Well, it has been quite a journey to this point in House of the Dragon.


In last week's fifth episode, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) married Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate) after a celebration that ended in her former lover Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) violently killing Laenor's paramour, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod).

Meanwhile, Queen Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) felt betrayed by Rhaenyra who lied about her sexual activities, prompting the Queen to embrace her Hightower heritage and turn on her stepdaughter.

Elsewhere, King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) collapsed in ill health at the end of the wedding celebrations, but was this the end of his reign?

This week's sixth episode, The Princess and the Queen, picks up events ten years later...

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**Spoiler warning for House of the Dragon episode 6**

House of the Dragon episode 6 recap: The Princess and the Queen

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and John Macmillan as Ser Laenor Velaryon in House of the Dragon
Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and John Macmillan as Ser Laenor Velaryon in House of the Dragon HBO

A whole 10 years after her wedding, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (now played by Emma D'Arcy) gives birth to a healthy son, ostensibly by her husband Ser Laenor Velaryon (now played by John MacMillan). Queen Alicent Hightower (now played by Olivia Cooke) requests that the child be brought to her immediately but a pained Rhaenyra dresses to take the child to her stepmother herself. The child is cut from Rhaenyra who is accompanied by their husband Ser Laenor to present the baby

An aching Rhaenyra climbs the stairs of the Red Keep and Ser Laenor wishes to turn back but Rhaenyra insists. An icy Ser Criston Cole stands guard for the Queen as Rhaenyra enters. Alicent is surprised Rhaenyra came herself, while an ailing King Viserys I Targaryen still lives and is delighted by the baby’s birth. Ser Laenor wishes the child to be called Joffrey, evidently after his late lover, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth. Viserys and the Princess remain close, while Alicent makes a comment to Ser Laenor suggesting the baby is not his. After leaving, Rhaenyra reveals that she is not pleased by Ser Laenor’s decision regarding a name.

Princess Rhaenyra returns to visit her elder two sons, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon (Leo Hart) and Prince Lucerys Velaryon (Harvey Sadler), who share more similarities to Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr) - her new personal guard - than Ser Laenor himself. Ser Harwin asks to meet baby Joffrey and is pleased when he does so - it is hinted that he is the father of the children as well as confirming that he is now the Commander of the City Watch.

Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin Strong in House of the Dragon
Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin Strong in House of the Dragon Ollie Upton / HBO

In the Dragonpit, Jacaerys and Lucerys are introduced to their dragons alongside their half-uncles Prince Aegon Targaryen (Ty Tennant) and Prince Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton). Jacaerys commands his dragon to burn a goat. Aegon and his nephews mock Aemond for having no dragon of his own. The trio present Aemond with a pig to mount. When they have left, Aemond then descends into the bowels of the Dragonpit where he is terrified by a large dragon before fleeing.

Alicent sits in her rooms with her thoughtful daughter Princess Helaena Targaryen (Evie Allen) before a dishevelled Aemond is brought in as he mentions how he was mocked. Helaena comments that he will have to “close an eye” before he gets one.

Visiting Viserys, Alicent blames Rhaenyra’s sons for the trouble Aemond found in the Dragonpit but he suspects Aegon is truly to blame. Alicent calls out the paternity of Rhaenyra’s children, calling them bastards. Viserys dislikes Alicent’s allegations and asks her to not raise them again.

Later, Alicent complains to Ser Criston about Rhaenyra’s behaviour and he feeds her anger with his own dislike and apologises for his own furious profanity.

Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower and Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon
Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower and Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon Ollie Upton / HBO

Prince Aegon masturbates from the ledge of his room in the Red Keep when he is interrupted by his mother Alicent who asks him about the situation with Aemond. The Prince blames Jacaerys and Lucerys for the incident but the Queen sees the truth of it. Alicent harshly explains that Aegon’s life is in danger if Rhaenyra becomes queen as he should be the true King.

Meanwhile, Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) flies atop his dragon Caraxes with his wife Lady Laena Velaryon (now played by Nanna Blondell) atop her own, Vhagar, above their current home in Pentos where, later, they are offered a new home by the Prince of Pentos in exchange for the firepower of their dragons and to battle the Triarchy in the Narrow Sea. Laena is angered by Daemon considering the offer to remain in Pentos and wants to return to Westeros, raise their children on Driftmark and die a Dragonrider’s death.

In the Red Keep, Viserys and the Hand of the King, Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes), watch as the four young princes train under Ser Criston’s eye. Aegon and Aemond spar with Ser Criston. Ser Harwin suggests that Ser Criston pays more attention to training Jacaerys and Lucerys but Ser Criston turns rough with them and pits Jacaerys against Aegon, who beats him – but soon Jacaerys manages to beat Aegon. The eldest sons of Rhaenyra and Alicent fight again but Ser Criston tutors Aegon to be cruel to Jace until Ser Harwin intervenes. Ser Criston makes a comment suggesting the boys are Ser Harwin’s sons, prompting Ser Harwin to beat a smug Ser Criston.

Ty Tennant as Prince Aegon Targaryen and Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon
Ty Tennant as Prince Aegon Targaryen and Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon HBO

Princess Rhaenyra is informed of the incident in the yard and leaves her baby Prince Joffrey and overhears an argument between Lord Lyonel and his son Ser Harwin about the Rhaenyra/Harwin affair and the legitimacy of the Princess’ children. Lord Lyonel notes that Viserys’ denial of the truth is all that protects them. Ser Harwin is not sorry for his actions towards Ser Criston.

In her rooms, Rhaenyra treats her sore body with the help of a servant until Laenor returns with his new lover, Ser Qarl. Rhaenyra asks Laenor’s paramour to leave before she speaks with her husband. A drunk Laenor speaks of Qarl’s exploits in the fighting on the Stepstones and longs to join the conflict. An angry Rhaenyra reveals the rumours about their children and blasts Laenor for thinking of leaving their children to this slander. The pair argue about their marriage and Rhaenyra asks Laenor not to leave them now but he remains adamant he will go. In response, Rhaenyra commands Laenor to remain in the city at her side, pulling rank on him.

In Pentos, Laena speaks with her daughter Lady Rhaena Targaryen (Eva Ossei-Gerning) who wants to stay in the city if her sister Lady Baela Targaryen (Shani Smethurst) stays there for marriage and laments at not having her own dragon like her sister. Laena notes that she herself rides Vhagar - the largest dragon in the world - after also having had a long wait for a dragon of her own. Rhaena confesses that she feels ignored by Daemon.

Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen and Nanna Blondell as Lady Laena Velaryon in House of the Dragon
Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen and Nanna Blondell as Lady Laena Velaryon in House of the Dragon Ollie Upton / HBO

Laena later visits Daemon on the battlements and informs him of Rhaenyra’s latest son, who Daemon comments was likely fathered by Ser Harwin. Laena wants to return to Westeros and her family and potential action, noting that he just spends his time reading about Old Valyria. Laena comments that she is not necessarily the wife he wanted, but that he is meant for more than this.

At a Small Council meeting, Rhaenyra disagrees with Alicent over the handling of issues in the Riverlands, while discussion turns to the ongoing conflict in the Stepstones and Dorne’s involvement. They discuss Daemon’s absence and Rhaenyra highlights the lack of action in the Stepstones, while Alicent notes the economic cost of the further war there. Rhaenyra asks to speak to mend bridges with Alicent’s family and also the pair’s friendship, suggesting a marriage between Jacaerys and Helaena to rule together. Rhaenyra also offers Syrax’s dragon eggs to Aemond. Alicent thanks Rhaenyra for the offer after the latter’s breasts leak. The Queen says she will consider the offer with Viserys.

Gavin Spokes as Lord Lyonel Strong in House of the Dragon
Gavin Spokes as Lord Lyonel Strong in House of the Dragon Ollie Upton / HBO

In private, Viserys wants the marriage but Alicent will not consider the match and she calls it a desperate move by Rhaenyra. Lyonel visits Viserys with a steely Alicent present and resigns from the office of Hand of the King over Ser Harwin’s outburst - which has already seen Ser Harwin expelled from the City Watch and King’s Landing. Viserys tries to persuade Lyonel to stay but the Hand notes a “shadow over his house” which Viserys and Alicent ask for the truth of but he stays quiet. Viserys will not accept Lyonel’s resignation but accepts Lyonel’s request to return Ser Harwin to their family seat at Harrenhal. Alicent is angered and leaves.

In a chamber with Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), Alicent relays Lyonel’s resignation attempt. Larys notes that his father’s acts have been compromised and Alicent misses her father’s support as Hand.

In a dungeon, Larys approaches condemned criminals and offers them mercy in exchange for a mission.

Meanwhile, Laena is amid a difficult labour with her and Daemon’s third child. The doctor offers to perform a Caesarean section, meaning she will surely die. Laena walks outside to her dragon Vhagar and insistently commands it to burn her and it finally does. Later, Daemon sits with his mournful daughters.

Shani Smethhurst as Lady Baela Targaryen, Eva Ossei Gerning as Lady Rhaena Targaryen, and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Shani Smethhurst as Lady Baela Targaryen, Eva Ossei Gerning as Lady Rhaena Targaryen, and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon Ollie Upton / HBO

At the Red Keep, Ser Harwin bids farewell to Rhaenyra and her children. Rhaenyra is then asked by Jacaerys if Harwin is his father and if he is a bastard but Rhaenyra answers that he is a Targaryen and that is all that matters.

In the courtyard of the Red Keep, Ser Laenor spars with Ser Qarl when he is approached by Rhaenyra who announces that they should leave the Red Keep for Dragonstone after being humiliated at the Small Council. Rhaenyra tells Ser Laenor to bring his lover with him.

At Harrenhal, Lyonel and Ser Harwin return to their family home. However, at night the pair are locked in their rooms and a fire is started by the criminals sent by their own kinsman, Larys.

In the Red Keep, Larys relays the news of his father and brother's deaths at Harrenhal to Queen Alicent and he blames the curse of the castle for their deaths. Larys credits his actions to Alicent making a wish that came true and he suggests she writes to her father Ser Otto to send for him. Alicent is clearly disturbed but Larys is certain that she will reward him.

What book changes are in House of the Dragon episode 6?

Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower and Matthew Needham as Larys Strong in House of the Dragon
Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower and Matthew Needham as Larys Strong in House of the Dragon HBO

There were a number of changes in House of the Dragon episode 6 when comparing it to the book Fire and Blood.

  • In the book, as Laena and Daemon had married without the permission of Viserys, they fled to the Free Cities to escape his wrath. It was after their exploits away from Westeros that they returned to the Driftmark to raise their family and Daemon becoming a father reconciled him to Viserys. As Rhaenyra was already at nearby Dragonstone, the couples of Rhaenyra and Laenor and Daemon and Laena were close, with Rhaenyra and Laena having a close friendship. Laena was nursed by Rhaenyra as she underwent her difficult lengthy labour and she collapsed trying to leave to mount Vhagar when Daemon carried her back to her bed where she died.
  • The depiction of Rhaenyra and Laenor’s marriage, their lovers, the paternity of their children and the reactions at the court of Alicent and her supporters are much like the book, although Rhaenyra was already often at Dragonstone. The rivalries between Alicent’s and Rhaenyra’s sons are also accurate to the book.
  • So far, the series has omitted the third son of Viserys and Alicent, Prince Daeron Targaryen, who was born at a similar time as Rhaenyra had Joffrey.
  • The paternity of Rhaenyra’s children is confirmed here despite being only heavily implied in the book. Jacaerys is also shown to be more or less aware of the truth but the book does not suggest this.
  • There was not another clash between Ser Criston and Ser Harwin in the book that saw the latter lose his role as the head of the City Watch and depart King’s Landing. There were also no scenes of Lyonel trying to resign over his son’s behaviour as depicted here.
  • The deaths of Lord Lyonel Strong and Ser Harwin Strong occurred later in the book and after other events (and deaths) yet to be depicted.
  • The book does not offer a firm answer as to who set the fire to kill Lord Lyonel and Ser Harwin at Harrenhal, with Larys Strong being considered one of the potential culprits. Others included Prince Daemon - out of a desire for Rhaenyra, Lord Corlys - as punishment for Ser Harwin cuckolding Ser Laenor, or even King Viserys himself to silence the rumours about his grandchildren. The series settles on Larys so he can advance his position and tie himself closer to Alicent who wanted her father Ser Otto back at court and as Hand of the King, although here she only learns of Larys’ actions after the fire and is also conflicted about what Larys has done.

Next week is the seventh episode, Driftmark, which will no doubt feature House Velaryon's reaction to the tragic death of Lady Laena Velaryon.

What will Prince Daemon Targaryen and his daughters do next? Will he be reunited with Princess Rhaenyra?

Finally, how will the realm respond to the deaths of Lord Lyonel and Ser Harwin Strong? And how will Queen Alicent act next?

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