In the fourth episode of House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra Targaryen’s (Milly Alcock) search for a marital partner takes center stage.
While the HBO series’ latest installment does see King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) finally choose a suitor for his eldest daughter and heir, Rhaenyra goes through quite a lot before that happens. Not only does she hook up with her sworn bodyguard Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), but she’s also forced to fend off rumors surrounding the night she spent outside the walls of the Red Keep with her uncle Daemon (Matt Smith).
Before any of that, though, Episode 4 opens with Rhaenyra being forced to judge a long line of suitors who have come from across the realm to seek her hand in marriage. While Game of Thrones viewers might not realize it, one suitor happens to share the same family name as an iconic Game of Thrones hero.
A Familiar Family Name — In the opening scene of Episode 4, Rhaenyra Targaryen is forced to sit on a throne and listen as a wine-loving gentleman makes a meandering case for why he should become her husband.
Rhaenyra eventually cuts the man off by noting, much to her handler’s chagrin, that he’s much older than her. When she does so, Rhaenyra refers to the man as “Lord Dondarrion.” His first name isn’t revealed, but the last name alone should sound very familiar to Game of Thrones fans.
That’s because the Lord Dondarrion featured in House of the Dragon is, in all likelihood, an ancestor of Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer).
A Leader Without Banners — Game of Thrones viewers will remember Beric Dondarrion as the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners, outlaws who operate throughout the Riverlands to combat the Lannisters’ presence in the region. Beric isn’t just the leader of the group, but someone who dies multiple times and is repeatedly brought back to life by his second-in-command, Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye).
Beric has several notable interactions with characters like Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and The Hound (Rory McCann). Later, he teams up with the show’s central heroes in their fight against the White Walkers. Beric is one of the more unique and notable supporting players, so it’s exciting to see House Dondarrion mentioned on-screen again.
While George R.R. Martin has written reams of literature to flesh out Westerosi history, we know almost nothing about House Dondarrion beyond Beric’s story. Any glimpse of his progenitors is therefore new information, and perhaps a hint at how the Dondarrions went from just another noble house to one that produced a man as unique as Beric.
Additionally, while it’s unclear which of Beric’s ancestors it is who offends Rhaenyra, it’s possible that the Lord Dondarrion who appears in House of the Dragon’s latest episode may be the same one whose steward turned out to be the father of one Ser Criston Cole.
The Inverse Analysis — Beric Dondarrion won’t be born until well over 100 years after the events of House of the Dragon. That means the Lord Dondarrion who appeared in Episode 4 is fated to meet his end several generations before Beric ever assembles the Brotherhood without Banners.
But as Game of Thrones fans already know, Beric ultimately proves to be a far more honorable and noble man than the arrogant and leering Dondarrion ancestor we just met.
New episodes of House of the Dragon air Sundays on HBO.