The Devastating Surprises of Episode 4: A HotD Recap

We did not see that coming! Read on to find out what this episode did that was unlike any of the others, and why it has us shocked to our cores.

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A man with blonde hair and an eyepatch kneels, holding a knife. He is wearing black armor and there are cartoons of fire, dragons, and a shocked penguin around him.

Well folks, we’re back with another recap of House of the Dragon and believe me when I tell you that this one is a doozy. We’re halfway through this season and I’ll be honest, I don’t see how they’re getting out of this one.

Spoilers ahead!! Read at your own risk!!

Daemon’s Dreams

The episode opens with another glimpse of Daemon losing his mind, this time wandering through the very throne room he had once hoped to rule in. And what a creepy start to the episode, too. When he walks in, there is someone sitting on the throne, saying something completely incoherent and almost silent. Daemon walks forward, revealing to the audience none other than young Rhaenyra, speaking some form of High Valyrian that Daemon just can’t understand. We’ve all had that stress dream, right? Where someone’s talking to us, and we just can’t understand what they’re saying, but somehow we know it’s important? Yeah, this scene was like that, but about ten times worse.

A man with shoulder length blonde hair (Daemon) stands face to face with a girl (young Rhaenyra). Her icy blonde hair is up in braids, and she is wearing a crown. The background is dark and indistinguishable.
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From this scene, we get a chilling look into Daemon’s mind as young Rhaenyra gets close enough to be heard. She tells him, “You created me, Daemon. Yet now you are set on destroying me. All because your brother loved me more than he did you.” Solid burn, Rhaenyra.

After Daemon wakes up from his creepy dream, he meets with the young Oscar Tully. Those at Harrenhal have discovered that Criston Cole is gunning for a takeover, and they need to be prepared. Daemon wants Grover Tully’s army, so he politely asks Grover’s grandson, Oscar, to murder his grandfather and then give Daemon his freshly acquired army. It’s safe to say that did not go over well.

A young boy (Oscar Tully) with brown curly hair and leather armor looks off to the left, mid-sentence. He is only visible from the shoulders up.
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Corlys is Caught

Next, we finally get more Rhaenys and Corlys screen time! Rhaenys encounters Alyn, the man who saved Corlys’s life and calls him comely, saying his mother must have been very beautiful. At first, I thought that was definitely a weird thing to say, but after a quick discussion between Rhaenys and Corlys, I am pretty sure Alyn is Corlys’s bastard son. I guess we’ll see what happens with that.

Alicent is Abnormal

The next scene brings us back to Alicent, who, as you might remember from the last episode, has just learned that Vicerys never meant Aegon to be king. So, understandably, she’s a little bit off as she rethinks her entire worldview. Oh, and also, she’s pregnant. Things have not entirely been straightforward for her these past couple of days. After the small council meeting, from which she is absent, Larys, creepy as always, checks in on her, spotting an elixir we can only assume she used to get rid of the fetus. Alicent also seems to come to a partial conclusion about the rightful heir of the throne, telling Larys that no matter what the truth was, the “significance of Vicerys’s intentions died with him” and that there’s nothing to be done at this point. A bleak opinion, but you have to admit… she’s right.

A woman with red-brown hair (Alicent) stands in the middle of an ornate room, wearing a green and gold velvet dress. She is holding something bundled in white cloth.
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Witches and Wisdom

Back to Daemon, we finally find out who that mysterious woman at Harrenhal really is. Daemon finds her in a basement, and she introduces herself as Alys Rivers. She’s making some sort of potion (involving blood), and she invites him to drink it, saying it will help with his sleep. The moment he drinks it, he wakes up the next day, so… I guess it worked? The only problem is, he then proceeds to hallucinate his dead wife. You can’t win them all.

After the small council meeting, Alicent has a conversation with Aegon, who thinks he isn’t being listened to. Alicent tells him what I think we’ve all been wanting to say: that his opinion isn’t needed. “Do simply what is needed of you: nothing,” she says.

We then finally see Rhaenyra, and you can tell the tension is growing into a big climax. She approaches the small council with her decision after meeting with Alicent: “Either I win my claim, or die,” she says, intending to fly into battle. After some arguments, Rhaenys decides to go instead.

A woman (Rhaenyra) with braided blonde hair looks to the right in concern. Behind her are two other people, out of focus.
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Rook’s Rest and Rhaenys’s Resilience

While Rhaenys flies to meet Cole’s army at Rook’s Rest, Rhaenyra approaches Jacaerys and begins to tell him about “the song of ice and fire.” What we hear of the story provides a harrowing voiceover for what will prove to be one of the most deadly battles of this season. Rhaenys flies into battle and makes quick work of hundreds of soldiers, only to be met by none other than the King himself, Aegon, and his own dragon. In a shocking reveal, Aegon has decided not to heed his mother’s words, flying solo into battle and almost immediately being killed. But not by Rhaenys. By Aemond.

A man (Aemond) with an eyepatch and icy blonde hair sits on a saddle with a look of determination on his face.
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In what will end up as a devastating turn of events, Aemond and Vhaegar shoot out of the forest and up to Rhaenys and Aegon, who are mid-fight. He burns Aegon beyond repair, and he falls to his death. It’s then that we finally get a dragon fight. It’s just as bloody and tragic as I know we all wanted, the payoff of half a season of build-up. Rhaenys and her dragon finally seem to beat Aemond, flying off to survey the damage.

A woman (Rhaenys) sits on a saddle, wearing red and black armor. She has a large silver crown and blonde hair.
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Deadly Dragons and Bloody Battles

But this is not the end. Aemond, apparently not dead or severely injured, flies his dragon right up to Rhaenys and slays her dragon with a single bite. Down she falls onto what has become the ruins of a castle. “There is no war as bloody as a war between dragons,” she had said. And she was right. Not only is Rhaenys dead, but so is King Aegon and both of their dragons. Criston Cole was unconscious for the entire battle, only waking up after half of the land had been burned to dust. Aemond’s dragon is torn, bloody, and injured, and Rook’s Rest is only a shell of its former kingdom. Was it all worth it? Does anyone actually win a battle so bloody? And is Aegon actually dead?

A man (Criston Cole) looks down at a soldier burned completely to ash, next to a fallen cross. The background is smoky, and you can see a large hill with trees.
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With the season already halfway over, it’s hard to see either the Greens or the Blacks coming back from this. Rhaenyra is mad, Alicent is broken, Daemon is losing it, and Criston Cole is, well, Criston Cole. This is the first episode in which I actually feel like there is no way to resolve this conflict without a bloody, messy, heartbreaking war. Poor Rhaenys.


Want to know what happened in the last episode? Read our recap of House of the Dragon’s third episode.

Want to skip to the ending? Check out Fire and Blood, the book that House of the Dragon was based on.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / ELIZABETH BEAVER