Ten years have passed in Westeros since the last House of the Dragon episode. Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower have aged — and are now played by Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke, respectively — and things could not be more tense between the two women who were once besties. Rhaenyra is still heir to the Iron Throne and has the utmost support from her father King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), but Alicent is more determined than ever to make her son Aegon II Targaryen (Ty Tennant) the next ruler.
At the start of House of the Dragon Episode 6, Rhaenyra gives birth to her third son, Joffrey. Alicent immediately asks to see the child, and a still-bleeding Rhaenyra drags herself to the queen's room with the help of her husband Laenor (John MacMillan). It's obvious why Alicent wants to see the kid: She immediately looks at the baby's head, and sees hints of dark hair suggesting that Laenor is not the father. After all, both Rhaenyra and Laenor have silver hair. Alicent makes her suspicions known. "Do keep trying," she tells Laenor. "You'll get one that looks like you."
Joffrey isn't Rhaenyra and Laenor's first child with dark hair — his brothers Jacaerys and Lucerys share this trait. After Rhaenyra gives birth, the two older boys are hanging out with Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr) and picking a dragon's egg for Joffrey's cradle. Ser Harwin — the eldest son of Hand of the King Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes), and the one who hauled Rhaenyra away from the wedding madness in Episode 5 — is the rumored father of the three kids.
It's also in this episode that we meet an older Aegon, and his siblings Aemond (Leo Ashton) and Helaena (Evie Allen). The boys go through a dragon training session — Jacaerys is learning to command the Vermax — but they pull a prank on Aemond. Aegon tells his brother that they have a dragon for him, but the boys bring out a pig. A furious Aemond goes to the underground caves to find a dragon, but is shocked at the sight of a gigantic one breathing fire and runs away.
When Alicent learns of what happened, she is upset and immediately blames Aemond's troubles on the Velaryon children. She tells Viserys that Rhaenyra's kids are an insult to the crown because of their parentage, and the king says he does not want to hear of her allegations. It's clear that at this point, Viserys is completely on his daughter's side and does not want to see more conflict between Rhaenyra and Alicent. He just wants to live in peace!
Alicent confronts Aegon about Aemond being bullied — and interrupts her son as he is pleasuring himself on the windowsill. Aegon denies being involved, but also doesn't hide his disdain for his brother. Alicent says they must stay united as a family, and talks to Aegon about the business of succession. Aegon couldn't care less, and even says that he doesn't plan to challenge Rhaenyra's ascension. Alicent yells at her son — in her eyes, he must become king.
Out in the courtyard, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) is training the Targaryen and Velaryon boys in sparring (wait, why hasn't Criston aged at all?). He is now serving Alicent, and seems to have completely cut ties with Rhaenyra. In fact, when Alicent was ranting to Criston about Rhaenyra in an earlier scene, Criston joins in on the sh-t-talking before he apologizes. As an instructor, his efforts are more focused on Aegon and Aemond than on Jacaerys and Lucerys. Harwin calls him out on this, and Criston tells Aegon and Jacaerys to fight each other in a duel. During the spar, the lines are clearly drawn as Criston coaches Aegon and Harwin coaches Jacaerys.
When Jacaerys — who is younger and much smaller than Aegon — loses in the fight, Harwin steps in to stop Aegon from continuing to hit the boy. Criston tells Harwin that his interest in the prince's training is unusual. "Most men would only have that type of interest toward a cousin, a brother, or a son," Criston says. Harwin suddenly loses his cool and repeatedly punches Criston in the face. He is eventually stopped by other guards, but the damage is done. In a later scene, Lyonel yells at his son for assaulting Criston. He knows about Harwin's intimate relationship with Rhaenyra, and says that the truth could result in exile or death. Harwin denies the allegations, and unbeknownst to the Strongs, Rhaenyra overhears the entire conversation.
Since Episode 5, Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) has gotten married to Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell) and the pair has had two daughters — Rhaena and Baela. The family is at Pentos, and during a dinner Prince Reggio Haratis offers the family permanent residence in the land. While Daemon entertains the idea, Laena hates the thought of continuing to roam about as guests. She wants her next kid — she is pregnant again — to be born in Driftmark, and also tells Daemon that she misses her brother Laenor. But Daemon seems to have enjoyed his life away from duties tied to the Targaryen name, and said he doesn't long for home.
We later see Laena attempting to give birth, but the baby is not coming out of her body. A maester tells Daemon that a C-section could be performed to try to save the baby — but that Laena will certainly die during it. Daemon does not agree to the C-section (we're relieved but, who else was surprised by this?), and soon Laena goes to her dragon Vhagar. In a shocking move, she orders Vhagar to breathe fire on her and is burned alive.
Over at the Red Keep, tensions are the highest we've seen since the series started. Rhaenyra and Alicent both have their place in the Small Council now, and try to one-up each other in every discussion. At the end of one meeting, Rhaenyra decides to apologize to Alicent for any conflicts that have occurred between their families. She proposes that Jacaerys and Helaena be betrothed, and while Viserys is thrilled about the idea, Alicent is not having it. She says she'll think about the offer, but it's clear that the queen won't accept it. Alicent feels that no one is on her side at King's Landing, and confides in Lord Larys Strong (Matthew Needham). Larys is up to no good — he finds a group of prisoners who have been sentenced to death, and offers them a lifeline. It's obvious that he's ordered them to do some dirty deed, since he frees these prisoners but not before cutting off their tongues first.
Lyonel tells Viserys that he wants to resign as Hand of the King. He doesn't share the actual reasons — certainly not with Alicent standing next to them, watching like a hawk — but based on his conversation with his son we know it has to do with Harwin's relationship with Rhaenyra. Viserys doesn't accept the resignation, but does grant Lyonel permission to return to Harrenhal with Harwin. They return to their House's seat, but that night a fire breaks out and Lyonel and Harwin are both killed. What the heck, we've barely seen Harwin! Before the incident, we saw that the prisoners who Larys spoke to were by Harrenhall. Yup, the power-hungry man orchestrated the deaths of his father and brother.
By the end of the episode, we don't see Rhaenyra learning about Harwin's death. But she has had enough of King's Landing, and tells Laenor she wants to go to Dragonstone. The rumors about her kids' parentage have plagued the place, and Rhaenyra and Laenor leave to get away from it all.
House of the Dragon continues Sundays at 9/8c on HBO, with episodes premiering simultaneously on HBO Max.