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This page is about the episode. For other uses, see: The Princess and the Queen (disambiguation)

"The Princess and the Queen"[5] is the sixth episode of the first season of House of the Dragon. It is the sixth episode of the series overall. It premiered on September 25, 2022 on HBO and HBO Max. It was written by Sara Hess and directed by Miguel Sapochnik.

Premise[]

Ten years later. Rhaenyra navigates Alicent’s continued speculation about her children, while Daemon and Laena weigh an offer in Pentos.[5]

Synopsis[]

Ten years later, at the Red Keep[]

Ten years after her wedding to Laenor Velaryon, Rhaenyra Targaryen gives birth to her third son. Just after the baby is delivered a handmaid brings the message that Queen Alicent Hightower has commanded that it be brought to her "immediately". Determined not to let Alicent shame her, Rhaenyra rises and commands her handmaids to dress her, even though it's another minute until she expels the afterbirth from her. Laenor then enthusiastically enters, only to find the exhausted Rhaenyra insisting that she will walk across the entire castle personally holding her baby to show the queen. Laenor at least manages to convince her to let him take her by the arm to steady her.

After arduously making her way across the Red Keep and up a flight of stairs while still experiencing post-birth muscle spasms, Rhaenyra reaches Alicent's private chambers. Rhaenyra and Laenor give cold, silent glances to Criston Cole as he stands guard outside the door. With false politeness, Alicent expresses concern that Rhaenyra shouldn't be walking in her condition. Rhaenyra's father King Viserys then arrives to proudly view his new grandchild, saying he will make a fearsome knight. Viserys is in relatively good spirits, but his decline has not stopped in the past decade, only slowed: the infection that was eating away at his hand continued to spread, and after losing several fingers he has now had his left arm amputated up to the elbow.

When Alicent asks what they intend to name the baby, Laenor interjects ahead of Rhaenyra that he will be named "Joffrey" (clearly named after his lost lover Joffrey Lonmouth who was killed at their wedding). Viserys insists that he has his father's nose, resulting in awkward glances between the rest. Laenor says that Rhaenyra must rest, so she hugs her father goodbye while leaving Laenor to hold the baby. On the other side of the room, Alicent leans over Joffrey and softly says to Laenor, "Do keep trying: soon or late, you may get one who looks like you."

Rhaenyra and Laenor head back to their private chambers, and she expresses her annoyance that he named the baby without consulting her. He says they are both his parents and he should have some say in their family, to which the tired Rhaenyra says "only one of us is bleeding". Laenor looks back down the corridor to Alicent's chambers and realizes that Rhaenyra has been leaving a trail of blood all along the floor from the childbirth she finished a matter of minutes ago.

In their private chambers, Rhaenyra and Laenor are greeted by their two elder sons: Jacaerys Velaryon (Jace) and Lucerys Velaryon (Luke), along with Ser Harwin Strong, the Commander of the City Watch. None of Rhaenyra's three sons has traditional Valyrian silver-white hair: all of them have dark hair and light skin, and look nothing like Laenor. They do bear a strong resemblance, however, to Ser Harwin, who has deep affection for them. Jace and Luke reveal that they've already picked out a dragon egg to put in Joffrey's cradle, to help him bond with it, and Harwin ostensibly came to guard the egg as they transported it from the Dragonpit. Despite their odd parental relationship, Jace and Luke are amiable and reasonably well-behaved. Laenor insists that their mother must rest, and sends the two boys to continue their training at the Dragonpit.

At the Dragonpit[]

The Dragonkeepers instruct Rhaenyra's sons Jace and Luke, as well as Alicent's sons Aegon (now a lazy, bratty teenager) and her younger son Aemond Targaryen. The focus of their lesson this day is training Jace's young dragon Vermax, a juvenile the size of a small horse, to accept his verbal commands. Aegon is bored with the event because he already went through it for his own dragon Sunfyre, and for the dragons of the younger children. Jace successfully commands the dragon to obey and halt, and then to breathe fire at a live sheep. They leave Vermax to eat his roasted prey.

Aemond is upset because he is the only one of the children who hasn't bonded with a dragon yet. The other three boys insist that they have a surprise: Aegon says they felt bad that he doesn't have a mount, so they found a fresh new dragon for him. Aemond is suspicious, then Luke returns from the lower level with a pig. The sow has brooms tied to her as makeshift wings, and the boys mockingly present Aemond with "the Pink Dread". The other boys dissolve into laughter and leave.

Annoyed, Aemond descends into the lower levels of the dragonpit below the main area, into the caverns where the dragons nest. Hoping to find one of the unclaimed dragons, he presses on in the dark, until he is startled by Dreamfyre, who angrily breathes fire in his direction. Stumbling backward onto the floor, Aemond flees out of the dragonpit with only a face full of ash.

Alicent and the children[]

Back in her private chambers, Alicent sits with her daughter Helaena Targaryen: a baby at the time of her half-sister Rhaenyra's wedding, she is now an eleven year-old young lady. Helaena is somewhat introverted and intently focused on details about her insect collection. A Kingsguard then drags in Aemond, covered in ash and soot. Helaena observes that he's "done it again", and Alicent scolds him for how dangerous it is to keep trying to claim an adult dragon on his own. Humiliated, Aemond explains that the other boys gave him a pig dressed up as a dragon and they all laughed at him. Concerned and sympathetic, Alicent lovingly embraces her son and assures him that he will have a dragon some day. Helaena strangely says that he'll have to close an eye.

Alicent then discusses the incident with Viserys as he is continuing to work on his model of Valyria's capital city (which after a decade has expanded to cover much of the large room it is in). Viserys gently chides that it would be foolish for Aemond to think the other boys were capable of wrangling up some unclaimed young dragon for him on their own, and he suspects the originator of the prank might have been Aemond's own elder brother Aegon.

Alicent insists that it must have been Rhaenyra's boys, and says their savagery isn't surprising given their nature. Viserys dismisses his servant, and Alicent gets straight to the point: Rhaenyra's three sons look nothing like her husband Laenor and are quite probably Harwin Strong's bastard sons. Alicent is stunned by Rhaenyra's audacity, saying that to have one child like that is a mistake, but to have three sons like that is an insult. Rhaenyra kept having an affair with Harwin even after her first son shockingly resembled him, with no fear of being caught.

Viserys counters that the nature of inheritance can be a strange thing: he once had a stunning black mare that escaped her stable and mated with an equally stunning stallion silver as the moon, but their resulting foal was a plain chesnut brown. Alicent questions if Viserys actually saw them mating, or if he just assumed the silver stallion was the only one the black mare was breeding with. Angered, Viserys warns Alicent of the consequences of the accusations she is making and tells her never to speak of it again.

Alicent talks with Criston Cole as they return from the king's chambers, outraged that Viserys is willfully blind to the obvious. The entire royal court already thinks Rhaenyra's three sons are bastards, but none of them dare openly say it. Criston curses about Rhaenyra, whom he once loved, but apologizes when Alicent, clearly disapproving of his language and attitude, gives him a look. She says she has to believe that honor and decency will eventually prevail over Rhaenyra's continued offenses.

Alicent enters young Aegon's private chamber, to find him standing naked and masturbating in a castle window. Startled, he dives back into his bed and she pretends not to notice. She confronts him about the pig incident, and he awkwardly tries to shift blame to Rhaenyra's boys before admitting that it was just a funny prank and he doesn't see what was so bad about it. Alicent is actually more annoyed that he enjoyed a prank with Rhaenyra's sons against his own brother Aemond, when he should understand like she does that they are his mortal enemies. As Rhaenyra's eldest son, Jace is in line to one day inherit the Iron Throne itself. As her own father Otto Hightower once impressed on her, Alicent exhorts Aegon that Rhaenyra will cut off anyone who challenges her inheritance to the throne. He innocently says that he won't challenge Rhaenyra, at which Alicent grabs his face and shouts into it that he is the challenge, simply by living and breathing; his existence as a male heir is a challenge to Rhaenyra. She finishes by imploring him that as the king's firstborn son, the entire realm knows in their bones that one day he will be king.

In Pentos[]

Across the Narrow Sea, in the Free City of Pentos, Daemon Targaryen is now married to Laenor's sister Laena Velaryon, who he was last seen flirting with at Rhaenyra's wedding a decade ago. Laena claimed the great dragon Vhagar as her mount, the last of the original three dragons from Aegon's Conquest. Laena on Vhagar and Daemon on Caraxes entertain Pentoshi aristocrats and magisters by racing along the coast. Daemon and Laena are being hosted by the Prince of Pentos, Reggio Haratis, and for the past decade have been living as honored guests in his mansion. In the past decade of their marriage Laena has produced two daughters for Daemon: Baela Targaryen and her younger sister Rhaena Targaryen, and is pregnant with a third child. Unlike Laenor's children, both girls have Valyrian silver hair, as well as the darker skin of their Velaryon parent.

Haratis holds lavish feasts for Daemon's family and showers them with wealth and treasures, because their presence in the city acts as a deterrent against their common enemy: the Triarchy to the south. He reveals that the Triarchy has launched a new campaign into the Stepstones, allying with Qoren Martell of Dorne to attack from the west as well. Haratis offers Daemon large permanent landholdings in Pentos if he will join them in a renewed offensive against the Triarchy: Laena is hesitant, but Daemon says he will consider it.

Later that night, after Daemon finishes giving Baela a lesson in High Valyrian, Laena urges him not to take the offer. They have been glorified guests for the past decade, but she wants the life of a dragonrider, and for her daughters to grow up where she did on Driftmark. Daemon says he knows their situation in Pentos is transactional - their dragons scare off the Triarchy and in return the Pentoshi shower them with wealth - but he finds this straightforward arrangement a relief, having grown weary of the political scheming in Westeros.

Laena then visits her younger daughter Rhaena, who is warming her dragon egg in a brazier. She laments that she is the only one of them without a dragon, as her older sister Baela's egg already produced a young hatchling. Rhaena's egg was put in her cradle as a baby to help her bond with it, but after eight years it still hasn't hatched. Laena consoles her daughter that half of the dragon eggs never hatch and she herself didn't claim a dragon until she was 15 years old, but then she bonded with mighty Vhagar, the largest living dragon.

Later in the night, Daemon looks out over the city's night skyline from the roof of the mansion. Laena arrives and tells him that her brother Laenor wrote a letter saying Rhaenyra had a third son. Daemon sarcastically asks if he mentioned that this child also has a marked but entirely coincidental resemblance to the commander of the City Watch. Laena says she can tell Daemon is disatisfied with his life in Pentos even if he won't admit it. Laena points out that Daemon never ventures into the city, but spends most of his time in the library reading about dead Valyrian dragonlords. She says she knows she wasn't his first choice as wife, which he tries to wave aside, but she gently embraces him and says the man she married was meant for more than this life in Pentos.

The training yard incident[]

In the Red Keep's training yard, Criston Cole instructs Aegon, Aemond, Jace, and Luke. Rhaenyra's children are dressed in red and black clothes, while Alicent's children are dressed in green clothes. King Viserys proudly watches from a higher level along with Lyonel Strong, and Harwin Strong has accompanied Rhaenyra's sons to the yard. Criston pits the much older Aegon against Jace, even though Harwin points out it isn't a fair match: Aegon nearly overpowers Jace but he makes a desperate counter-attack against the overconfident teenager. Criston then coaches Aegon as Harwin coaches Jace. In their second bout Aegon manages to knock Jace down and Criston shouts at him to keep attacking his defeated opponent, which he enthusiastically does after his mother's recent instruction that Rhaenyra's sons are his enemies. Harwin intervenes to pull him off Jace, criticizing Criston for teaching the boys cruelty against a weaker opponent. Criston goads Harwin by observing that he shows an unusual level of interest in Rhaenyra's boys, the kind a man normally only shows to his own sons. Enraged at the insinuation, Harwin knocks Criston on his back with a punch to the face, then continues to pummel him. Four other Kingsguard have to pull Harwin off Criston, as he dares him to say it again: Criston didn't even try to fight back, smiling as he spits out blood because he made Harwin embarrass himself in front of the king.

One of Rhaenyra's handmaids informs her of the "incident" in the yard, and she uses the hidden entrance to the secret passage system that Daemon showed her to listen in on a heated conversatin between Harwin and his father Lyonel. Harwin tries to defend himself that Criston was having Aegon beat up the heir to the Iron Throne, but Lyonel shouts at him that he has drawn suspicion on himself and their family. He tells his son that anyone in the castle who has eyes including himself have their suspicions, stopping short of saying aloud that the suspicion is that he is the real father of Rhaenyra's three sons. Everyone knows, Lyonel says, including King Viserys himself: but because Viserys himself is willfully blind to it, no one dares say it in public. This deeply upsets Rhaenyra, who had been in something of a bubble at the royal court and didn't consciously admit just how widespread the suspicions were about her sons.

Later, Rhaenyra's handmaid Elinda Massey gives her warm soaked towels to sooth the pain in her breasts, as noblewomen don't feed their own children but uses wet nurses. Laenor then arrives drunk and singing with his romantic companion Qarl Correy after a night of celebrating in Flea Bottom. Ordering the others to depart, Laenor tells Rhaenyra the good news that fighting has renewed in the Stepstones: he says that he is a dragonrider and a warrior and wants to feel alive again going into battle. Rhaenyra scolds him for being unaware of the mounting threats against them and increasing rumors after a third son was born who doesn't look like him. She says they both agreed that their marriage was a sham when they began it and she doesn't begrudge Laenor for continuing his affairs with other men, but she would like his support: if Laenor were to leave for the Stepstones it would make him look even less connected to Rhaenyra's sons. Laenor says that a wise sailor leaves ahead of a gathering storm rather than try to defeat it. Exhausted, she commands him as his Princess to stay in King's Landing.

The Small Council[]

Rhaenyra and Alicent attend a meeting of the Small Council with Viserys. In the past decade Mellos died of old age, and has been replaced as Grand Maester by the younger Orwyle, whose treatment of Viserys has been more effective than Mellos's leechings. Jasper Wylde has also been appointed as the new Master of Laws to fill the spot vacated by Lyonel Strong when he became Hand of the King. Lyman Beesbury is still Master of Coin, though he has grown somewhat slow in his old age. Rhaenyra and Alicent disagree on every issue: Rhaenyra has a more hands-on and interventionist approach to rule, while Alicent is more diplomatic and wants to delegate issues to regional rulers, worried about repercussions.

House Blackwood and House Bracken have had yet another border dispute in their ancient feud. Alicent wants to delegate the ruling to House Tully, but is told that Lord Grover Tully has grown bedridden in his old age. Alicent says they should just wait for Grover's son to deal with it, but Rhaenyra argues that the Blackwoods and Brackens will use any excuse to spill each other's blood. Instead, she points out that local countryfolk will know where the ancient border markers have been so they should send envoys to ask.

They then move on to the renewed conflict in the Stepstones with the Triarchy, now allied with independent Dorne. Viserys bitterly says that he'd hoped his ongoing negotiations with House Martell to keep them out of the region would succeed, but that shows what he gets for ever trusting a Martell. Jasper Wylde quips that Daemon was previously hailed "King of the Narrow Sea" after winning a single battle, and Alicent points out he abandoned the islands ten years ago. Rhaenyra interjects that all of them abandoned the Stepstones, and angrily questions why the crown didn't fortify and garrison the isles to control the vital sea lanes going through them. Alicent responds that they couldn't afford it, as while they have enjoyed an era of prosperity their funds are not infinite. Beesbury agrees the cost was too great, but Rhaenyra declares that war would cost the common people even more.

With the new business finished for the day the council rises to leave, but Rhaenyra asks them all to stay as she has another issue to propose. Rhaenyra politely says that she is aware of the recent tension between her family and Alicent's but they are all part of the royal house, and were friends before that. As a peace offering, she proposes a betrothal between her eldest son and heir Jace and Alicent's daughter Helaena. Additionally, when her dragon Syrax produces a new clutch of eggs, she will gift one to Aemond. Viserys says this is quite a judicious proposal, but Alicent is incredulous. She embarrasses Rhaenyra by indicating that she is leaking breast milk through her dress, and flatly says she will consider it.

After leaving the council, Alicent argues with Viserys that this offer is an insult, stopping short of saying aloud it is because Jace is really a bastard. Alicent thinks that Rhaenyra is only making this offer because she has been backed into a corner. Viserys tries to urge her that this will bring peace to the royal family and as king he should be able to make this choice, but Alicent sharply says that he can do what he wants when she's cold in her grave. They arrive at the king's private chambers where they are soon joined by Lyonel Strong, who has come to offer his resignation as Hand. He says that recent rumors have compromised his ability to give the king impartial aide and counsel. Viserys is hesitant to lose his trusted advisor, and asks him to say aloud what these rumors are, but, Lyonel cannot. Viserys says that if he can't bring himself to speak these rumors aloud he can't resign due to them. Lyonel agrees, but asks that he take Harwin back to Harrenhal: he has been dismissed as Commander of the City Watch, but as Lyonel's eldest son and heir it is time he prepares to rule their family's seat. Viserys agrees.

Alicent later meets for a meal in her private chambers with Lyonel's younger son, Larys Strong, who in the past few years has taken a position as a royal interrogator in the dungeons. Alicent has come to rely on him as an informant, though this time it is her turn to inform him of events at the Small Council: Larys's father refused to confront the king about Harwin's alleged affair with Rhaenyra, and so will remain as Hand. Alicent laments her lack of allies at court, and says if her father Otto Hightower was there she could rely on him to be impartial. Larys points out that her own father wouldn't exactly be "impartial", to which Alicent sharply says in frustration that he would be partial to her. Alicent openly wonders if in all of King's Landing there is no one to take her side.

Seizing on this as a pretext, Larys goes down to the castle dungeons and picks out three men condemned to death. He offers that if they become his agents he will spare their lives, though they will need to have their tongues cut out so they can't repeat his secrets.

Meanwhile, Harwin Strong makes an emotional but silent goodbye to Rhaenyra and her three sons. After he leaves, Rhaenyra tells Jace they can still write to him. Jace, the eldest and most cognizant of her sons, then bluntly asks if Harwin Strong is really his father and if he is a bastard. Taken aback, Rhaenyra cannot bring herself to give him a straight answer aloud: instead she says that as her son he is a Targaryen, and that's all that matters. Both of them aware of what her indirect answer truly implies, Jace is left stunned.

Deaths by fire[]

In Pentos, Laena has gone into labor but it takes a bad turn. The physician informs Daemon that the baby has breeched, presenting him with a similar choice to the one his brother Viserys faced when Queen Aemma Arryn died in childbirth. The physician isn't even sure if the child is alive, but says he could try to cut it out of her. While Viserys in this situation asked if the child could be saved, Daemon asks if there is any way to save the mother's life, and the physician says no. Overhearing them, Laena manages to flee the room and the mansion and rushes out to her dragon on the beach. Preferring a dragon-rider's death, and a quick one instead of continued agony, she commands Vhagar to burn her. After some hesitation, Vhagar complies and immolates her just in time for Daemon to see. At dawn, Daemon and his devastated daughters look out from the mansion's roof at Laena's charred remains below.

In the Riverlands, Lyonel escorts Harwin back to Harrenhal, the massive castle left half-ruined a century before during Aegon's Conquest, and later gifted to House Strong. Larys's tongueless agents follow them. Lyonel is awakened in the night by a fire they set in the castle. Harwin rushes to the door of his father's chamber but the heat has sealed the lock shut. The ceiling collapses on them and both burn to death.

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra finds Laenor practicing in the yard with Qarl Correy. After her attempts at peace with Alicent have failed, she has agreed with his advice and wants to leave before gathering storm. She will relocated with her sons and household to her seat at Dragonstone island, where they will be free of wagging tongues and Alicent's plotting. She asks him to come with her, and invites him to bring his compaion Qarl as well: she now realizes they will need every sword they can for the eventual conflict with Alicent and her children.

Larys Strong then meets with Alicent in her private chambers and cheerfully reveals to her that he had his own father and brother burned to death, an act of Kinslaying that will elevate him as the new Lord of Harrenhal, and which will clear the post of Hand of the King for Alicent's father Otto to return. Alicent, however, is horrified at his crime, and says she never wished for this. Larys assures her that she will reward him when the time is right.

Appearances[]

Main page: The Princess and the Queen/Appearances

Firsts[]

Deaths[]

Cast[]

Starring[]

Co-starring[]

Notes[]

Behind the scenes[]

General[]

  • The title of the episode derives from The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens - a slightly abridged version of the first five Dying of the Dragons chapters in Fire & Blood, released as a stand-alone novella in an anthology in 2013. The title refers to Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower.
  • With a run time of 68 minutes, this episode was the longest of the television series until it tied with "The Lord of the Tides," also 68 minutes. Both episodes were dethroned by "Rhaenyra the Cruel," a minute longer at 69 minutes.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Essos in the TV series, with the scenes at Pentos. In the franchise overall, lands beyond Westeros itself were last seen in Game of Thrones: Season 6, and Pentos itself was last seen in Season 5. This is discounting the Stepstones, which are a border region not considered part of either continent, and which didn't appear in the original series.
  • This episode also marks the first time that the Riverlands have appeared in the TV series proper - discounting the brief prologue scene showing the Great Council at Harrenhal, also at Harrenhal, which only showed the interior of the main hall.
  • Alicent's cutting remark to Laenor about baby Joffrey, "Do keep trying, soon or late you'll get one that looks like you," is straight from the book.
  • In Fire & Blood, it is actually somewhat ambiguous whether Rhaenyra's three sons are Laenor's or bastards fathered by Harwin Strong: it is very probable that they are Harwin's, but both Rhaenyra and Laenor have non-Valyrian grandparents. Rhaenyra's maternal grandfather was Rodrik Arryn, and Laenor's maternal grandmother was Jocelyn Baratheon: Rhaenys Targaryen had black hair in her youth, which simply went silver in old age. Even within the TV version, however, the only difference is that Rhaenyra herself fully believes that they are Harwin's, but this doesn't rule out the possibility that she could be wrong.
  • This episode again brings up the Targaryen tradition of putting dragon eggs in their infants' cradles, as explained in the first two episodes of the season. This is done in the hope that it will help them bond more easily, and this episode shows that Jace and Luke picked out an egg for baby Joffrey.
    • Alicent remarks that she's surprised Jace and Luke's eggs ever hatched, because she is convinced they are bastards: she and her supporters similarly alleged in the books that their eggs would never hatch. After they did hatch, Rhaenyra's supporters pointed to this as proof that they were not bastards. Both sides overlooked the obvious point that the boys' mother is a Targaryen, there's no doubt that they came out of Rhaenyra, so whether the eggs hatched or not isn't proof they're bastards one way or the other.
    • Laena herself directly explains to Rhaena in this episode that many cradle-eggs simply never hatch, and several famous dragon-riders had to claim adult dragons who had previous riders. King Viserys and Daemon both claimed dragons with previous riders (Balerion and Caraxes), Laena herself claimed Vhagar, and even Alicent's own daughter bonded with the adult dragon Dreamfyre, so apparently none of their cradle-eggs hatched. Laena says here that "half" of the eggs never hatch (or don't hatch for decades): the books don't give a specific fraction but do indicate that many eggs do not hatch.
  • Within the episode it's said that Aemond is the only one of Rhaenyra and Alicent's children who hasn't claimed a dragon yet, but doesn't directly name all of them. HBO's official viewer's guide website confirmed that they have the same names as in the books: Luke's dragon is Arrax (another juvenile like Jace's Vermax), while Helaena's dragon is Dreamfyre. Subtitles confirm that Dreamfyre actually does appear on-screen, as she is the dragon that scares off Aemond in the tunnels. It's mentioned in dialogue that Aegon already has a dragon as well, named Sunfyre. Laena and Rhaena also directly state that Baela has a young dragon of her own but don't mention its name, which the HBO website confirms is "Moondancer".
  • Helaena Targaryen is presented as introverted, and possibly on the autistic spectrum. She isn't described like this in the books, though her daughter Jaehaera is. The TV series also invented the detail that she seems to have strongly inherited the Targaryen bloodline's tendency towards prophetic dreams and visions. Her enigmatic line about Aemond "He'll have to close an eye" is a foreshadowing of what is about to happen in the next episode.
  • Laenor tells Rhaenyra that according to his lover Qarl, there is a new captain-general leading Triarchy forces in the Stepstones, a giant of a man who dyes his beard purple and wears women's frocks. While his name isn't mentioned, this description matches Racallio Ryndoon, an infamously flamboyant pirate and major recurring character in the book. He was indeed assigned by the Triarchy to lead the new counter-offensive into the Stepstones, though in the book this happened only two years after Daemon's victory over Craghas Crabfeeder at Bloodstone, not a full ten years later.
  • In the previous episode, Daemon boldly announced that he intended to fly to the Eyrie to present to Lady Jeyne Arryn his claim over his late wife's lands at Runestone; there is no mention of what has become of that in this episode.
    • According to Fire & Blood, Daemon (who was in the Stepstones when Rhea died), did fly to the Vale to lay claim to her property, but Jeyne Arryn rejected his claim. He then flew back to his ally Corlys Velaryon on Driftmark, and while there continued to court his daughter Laena. Knowing that Viserys wouldn't approve of him remarrying so soon, he took Laena on a tour of the Free Cities. When she became pregnant, they stopped and settled in Pentos.
  • Harwin Strong pummeling Criston Cole on the ground in this episode visually parallels how Criston pummeled Joffrey Lonmouth in the previous episode.
  • The Small Council scene mentions that the head of House Tully at this time is Lord Grover Tully. This is his name in the book, as George R.R. Martin humorously named all of the Tullys in this era after muppets from Sesame Street:
    • Lord Grover is very old and in his final years mostly bedridden with a prolonged illness. As said in the Small Council scene, Riverrun at this time is ruled in all but name by his son (unnamed in the book).
    • Lord Grover's grandson is Elmo, whose young son Kermit is said to be just a green boy, and his younger brother Oscar is still greener.
  • Larys has the prisoners' tongues ripped out before becoming his agents, to keep them from revealing his secrets. Varys did this in the books to many of his "Little birds" for the same reason, as did Euron Greyjoy to his crew.
  • Larys mentions the alleged curse of Harrenhal, which has been mentioned only once in Game of Thrones, and only briefly in the Histories & Lore shorts "Harrenhal" and "The Riverlands." In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the curse is occasionally mentioned as the reason for the destruction of all the houses that ever possessed Harrenhal and the deaths of all the individuals who served as its castellans (the only exceptions so far are Roose Bolton, who briefly held it but never "ruled" it, and Petyr Baelish, who was named the nominal lord but never took up residence there). In truth, the houses that are granted Harrenhal might come to bad ends because it is somewhat of a toxic gift: it controls the most fertile area in the Riverlands, which means that it invites envy and different lords are constantly fighting over it as political favor. House Strong came to rule it early in the reign of King Jaehaerys, about fifty years before this episode, after House Towers died out.
  • The insect on Larys Strong's cane is a firefly, according to the HBO viewer's guide website; his henchmen wear firefly-shaped brooches. This isn't a detail from the book, but apparently in the TV version he has chosen his own personal sigil different from his family's traditional heraldry. This parallels how Petyr Baelish's personal sigil was an inoffensive mockingbird, even though his family's sigil up until then had been the head of the Titan of Braavos.
  • The fire at Harrenhal which kills Lyonel and Harwin Strong is one of the major "unreliable narrator" moments in Fire & Blood: four different possible culprits are suggested but without definitively saying who had them killed. None of them say the potential culprits personally did it themselves but they must have used agents:
    • Septon Eustace, the anti-Rhaenyra source, says that Daemon did it to remove Harwin as a rival for Rhaenyra's romantic affections.
    • Mushroom, the ribald dwarf court jester, says that Corlys did it to take revenge on the man who cuckolded his son Laenor.
    • Grand Maester Mellos, normally a neutral source in his chronicles, expressed his suspicions that King Viserys himself was responsible, to try to crush the rumors that Harwin was the real father of Rhaenyra's sons.
    • "Other sources" suggest rumors that Larys Strong did it, as the death of his father and older brother elevated him to be the new Lord of Harrenhal, and also removed Lyonel as Hand, paving the way for Otto Hightower to resume that position. Soon after Otto returned, Larys was then made the new Master of Whisperers. The TV series used this version.
  • This is the third episode in a row in which rats have been seen scurrying around the Red Keep. The rats are able to sneak around through the network of secret passages, and are perhaps a metaphor for how Targaryen rule is starting to decay from within.
  • The argument about the War for the Stepstones between Rhaenyra and Alicent resembles Corlys's request for help against the Triarchy and Otto's refusal ("The Rogue Prince"), in which it was unclear if Otto genuinely thought it was too expensive or if he was happy to see his rivals in House Velaryon have their shipping attacked. Similarly, it's unclear now if Alicent actually thinks it would have been too expensive to garrison the Stepstones or if she truly didn't want to help the Velaryons secure their conquest. After the Velaryons did capture the Stepstones, in "King of the Narrow Sea" Viserys and his Small Council were outright concerned that the Velaryons now had a stranglehold on trade going through the sea lanes on Westeros's east coast.
    • Both scenes are similar to the argument between Cersei Lannister and the Tyrell siblings regarding the ironborn's raid of the Shield Islands (A Feast for Crows, Cersei VII). Cersei's inner monologue clearly reveals that she doesn't care that the ironborn are attacking the Tyrells because she considers them her political rivals.
  • The colors of the clothes Rhaenyra's children (red and black) and Alicent's children (green) wear at the training yard - symbolize the rival factions at Viserys's court, the Greens (supporters of Alicent's children) and the Blacks (Rhaenyra's supporters).

Filming locations[]

Filming locations for this episode included:

The ten year time jump[]

  • This episode marks the largest time jump in the entire series, with almost a decade passing since the previous episode. Several main cast members have been replaced by adult versions, and eight different children of the main characters are introduced. Discounting baby Joffrey because he doesn't talk yet, while Aegon and Helaena previously appeared as infants/toddlers, this still introduces seven new roles with speaking lines:
  • Other characters have aged significantly, or even died off-screen:
  • Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke are not technically "replacing" Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, because the adult versions of the characters were cast first, then after a months-long search Alcock and Carey were cast to match them as younger versions of their characters. Alcock and Carey explained that they were specifically instructed not to meet the older actors or to base their performances on them, because logically, people don't know what their future self will end up being like. In contrast, D'Arcy and Cooke did study the performances of their younger versions.
  • The time skips in this story were a major point of contention between George R.R. Martin and the prior leadership of HBO, and why it almost didn't get made despite being the first potential prequel Martin himself suggested in July 2016. Among the first batch of five prequel pitches in 2017, Carly Wray was put in charge of the Dance of the Dragons pitch, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, her version (which HBO preferred at the time) would have started with the civil war itself. Martin, however, insisted that the story of the rivalry between Rhaenyra and Alicent and their respective children needed to be set up with the time skips in his book. By late 2017 Wray had left the project and it started over with Bryan Cogman, but his version was also rejected, until finally by late 2018 Ryan Condal made an entirely new pitch for a prequel series about the Dance of the Dragons, but in keeping with Martin's wishes his pitch began when young Rhaenyra was named the new royal heir after her mother's death in childbirth. House of the Dragon was finally ordered to series in late October 2019 (by the new AT&T-owned HBO): the hesitance to include the time skips set back the series order by over three years. As HBO's Casey Bloys explained it wasn't that HBO thought the time skips would be confusing, but that it would be (and was) extremely difficult to cast the lead roles not once but twice and to have each set of actors match.[7]
  • Based on internal references, Rhaenyra and Laenor's wedding apparently occurred in the year 116 AC in the TV series (dates were moved around due to aging up several cast members). Episode 5 takes place soon after episode 4, stated to be four years since the series premiere episode. Therefore this episode takes place about 14 years since the premiere, roughly in the year 126 AC.
  • Within this episode Rhaenyra and Alicent are both about 28 years old, as they are roughly the same age in the TV version. When this episode was filmed, Emma D'arcy was 29 years old and Olivia Cooke was 28 years old. Emily Carey was also similar to her character's age, as she was 17 while playing young Alicent as she progressed from 14 to 18 years old: in contrast, Milly Alcock was actually 21 years old when she filmed her role as young Rhaenyra across the same age range.

Altered and deleted scenes[]

  • According to the unaltered High Valyrian dialogue for the episode shared by David J. Peterson, the scene with Jace and Vermax was originally going to be between Luke and Arrax.[8]
  • In the Dragonpit scene, the Dragonkeeper Elder would have scolded Aemond for attempting to claim Dreamfyre, pointing out that once claimed, dragons will refuse to obey anyone but their rider. A fragment of this line survives in a different context earlier in the scene.[8]
  • A deleted scene showing Daemon flirting with a male servant, revealing him as bisexual.[9]
  • According to Peterson, the scene with Daemon, Laena, and the Pentoshi surgeon was originally supposed to be spoken entirely in High Valyrian. The final version is shortened and spoken entirely in the Common Tongue.[8]
  • The ending would have featured a scene of Daemon hugging his daughters, but it was cut to show him simply walking away from them.[10]

In the books[]

Main page: Differences in adaptation/House of the Dragon: Season 1#"The Princess and the Queen"

This episode is adapted from the chapter "Heirs of the Dragon — A Question of Succession" from Fire & Blood.

Gallery[]

Videos[]

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Stills[]

Screenshots[]

References[]

Notes[]

  1. In "The Princess and the Queen," Laenor Velaryon states that it has been ten years since his wedding to Rhaenyra Targaryen, which occurred in 116 AC; therefore, "The Princess and the Queen" takes place in 126 AC.

External links[]


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