House of the Dragon is a generational story, where to understand the conflict between one cohort, you must know the history of those that came before. The families of Westeros are born into their trauma and, for the most part, the sides they take are chosen as soon as they enter the world. So far, Dragon has explored how numerous past conflicts have affected future generations’ relationships, like those between Viserys and Rhaenys or Rhaenyra and Alicent. In the poorly-lit episode seven, titled “Driftmark,” however, it’s the youngest generation’s turn to show off. The episode acts as a kind of “Take Your Child to Work Day,” a way to meet the children of Targaryens and Velaryons and to see how their family drama has affected them and how they interact with others. While King Viserys may like to kid himself and think he’s the patriarch of one big happy family, that’s clearly not what’s going on here. So, let’s give the adults a break for a minute (they’re dealing with enough right now anyway), and take a look at the children of Westerosi royalty. It will be important to know them well before they’re replaced by a new set of actors for next week’s time jump (yes, another one).
Aegon actually takes a bit of a backseat this episode, which is surprising, considering what we’ve learned about him over the past two weeks. George R.R. Martin seems to love a classic, obnoxious first born son trope, and Aegon fits into the world of Joffrey Lannister seamlessly. In “Driftmark,” Aegon spends the evening drowning in his cups while making slightly misogynistic comments and insulting his sister and wife-to-be It’s fairly despicable behavior, but it has the benefit of keeping him out of the conflict between his brother, cousins, and nephews (side note: The Targyaryen family tree is quickly turning into a spiderweb). As the Dance of the Dragons continues brewing, however, Aegon will likely start to take more and more of a central role, so hopefully he sleeps off his inevitable hangover and prepares for battle.
With his brother/bully incapacitated, the younger Aemond decides to enter his girl boss era and take his fate into his own hands. While kids these days beg their parents for cell phones or Harry Styles tickets, all Aemond wants is a dragon, and it doesn’t help that his brother and nephews keep picking on him over his lack of a scaled friend. So, while some may see the death of an aunt as a tragedy, Aemond sees it as an opportunity. You may think Aemond’s decision to ride Vhagar, Westeros’ largest dragon, proves the young prince’s brave nature, but let me remind you, this is a child we’re talking about. His frontal lobe is at least a decade away from being fully developed, at which point he’ll likely look back at his decision and think, “What the hell was I thinking climbing on that enormous beast?” That is, if he even makes it to his 20s.
Of course, Aemond is successful in gaining Vhagar’s trust, and his little joyride leaves him with quite a confidence boost (no more pig gags for Aemond!). Unfortunately, not everyone is happy about his dragon conquest, and he’s approached by his nephews and cousins, who are very upset to see their dead mother’s dragon ridden on the day of her funeral. Rhaena was hoping to claim Vhagar for herself, though why anyone would want to ride the creature that killed their mother is beyond me. A brawl ensues, one that is both comical given the participants and also very hard to watch...given the participants. In the end, Aemond loses an eye, but he gains a dragon, which in his book is a net win. He also gains the favor of his grandfather, which is probably a good thing, as Otto Hightower is becoming more menacing by the day.
This isn’t winners and losers, but if it was, Jacaerys would absolutely be a winner this week. The eldest of Rhaenyra’s sons has proven to be quite a little mensch, as well as an inheritor of his mother’s savvy nature. At this point, Jacaerys knows who is father is and he would like to mourn him publicly, a move a young Rhaenyra would also likely have made. Still, he proves his kind nature by keeping his own pain and paternity issues to himself and instead comforting his cousins. He shares a nice moment with them, one that had me thinking, “Oh, that could make a nice betrothment,” which probably means I need to take a break from this universe for a minute.
Anyway, Jacaerys is able to protect his brother from being pounded by a rock by Aemond (which apparently is a preferred method of killing in Dragon), and he takes an eye without having to repay that debt despite Allicent’s pleas. There’s nothing like sweet justice. In the end, he gains a fairly deranged stepfather, but hey, Jacaerys has proven he can hold his own, and he’s only getting older. That frontal lobe will likely develop quite nicely, which is more than I can say for the Targaryen boys.