Movie Reviews

Daemon's Harrenhal Visions In HOTD Explained: All Scenes, Returning Characters & What They Mean

Warning: This article contains major SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 2, episode 4, and the book Fire & Blood.


Summary

  • Daemon’s visions in House of the Dragon foreshadow major events and highlight the current tension between him and Rhaenyra.
  • Daemon’s visions at Harrenhal could be due to the castle’s sinister atmosphere, Alys Rivers’ presence, and a weirwood tree.
  • Daemon’s vision of young Rhaenyra highlights their changing relationship and his struggle to accept her as queen.


Daemon’s visions at Harrenhal in House of the Dragon season 2, episode 3 and episode 4 offer a closer look into the character’s mind and foreshadow major events from the book that are yet to come. As the younger brother of Viserys Targaryen, Daemon believed he should have been the next in the line of succession in case the king never had a male heir. Despite his resentfulness toward Viserys’ decision to appoint Rhaenyra as his successor, Daemon married his niece and supported her claim to the Iron Throne. Still, there is tension between Daemon and Rhaenyra, as explored in “The Burning Mill.”

Daemon Targaryen is perhaps the biggest wild card among the House of the Dragon characters, which Rhaenyra was reminded of after the assassination of Aegon II’s heir. After a heated argument with Rhaenyra over the Blood and Cheese incident during which his loyalty was questioned, Daemon flew to Harrenhal to guarantee the blacks’ influence over the Riverlands and bring more swords to their cause. While there, he has had several strange visions, which are full of meaning.



What Causes Daemon Targaryen’s Visions At Harrenhal

Daemon Has Been Around Alys Rivers And A Weirwood Tree

Daemon Targaryen was out for a night walk at Harrenhal when he had a vision of a young Rhaenyra, played by House of the Dragon season 1 actor Milly Alcock. During the vision, which was rather disturbing, Rhaenyra is taking care of the body of Jaehaerys Targaryen, King Aegon II’s heir killed by Blood and Cheese at the beginning of the season. Rhaenyra questions Daemon about the fact he is always coming and going, after which the Targaryen prince wakes up from his vision and sees himself back in the godswood of Harrenhal.

Alys Rivers was thought to be a bastard of Lyonel Strong, but her true origins and age are unclear.


Daemon’s visions continue in episode 4: he sees Alcock’s Rhaenyra again; his dead wife, Laena; and what initially looks like Aemond, but is actually Daemon himself. A few things can explain Daemon Targaryen’s visions at the Harrenhal. Firstly, Harrenhal is said to be cursed and, regardless of whether there is an actual curse affecting those who inhabit it, the castle is sinister and surely invites nightmares and visions.

Alys’ influence over Daemon’s visions is directly confirmed in episode 4, when she gives him some kind of potion that clearly affects his mind…

Secondly, Daemon was around Alys Rivers, who, according to Fire & Blood, was believed to be a witch by many. Alys’ influence over Daemon’s visions is directly confirmed in episode 4, when she gives him some kind of potion that clearly affects his mind, and it’s after this he sees Laena. However, the full extent of her control remains unknown.


It’s also worth noting Daemon was close to a heart tree, a symbol of the Old Gods in Westeros, for his first vision, and his bed is made of food from such trees that were cut down. Weirwood trees are associated with visions in the Game of Thrones universe, as seen with Bran’s powers in the original show.

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Alys Rivers: House Of The Dragon’s Harrenhal “Witch” & Powers Explained

House of the Dragon season 2, episode 3, introduces audiences to Alys Rivers. Here’s what we know about her in the show and in the book.

What Daemon’s First Vision Of Milly Alcock’s Rhaenyra Means

Daemon’s Influence Over Rhaenyra Has Changed Over The Years.


Daemon and Rhaenyra’s relationship is not in a good place at the beginning of House of the Dragon season 2, particularly after the Targaryen queen finds out that her husband is to blame for the death of Aegon’s child. Although Rhaenyra wanted revenge for what happened to Luke, she would never have approved of what was done to Jaehaerys. While Daemon ostensibly did not actually order the child to be killed, he acted without consulting his queen. This made Rhaenyra question his loyalty and whether he truly respected her as queen.

Daemon seeing young Rhaenyra reminds him of when he could control her – a more idealized version of the woman who is now his wife and queen.


Daemon is tormented, and instead of thinking about Rhaenyra as a queen, he prefers to remember her as the rebellious child who looked up to him all those years ago. In a way, Daemon seeing young Rhaenyra reminds him of when he could control her – a more idealized version of the woman who is now his wife and queen. House of the Dragon season 2, episode 3 reignites an old debate of whether Daemon ever truly accepted Rhaenyra as his brother’s successor, a decision he originally took up as an insult considering Viserys had no male heirs.

Why Alys Rivers Tells Daemon He Will Die At Harrenhal

Daemon’s Fate Is Tied To Harrenhal In House Of The Dragon.

Daemon and Aemond in House of the Dragon
Daemon and Aemond in House of the Dragon

Daemon Targaryen dies in Harrenhal as foreseen by Alys Rivers, sort of. Rhaenyra’s husband technically dies in the sky above the castle during the battle at Gods Eye against Aemond Targaryen. Aemond and Ser Criston Cole first marched to Harrenhal hoping to take down Daemon, whom they believe was the symbol of Rhaenyra’s strength and should be dealt with first. While Daemon was no longer there by the time Aemond arrived, the greens took over the castle. Aemond killed most at Harrenhal but sparred Alys Rivers, who would later claim she was pregnant with the prince’s child.


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At the end of the Dance of the Dragons, Daemon flew back to Harrenhal on Caraxes and challenged Aemond to a battle that would become known as The Battle Above The Gods Eye. A true “dance of the dragons,” the battle above the Gods Eye was one of epic proportions. It ended with the death of all involved, including Caraxes, Vhagar, Aemond, and Daemon (whose body was never found). The battle between Daemon and Aemond is arguably the climax of the Targaryen civil war and should make for a fantastic episode, perhaps in House of the Dragon season 3.


Why Daemon Beheads Milly Alcock’s Rhaenyra In House Of The Dragon Season 2, Episode 4

Does Daemon Want Rhaenyra Dead?

Rhaenyra's (Milly Alcock) head in a pool of blood in House of the Dragon season 2, episode 4

Milly Alcock’s Rhaenyra returns again in House of the Dragon season 2, episode 4, this time in a vision set in the Red Keep’s throne room. She speaks High Valyrian to Daemon, and lays bare the true meaning not only of his vision, but of what’s really haunting his insides and driving his entire arc:

“You created me, Daemon. Yet now you are set on destroying me, all because your brother loved me more than he did you.”

Daemon’s story is all about Viserys, in a way, and it’s impacting his relationship with Rhaenyra now more than ever, since she is his Queen. He’s acted selfishly and impulsively, and so much of it comes from his own jealousy and insecurity that stems from his relationship with his brother and never being named his heir.


Daemon beheads Rhaenyra at the end of his vision, a particularly haunting image that reveals how tormented he is.

Daemon beheads Rhaenyra at the end of his vision, a particularly haunting image that reveals how tormented he is. This can be seen as him trying to deal with his problems the only way he knows how: with a sword. Daemon doesn’t talk about his problems, he kills them, even when it’s a marriage problem, as seen with him murdering his first wife. He has no real idea how to respond to Rhaenyra or deal with the issues, and that’s why he’s doing this.


Beheading Rhaenyra is also, perhaps, a further sign of how he will destroy her – or rather, how he fears he is destroying her. It’s clear that Blood and Cheese has had a negative impact on Rhaenyra and Team Black, not only because of the falling out with them but how the realm perceives what happens. Daemon has actively hurt Rhaenyra’s attempt to take the Iron Throne, which this symbolizes. She says “this is what you always wanted” after he cuts her head off, a sign of how he’s longed for power and put his own needs first.

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What Was The Blood On Daemon’s Hand After His Vision?

The Brief Moment Is One Of The Stranger Ones Among His Visions

Daemon (Matt Smith) will blood on his hand in House of the Dragon season 2, episode 4


After Daemon “kills” Rhaenyra, with her head sitting in a pool of blood, Daemon awakes in bed and has blood on his hand. A moment later, it disappeared. It’s not entirely clear what happened, but it does suggest a blurring of the lines, showing these are more than just mere dreams, but much more vivid visions or hallucinations that are having a tangible impact on his state of mind and ability to function.

Why Daemon Sees Himself As Aemond Targaryen

The Uncle And Nephew Have Clear Parallels

Daemon (Matt Smith) wearing an eyepatch in House of the Dragon season 2, episode 4

In one of the more on the nose elements of Daemon’s Harrenhal visions, he follows who appears to be Aemond Targaryen through a number of corridors, until he sees his face and realizes that it’s not Aemond, but himself, even wearing the eyepatch of his nephew. Daemon and Aemond are mirror images: second sons who believe they should have been king, great warriors who command fierce dragons, and men prepared to do anything it takes to get what they want.


I think it’s quite interesting to consider Alys’ potential seduction of Daemon, given this vision. In the book, while there is no record of her having a relationship with Daemon, she does have a sexual relationship with Aemond later in the story. This could, at the very least, be foreshadowing of that.

Daemon seeing himself as Aemond is essentially him seeing his destiny in House of the Dragon.

The bigger foreshadowing, though, is of what may be House of the Dragon season 3’s biggest moment: Daemon vs. Aemond. It’s long seemed like a showdown is on the cards and, as mentioned, they will face off in the sky above Harrenhal and both men will perish. Daemon seeing himself as Aemond is essentially him seeing his destiny in House of the Dragon.


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What Is The Drink Or Potion That Alys Rivers Gives To Daemon?

It’s Similar To A Couple Of Things From George R.R. Martin’s Books

Daemon (Matt Smith) and Alys Rivers (Gayle Rankin) face to face at Harrenhal in House of the Dragon season 2
Image via Max

When Alys makes him a potion later in the episode, her hands after using one of the ingredients look similar to Daemon’s bloody hand earlier in the episode, which could possibly be a link, or at least a hint as to what’s going on with Daemon, drawing another line about his visions and the witch. When he drinks what she gives him, supposedly to help him sleep, he appears to have blacked out and missed a significant chunk of time, then has a vision of his dead wife, Laena.


In Fire & Blood, while there’s next to nothing said about Alys’ time with Daemon at Harrenhal, it is questioned if she is someone who uses poisons and potions to “bind men to her, body and soul.” She does get close to Daemon in the scene, but whether she’s actually trying to seduce him at this point is another matter. What seems more certain is that she is purposefully trying to create these visions.


Given the mention of heart trees, it’s possible what she’s giving him is something akin to weirwood paste from the books. This is given by the children of the forest to help Bran with his greensight, and made from weirwood seeds and sap. Alys’ potion is more of a drink, but could be a similar kind of thing. It may also be similar to shade of the evening, the potion consumed by the warlocks of Qarth that has a hallucinatory effect, being taken by Daenerys Targaryen before her House of the Undying visions.

Daemon Sees His Former Wife, Laena Velaryon

Nanna Blondell Returns As A Server At Harrenhal

Close-up of Laena (Nanna Blondell) looking at Daemon in House of the Dragon season 2, episode 4

After being given the potion by Alys, Daemon briefly sees his second wife, Laena (Nanna Blondell). This further shows how Daemon is being haunted by his past, and how there’s so much he hasn’t dealt with. Daemon swiftly moved on after Laena took her own life using Vhagar, marrying Rhaenyra in the same episode her funeral took place. There may be some lingering guilt over what happened and how he moved on, and a grief he hasn’t processed.


House Of The Dragon Season 2’s Remaining Episodes

Episode #

Release Date

5

July 14

6

July 21

7

July 28

8

August 4

That also fits in with his current struggles with Rhaenyra. Daemon seeing Laena is just another reminder of his failures as a husband, and all of this could be forcing him into not only feeling regret for the first time in his life, but dealing with it. These visions could all be pushing Daemon towards a reconciliation with Rhaenyra, and truly supporting her in the way she needs.


New episodes of House of the Dragon season 2 release Sundays at 9pm ET on HBO and Max.

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