Daemon Targaryen in the fifth episode, who kills and why?

Author: Francesca Musolino ,
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Cover of Daemon Targaryen in the fifth episode, who kills and why?

In the fifth episode of House of the Dragon there were several unexpected twists, as we explained in our article House of the Dragon, what happens in the finale of episode 5. The plot was mainly focused on the preparations for the wedding of Princess Rhaenyra, but in all this there was also a significant event that could have marked the turning point for a certain character.

Warning: Below are spoilers about the fifth episode of House of the Dragon

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In the House of the Dragon series, Daemon is married to Lady Rhea Royce. A character who is never shown in the story until the fifth episode of the series, which marks her first and last appearance: after the woman falls from her horse and is paralyzed, Daemon gives her the coup de grace to finish her off.

How come Prince Targaryen is right there at that moment? Was his murder premeditated or was it just a fortuitous coincidence? But above all, why did he kill his wife and why right now? In George RR's novels Martin Rhea dies beating his head on a stone, due to her falling from her horse and not killed by Daemon. So this plot change in the series cannot be accidental. 

The arranged marriages of the Seven Kingdoms

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House of the Dragon - Viserys, Rhaenyra and Laenor
 

To continue their dynasty and strengthen their families, all the noble families as usual are used to arrange marriages of interest: in this way the Lords in command of each House, make sure that their children can procreate heirs and at the same time they acquire new allies. Most newlyweds are forced to suffer their fate or according to their expectations, they can also welcome married life. But there are also those who pretend to accept what he believes to be just a political agreement, while unofficially practicing libertine behavior outside the sacred constraint.

Among these characters there is Daemon Targaryen, who is not only addicted to excesses of various kinds with which he disrespects his wife and their union; but he never even consummated their marriage with the woman, thus failing in one of the fundamental points of these unions. Even those between Daemon and Rhea were decided by third parties and for this reason alone, the young Targaryen has never endured this bond. Furthermore, Daemon is a person who does not like to follow the rules and who likes to overcome certain limits, consequently the peaceful life of a couple is not for him. But there is another question why this union was close to Daemon from the beginning, namely the Throne of Swords. 

The much coveted legacy

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House of the Dragon - Daemon and Rhaenyra
 

As Viserys' younger brother and first male member of the family as second son, Daemon always assumed that the Throne would pass to him after the current ruler dies. This is also due to the fact that Viserys' first wife, Queen Aemma, when she was alive had not been able to carry out any of her pregnancies, or her children died shortly after their birth. The only surviving daughter was Rhaenyra but being a woman, Daemon did not initially see her as a threat; especially given what had happened with Rhaenys Targaryen, wife of Corlys Velaryon; that although he was a direct heir to the Throne, his ascent was not approved by the Council, which had instead voted in favor of Viserys.

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Things changed after Queen Aemma's death, when Viserys chose, however, in spite of everything else, to proclaim Rhaenyra as his heir; a pact that he kept despite having later had a male heir, from his second marriage to Alicent Hightower. Daemon tried to tarnish Rhaenyra's honor in order to ask her in marriage, in the wake of the well-known saying of "dirty clothes are washed in the family". But Viserys is firmly opposed to this union, not only because he has no intention of giving up his daughter to a man he deems unworthy, but also because the latter is already married.

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The reason for Daemon's murder

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House of the Dragon - Lady Rhea
 

Daemon marrying Rhaenyra would become the new King alongside the young Queen Targaryen, but Viserys reminds him that he cannot remarry any woman because he already has an ongoing marriage still valid. Daemon tries to leverage the fact that their ancestor Aegon, had married both of his sisters; but it had been an isolated and accomplished case by a man with whom, according to Viserys, his brother has nothing to do with. Consequently, it is almost automatic to think that Daemon has decided to kill his wife right now, to be free from all constraints and to be able to marry his niece.

After this murder, in fact, Daemon appears as if nothing had happened at the wedding banquet dedicated to Rhaenyra and Laenor, where he continues to try again with the girl, in order to make her desist from taking the big step with another man. Their discussion is interrupted by the confusion generated by the assassination of Ser Joffrey, a moment in which uncle and nephew lose sight of each other. Subsequently, the marriage between Rhaenyra and Laenor is however quickly celebrated behind closed doors, probably in order to prevent further interruptions.

The aftermath of Lady Rhea's death

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House of the Dragon - Daemon Targaryen and Gerolde Royce
 

Meanwhile, with the death of Rhea, having no children Daemon becomes his only heir: the woman was Lady of Rune Stone and head of House Royce, resident in the Valley of Arryn; titles and assets always despised and derided by Daemon, so much so that he used to call his wife "bronze bitch" because of the bronze armor typical of the Royce family. Yet in the fifth episode of the series as he talks to Ser Gerold Royce, Lady Rhea's cousin, he claims that legacy.

Based on what is told in the course of the episodes, Daemon no longer lived with his wife; and when Viserys later drives him out of the Kingdom, he moves to the Red Keep. Later after the end of the battle in the Stepstones, he returns to King's Landing, theoretically making himself available to the Kingdom. This means that Daemon had long since abandoned the Vale of Arryn, so much so that the same wife is surprised to meet him there after a long time.

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Therefore her presence in the usual hunting path in which Rhea went, cannot be just a coincidence: this therefore suggests that the young Targaryen had gone there specifically to kill her. He also wears the same modest clothes used to avoid being recognized and to blend in with the people when he takes Rhaenyra to the slums of King's Landing. If he had come to the Valley armed with good intentions, he could have presented himself dressed as a Prince and directly to House Arryn. .

Probably in the next episodes we will know more, even if in the meantime there are already news related to the married life of Daemon, as can be seen in the House of the Dragon trailer dedicated to the sixth episode.

House of the Dragon is visible on Sky Atlantic with one episode per week as reported in Sky and NOW TV calendar.

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Author: Francesca Musolino ,
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The first season of House of the Dragon is almost drawing to a close and between a time jump and another, the foundations of the great battle for the Iron Throne have been laid. A no holds barred war known in George RR Martin's books as The Dance of the Dragons, as it essentially unleashes within the Targaryen family. But that will inevitably also involve all the other houses present in the Seven Kingdoms, which inevitably will have to decide which side to take.

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