Warning: This post contains spoilers for season 1, episode 7 of House of the Dragon.
In a somber opening, nearly everyone was deeply grieving at the Driftmark castle funeral for Lady Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell), who ordered her Dragon, Vhagar, to kill her in the last episode of House of the Dragon. Well, everyone except her husband, Daemon (Matt Smith), who was indifferent at best and even chuckled audibly during the eulogy.
The repast was awkward for a number of reasons, but mostly because everyone seemed to know Rhaenyra's two sons are not that of her husband Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan), but rather Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), who, along with his father, Lyonel (Gavin Spokes) was murdered in a plot by the family's youngest son, Larys (Matthew Needham). Larys, who could give Game of Thrones' Lord Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger, a run for his money on the sleaze scale, closely ingratiated himself to Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke). It became clear she would ask him for another dastardly deed in the future.
During a late-night beach walk, Rhaenyra confessed to Daemon she never forgave him for leaving her that night at the brothel as they were becoming intimate. Blaming him for how her life turned out once he was exiled, she demanded to know why he left that night, to which he said that she was too young at the time. After she replied she was now an adult, they followed through with what they started and slept together in a wooded area near the beach.
While they were busy doing their thing, the youngest son of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) and Alicent, Prince Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton) went searching for and found Vhagar. The great beast was still grieving the death of Lady Laena and appeared to have not moved from his location on the breach for several days. Aemond, who did not have a dragon of his own yet, but badly wanted one, was able to bond with Vhagar. That move infuriated the twin daughters Baela (Shani Smethurst) and Rhaena (Eva Ossei-Gerning) of Lady Laena and Daemon, who wanted the dragon to stay in their family. That led to a brutal physical confrontation between Aemond and the twins, who were backed up by Rhaenyra's two sons, Jacaerys (Leo Hart) and Lucerys (Harvey Sadler). All the kids suffered wounds in the melee, but after he called the boys "bastards," Aemond got the worst of it when his face was slashed, thereby blinding him in one eye.
In arguably the most intense scene of the HBO series thus far, the families while all in castle Driftmark's great hall were pitted against one another over the injuries the children inflicted. At the end of her rope with her one-time friend, Queen Alicent ordered Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) to cut out the eye of Rhaenyra's son who slashed Aemond. King Viserys, trying to take hold of the situation before it got out of control, demanded to know who told Aemond that Rhaenyra's sons were illegitimate. Aemond said he was told by his oldest brother, Prince Aegon Targaryen (Ty Tennant). When asked by his father where he heard it, the boy stood his ground and said everyone knew, with a "just look at them." The king declared the matter closed and threatened anyone who ever dared again to question their parentage, at which point enraged Alicent slashed Rhaenyra's arm.
Having gotten his old job back as Hand of the king, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) visited his daughter Alicent immediately after the altercation, where he said he was impressed that she finally showed courage and backbone when it came to Rhaenyra's lies and manipulation. As her son Aemond already told her, her father noted that it was worth the boy losing his eye to gain a dragon on their side in what was sure to be a showdown for the throne against Rhaenyra.
Knowing that she looked her weakest at the moment to ever rule, Rhaenyra proposed to Daemon that they wed to strengthen her position and his lust for power. He agreed, and together they had an imitate beach ceremony — with a lot of cutting and blood sharing. Yuck. There was just one loose end that needed to be tied up.
Laenor had been a wreck for most of the episode, completely distraught by the death of his sister and his family spiraling out of control, as he checked out for his own interests. Along with most having a hunch about Rhaenyra's children, it was also not a big secret Laenor was lovers with Ser Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan). Daemon approached Qarl in what seemed to be a plot to kill Laenor, telling him that he would be rich and there were places in the Seven Kingdoms where gold was more important than titles and names. It appeared Qarl killed and then burned Laenor's body, so it was unrecognizable. In the closing moments, Qarl was seen readying a boat for sea, getting into the water just as someone jumped in with him: Laenor, who shaved his head. The burned body was actually that of a castle worker who Daemon killed to pull off the ruse.
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House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.