On “House of the Dragon,” we’ve already come to expect plenty of shocking, cruel deaths. One such character who has always seemed marked for a tragic end is Laenor Velaryon, the first husband of Rhaenyra Targaryen. The show, as well as its source-material book, “Fire & Blood,” has made it clear her ultimate fate is to be with her uncle, Daemon, meaning Laenor has to go at some point. This time, however, the TV adaptation found a creative way to meet expectations while also tweaking Laenor’s ultimate fate.
Laenor’s “House of the Dragon” Ending, Explained
When we catch up with Laenor and his family in episode seven, life is something of a mixed bag. Although he and Rhaenyra are not in love (obviously), they care very much about each other and “their” sons. They share a vulnerable conversation, during which Laenor laments not being able to be a “true” husband and promises to recommit himself to their family.
Instead, Rhaenyra has other plans. Having already slept with Daemon earlier in the episode, she approaches him with the idea of getting married and working together to fight Alicent’s faction. After Daemon points out that Rhaenyra’s husband, Laenor, is still very much alive, it cuts quickly to a scene that appears to show Daemon paying off Ser Qarl, Laenor’s current lover, to instigate a deadly fight — “one with witnesses.”
Later, Qarl enacts Daemon’s plan. He pulls a knife on Laenor in front of a servant, kicking off a duel that spurs the servant to run off and get help. When help arrives, including Laenor’s parents, a corpse wearing Laenor’s boots is pushed into the fireplace, his head and torso burned to a crisp. At first, it seems like Rhaenyra and Daemon have brutally schemed to kill Laenor just to get him out of the way, but a major twist is revealed when, at the end of the episode, a hooded man runs to get onto a boat setting out to sea with Qarl. When he removes his hood, he’s revealed to be Laenor. He’s very much alive, with his distinctive hair shaved off and sailing off to a new, secret life with Qarl, far from the scheming of Westeros.
How Did Laenor Fake His Death?
It turns out Daemon, Rhaenyra, and Laenor cooperated to fake Laenor’s death.
Before Qarl approached Laenor to duel, Daemon had been shown murdering a nameless servant. It was unclear why at that point (but most viewers didn’t think twice about it because . . . it was Daemon, after all). But the twist ending suggests Daemon killed the servant in order to use his body as a stand-in for Laenor’s. When the servant who witnessed the start of Qarl and Laenor’s fight ran to go get help, Daemon must have dragged in the random man’s body, switched his boots with Laenor’s, and pushed him into the fireplace, leading everyone to believe Laenor had burned up in the fire.
How Does Laenor’s Story End in “Fire & Blood”?
In “Fire & Blood,” Laenor’s fate is (apparently) much clearer. In this telling, Laenor really does die in a brawl with Qarl, this time in a more public setting: an outdoor fair, with many merchants as witnesses. According to the book’s historians, Qarl attacked Laenor either out of jealousy because he believed Laenor’s attention was waning, or because he had been paid by Daemon to kill him. Either way, as far as the book’s universe is concerned, Laenor is truly dead, and Qarl is never seen again.
Of course, the way “House of the Dragon” handles this plot line means the two could, in theory, coexist, apart from the setting of the fight. The whole point of the “House of the Dragon” scheme is to make sure everyone believes that Laenor died in a fight with Qarl, so the in-universe historians would probably report a story very much like the one in “Fire & Blood.” The TV show’s tweaks to the story allow for a very rare happy ending in a world where nearly everyone’s stories end in tragedy, and it’s definitely a nice (and unexpected) change of pace!
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