Fire & Blood

Did House of the Dragon Really Just Change the Fate of One of Its Key Players?

"I'm as fearsome as any of them."

Tom Glynn-Carney as Aegon II Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon' Season 2
HBO
House of the Dragon

Let it be known: There is no one in all of Westeros pettier than Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell). After already claiming his dead aunt's dragon without permission and killing his cousin, Luke, over a number of childhood jokes and a fight he started, Aemond commits one of his most heinous acts to date in this Sunday's House of the Dragon episode. Indeed, the Game of Thrones prequel's latest installment, appropriately titled "A Dance of Dragons," is its most explosive, eventful, and game-changing to date.

The episode's third act depicts the legendary Battle at Rook's Rest, an unnecessary attack on one of Rhaenyra's (Emma D'Arcy) allies led by the increasingly unlikable Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel). It's a seemingly small conflict that quickly spirals out of control when Rhaenys (Eve Best) arrives atop her dragon, Meleys, unaware that she's been lured to Rook's Rest by Criston and Aemond, who lies in wait with his potentially unstoppable mount, Vhagar. But both parties are subsequently caught by surprise when none other than the King himself, Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney), shows up riding his dragon, Sunfyre.

To say what happens next is shocking would be an understatement. While "A Dance of Dragons" delivers more than a few major moments in its final 20 minutes, though, it notably leaves viewers with one important question…

Warning: Major House of the Dragon spoilers ahead.

Is Aegon II really dead?

In “A Dance of Dragons,” Aegon ignores his advisors yet again and nearly pays the ultimate price.

HBO

At the end of House of the Dragon's latest episode, Aemond seizes his opportunity to get back at his older brother for humiliating him in a brothel in "The Burning Mill" by commanding Vhagar to unleash a deadly dragonfire attack on Rhaenys and Meleys that he knows will also scorch Aegon. It sends the already wounded Sunfyre plummeting to the ground with Aegon on his back. When Meleys' neck is broken minutes later by Vhagar, House of the Dragon makes it clear that Rhaenys does not survive the fall she takes while strapped to her dragon's corpse.

"A Dance of Dragons," however, isn't quite as explicit when it comes to Aegon's fate. When Criston arrives in the episode's closing moments at the site of Sunfyre's impact, all viewers are shown is a shot of the barely breathing dragon curled around Aegon's still form. Criston collapses to his knees, seemingly convinced that his King has died under his watch. Contrary to what the episode's ominous conclusion suggests, though, Aegon is not dead at the end of "A Dance of Dragons."

In Fire & Blood, the fictional Targaryen history that House of the Dragon is based on, the events of the Battle at Rook's Rest are described as unfolding in a very similar manner to how they do in "A Dance of Dragons." During the book version of the attack, Aegon suffers — much like he does in House of the Dragon — scorching burns over half of his body and multiple broken bones. It ultimately takes him a year of intense, milk of the poppy-induced rest and constant thoughts of death to recover, if not completely, from his wounds. In this period, Aemond reigns in Aegon's stead as Prince Regent.

Both Aegon II and Sunfyre barely make it out of “A Dance of Dragons” alive.

HBO

As Fire & Blood readers will already know, Aegon's story is far from over. He still has a lot more to do in House of the Dragon. While his survival will inevitably come as a disappointment to some of the show's viewers, too, it's worth noting — without spoiling too much — that he has plenty more pain coming his way. He's going to be an even more embittered and spiteful character from here on out, and someone whose rage over the Dance of the Dragons itself is only going to grow.

Him making it out of this week's House of the Dragon episode doesn't make the installment's tragic finale any less important, either. Not only has the show now said goodbye to one of its most powerful characters in Rhaenys (and one of its most captivating performers in Eve Best), but it has also paved the way for Aemond to take on an even more prominent and active role moving forward, and for Aegon's journey to go in a very different direction than it might have otherwise.

In other words, it may have taken 14 episodes, but House of the Dragon is finally starting to traffic in the kind of seismic deaths and narrative left turns that made Game of Thrones famous.

New episodes of House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere Sunday nights on HBO and Max.

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