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Are The Targaryens On ‘House Of The Dragon’ Fireproof?

This post contains spoilers for House of The Dragon episode 6, “The Princess and the Queen.”

“Fire cannot kill a dragon.”

It’s a line uttered by Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in season one of Game of Thrones that fans (at least those not caught up with the books) have taken as a Westerosi gospel of sorts.

Throughout the show, the Mother of Dragons proved time and again that, like the magical creatures she controlled, fire simply didn’t affect her. It burnt her clothes, but never scorched her skin – not when she threw herself on Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre or bathed in steaming hot waters, or picked up scalding dragon eggs. In fact, her resistance to extreme heat was positioned as one of her greatest strengths, helping her to topple the Dothraki patriarchy in a (literal) blaze of glory before she crossed the Narrow Sea and campaigned for the Iron Throne.

Daenerys was special, clearly, but her extraordinary ability to stoically stand in a raging inferno and emerge Unburnt seemed like a trait inherited from her Targaryen ancestry. Sure, her brother couldn’t survive the Dothraki’s gift of a molten crown, but Viserys’ death always felt more like a condemnation of his own character — not an indicator that Targaryens as a whole were susceptible to getting burned. Viserys was pathetic and power-hungry, cruel and selfish — his death by smelted gold was ironic, not characteristic of other members of his House.

Until now.

In House of the Dragon’s latest episode, “The Princess and the Queen,” fire actually does kill a dragon, err dragon rider. Laena Velaryon, a descendent of one of the last remaining Houses of Old Valyria and the rider of Westeros’ largest dragon, Vhagar, chooses to be burnt to a crisp rather than face the same fate that befell Queen Aemma Targaryen. She drags herself in front of Vhagar and demands the beast light her up, which it reluctantly does, perhaps sensing her death is inevitable and that fire is a more merciful end than the blade. The scene is heartbreaking, not only because Laena is a mother to twin girls but because earlier in the episode, she begs Daemon to take her back to Driftmark to give birth in her own home and foreshadows her own death on dragon’s back. Once the smoke settled, however, fans were left with questions. Up until now, HBO’s treatment of George R.R. Martin’s writings has set the precedent that Targaryens (and we would assume Velaryons since they also, you know, have dragons) are immune to fire.

But they’re not. In fact, Laena Velaryon likely won’t be the last Valyrian descendent to die by dragon flame on this show – if we’re going by the book, which we should since GRRM has maintained tighter control over this prequel series. During the run of GoT, Martin weighed in on the very misguided belief that the Targaryens were fireproof.

“TARGARYENS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FIRE!” he told fans in an online discussion years earlier. “The birth of Dany’s dragons was unique, magical, wonderous, a miracle. She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But her brother sure as hell wasn’t immune to that molten gold.”

Showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff clearly took future seasons in a different direction than Martin’s books, doubling down on Dany’s flame retardant abilities but the writer has always maintained that her survival was a one-off, which means Targaryens, as a whole, are not immune to fire. Heat-resistant? Sure, but they can burn to death just as easily as the next person on House of the Dragon, which probably should’ve been evident when a young Rhaenyra was called upon to light the funeral pyre of her mother and baby brother.

It is interesting though that the show chose to have Laena die by dragon fire. In the books, she had a stillbirth and suffered from some kind of infection for days before trying to drag herself to Vhagar to fly one last time. She died on the tower steps of Driftmark, where both Daemon Targaryen and Rhaenyra Targaryen held vigil over her body. We have to think that, by changing Laena’s death scene, the show is setting fans up for even more violent, fiery ends to come.

HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ airs on Sunday nights at 9:00pm EST.