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‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 7: 5 Things You May Have Missed, From Aegon and Helaena’s Wedding to the Merling King


Photos: HBO ; Illustration: Dillen Phelps

A lot happens in House of the Dragon Episode 7 “Driftmark.” Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell) is laid to rest, Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton) claims Vhagar and loses an eye, and Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) finally sleeps with, schemes with, and gets to marry her uncle Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith). But in between the fireworks on the beach and those rowdy kids almost killing each other, there were also a lot of quiet, subtle moments in House of the Dragon Episode 7. The latest installment of the HBO hit nodded at the Merling King, an upcoming family wedding, and the inside scoop on how to train a dragon.

The ending of House of the Dragon Episode 7 “Driftmark” might have left us scratching our heads over the fate of Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan), but the episode also raised a bunch of other major questions for the franchise. For instance, is King Viserys (Paddy Considine) starting to lose his marbles? Or is he not as fond of wife Alicent (Olivia Cooke) as we thought? And while we’ve been hyper-focused on the succession crisis about to strike the Targaryens, should we also be worried about who will succeed Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) as the Lord of Driftmark? His brother Vaemond (Wil Johnson) sure is concerned about it!

From the betrothal of Aegon Tagaryen (Ty Tennant) and Helaena Targaryen (Evie Allen) to that awkward moment Viserys called Alicent “Aemma” by accident, here are five things you might have missed in House of the Dragon Episode 7 “Driftmark.”


You've All Heard of the Merling King, Right?

Photo: HBO

There are gods aplenty in the larger universe of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. There’s R’hllor, the Many-Faced God, the Seven of Westeros, the Old Gods of the North, and the Drowned God of the Ironborn. The Lords of Driftmark worship someone called the Merling King.

During Laena’s funeral, her uncle Vaemond mentions that the Merling King will watch over her in the deep. Clearly he is a god of the water, but who is the Merling King and why does House Velaryon worship him?

The Merling King is an ancient demi-god who seemingly ruled over the waters and islands in the Narrow Sea. We can infer from his name that he was likely some sort of merman. House Velaryon worships him because their family legend states that when they first left the Freehold of Valryia, they made a pact for the Driftwood Throne with said Merling King.

Did this really happen? Did a random Valyrian show up on Driftmark and shake hands with a merman? Maybe! This is, after all, a fantasy show. However, it’s worth noting that the Targaryens adopted the Faith of the Seven when they arrived in Westeros. It is a common tactic for a conqueror to honor the religion of the conquered to smooth things over. So it’s possible that the Velaryons adopted worship of the Merling King and made up this story to help anchor their claim to the seat.

Either way, as Rhaenyra points out, the Velaryons are tied to the sea, not fire.


Get Ready for a Green Wedding

Photo: HBO

After Laena is committed to the sea, her family mingles at a post-funeral mixer. Gossip flies, condolences are given, and wine is poured. However amid all the quick little chats, you might have missed that Viserys and Alicent have set their two eldest kids together. Aegon is complaining to younger brother Aemond that he doesn’t want to marry their sister Helaena. Aegon thinks the odd girl is stupid. (She’s not. She’s a Targaryen dreamer with the power to see the future. If you put the subtitles on, she’s fixated on the loom of fate weaving threads of black, threads of green.) Aemond counters that she is both their sister and future queen. (Methinks Aemond is a Mama’s Boy…)

Last week, Rhaenyra suggested marrying Jaecerys (Leo Hart) to Helaena in an effort to heal the breach between the Blacks and Greens and strengthen House Targaryen. Viserys dug this idea, but Alicent refused. Instead she wants Helaena wed to Aegon, thereby shoring up their family’s bloodline and lending more weight to Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne. (The fact that Aemond is clued in on this plan is interesting — he says Helaena will be queen.)

In the books, Aegon and Helaena do marry. Though we won’t spoil if they lived a happily ever after, though you can probably guess…


Viserys Can't Keep His Wives Straight

Photo: HBO

There’s a lot of stuff wrong with King Viserys I. He’s lost an arm, is covered in sores, and can’t deal with confrontation. However this week we got the first implication that he might also be losing his wits. (Either that, or he’s still not over the loss of his first love.)

As he leaves Laena’s funeral, Viserys looks straight at his wife of almost 15 years and says, “I’m going to bed, Aemma.” Everyone in earshot catches this, which is the entire court.

The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Harrold Westerling (Graham McTavish) quickly attempts to come to his king’s rescue. He asks, “Shall I see after Queen Alicent, your grace?” Viserys and Alicent make awkward eye contact and he says no. Both Alicent and Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) look uncomfortable after this whole interaction.

It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment, but there are big implications. Either Viserys is deteriorating to the point where he mentally can’t keep Aemma (Sian Brooke) and Alicent straight in his mind or Alicent isn’t as loved by her husband as she thought. Keep in mind, Viserys says this at the funeral of a woman who died in a similar way to Aemma — due to stalled birth — and after attempting to use the shared grief of being a widower to reconnect with Daemon.

So it could be that Viserys is getting a little confused in the head. Or it could be that he really can’t let go of Aemma Arryn.



House Velaryon Has its Own Succession Drama

Photo: HBO

Throughout this week’s episode of House of the Dragon, we were given clues that Viserys isn’t the only Valyrian patriarch staring at a succession crisis.  During Laena’s funeral, Vaemond made so many not-so-subtle digs at Rhaenyra’s “Strong” Velaryon children that Daemon burst out laughing. Jace makes it clear to his mother that he’d rather be mourning Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr) at Harrenhal, not his “aunt” at Driftmark. Lucerys (Harvey Sadler) tearfully tells Corlys that he doesn’t want to be the Lord of Driftmark. (But in the sweet boy’s case it’s because that would mean everyone else is dead!) Later Rhaenys (Eve Best) straight up begs her husband to leave Driftmark to Laena’s children, which he scoffs at because they have the last name Targaryen.

“History doesn’t remember blood. It remembers names,” he says. His ambition is to make sure the name Corlys Velaryon will be remembered forever. He doesn’t care about his blood enduring, just his last name.

Because of this, Corlys is ignoring the fact that the rest of the Velaryons would rather the bloodline be honored. Vaemond is clearly pissed about the idea that Rhaenyra’s sons could inherit his family’s seat and the after Laenor’s “death,” Corlys’s direct heir is one of Laena’s little girls. Would be terrible if something bad happened to Corlys, huh??? It could be that his family might also bicker over the Driftwood Throne and all his treasures.


Aemond Was Def Paying Attention in the Dragonpit

Photo: HBO

One of the most thrilling parts of House of the Dragon so far has been watching Aemond claim Vhagar. The scene is wrought with tension and then becomes the Westerosi version of Bastian riding Falkor in The Never-Ending Story. When Aemond approaches Vhagar, though, the grieving she-dragon doesn’t seem cool with him until he commands her in some key Valyrian phrases.

But what was Aemond saying? And why did it work on Vhagar? Well, he was literally coaxing her with the same Valyrian phrases that the kiddos were being drilled on in the Dragonpit last week. Aegon might have been yawning and Jace might have been more psyched about saying “Dracarys,” but Aemond was clearly taking close notes on the proper way to bring a dragon to heel.

The first thing Aemond says to Vhagar is “Dohaeris,” the High Valyrian word for serve. If that word sounds familiar, that’s because “Valar Dohaeris” means “All men must serve,” and it’s the phrase that often answers “Valar Morghulis,” which means “All men must die.” It was flung around a lot in Game of Thrones. 

“Dohaeris” is used on dragons the same way the word “heel” is used for dogs. When Rhaenyra arrives in King’s Landing on Syrax in Episode 1, one of the Dragonpit workers says “Dohaeris, Syrax,” to calm the dragon down. Again, this is also how Jace brought Vermax to heel last week.