Polygon

Rhaenys has always been one of House of the Dragon’s most important characters

[Ed note: This story contains spoilers for House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4.]

The Dance of Dragons has simply claimed the most influential Targaryen but. And no, we’re not speaking about Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) — we’re speaking about Princess Rhaenys (Eve Finest), who can be sorely missed following her harrowing, triumphant loss of life in episode 4. A key participant in Rhaenyra’s (Emma D’Arcy) council, Rhaenys went down with the similar excessive degree of grace, persistence, and morality she’s held steadfast by way of her time on House of the Dragon.

And not less than we get one helluva dragon battle out of it, too. We start in the contested space of Rook’s Relaxation, the place Rhaenyra sends Rhaenys to demolish Criston Cole’s (Fabien Frankel) encroaching military. “We’re off to battle again, old girl,” Rhaenys says as she boards Meleys in Dragonstone, an actual tug at the heartstrings as the pair start what we now know can be their closing trip collectively.

Earlier than she meets her personal demise, Rhaenys has one final hurrah, pummeling the residing daylights out of a drunken, uninvited Aegon. However as soon as Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) arrives aboard Vhagar, it’s throughout for the lot of them. Aegon goes down first. Then Vhagar sinks his enamel into Meleys’ neck. Meleys turns to face her rider, a warning that defeat is coming, and Rhaenys merely nods. Their journey collectively is over. However they’ve finished a rattling good job collectively, haven’t they? As the pair spiral to the floor collectively, the look on Rhaenys’ face is much less one of concern and defeat and extra reflecting a peaceable resignation and understanding of what should be finished.

Whereas the loss of Rhaenys could also be tragic, her loss of life is magnificent and highly effective. In reality, it would simply be the greatest scene of season 2 to this point — not less than the princess didn’t die in useless. As the episode involves an in depth, a bruised Criston crawls by way of the neighboring forest to search out Aemond crouched over his brother and Sunfyre. Aegon is down for the rely. Each he and Sunfyre look like both useless, dying, or injured past restore. Mainly: Rhaenys’ loss of life led to the largest win for Staff Black — or the battle — this season.

However that’s to not say this isn’t a serious setback for Rhaenyra and her council. Rhaenys famously (or, reasonably, infamously) by no means sat atop the Iron Throne, often known as the “Queen Who Never Was.” And but, Rhaenys was somebody who might always lead from inside the Targaryen dynasty, a quiet, humble voice of motive. She understood the worth of peace, like when she dutifully handed over the throne to her youthful cousin Viserys (Paddy Considine). However maybe extra importantly, Rhaenys additionally knew when to disrupt that peace — like when, again in the center of season 1, she fought tooth and nail to make sure Driftmark would move all the way down to her ought to Corlys (Steve Toussaint) move. It’s that very same vitality to maintain girls of their rightful positions that has been such an asset to Rhaenyra in season 2.

Picture: Ollie Upton/HBO

Rhaenys (Eve Best) sits between Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and one of her advisors at a small council meeting

Picture: Ollie Upton/HBO

In different phrases, Rhaenys understood the significance of choosing a battle. That’s a key ability in the center of a battle: understanding which battles to pursue and which to keep away from in any respect prices. In her small council, Rhaenyra is surrounded by males who wish to push buttons and assault Staff Inexperienced at each alternative. At any given deadlock, Rhaenyra would solid a small gaze towards Rhaenys for some kind of nonverbal seal of disapproval or approval on the right way to transfer ahead with the ongoing Targaryen spat. This quiet communication occurs in almost each episode of season 2 to this point, together with in Rhaenys’ closing council assembly, a silent affirmation that, sure, sending Meleys into battle is the best choice, as harmful because it’ll be.

Now, who will Rhaenyra look towards when she wants a transparent head? Daemon? As if. However Rhaenyra will definitely want to search out one other guiding pressure in her life with out Rhaenys. Maybe she must look to the subsequent technology of girls in her household — each for Staff Black’s sake, and since House of the Dragon ought to proceed analyzing its girls characters by way of feminist lenses, like the present did with Rhaenys.

As a result of whereas the present gained one killer dragon battle scene, at the similar time, it misplaced a feminist icon. Rhaenys’ trustworthy help of Rhaenyra was monumental in the battle towards Aegon — by all means, when the battle started, Rhaenys might have sided with the similar patriarchy that barred her from turning into queen over Viserys. If Rhaenys couldn’t be queen, why would she really feel so inclined to maintain combating towards the males (and girls — you, Alicent!) that solid Targaryen girls apart. However no — Rhaenys took the facet that felt proper, in the end standing up for her morals and serving to the group that would offer the greatest future for her granddaughters Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell) and Baela (Bethany Antonia).

To be truthful, anybody that took down Aegon Targaryen was going to turn into an icon the prompt they did it — however it’s great that Rhaenys was the one who made the mark. She could have by no means been a queen in the literal sense, however in the extra symbolic sense of the phrase, she’ll always be a queen in our hearts. She fought for the higher of the realm and the girls of it, and in doing so, grew to become a real Targaryen legend.

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