‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 7 Recap: You Will Go Down With this Ship

House of the Dragon’s seventh episode opens with Daemon Targaryen doing probably the most Daemon thing he can: tittering—nay, I say giggling—at his late wife’s funeral. To make sure, Daemon is a posh character; to consider he finds actual amusement within the death of Laena Velaryon, his companion for the past 10 years, can be to misunderstand his lack of etiquette. Fairly, Daemon is sharp, even in grief. In House Velaryon’s eulogy for Laena, he recognizes just a few not-so-subtle jabs at Rhaenyra’s not-so-Velaryon sons. His eyes sweep over Jace and Luke’s brunette bowl cuts, then over the scornful eyes of his fellow funeral guests, and he can’t help but laugh on the open secrets swirling within the air around him. There’s a reason the king’s younger brother never had much taste for politicking, even when he could never quite sate his thirst for power.

After Laena’s coffin is released into the ocean surrounding Driftmark, Daemon and Rhaenyra exchange just a few loaded glances—oh, boy, will we know what’s coming—while Viserys asks that Daemon return along with his daughters to King’s Landing, where he’ll want for nothing. Daemon argues he wants nothing because it is, brother, and anyway he needs a moment to accuse Otto Hightower—back on the town as Hand of the King, following Lionel Strong’s death last episode—of lecherous behavior.

Meanwhile, the Velaryons are crumbling beneath the load of their grief. Laenor, Rhaenyra’s husband and Laena’s twin, stands waist-deep within the roiling ocean, his jaw slack and cheeks sunken. Rhaenys and Corlys work out the kinks of their pain with an old-fashioned marital row: Rhaenys blames Daemon for dragging Laena to Pentos, but she also blames her husband for his “insatiable pride.” Corlys, surprised to listen to his normally steadfast wife criticize him, argues his pursuit of power is simply to revive the crown to Rhaenys’ own deserving head. She rolls her eyes, retorting, “It is just not justice on your wife that drives you; it’s your individual ambition.” Corlys, flipping the script of Larys Strong’s children-are-a-weakness speech from episode 6, leans forward and whispers, “What is that this temporary mortal life, if not the pursuit of legacy?”


Rhaenys tries a special tactic: Appeal to Corlys’ craving for glory. She wants Driftmark, House Velaryon’s ancestral home, to go through Laena’s line to Baela, Daemon and Laena’s daughter. Such a move can be unorthodox in Westeros, where the firstborn son’s line tends to inherit power and property. To seal the deal, Rhaenys speaks the quiet part out loud. “Rhaenyra’s children should not of your blood,” she says. “But Laena’s are.”

Finally, we escape this mournful debating for a long-awaited reunion—and what a union it was! The Daemon girlies might be dancing within the streets tonight, and I’m sure to be one among them. But if you happen to cheered this little dose of incest, know this: To borrow a line from peak Tumblr…you’ll go down with this ship.

On the shores of Driftmark, Daemon and Rhaenyra take a romantic moonlit stroll, during which niece tells uncle of the fruitlessness of her sexual exploits together with her husband. (Apparently a quaint topic of conversation in Westeros.) Rhaenyra admits that she and Laenor did attempt to conceive, but “there was no joy in it. I discovered that elsewhere.” Daemon, already filled in on the Red Keep’s hottest gossip, gives her such a loaded look I needed to pause the episode and step away, laughing hysterically. Matt Smith’s delivery of, “I understand Ser Harwin was quite…dedicated to you,” must be the clip that wins him his Emmy next 12 months.

matt smith in house of the dragon episode 7

Ollie Upton/HBO

The pair move through just a few other topics of conversation, catching up after years apart. Does Daemon think Alicent’s answerable for Harwin’s death? Check. Did he love Laena? Sure, enough to be content. Check. Rhaenyra says she’s sorry for his loss but scoots somewhat closer. Is she now not a baby? Check.

The following sex scene is steamy but not gratuitous—a welcome departure for a Game of Thrones franchise. Rhaenyra and Daemon’s tryst is one among pleasure, but additionally one infused with a palpable sense of relief. They feel most free once they’re together. And so they each appear to sense this was all the time inevitable; the act itself might as well be the achievement of prophecy. That will make sense, given how Targaryens consider their very own line and legacy. After all an uncle and a niece falling in love can be the wish of the gods.

But while they’re busy getting it on, their families are fracturing around them. In one among the show’s most stunning sequences of the season, Aemond conquers the chip on his shoulder and claims Vhagar as his mount, taking to the sky upon the back of the last surviving witness of Aegon’s Conquest. Their bonding is breathtaking to observe, but it’s also a betrayal: Aemond claiming Vhagar denies Baela of her right to her late mother’s dragon.

Jace and Luke run as much as defend Daemon’s daughters, but Aemond and Aegon use the chance away from their parents’ prying eyes to pronounce the Velaryon boys bastards. (That’s considered treason, by the way in which.) The resulting squabble breaks noses and slices through eyes, but perhaps nobody takes the injuries more personally than Alicent, Aemond and Aegon’s mother, who invokes Hammurabi’s Code: an eye fixed for an eye fixed.

When Viserys refuses to punish his grandchildren in such a fashion, a furious Alicent steals the king’s Valyrian steel blade—the one with the “Prince Who Was Promised” inscription, remember?—and charges toward Jace and Luke. Rhaenyra throws herself in front of her sons, finally giving Alicent the chance to confront her former best friend with just a few selection words: While she, the Queen, has sacrificed every little thing within the name of duty, Rhaenyra has spat in its face. Rhaenyra flaunts sons who’re clearly not her husband’s. She (by Alicent’s estimation, anyway) sleeps around. She is so convinced of her Targaryen-born sovereignty that she betrays the principles of “decency” just by respiratory. Alicent’s fury is partially that of a apprehensive mother’s, but Olivia Cooke’s hissing delivery makes it clear just how much of Alicent’s response is basically born of jealousy.

ty tennant and olivia cooke in house of the dragon episode 7

Ollie Upton/HBO

Finally, Alicent loses her cool and slices Rhaenyra’s wrist. (Fret not, your fave is high quality.) However the near-death experience grants the princess each clarity and conviction. She sees, finally, the rot inside her own household, and so she seeks to strengthen it with a union of—forgive me—fire and blood. She proposes that she and Daemon marry, which after all would require Laenor’s death.

And so the secrets tangle tighter. Together, Rhaenyra and Daemon pull off Westeros’ finest Houdini act, faking Laenor’s death with the assistance of his lover, Ser Qarl. After the latter engages Laenor in an impromptu duel throughout the halls of High Tide, they dump a person’s body into the hearth, charring away any distinguishable features. (Does Driftmark just have random dead bodies freely available for frying, or…?) Rhaenys and Corlys barge into the foyer to find what they think is their only remaining child burned alive. But the true Laenor and Qarl escape to a rowboat on the shore, embarking on a visit across the Narrow Sea, where they’ll live and love together without interference or judgement.

At the same time as I took just a few shaky breaths to recuperate from the intensity of this showdown, episode 7 charged ahead. Days, maybe even months, pass in a single scene as Daemon and Rhaenyra are wed, their bleeding lips pressed together in a kiss between kin. Like most Targaryen amorous affairs, it’s so incorrect it’s almost right. But heed my warning from earlier, Daemyra shippers: Best remember George R. R. Martin is not any romantic.

<< Read last week’s episode

Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers news and culture.

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