House of the Dragon finale review: The War of the Dragons beginsOct 26 | 5 min read
Warning: House of the Dragon spoilers ahead
House of the Dragon must have been deliberately teasing viewers with the opening funeral sequence in episode 7.
Paddy Considine’s King Viserys has been limping along in recent weeks, so we half expected it to be his body the Targaryen’s were mourning and throwing into the sea.
But for now, Viserys limps on. Instead, it was Lady Laena’s funeral which brought together all the key players of Westeros.
On the side of the Greens we had Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and her weird and disturbing children, her sneaky father Otto (Rhys Ifans), the even sneakier Larys Strong, and the bitterest man in Westeros Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel).
Then there was Corlys (Steve Toussaint) and the Velaryons, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), and Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and her boys on the side of the Blacks.
Ever since Queen Alicent put on that green dress for Rhaenyra’s wedding to Laenor, the battle lines between the Greens and Blacks were clearly drawn. However, this week we got the first blood and the first significant victory, as one side claimed a dragon.
Here is everything you need to know about House of the Dragon episode 7 and all the important burning questions answered…
Why is Otto Hightower back as the Hand of the King?
The sudden death of Lord Strong left an opening for Hand of the King and Otto Hightower has returned to reclaim his position as chief whisperer.
It’s not clear whether King Viserys turned to his former friend as an act of forgiveness, whether he was under persuasion from Alicent or because he’s slowly started to lose his mental faculties along with his physical.
In the most memorable reaction shot of the episode, Viserys mistakenly called Alicent by the name of his ex-wife Queen Aemma – a signal that his memory and mind is wilting as much as his body.
We play an ugly game. Now I see for the first time you have the determination to win it
- Otto Hightower
Otto isn’t wasting any time getting his feet back under the table and he appeared to relish the violence and fall-out of the episode, praising Alicent for finally taking a stand against Rhaenyra.
When we last saw him, he was whispering poison into his daughter’s ear and everything he hoped for is finally slotting into place, as the Hightowers edge ever closer to the Iron Throne.
How did Aemond claim Vhagar the dragon - and lose an eye?
The big victory for the Hightowers and the Greens came from young Aemond (Leo Ashton) – the most sinister and creepy of Queen Alicent’s offspring.
While Aegon (Ty Tennant) boozed away in boredom and Helaena (Evie Allen) continued to speak to herself in riddles, a scowling Aemond decided to seize the moment at the funeral and help himself to Laena’s dragon Vhagar.
In a spectacular sequence, Aemond stood face to face with the biggest, oldest and most powerful creature in Westeros.
Establishing Aemond as both brave and unhinged, it showcased what a key player the young man will be in the battle for the Iron Throne.
Aemond claiming the dragon infuriated Laena’s children Baela and Rhaena. When he struck the girls, Rhaenyra’s boys Lucerys and Jacaerys joined the fight and a nasty scrap between the youngsters erupted.
Aemond largely had the upper hand over his rivals, despite being outnumbered, but when he labels Luce and Jace ‘bastards’ and threatens to smash Jace with a rock, he oversteps the mark. Luce retaliates and slashes Aemond in the eye.
Young Leo Ashton gave a brilliant performance as the unpleasant and cocky Aemond. He lost an eye in the battle, but in the war he has gained the largest dragon – a significant victory for the Greens.
Who is Ser Qarl Correy?
Ser Laenor’s latest bit on the side, Ser Qarl Correy, had a very significant role to play this week. Firstly, he was placed in charge of ‘comforting’ Laenor as he grieved for his sister. He was very capable in the role as he kept Laenor busy while everyone else was scrapping over Aemond’s lost eye.
The knight in House Velaryon was also given a very significant secret task by Prince Daemon – but more on that later…
Why did Queen Alicent stab Rhaenyra?
After Aemond, Luce and Jace were dragged off each other, Queen Alicent demanded justice for her son. An eye for an eye no less.
Rhaenyra revealed that Aemond had committed treason by questioning her sons’ parentage, but Alicent remained unhinged with fury.
Against Viserys wishes, she commanded Ser Criston Cole to take an eye from Rhaenyra’s sons in compensation. The increasingly vile Ser Criston put up little fight at the offer to cut open one of Rhaenyra’s sons – has a man ever been more bitter about being turned down? – only for Daemon to step in his way.
Eventually, Alicent charged at Rhaenyra with the infamous Valyrian steel blade of the catspaw dagger – yes, the same one Arya Stark used in Game of Thrones on the Night King.
“Exhausting wasn’t it, hiding beneath the cloak of your own righteousness,” seethes a bloodied Rhaenyra. “But now they see you as you really are.”
There have been plenty of significant moments between Alicent and Rhaenyra since we first saw them sharing stories under the tree in episode one, but none more so than this.
This feels like the first moment where there is no turning back for the pair and it’s only the wait for Viserys to finally keel over that is preventing all-out war between the former best friends.
House of the Dragon - Read more
The episode ending explained - How did Daemon, Rhaenyra and Laenor fake a death?
Rhaenyra and Laenor's marriage of convenience had become a farce. Everyone, even Corlys and Viserys, was fully aware of what was really going on with the couple.
Laenor gallivanted off with Ser Qarl and Rhaenyra’s children wept over the death of Harwin Strong - their true father - without any real effort to cover their tracks.
Rhaenyra revealed this week that the pair had even tried ‘laying together’ (a euphemism, we presume), but the pair could never successfully have a child of their own.
As their lies threatened to derail Rhaenyra’s authority and Queen Alicent continued to hurl accusations, the duo came to a new agreement. Working with Prince Daemon and Ser Qarl, they faked Laenor's death.
Firstly, Daemon gladly killed an innocent guard. Later, Ser Qarl started a sword fight with Laenor in front of witnesses and, when left alone, they placed Daemon’s victim over a fire. The burnt corpse was unrecognisable but Corlys mistakenly believes it to be the body of his son.
The body switch means that Laenor (with a new shaved haircut) and Ser Qarl could set off to live together in freedom on the other side of the Narrow Sea. Meanwhile, it frees Rhaenyra up to wed anyone she pleases, even her wicked uncle…
Why did Daemon and Rhaenyra get married?
Apart from the blooming obvious – has a pair ever spent more time at a funeral making sexy eyes at each other? - Daemon and Rhaenyra need each other if they’re going to keep power (and alive) in Westeros.
Queen Alicent and Otto Hightower have played their cards and Aemond’s power grab with Vhagar means they have some firepower. When Viserys dies, the Greens want Aegon II, his eldest son, to claim the Iron Throne.
The Velaryons are of the sea, but you and I are made of fire
- Rhaenyra Targaryen
Rhaenyra has been named Viserys’ heir, but because Westeros is a big old misogynistic mess, nobody expects anyone to back the Princess if her authority is challenged.
And with Laenor no longer on the scene, Corlys and House Velaryon can’t necessarily be banked on for support.
That’s why marrying Daemon, someone who terrifies the life out of everyone and who has experience leading from the front in battle, establishes Team Black with a powerful base.
Rhaenyra and Daemon might give us the ick as a couple, but you wouldn’t ever want to poke and annoy them.
Parklife! The best House of the Dragon cast cameo yet
Game of Thrones was famous for regularly throwing up familiar British actors across its vast cast and House of the Dragon delivered a surprise this week with Phil Daniels (Quadrophenia, EastEnders) popping up in the closing moments at the wedding of Daemon and Rhaenyra.
Daniels is playing Maester Gerardys, who specialises in healing and who works for Princess Rhaenyra. We suspect we’ll be seeing more of him before season 1 concludes.
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