Rhaenys (Eve Best) on the back of her dragon

Is This Really Goodbye to One of ‘House of the Dragon’s Best Characters?

Not the Queen Who Never Was!

Season 2 episode 4 of House of the Dragon, “The Red Dragon and the Gold,” brought us our very first all-out dragon battle of the show—and it was everything you would think a clash between two massive, flying, fire-breathing beasts would be. Brutal, awesome, heartbreaking, and leaving a body count behind.

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Spoilers ahead for season 2, episode 4 of House of the Dragon as well as for some more events from Fire & Blood

While Rhaenys and Meleys could have easily held their own against Aegon and Sunfyre—what with the former pair being more experienced and having flown together for longer, as well as Meleys “simply” being much bigger than Sunfyre—the arrival of Aemond and Vhagar obviously tips the scales. Still, once Sunfyre falls, Rhaenys and Meleys put up a major fight against a dragon that is much older and bigger—Meleys takes Vhagar down all the way to the ground. But Aemond opts for a surprise attack much like the one he did with Luke and Arrax back in season one, there isn’t much either Rhaenys or Meleys can do.

The face of Vhagar the dragon from "House of the Dragon"
The fact that Rhaenys and Meleys die because of Vhagar is incredibly sick and twisted. Vhagar was Laena’s dragon, Rhaenys’s beloved daughter. And before that, she was Baelon’s dragon, who was married to Alyssa, Meleys’ first rider (HBO)

It was truly a heartwrenching scene. Meleys turns back to get one last look at Rhaenys and Rhaenys has to watch while her beloved dragon dies under her. It’s said time and time again throughout the canon of A Song of Ice and Fire that the bond between dragon and rider is a mysterious thing that the rest of mankind can’t understand—so we can only imagine the sort of pain Rhaenys must have experienced at that moment. And maybe that’s why she eventually decides to fall together with Meleys and accept her end.

So is Reaenys really dead in House of the Dragon?

Yes, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was, is sadly dead. Fire & Blood describes her end like this: “Beloved daughter of Lady Jocelyn Baratheon and Prince Aemon Targaryen, faithful wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, mother and grandmother, the Queen Who Never Was lived fearlessly, and died amidst blood and fire. She was fifty-five years old.” Of course, the show could always decide to veer off of that—it has done it before, after all—but surviving a fall like that and a massive dragon landing on top of you seems like asking too much out of the audience’s suspension of disbelief.

Her death—which echoes the way other members of House Targaryen have died before, like Queen Rhaenys and her dragon Meraxes, Aenys the Uncrowned and Quicksilver, and of course, Lucerys Velaryon and Arrax—is a major blow to Team Black in-universe, of course, depriving them of one of their most seasoned dragonriders and also of one of their dragons. 

But it’s also quite a blow to us on this side of the screen. Eve Best’s Rhaenys was arguably one of the best characters in the show—level-headed and wise, loving towards the members of her family, supportive of Rhaenyra even when her own council was turning against her and blasting Daemon every chance she got.

A picture of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, played by Eve Best, leaning against a door in House of the Dragon
She is going to be so missed. By me specifically (HBO)

Sure, there’s that little issue of her potentially being able to stop the war before it even started by burning the entire Green faction to a crisp in season one during Aegon’s coronation. But since that was a very silly situation for the showrunners to create, I’ve decided that we shouldn’t judge poor Rhaenys for that. Let’s focus on what an amazing run she had. Here’s to hoping we get some flashbacks of her so that we can see Eve Best in future seasons as well.

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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.