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‘House of the Dragon’: Season 1 Episode 6 Review

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

The House of the Dragon episode, “The Princess and the Queen,” delivered us to the second half of what has so far been an outstanding season of television. Passing the halfway mark, we have had to bid farewell to the actors who delivered stellar performances as the younger versions of the characters, who we now see as their adult selves. They will be sorely missed by all, as they were the first on-screen versions of these characters that we grew to love (and, in some cases, hate). Among them are Milly Alock (Young Rhaenyra Targaryen), Emily Carey (Young Alicent Hightower), Nova Foueillis-Mosé and Savannah Steyn (both Young Laena Velaryon), and Theo Nate (Laenor Velaryon). 

While the older actors definitely took some getting used to, there is not a single one that seems wrong or unbelievable as the 10-year senior to their younger counterpart. The opening scene is an excellent introduction to the time shift. FromEmma D’Arcy, Olivia Cooke, and John MacMillan (as Rhaenyra, Alicent, and Laenor, respectively), and how their relationships with one another have changed. Rhaenyra and Alicent have become bitter rivals; the episode opens with Rhaenyra, utterly exhausted on the birthing bed, receiving news that Queen Alicent has demanded to see her child. Laenor and Rhaenyra’s connection has solidified; after at first gleefully arriving to greet the post-birth Rhaenyra, Laenor is also informed of the queen’s command and walks by his wife’s side, supporting her every step of the way to Alcient’s chambers. 

A Dragonrider’s Death 

Laena Velaryon left us too soon. In a mirror image of the events that unfolded in the series premiere, the sixth episode or as it has been dubbed by the showrunners ‘the second pilot,’ Daemon must make the same decision about his wife’s body that Viserya had to make about Aemma in episode one: the medieval version of a C-section that will definitely kill the mother but could possibly save the child, or let nature run its course, which will most likely result in the child’s death but no certainty whether the mother would survive. Whether Daemon made the choice opposing the operation or was unable to choose at all is unclear. What is clear is that Laena knew her end was near and was determined to go out on her own terms. In a truly heart-wrenching scene, Laena commands Vhagar to burn her alive. The dragon is visibly hesitant and resists Laena’s increasingly desperate cries of ‘Dracarys’ until she no longer can and torches Laena alive. 

The More the Merrier 

The change of actors isn’t the only major shift in casting this episode. So is the addition of several child actors portraying the children of Alicent and Rhaenyra. It is classic Game of Thrones energy with all the children now on the scene, with the exploration of their own adventures and how the adults view and manipulate them. Indeed, Cristion Cole receives a much-deserved beating from Harwin Strong in the training yard after the two have a disagreement over training styles, while overseeing the combat practice of the children that escalates into a full-blown argument, resulting in Cole making the (correct) accusation that Strong is the father of Rhaenyra’s children. This even results in Hand of the King, Lyonel Strong, berating his son for his behavior and attempting to resign Hand. Viserys, looking like he is on the path to becoming the next Gollum, refuses to allow Lyonel to resign. If only he had…

A New Littlefinger On the Scene

We were first introduced to Larys Strong in the previous episode, and his intentions were questionable at best. Now, we have seen the full extent of his malice. Taking the side of Alicent for an as-of-yet unknown reason, Larys responds to her declaration that she wishes her father, former Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, were still at the King’s Landing by freeing doomed men from prison in exchange for their service. Having their tongues cut out (while watching rather excitedly), and having them repay their debt to him by burning Lyonel, and Harwin Strong (Larys’ father and brother) alive, thus eliminating the current Hand of the King and the man accused of fathering Rhaenyra’s children in one fell swoop. The window of Otto Hightower’s return is now wide open, but so is the space for Rhaenyra’s enemies to come forward and accuse her of murdering Harwin to prevent him from ever confirming the (true) allegations of him fathering Rhaenyra’s children. Both of these effects are directly beneficial to Alicent, putting the majority of the power transferred in this episode into her hands. Larys’ interest in Alicent is intriguing – does he want to start a war and climb the ladder of chaos, a la Petyr Baelish? Does he want to see Alicent’s blood on the Iron Throne? If so, why?

Larys Strong is the new Littlefinger, but will his cunning charisma ever be able to live up to that of Aidan Gillen’s unforgettable performance? Only time will tell.

Autumn Fleming is a contributor at the Her Campus at the Pace University chapter. She writes about entertainment of all forms, including but not limited to theatre, television, film and books. Outside of Her Campus, Autumn is an author and student who self-published her first novel, a YA high fantasy entitled ‘Virago’, in 2021. The book is for sale on Amazon. She currently serves as the treasurer for her school’s theatre club and has plans to study abroad in the spring semester. She also writes book reviews on Goodreads and reviews spanning every entertainment medium on her own personal website. She is currently a junior at Pace University majoring in Communications & Media Studies with a double minor in Journalism & Digital Storytelling and Arts & Entertainment Management. Autumn is an avid fangirl who loves to spend her free time consuming media and telling new stories of her own. Her current works in progress include three novels, several musicals, a poetry collection and a long list of to-be-written fanfics which she occasionally posts on Archive of Our Own. Her favorite genre is fantasy and she is a lover of well-crafted fictional universes, her favorites being Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Bardugo’s Grishaverse and Martin’s World of Ice and Fire. She is also a cosplayer and has a collection of swords and daggers as well as an incurable obsession with wall art and dragon statues.