The Greens: Aegon, Aemond, Helaena, Alicent and Otto in House of the Dragon

That Shocking Death in This Week’s ‘House of the Dragon’ Was a Major Departure From the Books—If It Actually Happened

Is it too good to be true?

If you’re still reeling from the most recent House of the Dragon episode, trust me, you’re not alone. “The Red Dragon and the Gold” left audiences on a shocking cliffhanger—specifically, in regards to King Aegon II. But did he really meet his end at the battle at Rook’s Rest? Well, it’s complicated.

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As the “Dance of the Dragons” continues to unfold on season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, things aren’t looking too hot for our key players: the Greens, loyal to King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), and the Blacks, who believe Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) is heir to the Iron Throne (they’re so right, actually). Although the series really kicked things into high gear with that brutal “Blood and Cheese” scene, last night’s episode was a real game-changer, eliciting plenty of ooos and ahhhs—and perhaps, a few tears here and there. Can we stop killing off the best characters, please?!

Spoilers ahead for season 2, episode 4 of House of the Dragon AND Fire & Blood

At last, we got to see some dragon vs. dragon action in the most recent episode of House of the Dragon—a long time coming, considering we haven’t seen much of this type of combat until now. Aegon, in his drunken haste, decides it’s a good idea to climb aboard his dragon Sunfyre and fly straight into the action as Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) continues his siege of the Crownlands. Obviously, this doesn’t turn out well for the young King, as he’s blissfully unaware that A.) Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) is on her way to Rook’s Rest on dragonback, and B.) his brother, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) has already devised a plan of his own. Behold, a glorious, neck-snapping, three-dragon brawl.

Sadly, Aemond and Vhagar are simply too powerful a duo. In what’s easily one of the most heart-wrenching deaths in franchise history, Rhaenys shares a last, knowing look with her dragon, Meleys, as they’re attacked by Aemond, and Rhaenys goes out like a true Targaryen warrior—but not without getting a strike of her own in first. Aegon, who’s clearly not as fluent in dragonriding or High Valyrian as his brother, is clawed down by Rhaenys and Meleys, and he hits the ground—hard. In the closing moments of the episode, we get a glimpse of his motionless body, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, the Blacks have gotten rid of their “Usurper” problem once and for all.

Is Aegon actually dead, or is House of the Dragon just leading us on?

Although House of the Dragon has taken some creative liberties, the show is still an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s 2018 novel, Fire & Blood. Again, it’s important to note that certain story threads and plot points vary drastically between the pages of the book and what we see onscreen, but House of the Dragon does, for the most part, include all the important bits. If the TV series really does end up killing off Aegon this early into the season, it would mark one of the most dramatic departures from the source material thus far. So will it dare do so?

Well, it’s hard to say. On the one hand, Aegon did look pretty gosh darn dead at the end of episode 4. On the other, a teaser for next week’s episode suggests that the King is merely wounded, not out of commission entirely. However, we don’t know the extent to which Aegon is injured—if it’s severe enough, this could create the perfect power vacuum for Aemond to step in and fill his brother’s shoes. All that plotting and scheming with Cole might finally pay off.

Meanwhile, if you look to the book, you’ll find that George R.R. Martin had a very different ending in mind for Aegon, and that—unfortunately for us—he sticks around for awhile longer, even outliving Rhaenyra. In Fire & Blood, Aegon dies by poison at the ripe age of 24, though the identity of his assassin remains a mystery. While fans have theorized for years about who is responsible for Aegon’s death, House of the Dragon is setting up more of an explicit rivalry between Aegon and Aemond, meaning if the show decides to follow suit with a similar ending, we could see the ultimate betrayal, pitting brother against brother.

Before we make any sweeping assumptions, let’s hear from the man himself, shall we? House of the Dragon director Alan Taylor addressed Aegon’s fate during a recent interview with The A.V. Club, telling the outlet, “It was important to be unclear about Aegon’s fate because Criston doesn’t know exactly what has happened. It’s also important to keep everything that happened at Rook’s Rest a secret because the realm cannot find out.”

Taylor is certainly correct in saying s**t is about to go down once Rhaenyra finds out about Rhaenys’ murder. Plus, the Greens taking Rook’s Rest is a huge blow to the Blacks, who are essentially landlocked by the crown. Still, the Greens aren’t without their own losses, considering Criston just led hundreds of soldiers to their deaths. Not a great PR move! But with Aegon at least temporarily out the way, only time will tell if the playing field is now leveled for both sides, or if Aegon’s successor will be even more of a royal pain in the ass as the Targaryen Civil War carries on.

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Amanda Landwehr
Amanda is a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer who lives and breathes Star Wars, Marvel, and all things pop culture. She has worked in digital media since 2021, covering the latest movie/TV releases, casting updates, fan theories, and so, so much more. When she's not rotting away behind her laptop screen, you can typically catch Amanda maxing out her AMC Stubs membership.