House of the Dragon: Rhaenyra and Daemon’s relationship, explained

Rhaenyra and Daemon in House of the DragonHBO

House of the Dragon Episode 4 takes Daemon and Rhaenyra’s relationship to the next level in the only way the Targaryens know – so, if you’re feeling a bit confused, here’s a breakdown of their relationship.

Game of Thrones threw audiences in at the deep end with its first ending: as Bran climbs the tower, he peers through a window and sees Jaime Lannister having sex with another woman… who happens to be his sister, Cersei.

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Incest is still taboo in George R.R. Martin’s world, but when it comes to the Targaryens, inbreeding is in their blood – literally and figuratively.

In House of the Dragon Episode 4, after terse face-offs on the brink of civil war, a different kind of tension emerges in Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Daemon’s (Matt Smith) relationship, leading to a rather icky, potentially catastrophic scene for the ruling family.

House of the Dragon Episode 4 spoilers to follow, as well as potential spoilers for future episodes…

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House of the Dragon Episode 4: What happens between Rhaenyra and Daemon?

In Episode 4, Daemon returns home after defeating the Crabfeeder’s army and “smashing the Triarchy”, even bending the knee to his brother, King Viserys (Paddy Considine), after his petulant rampage in the previous installment.

Amid Viserys’ anger at Rhaenyra for refusing to take a husband, she spends some time with Daemon – her uncle – and vents to him about wishing to live “not in fear, but in solitude.”

Rhaenyra and Daemon in House of the Dragon Episode 4HBO
Daemon and Rhaenyra become closer in Episode 4… if you know what I mean.

Rhaenyra then returns to her chambers, where she finds a scroll with instructions on how to open a secret door. She finds it, follows the passageway, and discovers Daemon at the end. Together, they disguise themselves as commoners to walk among people in King’s Landing; drinking wine, watching trapezists and pyro-performers wreak playful havoc on the streets.

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They end up in a “pleasure house”, surrounded by men and women having sex. At this point, Rhaenyra and Daemon end up kissing and straddling one another. That’s right: incest is back on the menu, boys.

“Marriage is a duty, but that doesn’t stop us from doing what we want, f**king who we want,” Daemon says, before managing to stop himself from full-blown incest – unlike Jaime and Cersei. He stumbles off somewhere into the streets, while Rhaenyra returns home.

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While believing their behavior to be discreet, a local spy caught sight of them and tells Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), who tells Viserys. Daemon ends up being banished to the Vale, again, while Rhaenyra will marry Laenor Velaryon in the next episode. Viserys also fires Otto, with the king convinced his hand was gunning for the Iron Throne.

House of the Dragon: Will Rhaenyra marry Daemon?

House Targaryen is the most prolific practicer of incest across the Seven Kingdoms, often in an effort to keep its bloodline pure.

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For example, King Aerys II Targaryen – otherwise known as the Mad King – married his own sister, Queen Rhaella Targaryen, with whom he had three children: Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys – yes, that Daenerys.

So, as for this relationship and whether Rhaenyra will marry Daemon in the show, the answer is… probably, if not definitely, especially since they’ve been seen together in trailers when Emma D’Arcy takes over the role of Rhaenyra.

Rhaenyra and Daemon in House of the DragonHBO
Emma D’Arcy will play Rhaenyra in later episodes.

In Martin’s Fire and Blood, the source material for House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra lost her virginity to Daemon prior to turning 16, according to the accounts of Septon Eustace.

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Others claimed Daemon taught Rhaenyra how to seduce and please a man, lessons she tried to use on Criston Cole. In the show, they sleep together after Daemon and Rhaenyra’s trip to the brothel, but he rejects her in the book, having learned about their incestuous ways.

The show appears to be following the book’s trajectory, which would see Rhaenyra marrying Laenor Velaryon, and Daemon marrying Laena Velaryon following the death of his first wife, Lady Rhea Royce.

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However, in Fire and Blood, Rhaenyra and Daemon get married in secret – known as an avunculate marriage – and have two children together: Aegon and Viserys Targaryen.

House of the Dragon Episode 5 will be available to watch on September 18 in the US and September 19 in the UK.