This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 7.
After a languid, damn near leisurely episode, the closing scenes of House of the Dragon‘s seventh installment step on the gas for a series of truly chaotic reveals. Uncle-niece duo Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) make their union official in the eyes of the gods. Simultaneously, something really bad happens to Rhaenyra’s current husband Ser Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan)…or does it?
Things move swiftly here and there’s a decent chance you may have missed what really happened. With that in mind, let’s break down “Driftmark’s” ending and what it means for the series.
Daemon and Rhaenyra Get Married
After the chaos during the night of Laena Velaryon’s funeral, in which Aemond Targaryen (Leo Asthon) loses and eye and the realm loses any meaningful chance at a lasting peace, Rhaenyra has a frank conversation with her uncle and lover Daemon.
“I cannot face the greens alone,” Rhaenyra says, referring to Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and her host of green-clad supporters at court.
Rhaenyra then proposes what she and Daemon have wanted all along: a marriage. They have always meant to burn together. And now they always will as husband and wife.
Though it’s Valyrian in origin and therefore a little confusing, the ceremony that Rhaenyra and Daemon undergo at episode’s end is indeed one of marriage. By cutting their lips and sharing their blood while a religious official drones on, Rhaenyra and Daemon legally bond their souls together on their ancestral home of Dragonstone.
Daemon is free to marry once again as both of his previous wives are dead (Rhea Royce and Laena Velaryon) but Rhaenyra still has a husband in the form of Laenor Velaryon. The Targaryens aren’t necessarily afraid of polygamy and Laenor would certainly be down with sharing his wife with Daemon as he already did with Ser Harwin Strong. But Daemon is adamant that he cannot marry Rhaenyra while Laenor is alive. So there’s one simple solution then…
What Happens to Ser Laenor Velaryon?
Daemon and Rhaenyra kill Laenor…but not really. While we don’t know this truth until the very last shot of the episode, Daemon, Rhaenyra, Laenor, and Laenor’s lover Ser Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan) have all engaged in an elaborate plot to stage Laenor’s death.
Ser Qarl confronts Laenor in the throne room at Driftmark. Though the rest of the realm will believe Qarl killed Laenor as a part of some lover’s quarrel, in reality Qarl and Laenor kill a Laenor lookalike from the Velaryon household. They then have some guards toss “Laenor” in a fire pit, burning the body beyond recognition. This is a strategy you might recall from Theon Greyjoy “killing” Bran and Rickon Stark in Game of Thrones.
While the realm at large and Laenor’s poor parents believe their son to be dead (and having died the night after their daughter’s funeral, no less), a freshly buzz-cutted Laenor and Qarl run off together on a boat to parts unknown. They are likely set to live out Ser Criston Cole’s dream of rejecting the monarchy and all the stressors that come with it by living quiet, yet fruitful existences out in Essos.
Does This Happen in Fire & Blood?
As we’ve mentioned several times throughout the season, George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, the book upon which House of the Dragon is based, is written as a historical text. This means that many, if not all, of the events recounted are up for interpretation. Having said that though, the case of Ser Laenor’s death in Fire & Blood appeared to be open and shut up until now.
In 120 AC (around the time that House of the Dragon is set in now), Ser Laenor was stabbed to death by Ser Qarl Correy during a quarrel at a fair in Spicetown, a town on the Velaryon’s island of Driftmark. Historical figure of the time Septon Eustace claims that Qarl killed Laenor in a fit of jealousy. Another (more dubious) historical source, Mushroom, claims that Daemon paid Qarl to kill Laenor. Mushroom is a bit of a fabulist so Septon Eustace’s theory is the one that Archmaester Gyldayn believes and it’s the one that most readers were inclined to believe until now.
The show’s update to Laenor’s ending could be seen as a refreshing change to the source material as it avoids the “bury your gays” trope that many other fantasy series indulge. Or perhaps it’s not even a change at all! Maybe Laenor has always been alive in the annals of history. As far as we know, no one ever brought Ser Qarl to justice. Was it because he was off on a romantic Essos journey with Laenor? That’s what we’ll choose to believe and that’s what House of the Dragon makes canon.
New episodes of House of the Dragon premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max in the U.S. and Sky Atlantic in the U.K.