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Is This Character Really Dying on ‘House of the Dragon’?

Time to say goodbye or not?

A picture of Driftmark, the seat of House Velaryon, during Laena Velaryon's funeral in House of the Dragon

***Spoilers for the future episodes of House of the Dragon ahead, coming straight from the books The World of Ice and Fire and Fire & Blood. Be warned. ***

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The entire plot of Episode 8 of House of the Dragon, “The Lord of the Tides,” revolves around the condition of the man holding the title that gives the episode its name: Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake and Master of Driftmark, played in the show by Steve Toussaint. We learn in the very first moments of the episode that he’s been gravely wounded during the fighting in the Stepstones—which has resumed after Corlys himself, together with his son Laenor, his brother Vaemond and Prince Daemon Targaryen defeated the pirates of the Crabfeeder at the start of the season—and his family is unsure whether or not he will survive. 

Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, aka The Sea Snake, the richest man in Westeros.
Is this really time to say goodbye to the famed Sea Snake? (HBO)

Corlys’s wife, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, who’s acting as regent in his absence, is seen discussing the matter with the Sea Snake’s brother Vaemond. They know that Corlys is being brought back to Driftmark as quickly as possible, but they’re both very aware of the not-so-unlikely possibility that he’s not even going to make it to the Velaryon seat of High Tide alive.

This, of course, opens the can of worms of Rhaenyra’s illegitimate children up all over again, this time over who should seat the Driftwood Throne in case Corlys perishes of his wounds. We know from Episode 7 that Corlys would want Rhaenyra’s second son Lucerys to inherit, given that he’s at least formally Laenor Velaryon’s son and that her firstborn, Jacaerys, stands to sit the Iron Throne after his grandfather and his mother. 

Laenor Velaryon and Rhaenyra Targaryen discuss their wedding on House of the Dragon
Laenor Velaryon’s children with Princess Rhaenyra share his name and so are Lord Corlys’s choice for the seat of High Tide (HBO)

However, the fact that Laenor fathered no sons from Princess Rhaenyra—and that Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffrey are all Sir Harwin Strong’s children, so technically bastards according to Westerosi law—is known to pretty much everyone and their mothers throughout the Realm, so Vaemond insists that it should be him who becomes the head of the House should Corlys pass.

Rhaenys herself would want Driftmark to pass through her daughter Laena, who is technically the oldest of her two children, to her own daughters Baela and Rhaena, but we saw back in Episode 7 that Corlys wasn’t too sold on the idea. This proves that his long-standing grudge over his wife being denied the crown at the Great Council isn’t exactly born out of a deep love for women’s rights but rather a thirst for power and prestige for the Velaryon name.

Matt Smith and Nanna Blondell in House of the Dragon (2022)
Baela and Rhaena Targaryen, the daughters of Laena Velaryon and Daemon Targaryen, are perfectly legitimate for inheriting Driftmark but of course no one really puts them forward (HBO)

We don’t see Lord Corlys at all throughout the entirety of Episode 8, which leaves us wondering whether or not he ends up making it. Good thing the story of the Dance of the Dragons has already been written, meaning that Fire & Blood and The World of Ice and Fire can shed some light on the future of the Sea Snake. Spoilers, of course.

So, short answer—yes, Corlys does survive. He still has a role to play in the Dance of the Dragons to come as one of the most prominent supporters of the blacks, also known as the party of the princess, meaning the side that wants Princess Rhaenyra on the Iron Throne instead of her half-brother Aegon. His presence on Rhaenyra’s black council will help her cause immensely, especially on the sea—with Velaryon ships occupying a good chunk of the Narrow Sea to block off trade to and from King’s Landing, the stronghold of the opposing side, the greens, for the first years of the war.

So, fear not—Steve Toussaint’s Corlys Velaryon will still be a main character in the future seasons of House of the Dragon, weathering all the tides of the upcoming civil war together with his wife. (Unless the show does something dramatically different than the books just to shock that reading/viewing audience.) His story will actually end even after the ending of the Dance, with Corlys himself being instrumental not just in putting a definitive stop to the conflict, but also in the restoration of a realm absolutely ravaged by the short but brutal years of fighting and shower after shower of dragon fire. 

Still, that’s something we won’t be seeing for a while—not even in the already-confirmed Season 2. We will, however, get a chance to see Corlys Velaryon again before the end of Season 1, According to House of the Dragon’s IMDb page, he’s set to appear in both Episode 9, “The Green Council,” and Episode 10, “The Black Queen.”

(source: AWOIAF; image: HBO)

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.

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