Warning: This article contains spoilers for the sixth episode of The House of the Dragon.
When we last saw Prince Aegon he was just a little thing, a little boy. Now, thanks to a hefty 10-year time jump, we see teenage Aegon in all of his hideous, rotten teenage glory. And with Aegon’s pompous and cruel attitude comes what was missing from the House of the Dragon: a completely disgusting character.
Daemon has done some miserable and selfish things, but the series has threaded the story together to make his actions feel more complex and understandable. He is a layered character. Teenage Aegon? Well, he is a despicable being. Much like Prince/King Joffrey in Game of Thrones– A pretentious narcissist totally devoid of heart and soul. At least that’s how Aegon is presented now. Unlike the adolescent Joffrey, Aegon has a big and important future ahead of him and is completely integral to the Dance of Dragons war.
the prince promised
Sometimes you just need a horrible person to direct your hate at in a family drama. Someone who can always be trusted to do their worst. So far, to be fair, Aegon hasn’t done anything too unforgivable. In Game of Thrones, Joffrey was a malicious monster from the start. He almost immediately lied and had Arya’s friend and Sansa’s direwolf killed. It is later revealed that he derived (most likely sexual) pleasure from seeing, or causing, physical pain in others (the worst of which was slowly killing Ros with crossbow bolts). Aegon isn’t that far yet. Right now, at the midpoint of the first season, it’s a complete headache, but it hasn’t gone beyond that.
He cruelly mocked his younger brother Aemond (Leo Ashton), fought dirty during a sparring session with Rhaenyra’s eldest son, Jacaerys Velaryon (Leo Hart), and (perhaps most tellingly about his essential character) made a “Patriot” about citizenship of King’s Landing.
And if you don’t watch Amazon’s The Boys and aren’t familiar with the brilliantly brutal “what if Superman was evil?” by Antony Starr, we mean Aegon standing on his window sill, stark naked and in full view of the world, pleasuring himself. Of course, it makes sense that someone who is deplorable to both his cousin and his brother also have such great contempt for all commoners.
Unfortunately, Queen Alicent is well aware of Aegon’s bad blood, while she is the only one who is severe and firm with him. In that sense, Aegon is also like Joffrey (and, if you think about it, Patriot) in that the only one capable of pulling the reins with them is his mother. They more or less have absent fathers in the form of a king, so his mother is the only one aware of his inner evil. Their respective mothers have also had to learn to be pragmatic and political in everything, just to survive.
King Viserys, now even closer to death’s door, recognized Aegon’s inner villainy, but his attempts to talk to Alicent about it don’t get very far. Viserys is so close to disappearing that the queen has gotten used to running things herself while Viserys spends most of his time trying to get the separate factions of Rhaenyra and Alicent to play fair for the good of the family. A desperate appeaser to the end.
So, did Aegon grow up like this because he thinks he’s not in line to the throne (since the succession, for now, remains to Rhaenyra and then Jacaerys) or did he become a dirty fiend because he knows he’ll be king one day and why? So you don’t have to worry about repercussions of any kind? Alicent gives everything for his children, so surely he has grown up knowing this … so perhaps his abysmal estrangement comes simply from apathy and a general disinterest in his family’s politics.
The House of the Dragon: what lies ahead
This new episode featured lots of new faces. Not all the roles are necessarily new, as some are simply new actors playing established characters. The most important are Olivia Cooke as Alicent and Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra. Other smaller roles, now important (at least in this episode), are those of Ser Harwin Strong and Lady Laena Velaryon, but only one of them is new. Harwin is still Ryan Corr, while Laena is now the third actress for that character, Nanna Blondell.
We’ve already covered Ty Tennant’s teenage Aegon, so let’s go over the rest of the kids. Aside from baby Joffrey Velaryon, who was just born to Rhaenyra in this episode, there is Alicent’s second son, Aemond, played by Leo Ashton. Aemond, who, not having yet joined a dragon of his own, was teased by his brother and his cousins, now seems overly concerned with proving himself to others for it.
Then there are Rhaenyra’s two eldest children, Princes Jacaerys and Lucerys, played by Leo Hart and Harvey Sadler. Although their true DNA is suggested, they are the current future of Westeros under his mother’s heir appointment. It’s worth noting the spate of offspring in this episode since A: we don’t know how long these particular actors are going to appear, and B: everyone is an integral part of the violence that is coming. And that includes Daemon’s children as well…his daughters born to his second wife, the dragon Lady Laena Velaryon.
In this episode, Baela Targaryen and her younger sister Rhaena were played by Shani Smethurst and Eva Ossei-Gerning, respectively. Baela and Rhaena have largely grown up outside of Westeros, as their absent-minded and aloof father Daemon is in (self?) exile. Now that her mother, Laena, has died, they are both left with a father who has largely ignored them. What will become of Daemon and his daughters now? His marriage to Laena was not rancorous like his union with Lady Rhea Royce, but neither was it a love match, properly speaking.
Lastly, from the next generation, there is Alicent’s daughter, Helaena Targaryen, played by Evie Allen. Helaena feels oblivious to all the nonsense of the court (along with shared reality, in general) and seems uncomfortable around her own mother. Rhaenyra, trying to protect the family from her, proposed a marriage between Helaena and Jacaerys, though it was an idea the queen did not contemplate.
The end of the sixth episode of House of the Dragon shows how Rhaenyra, after the parentage of her children was publicly questioned thanks to an outburst by Harwin Strong, took her family to Dragonstone to escape the chaos. Will Daemon and his daughters join him there? The Dance of the Dragons has not yet come to an end, but all its players are already on the board. Except baby Joffrey, of course.
However, one thing is for sure now. Viewers can join in his intense dislike for Aegon. Will the series keep him totally obnoxious or will there be attempts to soften him up and seek sympathy?