Naturally, the pair was spotted, word got back to King Viserys (Paddy Considine), and it resulted in Daemon’s banishment to the Vale, Rhaenyra being forced to wed Ser Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan), and a final break in the friendship between the princess and Queen Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey/Olivia Cooke). That evening also saw a frustrated Rhaenyra calling upon Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) and his, er, swordsmanship, to put her to bed. That completed, treasonous sexual encounter between Rhaenyra and her Kingsguard protector would of course turn sour, when Rhaenyra flaunted her ironically untouchable status as Viserys’ heir and the ethically compromised knight wrestled with his loyalties to the crown.
Ten years passed between that night in the brothel and Rhaenyra and Daemon’s next secret rendezvous and the similarities between the two Targaryens have only grown. That Rhaenyra is now played by an older actress, Emma D’Arcy, and Matt Smith’s bad boy uncle still looks the same age (a reverse-Matthew McConaughey in Dazed & Confused, if you will) only helps to keep the couple appearing equally matched in every way, right down to their nearly invisible eyebrows.
Both Targaryens have navigated the question of King Viserys’ succession as outsiders in the court of public opinion. Daemon has always felt he had the strongest claim to the Iron Throne, before Viserys wed his second wife and had sons, and all but declared an open rebellion against his brother. Rhaenyra, too, was an outsider at court, as even those who took an oath to support Viserys’ naming of his daughter as his rightful heir to the Iron Throne could not keep their displeasure with the decision secret. Both uncle and niece (and viewers of House of the Dragon) grew increasingly frustrated with Viserys’ weakness as a ruler, denying his court and kingdom were sliding unchallenged into warring factions.
Viserys is no dragon. Who needs a dragon in peacetime?
But Rhaenyra and Daemon understand that war has already been declared on House Targaryen. Rhaenyra’s marriage to Ser Laenor Velaryon was political only, as his sexual interests were with handsome men, but a woman in this world is only as powerful as her son-making abilities. Rejected by her one-time paramour Criston Cole, she found her sperm donor – and, it is implied, companionship – with Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr). But the children are so obviously not Laenor’s, not even Viserys’ deep denial can keep the queen’s supporters from fighting for Viserys’ legitimate son’s succession.
Daemon’s relationship with his third wife Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell) was definitely less contentious than his previous marriages, and though the show skipped over their honeymoon phase, the pair was like the Beyoncé and Jay-Z of the Seven Kingdoms and the Free Cities, wealthy celebrities putting on majorly popular dragonriding shows and decadent feasts for audiences around the world. Yet when Laena chose to die by dragonfire instead of in a bloody childbirthing bed, Daemon did not seem terribly sad, not for himself.