This more-than-obvious truth threatens to permanently sever Rhaenyra and Alicent’s bond; Alicent sees Rhaenyra’s marital choices as a dishonor and rebellion, something to further complicate the line of succession. As if to signal this conflict, both women’s children seem to have their own fierce rivalry.
Let’s quickly name them.
Alicent’s three children by order of birth: Aegon (m), Halaena (f), Aemond (m). (In the books, she also gives birth to Daeron (m), though we haven’t met him yet in the series.)
Rhaenyra’s three children: Jacaerys Velaryon (m), Lucerys Velaryon (m), and Joffrey Velaryon (m). (Be warned: looking up the family trees online will unleash massive spoilers upon your screen.)
Alicent tries to impress upon her eldest, Aegon, that his life is not safe so long as Rhaenyra remains heir to the Throne. Aegon is the King’s firstborn son and so could vie for the Throne after the King’s death. Alicent believes Rhaenyra will move against Aegon as soon as this occurs. Alicent, therefore, instills rivalry between Aegon and Jacaerys, Rhaenyra’s firstborn.
The conflict between the two families plays out symbolically during a training exercise, overseen by Cole (Team Hightower). Cole obviously favors the training of Alicent’s children, having now become an enemy of Rhaenyra. (Because she rejected his marriage proposal and because Cole is now a total jerk.) Watching from the side is Ser Harwin, the father of Rhaenyra’s children. He disapproves of Cole’s training and encourages Jacaerys. Aegon and Jacaerys spar despite being mismatched by size and age. Jacaerys holds his own, possibly signaling the future balance of power shifting to Rhaenyra’s children. Aegon then fights dirty and gains the upper hand before Harwin steps in. Cole then insinuates that Harwin is doing so because he is the boy’s father, leading Harwin to beat the crap out of Cole, a dishonor given Cole’s status as a member of the Kingsguard.
The fight will have major consequences for both families immediately after.
While Rhaenyra has been having brunette sons “with Laenor,” Daemon has been having all white-haired daughters with Laena Velaryon. The family is living away from the Seven Kingdoms; it is implied that Daemon has since retreated from royal life and has made no power move to claim the Throne as his brother still lives.
Laena is once again pregnant when the family is offered permanent residence in Pentos. In exchange, the family will provide military support to thwart the growing might of the Triarchy (which Daemon battled before in the Stepstones), who are now seeking to ally with Dorne. Daemon considers the option, wanting nothing to do with his former life in King’s Landing. Laena, however, wants to return home and further the strength of the Velaryon and Targaryen houses.
Daemon has been up in his sad boy feelings, mostly sulking and reading, for the last ten years. Things change, however, during the birth of their third child. As with the former Queen in the first episode, Laena is unable to give birth. Rather than die through C-section, and perhaps knowing she is a female character on a series that will likely brutalize her anyway, she commands her dragon to kill her and the unborn child. Daemon watches.
After his son’s assault on Cole, Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes) attempts to resign as Hand to the King. Viserys, however, won’t have any of this, which angers Alicent who also believes that Strong’s judgement is no longer impartial. Viserys instead agrees that Strong escort his son back to their home—banishing him from King’s Landing and Rhaenyra’s side. Alicent doesn’t think such a decision goes far enough and confides in Larys, telling him he wishes her own father could return and take the Hand’s place.
Larys, who is now a total slimeball, takes Alicent’s words as a command and moves to rectify his own house’s shame.
Meanwhile, Rhaenyra, who senses that her reputation is at stake and her power diminishing, proposes that her eldest son marry Alicent’s eldest daughter, a union she hopes will unite the family and amend her wrongs toward Alicent. Viserys is thrilled. Alicent is not. She knows Rhaenyra’s children are not Velaryon and she sees the proposition as exposing Rhaenyra’s weakness. Knowing that Alicent will reject the offer, Rhaenyra then decides to leave King’s Landing for Dragonstone with Laenor and "their" children. She says an emotional goodbye to Ser Harwin, before he leaves with his father back to his own stronghold.
On the way home, however, Harwin and the King’s Hand are stalked by cloaked figures who have been sent by Larys. The men set fire to Harwin’s chambers, killing him and the Hand.
Larys, having just murdered his brother and father, then seeks approval from Alicent who is mortified to learn what has happened. With the Strongs gone and Rhaenyra in retreat, the Hightowers can now make a move.
Until, of course, Daemon does whatever Daemon is likely to do.
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