House of the Dragon: Harwin Strong, explained
House of the Dragon Episode 6 is a huge episode for Harwin Strong, from his dynamic with Rhaenyra to his place in Westeros – so, let’s break down his character and what happened to him.
Harwin hasn’t played a large role in the first episodes of House of the Dragon. He was seen at the royal hunt in Episode 3, grinning at Rhaenyra as she returned from the woods, and he caught her and Daemon in the streets of King’s Landing, but that’s about it.
Through to Episode 5, Rhaenyra’s interests were elsewhere, whether it was sleeping with Ser Criston Cole or preparing to marry Laenor Velaryon.
However, Episode 6 of House of the Dragon marks a large time jump, and Harwin Strong’s dynamic with Rhaenyra has evolved rather drastically – but who is he, and what happened to him?
Spoilers for House of the Dragon Episode 6 to follow…
House of the Dragon: Who is Harwin Strong?
Harwin Strong, played by Ryan Corr, is a knight from House Strong who’s first seen serving as a captain in the City Watch of King’s Landing.
In George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Blood, he’s also known as Breakbones, as he was thought to be the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms.
He’s the son of Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes), the Hand of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), and the brother of Larys Strong (Matthew Needham). He’s also the heir to Harrenhal, the largest castle in the Seven Kingdoms.
House of the Dragon: Harwin Strong and Rhaenyra, explained
In Episode 6, Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) now has an allegiance with Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke), while Harwin Strong has been promoted to Commander of the City Watch.
Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) has also had three children with Laenor (John Macmillan): Jacaerys, Lucaerys, and Joffrey – only, they’re not Laenor’s at all, they’re actually the sons of Harwin.
While we’ve not seen how their relationship has developed, Episode 5 showed Harwin breaking through the brawl like a tank at the wedding to rescue her, so it’s easy to assume how it’s progressed from there.
In the book, Rhaenyra granted Harwin her favor at the tourney celebrating their wedding, where Criston broke his collarbone and shattered his elbow. Nevertheless, the pair became close companions.
During the episode, Criston teaches sword-fighting and basic combat to Alicent’s sons Aegon II and Aemond, but Harwin is quickly irritated at his apparent dismissal of Jacaerys and Lucaerys.
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Criston then pits Aegon against Jacaerys, and when Aegon beats him to the ground, Harwin pulls him off. Criston remarks that his interest in the training is unusual, almost as if he’s trying to protect his son – so, Harwin punches Criston in the face. This break in temper is costly, however, with rumors soon spreading about the true parentage of Rhaenyra’s children.
House of the Dragon: What happened to Harwin Strong in Episode 6?
Following his fight with Criston, he’s expelled from the City Watch. Lyonel tries to resign as Hand, which Viserys rejects, but the King allows him to take Harwin back to Harrenhal so he can prepare for his inheritance, and not cause further unrest around the Red Keep.
He pays one last visit to Rhaenyra and the children, hugging them goodbye and kissing Joffrey on his head. As he walks out, Jacaerys asks his mum if Harwin is his real father, and if he’s a bastard. Rhaenyra tells him he’s a Targaryen, and that’s all that matters.
Shortly after arriving home to Harrenhal, a fire breaks out in the castle, trapping Lyonel in his room. Harwin tries to rescue his father in a frenzy of fear and gets crushed by burning rubble. Their charred corpses are carried out the next morning, while three mysterious hooded figures leave the scene.
House of the Dragon: Who killed Harwin Strong?
Larys Strong orchestrated the burning of Harrenhal and the murder of Harwin Strong.
Earlier in the episode, Alicent confides in Larys of her frustrations in the Keep; more specifically, how Rhaenyra has gotten away with having three children out of wedlock and continues to “flaunt her inheritance”, while nobody seems to take her side.
Upon being told Viserys didn’t allow his father to step back as Hand, he says it’s a mistake, as Lyonel will no longer be able to provide impartial advice to the King.
Later, in the dead of night, Larys frees three prisoners sentenced to death and cuts off their tongues. These are the same men seen lingering around Harrenhal, and they’re responsible for Harwin’s death.
His exact motivations for killing Harwin haven’t been confirmed, although they’re not difficult to ascertain: with Lyonel and Harwin dead, Larys will inherit Harrenhal.
He also knowingly puts Alicent in a difficult position, who’s racked with guilt over any sort of involvement in Harwin’s murder. “You will reward me when the time is right,” he says, as the episode ends.
In Fire and Blood, Larys was one of several suspects, alongside Daemon, Lord Corlys Velaryon, and Viserys himself.
House of the Dragon Episode 7 will be available to watch on October 2 in the US and October 3 in the UK.