On House Of The Dragon, The Velaryon Family Can't Catch A Break

A lot happened in the latest "House of the Dragon" episode: puberty hit Aemond Targaryen far harder than any of us expected, Viserys (Paddy Considine) earned his World's Best Dad coffee mug, and a certain member of the Velaryon family said perhaps a little too much in a public setting. Yes, that's right, Ser Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) is no longer of this world. After he called Rhaenyra's (Emma D'arcy) children bastards (and then called Rhaenyra herself a whore), her uncle-husband Daemon (Matt Smith) went and sliced his head in half. So long, Vaemond; we'll always fondly remember you as that guy who sort of complained a lot.

In fairness to Vaemond, he did have valid reasons to be upset. For the past two decades, his house's alliance with the Targaryens seems to have had pretty one-sided benefits. Rhaenyra and Laenor's marriage, which seemed like a clear-cut good deal at the time, ended up producing no heirs with Velaryon blood. With Baela and Rhaena both set to have kids with a Targaryen name, it seems like the only people set to continue the Velaryon name aren't even Velaryon. History may remember names over blood, but that's still a bitter pill for Vaemond to swallow.

And with Corlys' prospects not looking good either, it's starting to become clear why the Velaryon family was no longer around for "Game of Thrones."

One death after another

Since Rhaenyra and Laenor's marriage in "We Light the Way," the Velaryon house seems to suffer one tragedy per episode. Laenor's paramour is murdered at his wedding, an event that serves as a terrible omen for their married years ahead. The next episode gives us the death of Laena, as she chooses to burn herself to death with her own dragon rather than die from childbirth complications. The episode after that gives us the "death" of Laenor himself; yes, it turns out that Laenor's alive and perfectly happy, but nobody else in the house knows this. 

This latest episode opens with a conversation between Vaemond and Rhaena that lets us know that Corlys is seemingly on death's door as well. Considering the character never shows up on screen, it's more than possible that he'll make a reappearance next Sunday. But for now, by all accounts, things don't look good for him. 

Yet through it all, the Targaryen family holds strong. Daemon doesn't seem to have aged a day. All five of Rhaenyra's kids seem happy, healthy, and like decent people. Alicent's kids are a lot creepier — the generations of incest really seem to have taken its toll on them — and yet they haven't lost any power over the years. The only Targaryen who's really suffering is Viserys, but honestly, it still feels like a miracle he made it as long as he did anyway. So far, as Team Rhaenyra and Team Alicent go at each other, it always seems to be the Velaryons who suffer the consequences.

They're sort of like the Martells

When watching the Velaryons, one can't help but think of the Martells from the original series. They were also a family with lofty ambitions, albeit motivated more by revenge than their legacy, and this pursuit of theirs got all of them killed one by one. Instead of making peace with Oberyn's death, the Martells sought revenge, and they weren't all that successful. 

The books made this even clearer by having Ellaria Sand give a whole speech about the futility of revenge. "Who else is there to kill?" she said to one of the other Sand Snakes. "Do Myrcella and Tommen need to die so the shades of Rhaenys and Aegon can be at rest? Where does it end?" Her speech is largely ignored by the other characters, but thematically it's one of the most important speeches in the series. The TV show goes in a slightly different direction, choosing to have her be one-dimensionally vengeful, but the end message is still the same: the Martells' thirst for vengeance is the worst thing that's ever happened to them. 

As the Velaryon house is in crumbles, it seems like "House of the Dragon" is going for a similar message: the Velaryons' thirst for more power is the worst thing that's even happened to them. 

The show gives them a break when it can

For fans of the house, it's hard to get too upset at the direction the show's been heading towards. This is pretty much how it shakes out in the book, after all, just in less detail. Fans of "Fire & Blood" got a pleasant surprise at the end of "Driftmark" when Laenor's death turned out to be staged. The source material is told by historians who are merely piecing together the details after the fact, so it makes sense that they might never have found out about this aspect of Rhaenyra and Daemon's plan. 

It's also a change that fits in perfectly with the themes of the show. It makes sense that Laenor, the only member of his family who doesn't care much about improving his social standing, is the only one to get a happy ending.

It's not clear where Corlys' character is going to go from here (well, it's clear to those who read the book), but we know that if the first eight episodes of the show are any indication, things are going to continue its downward trajectory until he moves on from his political ambitions, if he stops obsessing over what the history books will say and instead focuses on the immediate well-being of his family. Until then, unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the Velaryon family will be catching a break any time soon.