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House Of The Dragon Episode 7 Recap: Battle Of The Bastards

With seven episodes down on "House of the Dragon," it's clear that a war is brewing, even if it hasn't quite kicked off yet. As every major character ends up in the same place at the same time — a first for the series since the ten year time jump in episode 6 — this episode also seems to get rolling shortly after the events of last week, wherein Lady Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell) chose death by dragon when faced with irreversible complications during childbirth. Beyond that, clear lines were drawn between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy), the current confirmed heir to the Iron Throne and daughter of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), and Viserys' queen, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), who wants her own sons with Viserys to succeed the king.

After "Driftmark," the show's seventh episode, there's only three more episodes to go, with a second season already confirmed. So what happens in "Driftmark," and where does it leave all of these characters?

Putting the fun in funeral

The episode opens with Laena's traditional Velaryon seaside burial, which elicits a variety of reactions from those attending it. Understandably, Laena's parents Corlys (Steve Toussaint) and Rhaenys (Eve Best), along with her brother Laenor (John Macmillan), are completely grief-stricken, while Alicent and Viserys' snotty eldest son, Aegon II (Ty Tennant), is rolling his eyes and waiting for it to be over. Meanwhile, Laena's own widower Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) lets out a laugh right as his wife's coffin is tipped into the sea, which is, uh... weird, to say the least!

Throughout the rest of the event, characters just kind of... walk around and cast knowing glances at each other before moving away, and this just goes on for a while. Rhaenyra and Daemon, reunited after many years apart, are pointedly avoiding each other as Alicent watches, sneering, while Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) watches her. Viserys is, somehow, still alive. Meanwhile, Laena's daughters are simply trying to mourn their mother, and end up finding surprisingly tender comfort in Rhaenyra's eldest son Jacarys (Leo Hart). It's a lot of intrigue for a funeral, to be sure, culminating in several late-night jaunts which are way more impactful than you might think at first.

Aemond's big move

One of those late-night adventures consists of Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton), Viserys and Alicent's younger son desperate for a dragon, sneaking out after the funeral goers have largely retired to their chambers to discover Vhagar, Laena's dragon and an extremely ancient and enormous specimen, chained up without a master. Seizing the moment, Aemond, after a struggle, climbs upon Vhagar's back and successfully flies her around Driftmark — but not without being spotted.

Watching from their window, Laena's daughters Baela (Shani Smethurst) and Rhaena (Eva Ossei-Gerning) raise the alarms about their mother's dragon being co-opted, as Baela believes it's her birthright to claim Vhagar. Joined by Jacaerys and his younger brother Lucerys (Harvey Sadler). A scuffle ensues, particularly when Aemond calls Jacaerys and Lucerys bastards — their father is, in fact, not Laenor, but the deceased Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr) – and things escalate quickly, with the fight turning much more violent and ugly than anyone could expect.

An eye for an eye

The brawl between the Targaryen and Velaryon children ends abruptly when Jacaerys, defending his brother as well as Baela and Rhaena, pulls a knife on Aemond and ends up slashing the other boy through this eye. In Driftmark's great hall, the adults gather to take stock of the incident, and a maester informs a furious Alicent that Aemond will survive, but he has lost his eye for good. Viserys wants to put the matter to bed entirely, equally furious that anyone, especially his own son, is questioning Jacaerys and Lucerys' parentage, but Alicent is insistent that something has to happen to make matters more equal.

Alicent tearfully demands that Lucerys should lose an eye in return for Aemond's, which... is not a particularly popular proposal. Clearly, the idea of mutilating a second child is insane, and everyone thinks so — including Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel), the member of the Kingsguard she asks to take the eye in question.

Alicent attacks

Denied the eye she wants from Lucerys, Alicent absolutely loses it, stealing a Valyrian steel dagger from Viserys' belt and charging, blade first, at Rhaenyra. The two have an incredibly tense confrontation about their respective moral high grounds before Alicent actually does injure Rhaenyra, slashing her former best friend's arm with the super-sharp blade.

Alicent worries, at first, that she needs to grovel and beg those around her for forgiveness, but unexpectedly, her father Otto (Rhys Ifans) — restored to his former post as Hand of the King to Viserys — tells her that this fire is what she needs to hold on to if they're going to best Rhaenyra and her allies. Besides Otto, Alicent, who's still out for blood where Rhaenyra and her illegitimate children are concerned, has another powerful ally in Larys Strong, who goes so far as to offer her that eye again later. (Luckily for Lucerys, she declines.) Rhaenyra might have a dragon, but Alicent's all fired up, and she's definitely gaining traction.

Laenor's lament

The marriage between Laenor and Rhaenyra has never been, shall we say, fruitful, and Rhaenyra admits as much to Daemon once the two are finally reunited. Years after their unfinished tryst in the bowels of King's Landing, there's still a lingering attraction between this uncle and niece (ew), which they consummate on the shores of Driftmark after the funeral. Rhaenyra wants them to get married and align as true Targaryens against Alicent and her sons, but Daemon points out an obstacle that's not incest-related: Laenor is still around.

Though, midway through the episode, Laenor apologies to Rhaenyra for being an absent husband and promises he'll recommit to his wife, the pair clearly have other ideas. It certainly seems as if Laenor's secret boyfriend Ser Qarl Correy (​​Arty Froushan) battles the only surviving Velaryon son and burns his lover in a fire in his father's own hall... but it's all a ruse. Laenor, with Qarl and Daemon's help, fakes his own death to run away and be with his lover while freeing his wife from their sham of a marriage — and that definitely won't be relevant again at any point, right? Meanwhile, Rhaenyra and Daemon immediately get married, forming a power couple who are definitely more than capable of going up against Alicent.

When will House of the Dragon episode 8 air?

Episode 8 of "House of the Dragon" will air on Sunday, October 9 at 9 PM EST on both HBO and HBO Max, and whether it picks up immediately where "Driftmark" left off — in the aftermath of Laenor's "death," Alicent's rage, and Rhaenyra and Daemon's rushed wedding — or embarks on another time jump remains to be seen. In any case, the newly wed uncle and niece (again, ew) are ready to wage full-on war against Alicent, with Rhaenyra even referring to the queen's faction as the "greens." Readers of George R.R. Martin's "Fire & Blood" know that Alicent's side wears green for the Hightowers while Rhaenyra's side wears the Targaryen red and black, and though the two women have been costumed in these colors more or less religiously as adults, this is the most explicit reference to the fighting colors thus far.

The Dance of the Dragons, or the civil war between Alicent and Rhaenyra's sides, likely won't really get started until the show's second season, but it's definitely still fun to watch the resentments simmer ahead of the real conflict. One thing is for sure: Alicent and Rhaenyra certainly won't make up by next week's episode, and we'll definitely get to watch them continue to prepare to go head to head. Also, for his own sake, Viserys will hopefully just kick the bucket already.