A Second Rogue Prince Is Taking House Of The Dragon By Storm

The fact that we like any members of House Targaryen is utterly absurd. Ninety percent of this family is just insecure little s***s with an inferiority complex. So why are they so damn compelling? By absolutely no means should I be grinning every time Daemon Targaryen struts onto my screen with his smarmy smirk and mid-life crisis hair, yet here I am, concerned about my sanity because every one of his scenes brings me joy.

Despite committing various crimes, pursuing a relationship with his niece, and being a general menace to society (and all Targaryen family functions), Daemon has a very special place in my heart. Matt Smith's rogue prince may have a penchant for murder and dismemberment, but he's also ridiculously likable. As the show's resident agent of chaos, Daemon has a way of ensuring that we will always be entertained: whether that means sprinting into a solo battle against an entire army or rolling up to his niece's wedding with the intent to flirt.

For the first few episodes of "House of the Dragon," every episode was just an exciting opportunity to catch up on the latest crimes of the king's little brother. What will he be banished for this week? How soon will he return from said banishment with a new haircut? And who will he spend his screen time bullying once he's won back his brother's favor? It's not all insults and reckless behavior, of course — the real clincher is all the unspoken depth to Daemon's character. He's a fascinating balance of arrogance and insecurity, which makes his arc absolutely irresistible. But recent episodes have seen his flames of chaos beginning to cool down.

Spoilers for episode 7 of "House of the Dragon" follow.

We need to talk about Aemond

A 10-year time jump saw the rogue prince become a coolheaded and somewhat content family man. And while he was languishing across the narrow sea, drinking bad wine and silently longing for home, a challenger was on the rise. The seventh episode of "House of the Dragon" has officially confirmed it: there's a new rogue prince in town and he's coming for Daemon's crown. Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton) is stepping up as our newest agent of chaos.

Despite being away from his uncle for most of his childhood, Aemond has inherited all of Daemon's worst qualities. Most notably, he's an arrogant and insecure prick whose willing to risk his life for a win. He also puts a lot of stock in Targaryen firepower and might share Daemon's obsession with the Targaryen dynasty: at the center of that philosophy is an emphasis on dragons.

Our introduction to Alicent Hightower's second son reveals that Aemond is one of the few Targaryen children whose childhood dragon egg never hatched. You might say it's given him cause to develop a chip on his shoulders, in addition to encouraging some extremely reckless behavior. It turns out that young Aemond has a thing for sneaking into the dragoon pits — the huge dome where fire-breathing monsters live — in the hopes of bonding with a stray. Not only is it unsuccessful, but it gets him burned multiple times. Does that stop him from trying again? Of course not!

Does Aemond stand a chance against the OG?

Clearly, Aemond is a man of strategy because this is the perfect time to challenge Dameon's claim to the throne of chaos: he's kinda washed up. After a decade spent gorging on bad wine and praise from strangers, he just isn't the same. Daemon couldn't find what he wanted at court, so he decided to hide out abroad and pretend he doesn't care about Targaryen politics. Really, he's just sad that he couldn't marry his niece but it's made him into a shadow of the man we once knew.

While "Driftmark" sees Daemon finally wading back into conflict, he starts out much slower than we might've expected. Back in the old days, Daemon probably would've charged into his wife's funeral flirting with Rhaenyra ("I'm single, you're single...). But whether it's maturity or simply the fact that he loved Laena, he can barely muster more than a sad smile in Rhaenyra's direction. When they finally have a moment alone, he's reluctant to engage. The same can be said of Daemon's actions when the loss of Aemond's eye is revealed and the Targaryen clan is forced to confront their tensions. While Alicent and Rhaenyra vie for Viserys' favor, Daemon quietly observes from the sidelines. Meanwhile, Aemond is at the center of the drama. He is the cause of the episode's biggest conflict — a fact that was once true of Daemon.

Aemond puts Daemon's recklessness to shame

Sneaking away to pursue Vhagar is no small feat: this is the biggest and oldest dragon in the entire world and Aemond fearlessly strolls on over. It's the kind of suicidal move that can only be accomplished by the roguest of princes. When Vhagar prepares to burn him to a crisp, Aemond doesn't flinch or run: he stands his ground, despite the fact that he's done this with many other dragons in his life to on avail. Maybe Vhagar appreciates stubbornness because she lets it stand and invites him aboard for a ride.

Once upon a time, Dameon stole a dragon egg to get his brother's attention. But he was all bark and no bite: he gave it up the second that Rhaenyra pressed him. Aemond steals the biggest dragon in the realm and doesn't think twice. Rather than concede, he starts a fight with his cousins that costs him an eye, and when it comes down to it, the kid has absolutely no regrets: "I may have lost an eye, but I gained a dragon." Otto Hightower sees the similarities too. He identifies his grandson as a rogue but praises the merit of his actions: winning a dragon over to the side of the Greens is a big deal.

As for how these two feel about one another, only time will tell. I mean, they're both made of ambition and insecurity, like to wear hooded cloaks to their crime scenes, and believe in keeping the Targaryen bloodline pure. I'm sure they'd find a lot in common if they tried talking it out, but somehow that doesn't seem too likely. Daemon has always been loyal to his family, but I doubt that extends beyond Viserys and Rhaenyra. To him, this is just some Hightower kid who's pushing him further down in the line of succession.

Chaos on both sides of the coin

I can't help but wonder if the similarities between these two have anything to do with the fact that they basically share a name. Aemond is literally just a poorly concealed anagram from Daemon (put the D at the end). It's kinda like how Larys Strong is one letter away from sharing a name with the "Game of Thrones" spider, Varys. Who needs subtlety when you can repurpose names, amirite? 

The problem with Aemond is that he's all chaos and no charm. Maybe it's because I'm partial to Team Rhaenyra, but I have a hard time rooting for this kid the way that we all inexplicably rooted for Daemon. And maybe that's for the best. The way things are shaping up, Daemon and Aemond will be on opposing sides of a tense rivalry. Who can defeat one rogue prince but another? Fingers crossed that these insecure blondies will don their crime hoodies and go head to head. It's the only way to settle the question of the superior prince.