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How House Of The Dragon's Next Episode Could Answer A Scandalous Question About Rhaenyra From Fire And Blood

Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra covered in blood from House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of House of the Dragon, called “Second of His Name,” AND the “Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession” chapter of George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood

House of the Dragon jumped ahead in time for the third episode, which saw the royal court head out on a hunting trip to celebrate Prince Aegon’s second birthday in Westeros while Daemon fought what seemed to be a losing war in the Stepstones. While it was a jam-packed hour with some important takeaways for the future, the only major event that was more or less pulled from the pages of George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood was Daemon and Corlys Velaryon fighting Crabfeeder in the Stepstones. Based on the trailer for the next episode, however, it looks like House of the Dragon is on the verge of answering a very scandalous question about Rhaenyra from the book. 

Since Fire & Blood is a fictional history book rather than a novel, there’s no omnipotent narrator, but rather a narrative pieced together from a variety of sources, and those sources don’t always match. When it comes to the reigns of King Viserys I and his immediate successors, the sources tend to disagree a great deal, which creates a mystery with no clear answer on the page: what exactly happened with teenage Rhaenyra, a soon-to-be-exiled Daemon, and Ser Criston Cole? Well, the next episode could reveal the truth, but let’s start with the mystery.

Last chance! Turn back now if you don’t want to be spoiled from the Fire & Blood chapter called “Heirs of the Dragon – A Question of Succession.”

Daemon Targaryen, Rhaenyra Targaryen, and Ser Criston Cole cropped for House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

What Fire & Blood Tells Us About Rhaenyra’s Scandal

The sources in Fire & Blood agree that Daemon returned to court after a victory in the Stepstones and remained for a time before something happened and he went back into exile, but there’s not much else that the stories match on. So, let’s look at the three versions of the story. A historian named Grand Maester Runciter stated that Daemon simply went back to the Stepstones after he and Viserys “quarreled again,” with nothing more scandalous than two brothers disagreeing. 

The story gets spicier with the other two sources. A septon by the name of Eustace claimed that Daemon seduced Rhaenyra “and claimed her maidenhood.” In this telling, a member of the Kingsguard found them together and took them to Viserys, where Rhaenyra declared that she was in love with Daemon and wanted to marry him. Daemon was already married, however, so Viserys sent Daemon away, “confined his daughter to her chambers,” and ordered both “never to speak of what had happened.”

While Septon Eustace’s story is certainly more salacious than what Runciter recorded, it pales in comparison to that of the court fool known as Mushroom. He wrote that Rhaenyra wanted to seduce Ser Criston Cole and turned to her uncle for lessons in seduction, which became physical. (According to Mushroom, anyway.) He wrote that Daemon would “smuggle her from her rooms dressed as a page boy and take her secretly to brothels” at night to watch the “men and women in the act of love.”

The story doesn’t end there in Mushroom’s account. He claims that Ser Criston was “horrified” by what Rhaenyra had done when she finally approached him, and Viserys found out. Daemon offered to marry his niece because “Who else would take her now?” Viserys exiled his brother with the order that he never return to the Seven Kingdoms. 

So, which of these stories – if any – is true in George R.R. Martin’s book canon? Readers were left to decide (and debate) themselves, and there was no hard answer about whose version should be trusted. Based on the footage in the promo for the House of the Dragon episode that will air on Sunday, September 11, I would say that we’re about to see some answers.

Daemon and Rhaenyra talking about the dragon egg in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Why House Of The Dragon Could Reveal The Truth

While the trailer for the next episode runs for about a minute, the most relevant part in relation to what actually happened between Rhaenyra, Daemon, and Ser Criston begins about halfway through with Otto Hightower telling Viserys that he has “discomfiting news.” Otto doesn’t reveal exactly what is so discomfiting, but the next scene shows a heated Rhaenyra saying that something “is a vile accusation.”

Since the promo goes on to show what looks like two people in a pretty intimate moment against a wall and Viserys threatening to take out the eyes of whoever is spreading the “gossip,” the implication is clear: Rhaenyra has been accused of doing something she shouldn’t have with a man, and it certainly looks like the lady doth protest too much about the “vile accusation.” There’s also a shot of what appears to be Rhaenyra dressed in a man’s clothing, running through the streets of King’s Landing.

I feel pretty comfortable saying that Episode 4 is when House of the Dragon begins adapting the section of Fire & Blood about whatever happened with Rhaenyra that resulted in Daemon’s second exile, and it’s looking like there’s truth to the two more scandalous tellings of the tale from the book. It’s not 100% clear that the two people who are together are Daemon and Rhaenyra, but it seems like a safe bet based on some other shots of Matt Smith’s character looking secretive. 

And as wild as Mushroom’s version of the story is, it does look like Rhaenyra will be dressing as a page boy to sneak out of the castle. I highly doubt it’s because Daemon is taking her to brothels to teach her the physical arts of seduction himself since the show’s version of the character seems to be less dastardly than presented by the sources in Fire & Blood (although still a wild card). Still, that shot of her outside the Red Keep at night indicates that there may be some truth to the most salacious version. 

My best guess at this point is that House of the Dragon’s adaptation of the scene will pull elements from each of the stories, while fleshing it out to reveal what truly happened that none of Fire & Blood’s sources witnessed. It certainly looks like readers who have been wondering about what happened with Rhaenyra, Daemon, and Ser Criston will finally be rewarded. Will it be as tame as the tale of Daemon and Viserys simply quarreling, or as scandalous as Mushroom’s? Or something in the middle, more like Eustace’s?

Find out when the next new episode of House of the Dragon airs on Sunday, September 11 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. You can also check out George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood for yourself to read the full story of the three sources, as well as all of the Targaryen history that I’ve avoided spoiling here. The show has already been renewed for Season 2, so there is plenty still to come. If you want to revisit the heyday of Game of Thrones, you can do so streaming with an HBO Max subscription, and find some more upcoming viewing options on our 2022 TV premiere schedule

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.