The cast changes were far from the only discordant element of HBO. Sunday’s episode of The prequel series ended with a gunshot for one character. It was unexpected and not in a good way for some. Let’s discuss that in the spoiler-filled section below.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
What decision does Laena make?
Two big choices present themselves at the end of episode 6.
Similar to Aemma Targaryen, Laena Velaryon suffers from a difficult delivery, unable to push the baby. The maester suggests to Laena’s husband, Daemon Targaryen, that he could “open the womb, try to pull the child out using the blade”. But there is no guarantee that the baby or the mother will survive.
Unlike Aemma —— Laena realizes what’s going on soon enough to take matters into her own hands. Before Daemon can have a say, Laena escapes the delivery room and limps outside, begging her dragon Vhagar to breathe fire on her. “Dracaries!” she commands – the High Valyrian (language of the ancient Valyrian Freehold) word for “Dragonfire”. Vhagar hesitates, visibly confused by his rider’s shocking request. But eventually, he seems to understand her pain and helps end it, incinerating her in a mighty inferno.
Why does Laena commit suicide?
Unfortunately, before giving birth, Laena was already in bad shape.
We first meet Laena when she was 12 years old, having been transported to King’s Landing as a bride offered to King Viserys. More than three years after Viserys rejected her, Laena is reunited with the king’s younger brother, Daemon. Daemon, childless, had just murdered his wife. He immediately takes a shard from Laena.
Ten years later, the couple is married with two daughters. But as House of the Dragon never fails to remind us, threads are what everyone is looking for. In a scene before Laena’s death, she and Daemon talk about the struggles of their marriage. Daemon is restless, unable to sleep. They also discuss Rhaenyra, Daemon’s ex-lover, giving birth to another son. Laena clearly laments that she didn’t produce any for Daemon.
“Perhaps I, too, am not the woman you would have wanted for yourself… It doesn’t bother me. I have made my peace.”
This scene seems to foreshadow what is to come. Even the scene in which Laena talks to her youngest daughter Rhaena seems to provide a needed touch of exposition, making it clear that Laena is related to Vhagar, “the greatest [dragon] in the world.”
In the delivery room, Laena overhears the maester telling Daemon that she won’t survive a C-section to remove the baby. Unable to see Daemon’s reaction or hear what decision he is making, Laena immediately flees. This suggests that she knows Daemon will undergo the operation, sacrificing her for the slightest chance of their child surviving. She thinks Daemon will make the same choice as his brother Viserys.
It seems Laena, stuck in an unhappy marriage, thinks she’s going to die no matter what. Rather than undergo the operation and bleed to death, she has the power to choose her end, one that no prince or king decides for her. Although it suggests she sacrifices any chance, however small, for her son to survive.
Further reading: Daemon wanted to save Laena
Laena’s childbirth scene mirrors the same situation King Viserys encountered with Queen Aemma. However, in this case, the maester does not present Daemon with a strong chance of his son surviving a C-section. After Daemon finds out that his wife would die from such an operation, he seems to shake his head slightly, indicating that he doesn’t wish to go through with it. Unlike Viserys, Daemon does not want to risk his wife’s life.
Hearing about the complications of childbirth, Laena is potentially ashamed of not being able to, once again, make Daemon a male heir. She decides to end her life, after failing to fulfill the purpose for which she was raised from a young age.
Laena also seems to want the best for Daemon. They discuss Daemon who wastes all his time reading tales of “the same dead dragonlords”. Laena says, “But you are more than that Demon. The man I married was more than that.” Laena seems to have accepted the idea that she disappointed Daemon. By stepping out of the picture, she allows Daemon to be free to find a new wife and have another chance to produce the male heir he desires.
In the book
In George RR Martin’s Fire & Blood, the book on which House of the Dragon is based, Daemon is not forced to choose to subject Laena to a life-threatening C-section. Instead, Laena endures a difficult birth and delivers a boy who, like Aemma’s son Baelon, dies soon after. Laena falls seriously ill from grief and fever. Daemon orders a renowned maester to save her, but he arrives too late. Laena attempts to fly Vhagar one last time before dying but, tired and sick, she dies before she can reach the dragon.
Movies coming in 2022 from Marvel, Netflix, DC and more
View all photos