GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

House Of The Dragon's Epic Targaryen Civil War Battle Changes The Game For Rhaenyra

Game-changing moves have been made, and the Iron Throne is in new hands.


There are a lot of politics in House of the Dragon, but until Season 2, the two sides have been very clear. There's Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy), Vicerys' (Paddie Considine) eldest child and the named heir to the Iron Throne on one side, and then there's Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), Vicerys' eldest son who usurped the throne after Vicerys' death in Season 1 on the other. Rhaenyra supporters are labeled as "Team Black" while the Aegon fans fall under "Team Green."

Up until now, the narrative was a choice between the rightful heir and the political maneuvering of Team Green. Rhaenyra and Alicent have been struggling to prevent an all-out war, but everything changed in Episode 4. The first battles of the Targaryen civil war erupted, marking a pivotal moment that irrevocably altered Rhaenyra's course for the Iron Throne. In colloquial terms, s--t just got real.

Warning: The rest of this article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 2 through Episode 4, "A Dance of Dragons."

Ding-dong, the king (or usurper, depending on your allegiance) is dead. Aegon couldn't resist riding into battle to capture glory for himself, but instead of being heralded by his soldiers he found himself on the barbecued side of Vhagar's fire. Where Aegon saw a chance to inflate his ego, his brother Aemond saw a path to the Iron Throne and has now made things very complicated for Rhaenyra's plight for the same throne.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Since Aegon's eldest son was murdered in the Season 2 premiere, Aemond is now the next in line. While Aegon was arrogant and impulsive, he did care about providing for the kingdom and his image as a "good king." His ego was annoying, but it made him easy to mold into other people's motives. He was pliable for the Hightowers, primarily Otto (Rhys Ifans) and Alicent (Olivia Cooke), to pull the strings and run the kingdom how they saw fit. Aemond is more competent as a leader, but he's also harsher and more calculated. He can't be manipulated as easily as Aegon and certainly has his own agenda. Whatever hope the audience had that Alicent would use Rhaenyra's warning about the "Song of Ice and Fire" prophecy to broker peace is officially dead. Aemond will absolutely not be coached into peace talks with Rhaenyra, let alone convinced to give her the throne.

Aemond didn't plan to kill his brother, at least not at this battle. The way he was able to adapt Aegon's impulsive behavior into a direct path to the throne exemplifies why Aemond shouldn't be underestimated. Everyone in King's Landing should be concerned about how to get on his good side and what his overall plan for the Seven Kingdoms will be. From an audience perspective, Aemond also makes a more compelling champion for Team Green. He's smarter and more fun to watch than Aemond. He's got a darkness to him, but that hasn't stopped people from rooting for him up until this point.

Outside of King's Landing, Rhaenyra needs to completely reevaluate her plan to take back the throne for herself. Frankly, Team Black is losing the war. Not only is Aemond stepping up to the Iron Throne, but he also killed Rhaenys (Eve Best) at Rook's Nest. So Rhaenyra lost the first two battles and is now without one of her most-coveted advisors, who wasn't afraid of being brutally honest with the queen but also sympathized when Rhaenyra lost Luceryis (Elliot Grihault). Daemon (Matt Smith) is also missing in action as he's being haunted by the ghosts of Harrenhal. Rhaenyra has lost the biggest dragon in her fleet, her most trusted advisor, and her cunning husband is MIA. She's the most vulnerable she's ever been while an entirely new level of threat has just taken over for Team Green. It's not looking good for Viserys' (Paddy Considine) eldest child.

Rhaenyra's fight for the Iron Throne is more complicated now that the succession is already moving down Aegon's line. "People have mistaken my caution for weakness," she said early in Episode 4. Well, now she needs a real show of force. Team Black needs a win, and fast, because Aemond is clearly working three steps ahead of everyone else. The battle of Rook's Rest also reminded the audience that we are in fact in the Game of Thrones universe, which means anyone can die at any time. If you're rooting for Rhaneyra to take back the throne, you should start panicking, because things do not look good for Viserys' eldest.

House of the Dragon continues Sundays on HBO and Max.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 11 comments about this story