‘House of the Dragon’: Laena Velaryon’s Shocking Decision, Explained

Actor changes were far from the only jarring element of HBO’s House of the Dragon, episode 6. Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones prequel series ended with a fiery bang for one character. It was unexpected and not in a good way for some. Let’s discuss in the spoiler-filled section below.

Two big choices come up at the end of episode 6.

Similar to Aemma Targaryen, Laena Velaryon suffers a difficult childbirth, unable to push the infant out. The maester suggests to Laena’s husband Daemon Targaryen that he could “lay open the womb, try to remove the infant by way of the blade.” But there are no guarantees the baby or the mother would survive.

Unlike Aemma — who dies after King Viserys allows his surgeon to operate on her — Laena realizes what’s going on early enough to take matters into her own hands. Before Daemon can have a say, Laena escapes the birthing room and limps outside, imploring her dragon Vhagar to breathe fire onto her. “Dracarys!” she commands — the High Valyrian (language of the old 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 to end it, incinerating her in a powerful blaze.

Unfortunately, before going into labor, Laena was already in a bad place.

We first meet Laena when she’s 12 years old, having been carted up to King’s Landing as a young bride offered to King Viserys. More than three years after Viserys rejects her, Laena reunites