Episode 7 of HBO’s House of the Dragon saw Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) marrying her uncle, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith).
However, in order to do so, she had to ditch her husband, Ser Laenor Velaryon (John MacMillan).
The book Fire and Blood, on which the TV show is based, sees Laenor dying after a quarrel at a fair, and it is insinuated by one person that Daemon was behind the death.
Another narrator in that story says that Daemon had no hand in the matter.
However, the TV show decided to take another avenue entirely regarding how to dispatch Laenor so that Rhaenyra and Daemon could get married.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Laenor appears to die at the hand of his lover, Qarl
The end of Episode 7 of House of the Dragon sees Rhaenyra and Daemon plotting to get rid of Laenor in order for them to get married. They believe by joining in a marital union, it will help strengthen Rhaenyra’s claim to the Iron Throne.
As the pair talk, scenes of their plot unfold, which show Daemon discussing things with Ser Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan) regarding offing Laenor.
At first, it looks like Qarl really is prepared to kill Laenor for the sum of coin offered to him by Daemon as he turns up to fight his beau, who had sent him off to the Stepstones earlier in the episode so that he could concentrate on his marriage to Rhaenyra.
When Laenor’s parents enter the room after being summoned regarding the scuffle, it appears that Laenor is dead, having fallen into the fire, and is now hideously disfigured.
So, the assumption by all is that Laenor is dead, but as the episode closes, it is revealed that Laenor has shaved his head and is now escaping by boat with Qarl.
That person in the fire? A random person who was killed by Daemon.
Episode 7 ending is different from the book
As pointed out by Polygon, this ending differs significantly from the book.
In the book, it was inferred that Daemon was the sole instigator of this treachery, according to Mushroom’s interpretation of the situation.
However, in the TV show, it seemed that Rhaenyra would also play a role in Laenor’s demise, potentially making her seem much less likable to viewers.
And, considering it is very important plotwise to have Daemon and Rhaenyra marry at this point in time, it seemed like the only option was to have Rhaenyra implicated in some matter.
However, HBO managed to subvert the book and place Rhaenyra – and Daemon – in a much more favorable light by having Laenor’s death faked.
This change of the storyline may seem controversial to some fans but has made others very happy that they didn’t have to see Rhaenyra turn into the bad guy.
As to whether or not this will further impact the storyline remains to be seen, and viewers will just have to tune into further episodes to find out more, including whether or not his poor parents will ever be told that their son is alive and well.
House of the Dragon airs every Sunday night at 9/8c on HBO Max.