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House Of The Dragon Episode 6 Recap: The Kids Are Not All Right

The first season of "House of the Dragon" has finally reached its second half, and things have leapt ahead quite a bit in the aftermath of "We Light the Way," the show's fifth episode and midpoint. Ten years after the events of that installment, several of the lead actors in the series have been replaced by aged-up counterparts — Milly Alcock, Emily Carey, Theo Nate, and Savannah Steyn all took their bows in "We Light the Way" — but there's still plenty of drama, dragons, and intrigue to keep the narrative trucking along nicely.

The sixth episode, "The Princess and the Queen," introduces Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower... and as the title might lead you to believe, the episode pretty much centers on the tension between these two women and their shared family, from questions of parentage to an aging monarch to a brawl that reveals much more than anyone intends. Here's everything that you need to know about Episode 6 of "House of the Dragon."

You are not the father

Considering that the episode opens with Rhaenyra literally in the throes of labor with what turns out is her third child, it's not a big surprise that "The Princess and the Queen" focuses so much on the Targaryen family and its offspring. After giving birth, Rhaenyra is shocked to learn that Alicent wants to see the baby right away, and insists on taking the infant herself... which seems like a pretty ill-advised idea. Despite her husband Laenor's (John Macmillan) protestations, Rhaenyra makes her way to the queen's rooms and lets Alicent look at the baby, so it's clear the queen is looking for something — but what isn't clear just yet.

That soon becomes clear, however; while Rhaenyra chats with her (surprisingly still alive) father Viserys (Paddy Considine), who declares loudly that the boy has "his father's nose," Alicent confronts Laenor, telling him to "keep trying" so that eventually he gets a son that looks like him. Apparently, Laenor is not the father — of this new baby, whom he christens Joffrey (after his dead lover) or any of his and Rhaenyra's children. Alicent spends nearly the entire episode complaining about Rhaenyra's bastard children, an apparent fact that Viserys absolutely refuses to acknowledge. Since the original series of "Game of Thrones" focused so heavily on potentially illegitimate children snatching the Iron Throne, it feels fairly obvious that the issue of Rhaenyra's kids not being Laenor's biologically will come up a lot as the show goes along, even as the two return to Dragonstone and leave King's Landing behind.

A tiltyard brawl gets personal

So who is the father of Rhaenyra's children? Well, that distinction belongs to Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), Captain of the City Watch of King's Landing and the son of Hand of the King Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes). Like its predecessor, "House of the Dragon" is relatively unsubtle about this fact, panning to Harwin whenever possible and making sure that the audience is constantly aware that Rhaenyra's children "with Laenor," who should absolutely be very blonde, are definitively brunette.

As a result, while Rhaenyra's children Jacaerys and Lucerys (Leo Hart and Harvey Sadler, respectively) train in the tiltyard with Ser Harwin and Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel), Criston — Rhaenyra's one-time lover — exhibits wildly obvious animosity towards Jacaerys and Lucerys, mercilessly pitting them against the older, stronger Targaryen princes Aegon (played by David Tennant's son Ty Tennant) and Aemond (Leo Ashton). The second that Harwin criticizes Criston's habit of playing favorites, Criston snaps back that Harwin is a little too protective of the brunette boys... and barely a second passes before Harwin and Criston come to blows. Just in case nobody knew that Harwin might be Rhaenyra's baby daddy before, he definitely blew the whistle on the entire situation with this move.

Strife in the Stepstones... again

If it seems like war in the Stepstones just ended, that's because it did... only a few episodes ago. That said, years have passed since then, and there's another war brewing in the seaside territory — and this time, it's tied to Dorne and something referred to as the "Triarchy." A continuation of the alliance and war waged by the Crabfeeder (Daniel Scott-Smith), the Triarchy — made up of the free cities Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh in George R.R. Martin's original source material — the Triarchy is causing problems once again, and while Alicent finds it irresponsible to spend money on any battle efforts, Rhaenyra is firm in her opinion that the threat needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Laenor is equally as interested in this war, but when he drunkenly suggests that he leave his family behind and go fight, Rhaenyra puts a halt to that immediately. Considering that the parentage of their children is being called into question in court, it seems, to Rhaenyra, that the wrong move for Laenor would be to... well, abscond to visit a man in every port. Whether Laenor goes to fight in the Stepstones remains to be seen, but what is clear is that Laenor and Rhaenyra's arrangement is pretty shaky, even after a decade of pretending.

The labors of Lady Laena

Meanwhile, over in Pentos, Laenor's sister Laena (Nanna Blondell) and her husband, Rhaenyra's uncle Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) actually seem pretty happy, all things considered. The pair spend this installment hiding out in an extravagant mansion in Pentos as guests of the city's prince, who begs them to lend aid to Pentos against the threat of the aforementioned Triarchy. Laena, however, wants to move on; heavily pregnant, she wants to give birth to her baby at her home of Driftmark and raise her children there, though Daemon is perfectly fine being pampered in Pentos.

Perhaps the most notable fact about Laena in "The Princess and the Queen is that, after one previous mention, the legendary dragon Vhagar has returned from her hiding place... and Laena is her rider. At the end of the episode, though, Vhagar plays a truly tragic role where Laena is concerned — after she enters labor with a boy, the baby refuses to move. Daemon is given the same choice his brother Viserys once was, but Laena, who wants to die like the dragonrider she is, takes the entire matter into her own hands. Stumbling outside and clutching her bloody belly, Laena orders Vhagar to burn her and ultimately succeeds while Daemon watches, helpless. Without Laena, it seems inevitable that Daemon will return to King's Landing to cause more problems there... plus, it would be great to watch him interact with the grown-up version of Rhaenyra.

House Strong takes a beating

After Ser Harwin broadcasts the fact that he's probably the father of Rhaenyra's children throughout the Red Keep, his father Lyonel is pretty furious, loudly chastising his son right where Rhaenyra can hear them (convenient!) and even going so far as to try to resign as Hand of the King. (Viserys, stubborn as ever and once again in blatantly terrible health, doesn't let him.) Still Hand, Lyonel settles for banishing Harwin to Harrenhal, separating him from the princess.

As Harwin bids farewell to Rhaenyra and the kids that definitely share his Westerosi DNA, Jacaerys, not missing a beat, asks his mother if Ser Harwin is his real dad. (She doesn't respond.) Much like Jon Snow (Kit Harington) before him, however, Jacaerys won't ever get a chance to talk to the man he thinks is his father ever again. Before long, Harrenhal is engulfed in mysterious flames, leaving both Lyonel and Harwin charred to a crisp. Once again, doesn't that seem a tad bit convenient?

Alicent's many allies

Turns out, Lyonel and Harwin's deaths were extremely planned... by none other than Ser Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), brother to Harwin and son to Lyonel. After visiting a bunch of convicted felons in the jails of King's Landing and cutting out their tongues to ensure they'll never talk, Larys sends those men in to do his dirty deeds, disposing of his father and brother.

So... why? Well, Larys is closely allied with Alicent, with whom he regularly sees for dinner, drinks, and steaming hot gossip, and as he explains to her at the episode's end, he does this to ensure that Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Alicent's father and the former Hand of the King, will return to King's Landing and take the position back from the now-deceased Lyonel, aiding Alicent in her silent war of attrition against Rhaenyra. (It seems like there was probably an easier way to achieve this, but, okay.)

Luckily, Larys isn't Alicent's only ally. After he's spurned by Rhaenyra and nearly kills himself in the process, Ser Criston develops quite the hatred for the Targaryen princess, and ten years later, he and Alicent are in serious cahoots against her. Alicent's army is rising in numbers, and between her cunning father, murderous Larys, and experienced fighter Ser Criston, she might be unstoppable before long.

When does House of the Dragon episode 7 air?

Episode 7 of House of the Dragon airs on Sunday, October 2 at 9 PM on both HBO Max and HBO. Now that (the excellent) Alcock, Carey, and company have made way for the older actors, there won't be any more big cast changes (barring any behind-the-scenes strife or another Daario Naharis situation), leaving the show in the extremely capable hands of the adult actors like D'Arcy, Cooke, and many others. With this time jump, we're also inching closer and closer to the Dance of the Dragons, which will see Alicent and Rhaenyra's opposing factions face off for the Iron Throne.

There's only four episodes left in the first season of "House of the Dragon," so how the conflict between Alicent and Rhaenyra shakes out — and how long it takes to do that — remains to be seen. If you want to relive the younger generation's performances in the series before the season comes to a close, all of the show's previous episodes are streaming now.