This week’s episode of House of the Dragon is all about trying to untangle some of the crazy rumors in R.R. Martin’s Targaryen book, Fire & Blood. You may have noticed that while Rhaenyra publicly engaged in intimate interaction with her uncle in a risky public location, her relationship with Ser Criston is still a well-guarded secret. You might also have seen that Mysaria has returned and is now a spymaster for Otto Hightower and that Otto went too far by telling Viserys the truth.
However, did you notice that we finally saw the legendary Storm’s End Baratheon castle? Or that Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones murdered his father and made his way to Essos through the same hidden pathways Daemon used to draw Rhaenyra out? What about the names of that kid who killed that mean, older bully in a duel? Episode 4 Easter Eggs also includes a look at moon tea, Maegor the Cruel, and the connection between Alicent and Rhaenyra.
Here is House Of The Dragon Episode 4 Easter Eggs:
Changes In The Small Council
Since House of the Dragon began, there have been a few time jumps during the course of the last four episodes. In the most recent episode, King Viserys Targaryen states that it’s been 4 years since he married Lady Alicent Hightower. Also, the Small Council has undergone a number of changes. The most noticeable one is that Rhaenyra is now a part of it.
It simply makes sense that Corlys Velaryon would leave his position in the Small Council after failing to win support for his fight in the Stepstones. In addition to the princess, the Master of Ships has been replaced by a member of House Lannister to replace Corlys. This also fits with Casterly Rock’s closeness to the sea and wealthiness, which allowed them to pay for a shipping fleet for the Iron Throne.
Rhaenyra’s Similarity To Daemon
At the beginning of episode 4, we get a close shot of the Valyrian necklace that Daemon gave Rhaenyra in the first episode (which is there to serve as her sigil in the series’s opening credits). As Rhaenyra pays attention to her would-be husbands, the sound in the episode is mildly muted — as if Rhaenyra is disconnecting.
Similar effects were used in the third episode when Daemon beat up the messenger after receiving a letter from King Viserys. When the fights with the Crabfeeder and the wild boar were over, Rhaenyra and Daemon both felt victorious. And now the fourth episode brings Daemon and Rhaenyra effectively closer (although in a very damaging way).
In the first scene of the fourth episode of House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra is toying with the necklace that Daemon gave her whilst entertaining pathetic suitors outside of King’s Landing. She is seated on a big stone throne coated in skins, with Boremund Baratheon sitting next to her and Ser Criston keeping watch on the other side.
Rhaenyra is touring the Seven Kingdoms in search of a husband. It’s obvious from this scene that things aren’t going well. She sits through an old Lord Dondarrion boring her before switching to plain rudeness about his age (yes, he is probably a great great grandfather of Lord Beric Dondarrion from the Game of Thrones). Before we discuss the scene’s really interesting Easter egg, we should note that Rhaenyra is unmistakably in Storm’s End, the famous fortress that serves as House Baratheon’s seat.
Storm’s End is a historic castle that sits proudly without caring about the swirling tides and hurricane-like breezes of Shipbreaker Bay. Its huge curtain wall, which shields the fortress from the elements, is said to be built using magic. According to legend, Elenei, the daughter of the wind goddess and the sea god, and Durran Godsgrief fell in love during the Age of Heroes. The god and goddess were so angry that the hero had taken their daughter that they destroyed his home, killing all of the guests and those attending Durran and Elenei’s wedding. Durran challenged the gods by building six castles sequentially, each of which was destroyed by the gods. Only the seventh castle, named Storm’s End, was able to withstand the storms.
It’s unclear where Durran got the inspiration for the big, mystical curtain wall. Some sources credit the Children of the Forest, while others credit a kit Bran the Builder, who would grow up to become a legendary Stark hero. What’s notable is that Storm’s End is a fort we have heard a lot about through the Game of Thrones series but never saw. The House of the Dragon is letting us into its court.
Bracken vs. Blackwood
When a teenage Blackwood presents himself for the marriage, Rhaenyra’s Storm’s End audience quickly goes sour. He is made fun of by a more experienced Bracken, despite the fact that he is polite (and scared). Bracken calls Blackwood a craven when Rhaenyra rejects him, agitating the young kid. Blackwood pulls out a sword, and Bracken counters with his own weapon. Rhaenyra assesses the situation and jokingly states, “We’re leaving.”
Blackwood and Bracken engage in a swift but deadly fight. As Ser Criston takes Rhaenyra away, we hear the sound of steel clashing. Within seconds, the winner is known. When Rhaenyra turns back, she notices that the younger Blackwood has silenced the annoying Bracken. There are a couple of Easter eggs in this brief scene alone.
One, R.R. Martin notes in Fire & Blood that a fight between the sons of Lord Bracken and Lord Blackwood did actually take place during Rhaenyra’s journey. Nevertheless, they happened in the Riverlands and not the Stormlands. We believe that they only brought the Riverlands lords to Storm’s End in order to put together various moments from Rhaenyra’s tour into a single, information-dumping scene.
Second, Martin’s books frequently make mention of the fight between the Brackens and Blackwoods, despite the fact that it isn’t discussed in Game of Thrones. It is a constant pain for Robb Stark, Catelyn Tully, and their allied forces.
Third, the boy who made an attempt to win Rhaenyra over is Willem Blackwood, not Sam or Ben. He shares a lot of similarities with the character Benjicot “Ben” Blackwood from Fire & Blood, who climbs up to the position of Lord of his House at the age of 11. He is a fearsome soldier on Rhaenyra’s side, just like his sister “Black Aly.” This could be an indication that the series’s creator, Ryan Condal, intends to bring those characters back in later seasons, where they would take part in some of the most brutal ground battles of the upcoming Targaryen civil war.
The episode’s midpoint shows Rhaenyra receiving a roadmap and a disguise in her rooms. This prompts the princess to look at the wall behind her bed to see whether there is a hidden door. Following this route, Rhaenyra passes Balerion the Black Dread’s gaint skull before running into her uncle Daemon Targaryen. The two then go on a night of misdeeds in the slums underneath the castle. In order to preserve the castle’s secrets, Maegor the Cruel, the 3rd Targaryen to rule Westeros, murdered the castle’s builders. However, this does not prevent later generations from finding out about the castle’s blueprints.
It should be recalled that these secret routes were important in letting some characters escape or hold secret meetings at various times in Game of Thrones. The most recent instance took happened in the season finale when Jaime Lannister and Queen Cersei met in the same location where we see Balerion’s skull, only for the castle to collapse above, killing them in the process.
Varys uses them to talk with his birds, Arya discovers it while “catching cats,” and Jaime uses them to free Tyrion from prison (at the very finale of Season 4/Book 3). Of course, Tyrion also sneaks into his father’s room through similar passages, where he murders both Shae and Tywin. It goes without saying that these secret pathways will play a part in the Dance of the Dragons. However, that would include major spoilers.
Ser Harwin Strong
Ser Harwin Strong, who was Rhaenyra’s biggest fan during the search in Episode 3, gets to give the princess a very convenient favor in this week’s episode. Rhaenyra bumps into a City Watch soldier while running through King’s Landing to escape Daemon and an angry street seller. The knight recognizes his princess right away when she calls him Ser Harwin.
To his credit, Ser Harwin lets Rhaenyra leave after spotting Prince Daemon and refers to her as “Boy.” It’s an interesting turn of events when Ser Harwin allows Rhaenyra to do her business without exposing her identity or turning on her to her father. Ser Harwin shows in this brief scene that he could be someone Rhaenyra can trust. This Ser Harwin Strong character has an interesting backstory in the books.
Rhaenyra will marry Laenor Velaryon, the son of Corlys and Rhaenys, just like in the books. Despite having a less-than-ideal, the princess was able to have three sons. The problem is that these kids didn’t have the genetic white hair from either House Velaryon or Targaryen. It was said that Ser Harwin, the son of Lord Lyonel Strong, was Rhaenyra’s lover and that he was the rightful father of her sons. It’s unclear whether this plot detail will be followed to in House of the Dragon or if the series will make some changes.
Before the episode comes to a close, Viserys calls Rhaenyra after learning that she and Daemon were allegedly seen in a brothel. He displays a dagger that has been dipped into a fire with writing on it. The king reveals that Aegon the Conqueror saw in a vision that perhaps the Prince That Was Promised, whose name shall be A Song of Ice and Fire, will be born from his blood.
This is a clear reference to the storyline of Game of Thrones and the prophecy that Jon Snow realized in the later season. The dagger was also the one that started the conflict between the Stark and Lannister families, and it was also the blade that took the life of the Night King.
It’s amazing how a random Valyrian dagger used by a hired guy, or hitman, to try to kill Bran Stark has developed into an important part of Westerosi lore. According to the books, it’s unique (at least so far) because it’s made of Valyrian steel, which implies that a wealthy someone like a Lannister was responsible for the attempted murder. The dagger also put an end to the Night King, kills Littlefinger, and conceals Aegon the Conqueror’s prophecy.
We learn from House of the Dragon that Aegon the Conqueror formerly owned the catspaw dagger. The last remaining Valyrian steelworkers were ordered by Aegon I to engrave the blade with heat-sensitive runes that serve as a secret passage to his “Song of Ice and Fire.” The passage on the dagger that Rhaenyra reads aloud fits much of the prophecy shown in Martin’s books: “From my blood comes the prince who was foretold and his destiny will be the song of ice and fire.”
Therefore, this dagger is now more than a blade. Viserys always carries this valuable Targaryen artifact with him. I’m curious to see what else this dagger does during House of the Dragon.
Even if they don’t mention it, the scene between the Grand Maester and Rhaenyra makes it clear that he would have brewed her a batch of moon tea. The drink is often used in brothels all across Westeros to prevent pregnancy or end early pregnancy in girls who have recently had intercourse. Viserys was the one who sent moon tea, according to the maester, which suggests that the king does not fully believe his daughter when she denies having any intercourse. Alternately, it could have been sent by Alicent, suggesting that she, too, doesn’t believe Rhaenyra.
Even while she isn’t mentioned as frequently as Aenar, the Targaryen dynasty eventually owes its existence to a small girl. A horrible event famously known as the Doom of Valyria, or simply the Doom, destroyed the thriving city populated by dragons and dragonlords. The first Targaryen and Velaryon families were from Valyria. It is thanks to a small girl named Daenys that they’re the only two families to have survived the Doom of Valyria.
Daenys dreamed of the downfall of Valyria 12 years before the disaster. The person Viserys refers to in this episode as her father, Aenar, agreed to transport House Targaryen all across the Narrow Sea. Daenys, often called “Daenys the Dreamer,” solidified the Targaryens’ belief that their dreams could actually foresee future events. It is noteworthy that Aenar previously owned the Valyrian steel knife with the “Song of Ice and Fire” prophesy engraved on it.