House of the Dragon Episode 7 is a big one, mostly because so many of the series' major players are in one place. Sure, Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) and Laenor Velaryon's (John MacMillan) wedding in Episode 5 brought together the key characters in the same room — but we did not have all the Targaryen and Velaryon children back then! And in Episode 7, these kids are the cause of much drama that leads to spilled blood.
In this episode, everyone's in Driftmark for the funeral of Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell) — who died horrifically when she could not deliver her baby and ordered her dragon Vhagar to burn her pregnant self alive. Her husband Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) is there along with Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), and Daemon and Laena's twin daughters Baela (Shani Smethurst) and Rhaena (Eva Ossei-Gerning) are also present. Many have traveled from King's Landing to attend: Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) and Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), along with Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) who has been reinstated as Hand of the King. Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) also made the trip, and now boasts the title of the Lord of Harrenhal after orchestrating the deaths of his father Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes) and his brother Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr).
Of course, Rhaenyra and Laenor are in Driftmark too. Laenor is absolutely crushed by his sister's death, and spends his time away from the crowds. Meanwhile, Corlys approaches his grandson Lucerys Velaryon (Harvey Sadler) and tells him that Driftmark will be his one day — since his older brother Jacaerys Velaryon (Leo Hart) is heir to the Iron Throne. But this is something Rhaenys disagrees with. In a later conversation between the couple, the princess says she wants Driftmark to pass through Laena to their granddaughter Baela. Her reasoning is simple: She — along with what seems like the entire Westeros — believes Laenor is not the father of Rhaenyra's children, and hence Lucerys is not of Velaryon blood. Corlys is set on upholding the patriarchy, though. "History does not remember blood, it remembers names," the Sea Snake says. Basically, even if he knows Lucerys is a bastard, he would rather have him inherit Driftmark than Baela. Boo!
After stealing glances at each other throughout the funeral, Rhaenyra and Daemon finally get some alone time. This is after Viserys asked Daemon to return to King's Landing, and told his brother that there is a place for him. But Daemon was not into the idea. He is ready to reconnect with his niece, however. Rhaenyra talks to Daemon about how she and Laenor did try to conceive a child, but it did not work. There was no joy in their sex lives, and so she looked elsewhere. This is the first time we see Rhaenyra share openly that her kids are not Laenor's, and it's clear that she trusts her uncle a lot — even though, in her words, he "abandoned" her and left her alone in King's Landing. Daemon responds by saying he "spared" her, and that she was a kid. Well, Rhaenyra says she's no longer a kid and the two kiss and have sex.
It's still the middle of the night and Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton) — Viserys and Alicent's second child — thinks it's his chance to claim a dragon. He approaches Vhagar, the she-dragon that was ridden by Laena, and successfully gets her to fly into the sky. And even though it initially looked like he was about to fall off (how was he able to stay on the dragon, seriously), Aemond eventually steadied his grip and had the time of his life finally riding a dragon.
When he returns to the castle, Aemond is confronted by Baela and Rhaena — who are upset because one of them was supposed to become Vhagar's rider after their mom passed — and Jacaerys and Lucerys. They start to fight and Aemond calls the brothers bastards. The altercation ends with Jacaerys, who was pushed onto the ground, throwing dirt at Aemond and Lucerys slicing a knife across Aemond's face. Aemond screams in pain and the guards finally arrive to stop the fight — what took them so long?!
The adults are all awake and in one room now. Aemond's eye was deeply cut, and a maester tells Alicent it's unlikely for her son to regain his sight. Viserys demands to know what happened, and Jacaerys says Aemond started the fight and called him and his brother bastards. An extremely upset Viserys asks Aemond where he heard "the rumors," and after staring at Alicent for a long time — I mean, can it be any more obvious that he heard from his mom — Aemond says it was from Aegon (Ty Tennant). When Viserys confronts his eldest son, Aegon calmly says, "We know, father, everyone knows. Just look at them." Viserys, of course, protects Rhaenyra and says that anyone who questions her son's parentage will be punished.
Alicent is furious at this point. She says there is a debt to be paid after her son's injury, and wants the eye of either Jacaerys or Lucerys in return. After Viserys tells her once again to let this matter go, she draws the knife from Viserys' belt and launches herself at Rhaenyra and her sons. Rhaenyra runs to stop her, and Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) steps forward to help Alicent. But he's stopped by Daemon, who has been quietly watching the drama unfold from the side. Otto tells her daughter to drop the blade, but Alicent doesn't listen and stabs Rhaenyra in the arm. As blood drips from the princess's hand, Aemond also asks Alicent to stop fighting. He said he lost an eye but gained a dragon, and so it was a "fair exchange."
After the confrontation is over, Otto approaches Alicent in her room. She was expecting to be yelled at for behaving in a violent way, but her father praises her and says he likes this determined side of the queen. Otto even says that Aemond was right about the exchange because they won Vhagar to "their side." Meanwhile, Alicent has a my-son-just-lost-an-eye-WTF-are-you-talking-about look on her face.
During the entire clash between Rhaenyra and Alicent, one man was MIA: Laenor, who was most likely with Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan) — the knight he seems to be sleeping with. He finally appears and apologizes to Rhaenyra — for having failed her in this incident by not being there, and for having failed her in their marriage. Even though they agreed to the deal all those years before (the one in which they would perform their duties as a married couple but be free to sleep with others), he says he hasn't been a good husband. Laenor tells Rhaenyra he is ready to recommit himself to her and to help her with her ascension, and that part of the recommitment will be sending Qarl away.
Rhaenyra says Laenor is an honorable man with a good heart, but the princess has other plans in mind. She is more aware than ever about how her claim to the Iron Throne will be challenged, and believes that it's Daemon — not Laenor — who will help her ascension. She proposes the idea of marriage to Daemon, and understandably the prince says it can only happen if Laenor were dead. Rhaenyra knows this, and the two talk about a plan to kill Laenor. Daemon goes to Qarl with a pitch, and we soon see Qarl and Laenor dueling it out in Driftmark. Moments later, Corlys and Rhaenys rush in only to find a man in Laenor's clothes completely burnt after being thrown into the fireplace. Rhaenys lets out a loud cry: she just lost her one remaining child.
Daemon and Rhaenyra say their vows in a wedding ceremony (that was fast!), with only their children present. But here comes the major twist in Episode 7: Qarl and another person run toward a rowboat to leave Driftmark, and it turns out that person is none other than Laenor. Of course, it's terrible that Rhaenyra and Daemon actually killed someone to fake Laenor's death. But it feels good that this "honorable man with a good heart" who Rhaenyra says she does love survived.
House of the Dragon continues Sundays at 9/8c on HBO, with episodes premiering simultaneously on HBO Max.