HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ is the prequel series set about two centuries before ‘Game of Thrones.’ It is based on certain sections of George R. R. Martin’s 2018 book, ‘Fire & Blood’ and tells the story of the bitter war of succession between two factions of the ruling Targaryen dynasty, known as the dance of the dragons. Between episodes 5 and 6 of the series, ten years have passed. Several actors are replaced with older counterparts to depict aged-up versions of the characters.
Moreover, characters played by the same actors as before have also been aged up. This includes the three members of House Strong of Harrenhal — Lyonel (Gavin Spokes), Harwin (Ryan Corr), and Larys (Matthew Needham). If the events of the sixth episode of ‘House of the Dragon’ have made you wonder whether Lyonel and Harwin are dead, we got you covered. BOOK AND SHOW SPOILERS AHEAD.
Are Lyonel and Harwin Strong Dead?
Although the time skips in ‘House of the Dragon’ can be quite jarring, one can understand the reasons behind them. After all, the crux of the story is the civil war, and the writers probably want to depict at least the start of it in the first season. As we rapidly approach that moment when politicking will give way to violence, characters who will play critical roles in it are revealed.
In the intermediate ten years, the Strongs have thrived in King’s Landing. Lyonel is a highly competent Hand of the King, one that perfectly fits Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) needs. Harwin has become the Commander of the City Watch — the Gold Cloaks — and Larys serves as the Lord Confessor — the royal torturer. But Lyonel knows that all the good fortune can vanish at a moment’s notice because of Harwin’s actions.
Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) is married to Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan) for a decade as well, and counting the son she gives birth to at the start of episode 6, she is the mother of three children — Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey. None of them seem to share any physical features with the man who is supposed to be their father. Everybody in the court seems to know that Harwin is their biological father, except Viserys, who is either blinded by his love for his daughter or adamantly refuses to accept the truth.
Meanwhile, the enmity between the princess and Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) intensifies every day, leaving Lyonel and House Strong exposed. While training both the Velaryon and Targaryen princes, Criston (Fabien Frankel) makes a remark about the parentage of Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey, infuriating Breakbones, who severely beats up the other man. Concerned about repercussions, Lyonel tries to resign, but Viserys refuses. So, the head of House Strong asks the King’s permission to escort Harwin to Harrenhal instead and gets it. However, while they are there, both father and son perish in a fire.
In the books, multiple speculations about what really happened on that night at Harrenhal are offered. There is a sense of doom attached to the gigantic castle since Aegon the Conqueror attacked it with his dragon Balerion and turned it into a melted ruin. After Lynel and Harwin’s death, some said it was an accident, while others mentioned the curse of Harrenhal. However, there are a few who suspected that what happened at Harrenhal was intentional.
According to Mushroom, Laenor’s father Corlys was behind the fire. He claims that the Sea Snake sought revenge for Rhaenyra’s infidelity on his son. Septon Eustace suggests that it was Daemon, as he wanted fewer competitions for Rhaenyra’s affection. Grand Maester even wonders whether it was the King himself.
There were some who speculated that it was Larys. ‘House of the Dragon’ confirms the last of the speculations to be true. After Alicent expresses her displeasure about Lyonel and Harwin, Larys cuts the tongues out of several prisoners and sends them to kill his father and brother. In the books, Larys is a frustratingly mysterious man whose overall objectives remain unclear. However, in the show, he seems driven by the very thing that fuels everyone else — ambition. By killing his father and brother, he is now the Head of House Strong and Lord of Harrenhal. He has also proven himself as an ally to Alicent.
If the show faithfully adapts the immediate aftermath of Lyonel and Harwin’s death from the books, Otto Hightower will be reinstated as the Hand of the King. If that happens, Alicent will tell her father about Larys, effectively securing the latter’s position in the capital.
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