House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4 explained: Is [SPOILER] really dead?

That jaw-dropping episode of House of the Dragon season 2 left us with many, many questions, but there is one we were asking the most.
Freddie Fox as Gwayne Hightower and Fabien Frankel as Criston Cole in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4
Freddie Fox as Gwayne Hightower and Fabien Frankel as Criston Cole in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4 /

Well, House of the Dragon told us to prepare for episode 4 of the second season. And even so, with weeks of preparation and planning, waiting on edge and yet simultaneously not wanting it to come, we were so unprepared for what the big episode would bring.

The episode, titled "A Dance of Dragons" brought forth the infamous Battle at Rook's Rest, which saw Rhaenys Targaryen and her dragon Meleys, the Red Queen, fly into battle in a bid to stop Ser Criston Cole's army. It was a jaw-dropping sequence - the likes of which the Game of Thrones franchise is well-known for - and it left fans in awe due to some truly stunning developments.

Taking all of that into account, let's dive into what went down in the episode and what it all means.

*** This article contains major SPOILERS from House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4. Don't read on if you haven't seen the episode and would prefer not to be spoiled. ***

Rhaenys and Meleys go out in a blaze of glory

The moment that Rhaenys Targaryen bravely volunteered to go into battle on behalf of Rhaenyra, you could feel that bittersweet sense of triumph. She knew the blow she was about to deal their enemies, but she also knew that she might not return from where she was going. And if you read the Game of Thrones source material, you knew how this was going to end.

Rhaenys bravely rode Meleys into battle and launched an all-out attack on the queen's enemies, destroying so many members of Ser Criston Cole's Kingsguard and wounding him too. However, she was unexpectedly attacked by Aemond and his dragon, the much larger Vhagar. And that's not all, as King Aegon II Targaryen also swooped into battle on his dragon Sunfyre in a bid to prove himself. The three dragons attacked each other, but Rhaenys and Meleys survived the scuffle.

Ever the warrior, Rhaenys knew that she could do more and thus turned Meleys around and went into battle again. However, Vhagar attacked them again, grabbing Meleys in its jaws and almost severing her head from her body, leaving Rhaenys to die as the huge dragon's body began to fall from the sky with her still attached to it. She knew what was coming and simply embraced it, shutting her eyes and going out like a warrior.

While we didn't see Rhaenys' body after the fall, it's highly likely that she died when Meleys' body collided with the castle during the fall. If she did somehow survive that, she would have been crushed under the weight of her beloved dragon's body.

Much of this mirrors Rhaenys' death in the source material. In the books, we are told that she too perished during the Dance of Dragons. However, the difference was that she died in the initial scuffle when all three dragons attacked each other. In House of the Dragon's interpretation, she survived that run-in with her two enemies, only to die moments later.

Is Aegon really dead?

As House of the Dragon season 2 wasn't content with breaking our hearts in its fourth episode, it also decided to stun us with a jaw-dropping conclusion that saw King Aegon II Targaryen... die?

It was a shocking moment no doubt, for the king rode his dragon into the battle of Rook's Rest after a day in which he learned that he didn't really carry much authority at all. But frustrating as it was, Aegon, perhaps riding your dragon drunk into battle wasn't the best idea.

The biggest shock, however, came when Aemond rode towards Rhaenys and Aegon and, in a moment even more astonishing than when Kane turned on The Undertaker in WWE back in 2000, he told Vhagar to burn everything in sight. Yes, that included his brother.

House of the Dragon season 2, Aegon Targaryen
House of the Dragon season 2 /

Aegon and his dragon fell from the skies and landed in a burning heap. When Ser Criston Cole arrived to rescue the king, it appeared to be too late. Aemond had beaten him to it, and he was returning his sword to its holster, but did he land a fatal blow, or was his brother already dead from the fiery fall from the sky?

If Aegon truly is dead, it would be a shocker as the character did not die during the Dance of Dragons in the source material. Instead, he made it all the way to the final year of the war, ultimately dying over Dragonstone when he was accidentally crushed by his own dragon.

With Aegon seemingly out of the equation earlier than expected in House of the Dragon, who will take the Iron Throne? At a time like this, I'm reminded of the infamous quotation: "When you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. There is no middle ground". It would seem that Aegon apparently did the latter.

However, there might be life in Aegon yet, as the trailer for the next episode suggests that the king might have survived his injuries. But if that's the case, could he ever hope to recover and exact revenge on his brother?

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