dany targareyn and the house of dragon reminder

HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ Continues To Remind Us Daenerys Targaryen Got Screwed Over

As I watch House of the Dragon, I ask myself if it’s good that they are telling this particular story as the first Game of Thrones spinoff. The viewership numbers speak for themselves and have led to the series being renewed for a second season already, but I also see a lot of discussion about the fact that we are watching a failed woman’s journey for rule … right after we just saw the downfall of Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones.

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Spoilers for House of the Dragon Episode Two: “The Rogue Prince.”

Let’s start with this episode, where we see the council talk over and around Rhaenyra Targaryen, who provides good point after good point. Yet, as her older cousin Princess Rhaenys puts it, the men of this world would rather put the realm on fire than let a woman sit on the Iron Throne. We know that, as future watchers, but Rhaenyra keeps thinking that if she keeps proving herself, it will change the hearts and minds of the men around her.

Rhaenyra has not learned that she is just as expendable as everyone else when it comes to the Game of Thrones. She decides to go to Dragonstone and retrieve the dragon egg that her uncle, Prince Daemon, has obtained. It was the egg that she picked out for her late brother. Rhaenyra talks Daemon into giving the egg back without bloodshed, not to mention riding from the capital to Dragonstone without issue. She’s a badass.

At the end of the episode, Rhaenyra supports her father’s need to get remarried but is instantly heartbroken, as the person chosen is her best friend, Alicent Hightower. There’s plenty more to talk about with Alicent, but the betrayal and the stress of potential new heirs coming out of this event will begin shortly. I felt for Rhaenyra in this episode because she has done nothing wrong besides being born female. That she is a girl supersedes any of her true accomplishments.

When we look back at Daenerys in Game of Thrones, it is a reminder that all she accomplished she did without the trappings of Targaryen wealth and prosperity. Every time that we see Rhaenyra fly on her dragon Syrax with a golden saddle and her dragon handlers, we see everything Daenerys didn’t have. She inspired people despite being raised in a subservient position and used as a broodmare. Daenerys was not born to be queen, but she became one through grit. That doesn’t erase the many, many, many problematic ways in which her freedom tour played out, but it does further illustrate how unfair and cruel the bad writing was at the end of her story—because it validated the thing that men have been saying for ages: “Women can’t rule.”

Without meaning to, Game of Thrones found itself validating that edict by making the only female rulers on the show cruel, manipulative, evil despots. With Cersei, that at least came from somewhere, but with Dany, after years of telling BIPOC fans they were “reading too much” into her takeover of Brown people, we were supposed to believe it was a problem when she killed white nobles in Westeros. Westeros didn’t deserve Dany, and they don’t deserve Rhaenyra.

(featured image: HBO)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.