Nanna Blondell as adult Laena Velaryon in the first season of House of the Dragon

Young Rhaenyra Wasn’t the Only Familiar Face ‘House of the Dragon’ Brought Back

Not Daemon having the full “Henry VIII in The Tudors” experience.

It seems like Prince Daemon is getting that “Henry VIII at the end of The Tudors” treatment House of the Dragon season 2—and I for one am so here for it.

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The fourth episode of the ongoing second season of House of the Dragon, “The Red Dragon and the Gold,” continued to show us Daemon literally fighting his demons during his stay at Harrenhal

Spoilers for the events of the fourth episode of the second season of House of the Dragon, “The Red Dragon and the Gold.”

He hears voices, slips into visions, is tormented by nightmares—part of it is his guilt and regret, sure, but it’s all heightened by what could be Harrenhal’s curse, or weirwood magic, or Alys Rivers’ powers, or even just the general creepiness of the Riverlands. Or maybe a mix of all of them. What’s certain is that Daemon wanders around this massive, rotting castle and sees people from his past coming to confront him about his actions.

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen stands in front of a weirwood tree at Harrenhal in House of The Dragon season 2 episode 3
The whole realm at war and he’s trapped inside a gothic horror novel. (HBO)

Rhaenyra is of course chief among them, bearing the face of her younger version, the one played by Milly Alcock. She appeared last episode too, cradling the body of the dead Prince Jaehaerys, and she returns in this one in a scene that is a perfect mirror to the first time we see her and Daemon together in season one. But there’s another woman from Daemon’s past that has been called back by the gothic horror cliché that is Harrenhal.

That woman is Lady Laena Velaryon—the adult Laena, the Laena that was married to Daemon, played by Nanna Blondell—who appears in the place of the Harrenhal cupbearer when Daemon sits in council with the men of House Strong. Let’s just say that drinking that cup of what seemed to be weirwood sap that Alys had offered him the night before sure didn’t help with the whole “tormented by visions” situation.

The fact that Daemon has now seen two of three women that have been married to him is somewhat reminiscent of one of the scenes that occur towards the end of Showtime’s The Tudors, when Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Henry VIII is visited by the ghosts of his previous wives as he’s approaching the end of his life. Not that Daemon and Henry VIII are the same kind of character—if there is a Targaryen modeled after one of the most infamous Kings of England, that is not Daemon, for sure. That prize has to go to King Maegor the Cruel or King Aegon IV the Unworthy. 

Matt Smith and Nanna Blondell in House of the Dragon (2022)
You have to wonder if Daemon holds some guilt when it comes to Laena, too, and that’s why he sees her, just like he’s seeing younger Rhaenyra. (HBO)

Laena’s apparition makes me wonder whether we’re going to see Rachel Redford’s Lady Rhea Royce appear anytime soon. Granted, there was no love lost between her and Daemon, and he probably doesn’t consider her as significant in his life as Laena or Rhaenyra. Then again, the show did go out of its way to show us that he did indeed kill her, while the book Fire & Blood leaves that open to interpretation since Daemon was technically fighting in the Stepstones when Rhea died—but one could argue that dragons make traveling from one corner of the realm to another much faster than horses.

Still, the fact that he literally smashed her head with a rock is grounds enough for Rhea to also be haunting him, though in a different way than either Laena or Rhaenyra. I guess we’ll have to see, but I have to say I would love for it to happen.

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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.