Halfway through its first season, House of the Dragon is poised to do something almost unheard of in the world of television. The show hasn’t shied away from accelerating its timeline when certain storylines called for it, but the next time jump scheduled to happen in episode six’s “The Princess and the Queen” is 10 years in length.
Skipping ahead a decade means the show is swapping out two of its fan-favorite leads, aging up a handful of notable supporting characters, and introducing the younger generation of Targaryens who will one day have a dragon in the fight (or should we say dance?) between Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen.
To help fans keep track of who’s who before House of the Dragon’s latest episode drops, we’ve created a character guide to the faces you need to get familiar with (and fast).
Milly Alcock’s performance as the future Queen-to-be has been one of the highlights of House of the Dragon so far, and naturally, we’re devastated to see her go. She’s played young Rhaenyra as confident, brash, a bit entitled, and wholly capable of ruling the Seven Kingdoms – plus she speaks High Valyrian like a pro. But book readers know that Rhaenyra’s character goes through some trials during the 10-year time jump and aging up the actress who plays her makes sense when it comes to covering those plot points. Enter Emma D’Arcy. The actor (whose pronouns are they/them) has the tough job of marrying our previously understood version of who Rhaenyra was as a teenager with the woman she’s become after years of frustrating politics and court rivalries — not to mention motherhood — have changed her. D’Arcy will also go toe-to-toe with the grown-up version of Rhaenyra’s childhood frenemy, Alicent Hightower, which should be dramatically delicious to witness.
Speaking of, Emily Carey’s young Alicent was decidedly less-liked by fans than her bestie-turned-stepdaughter, but no matter what your feelings are toward the young Queen, we can all agree that the actress playing her did a bang-up job of trying to make her more empathetic. With Carey gone and Olivia Cooke taking the reigns, that last shred of likability seems to have vanished and Alicent, now fully embracing her villain era, has rivaled her House against that of her husband. Not only is this older version of Alicent more manipulative and ambitious, but she also seems to have nurtured a decades-long grudge against her childhood friend for a one-night stand that had absolutely nothing to do with her. So we guess we can add petty to her list of terrible character traits, too.
Sweet Laenor Velaryon deserved more than a dead lover and an arranged marriage but that’s exactly what he got by the end of House of the Dragon’s fifth episode. The character has already been aged up once, but when we meet him in episode six, he’s a grown man and the husband of the future Queen. John Macmillian will play this version of Laenor and, based on clips released ahead of this week’s episode, we can surmise that while his preference still seems to be “goose” (sorry to daddy Corlys who thought it might just be a phase), he’s developed a close bond with his wife and their children. Or should we say, her children? Their parentage is a big point of contention between Rhaenyra and Alicent in the books, and it looks like the show is wading into the paternity debate this season.
Another member of House Velaryon that’s enjoyed a couple of glow-ups since episode one is Laena. Initially, she was intended to be King Viserys’ child bride before he fell in lust with someone who was *checks notes* just a few years older than her. We saw Laena again, this time as a teenager, when House Targaryen paid a visit to Driftmark to arrange a union between Rhaenyra and Laena’s brother, Laenor. She attended the couple’s doomed wedding feast, making quite the entrance and even flirting with a sour-faced Prince Daemon before Ser Criston Cole beat a man’s face to a pulp. When we meet her again, she’s being played by actress Nanna Blondell as an older, wiser version of the character, who is now married to Daemon and has twin daughters with him.
Aegon II Targaryen
It sounds like the next generation of Targaryens are going to be playing pivotal roles in the last half of season one, which might be why the show has already aged up Aegon II. Last we saw him, Aegon was a cherubic-faced potential usurper who had the backing of his grandfather and a handful of sexist lords when it came to inheriting the Iron Throne. For now, he’s being played by Ty Tennant, but Aegon might be aged up again since actor Tom Glynn-Carney is also set to play the character sometime this season. So, more time jumps?
Aegon’s sister and Alicent Hightower’s only daughter, Helaena, has a big role to play later in the series. For now, she’s simply another pawn at her mother’s disposal. Evie Allen will play young Helaena though there will likely be a jump at the end of the season that sees a different actress taking her place.
We’ll say this now: Aemond Targaryen is the absolute worst. Described as a crueler, less charming version of Prince Daemon in George R.R. Martin’s book, the young prince is being played here by Leo Ashton. We know that Aemond suffers a terrible injury as a child, something we’ll likely see in the coming episodes, and that turns him into a bit of a murderous psychopath going forward. The Last Kingdom star Ewan Mitchell will play an older version of the character, so he’s likely to be the actor that bears the brunt of the audience’s disgust.
Jacaerys & Lucerys Velaryon
Despite her misgivings as a young girl, Rhaenyra does eventually become a mother to three boys while she is wed to Laenor Velaryon. Following an agreement between King Viserys and Corlys Verlaryon, the boys adopt the last name of their father’s House. Jacaerys is the eldest and he shares the same dark features that his brothers will inherit, most likely from Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong, who becomes Rhaenyra’s lover later in her life. Lucerys and Joffrey Velaryon are the final two children that Rhaenyra has with Ser Harwin Strong, but as Joffrey is still a baby when we meet him in episode six, the only one you need to watch out for is Lucerys. Child actor Harvey Sadler will play the youngest version of the character, but it’s a good bet he’ll be aged up again by the end of the season.
Baela & Rhaena Targaryen
Baela and Rhaena Targaryen are the twin daughters of Laena Valeryon and Daemon Targaryen and we’re set to meet them in episode six. Baela has been described as the Targaryen version of Arya Stark, so we’re already putting money on her becoming a fan favorite by the end of the season. Her sister, Rhaena, is quieter and more reserved. Shani Smethurst and Eva Ossei-Gerning will play the younger versions of the twins.
HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ airs on Sunday nights at 9:00pm EST.