A few episodes into the first season, and we already know that House of the Dragon is set to provide us with many shocking scenes and plot twists. The fake death of Ser Laenor Velaryon was one of those plot twists which remained open for various interpretations. Even though Daemon orchestrated the whole thing and paid Ser Qarl Correy to commit a murder with some witnesses, it was not explained in detail what he meant by that. However, we know that he and Rhaenyra were plotting to get rid of Laenor so they could get married. So, this raises a question, does Rhaenyra know that Laenor is alive, or is she tricked as well?
Rhaenyra most likely knows that Laenor is alive. She was always fond of Laenor and respected him for who he is. Since the day they were betrothed these two had an understanding that they won’t make each other’s lives miserable and they would be free to pursue their own interests. After Laenor’s sister died, Rhaenyra knew that Laenor will become depressed or even bitter so she decided to set him free from all the suffering Westeros had brought him.
The question of whether Rhaenyra knew or not about the fact that Laenor is alive is open to interpretation. There is also a possibility that Daemon ordered Ser Qarl to kill Laenor and that Qarl came up with a plan to save Laenor himself but that does not seem likely. Rhaenyra and Daemon agreed that it is best for them to get married and that Laenor is on their way. However, they also knew that Laenor is unhappy in their arranged marriage and will not be a threat to them. So, they had no reason to kill him for real. Anyhow, let’s discuss why Rhaenyra most likely knows that Laenor is alive.
Rhaenyra most likely knows that Laenor is alive
Since the day their marriage was arranged, Rhaenyra and Laenor had an understanding that their marriage will be a political arrangement and as for their private lives, they are free to pursue their own interests. Their relationship was respectful and there was never ill intent between them. As time progressed it became clear that Laenor is struggling in his role of being Princess’s escort.
Laenor openly admitted to Rhaneyra that he misses the adventures and battlefront because that’s what makes him feel alive. He wishes to be back at sea and feel free, but Rhaenyra can let him do that because her enemies are plotting against her. Nevertheless, it is clear that Laenor is tired and worn out from playing his part on the court.
Rhaenyra understands Laenor, but she can’t let him do as he wishes because it would weaken her position. However, after Laena Velaryon died it was clear that Laenor’s spirit is crushed and he will most likely never be the same ambitious man he once was. Rhaenyra was aware of that and she said to Daemon that she thinks that Laenor won’t be of much use to her in the future and that she never felt any passion or joy with him even though they tried.
When Luke and Jace got into a fight with Aemond and Aegon, the children were hurt and Rhaenyra’s arm was injured afterward. Laenor missed all of that so he realized later that he is distant from his family and that he did not protect them when they needed them the most. He also blamed himself because he did not protect his sister.
Throughout the years, it is clear that Laenor tried to perform his duties as Rhaenyra’s husband and as a father, but he admits finally that he did not be the man he should be towards his family. Rhaenyra and he had an open conversation about their relationship and about circumstances that brought them together and the fact that they never had children together. Laenor admitted that he hates he is the way he is. But Rhaneyra stated that she does not hate Laenor for being different, just the opposite. She considers him an honorable man with a good heart.
Together they came to the conclusion that is impossible for them two to have both happiness and the fulfillment of their political duties. Nevertheless, Laenor decided to sacrifice himself and remain by Rhaenyra’s side to prepare her for her ascension. She realized at that moment that Laenor speaks well, but she does not wish him as a husband at her side no more because he won’t be happy and is not a strong ally anymore.
The fire is a prison, the sea offers an escape
These words were said by Rhaenyra to Daemon when they were talking about the differences between the House Targaryen and the House Velaryon. But there is also a strong message behind those words and that statement can be interpreted as her plans for what to do with Laenor. Then, when she suggested to Daemon that they bind their blood because they would be much stronger in the fight for the throne that is coming, she said that she and Daemon were always meant to burn together because they are made of fire.
Rhaenyra said to Daemon that she loves Laenor but she knows that she can’t marry Daemon if Laenor is alive. But, Daemon says she has to set Laenor free as an act of kindness. The sea offers an escape. These words are a perfect reference for Laenors fake death and his starting a new life across the sea as we saw him rowing in a boat toward the ship which will carry him far away where he could live his life happy and in love without hiding.
When two Princesses, Rhaenyra and Rhaenys are talking in the garden, Rhaenyra claims that she did not order Laenor’s death and that she loved him. She speaks with assurance in her voice because she most likely knows that Laenor is alive and well, but she sympathizes with Rhaenys grief because she lost both of her children. So, no, Rhaenyra is not tricked into the belief that Laenor is dead.