One of the most surprising parts of episode 7 of House of the Dragon was the fact that there was an incident in Driftmark during the night of the day when Viserys and Alicent had already left for King’s Landing. In that regard, we saw that Rhaenyra and Daemon plotted to get married after eliminating the only impediment to their union—Laenor Velaryon. That led to the scene where Daemon hired Qarl to get things done for him. So, why did Rhaenyra and Daemon “kill” Laenor?
Rhaenyra and Daemon plotted with Laenor to fake his death so that all parties involved would benefit. That allowed Rhaenyra and Daemon to get married. Meanwhile, they allowed Laenor to live and run away from Westeros with Qarl because Rhaenyra always knew that he was a good man that deserved to be happy.
The story of Rhaenyra and Laenor’s marriage ended with both parties getting what they wanted. Rhaenyra could now get a true husband in the form of Daemon, who could help her in her future endeavor as queen. Meanwhile, Laenor was now free from the politicking of Westeros and could now live his life in peace with someone he loved. That said, let’s look at what happened when Laenor was “killed.”
Why Did Rhaenyra And Daemon “Kill” Laenor?
Ever since we saw Rhaenyra Targaryen after the massive time skip between episodes 5 and 6, she was on the losing end of a war against Alicent, who already had a lot of pieces lined up against the princess. The only person preventing the escalation of any issues between the two former friends was King Viserys, who stayed blind to all of the affairs that his daughter was involved in throughout those ten years.
However, Rhaenyra always felt that she was alone, as she didn’t have allies in King’s Landing. Even her husband, Laenor Velaryon, wasn’t much of an ally because he stayed true to his arrangement with Rhaenyra in the sense that he was going to marry her and have kids with her while they were free to love whoever they wanted.
But as far as whether or not he was a reliable ally, Laenor struggled to be that person for Rhaenyra. During episode 7, however, he told his wife that he was willing to recommit himself to her because he realized that life was getting more difficult for Rhaenyra. Still, he wasn’t the same kind of ally that a person like Daemon Targaryen was.
Rhaenyra, who got harmed by Queen Alicent the night before due to an incident involving their children, decided that he needed Daemon as an ally because he was the only one strong and capable enough to serve as king by her side. But the problem was that there was a legal impediment in the form of Laenor, who was still Rhaenyra’s husband by law. As such, they needed to do something about the entire situation.
Daemon decided to hire Laenor’s lover Qarl to assassinate Rhaenyra’s husband. He gave him gold because a knight of low-born status like him could never rise up in Westeros, where blood mattered more than anything else. Meanwhile, he could live a happy and carefree life in the Free Cities as long as he had gold. That was what convinced Qarl to go to Driftmark and assassinate Laenor.
A duel between him and Laenor broke out, as the only person attending to the Velaryon knight had to go and get help. By the time Corlys and Rhaenys arrived, the fight was long over. There was a body in the fireplace, as it appeared as if Qarl burned Laenor’s body after defeating him in their duel.
Then again, it was shown in the final scenes of episode 7 that Qarl was running away from Driftmark on a boat. Onboard the boat was a hooded man who removed his cowl and revealed himself to be Laenor all along but with a shaved head so that no one would recognize his Valyrian white hair. In that regard, both Laenor and Qarl were in it all along. But why did Rhaenyra and Daemon have to “kill” Laenor?
As mentioned, Rhaenyra and Daemon wanted to get married but couldn’t do so as long as Laenor was alive. And that meant that they needed Laenor out of the picture in a manner that would allow them to hold on to their humanity, as they only found a way to make sure that he wouldn’t actually die.
In that regard, without Laenor in the picture, Rhaenyra and Daemon would now be allowed to marry one another, as that was what they wanted from each other from the very start. Of course, the Velaryons were also included in the entire picture as well.
The fact that both Corlys and Rhaenys had lost their only child would devastate them and would make them useful allies in the coming war against the Green faction led by Alicent Hightower. As both Corlys and Rhaenys know that their family’s legacy lies in the children of both Rhaenyra and Daemon from their respective Velaryon spouses, they have no choice but to side with them in their efforts against Alicent and her allies.
So, on top of the fact that they are not united, Rhaenyra and Daemon would also gain new allies in the form of the Velaryons, who are surely going to fight for them against the Greens in the upcoming Dance of the Dragons.
Why Did Rhaenyra And Daemon Allow Laenor To Run Away From Westeros?
The most convenient thing that Rhaenyra and Daemon could have done was to have Laenor killed right then and there by hiring an assassin. However, they knew for a fact that doing so would be an injustice to what Laenor is as a person because he was always one of the purest persons in the entire political mess surrounding Rhaenyra and Daemon.
While Laenor was never a good husband or a present father, he was actually more than willing to recommit himself to Rhaenyra by staying with her and becoming a true husband and ally when he found out that she had enemies all over the Seven Kingdoms. That was when Rhaenyra realized that he was a good man that had already done his part in their original arrangement but was more than willing to go beyond what they had agreed on ten years ago. Death was not something that Laenor deserved.
Daemon himself fought alongside Laenor in the War for the Stepstones years back. He knows that Laenor is a good man and a capable fighter. On top of that, Laenor respected Daemon enough to defend his name against his own uncle during the meeting that they had back in episode 3. As such, Daemon, despite being somewhat cruel, respected Laenor as well.
Rhaenyra also understood that Laenor didn’t want anything to do with the politicking going on around the Seven Kingdoms, and that’s why the best way to make him happy was to “kill” him and allow him to live a happy and free life in the Free Cities of Essos. Of course, Laenor himself was happy with such an arrangement because he never wanted to be a lord and a father but always wanted to stay true to his nature as a knight that preferred being with his fellow knights.