Rhaenys (Eve Best) on the back of her dragon

Rhaenys Targaryen Deserves Her Fate, Whether You Like It or Not

The last episode of House of the Dragon saw Rhaenys Targaryen fall to her death from dragonback—a comparatively cool death in a series that tends to dispatch people much more mercilessly. The mortally wounded Meleys turned to give one last look at her rider, and then both were gone.

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And yet … I felt nothing whatsoever for the Queen Who Never Was. I appreciate Rhaenys’ (Eve Best) place in the story—a voice of reason for Team Black and a fine example of the ways Westeros overlooks strong women—but I don’t like her one little bit, and it’s all because of one scene in season one.

Rhaenys is a mass murderer

In the penultimate episode of House of the Dragon’s first season, “The Green Council,” Rhaenys is made a prisoner in the Red Keep after Alicent and the Greens put Aegon on the throne. She is rescued by Erryk and finds herself swept up in a crowd of smallfolk who are being herded into the Dragonpit (nope, they can’t protest this) to watch the coronation of King Aegon II.

Aegon never wanted to be king, but he soon gets into it when the crowds cheer his name. Then suddenly, a massive explosion splinters the air. Rhaenys has sneaked away, located her dragon, and busted out of the Dragonpit—which would be great if there weren’t thousands of people packed into the building.

And yep, a great deal of these people end up crushed by Meleys. (I don’t really blame Meleys in this; she’s a dragon just doing what dragons do.) Rhaenys makes no attempt whatsoever to avoid civilian causalities in her escape. She could have flown out a different way, even, but she didn’t.

Then she points her dragon at the royal family … and does nothing. She’s just killed hundreds, but somehow she draws the line at killing the Greens and avoiding a bloody war.

Showrunner Ryan J. Condal said in the Inside the Episode for “The Green Council” that Rhaenys spared Alicent and her family because she didn’t want to kill another mother. Right … but there were certainly mothers among the smallfolk she killed. Condal also calls the scene “a great heroic moment,” which makes me raise an eyebrow and then some.

I’m Team Not Being Crushed Under Dragons

Rhaenys’ heinous act is simply never brought up in the show again. You would think the Greens would capitalize on it as a way to condemn Rhaenyra and the Blacks, but they never do. The Greens are savvy when it comes to the smallfolk—think of Otto’s fury when Aegon hanged all the ratcatchers—but the Dragonpit incident might as well have never happened. While I do feel like this is a problem with the writing when it really comes down to it, I have hated Rhaenys from that moment on.

Her death may have been sad for some, but when I saw Rhaenys fall, my first thought was “At last, all those innocent smallfolk are avenged.”

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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.