House of Dragons: What are Daemon’s motives?

If you’ve read Fire and Blood, you’ll know from the start where House of the Dragon will ultimately end: with two Targaryens fulfilling the family tradition of incest. The fourth episode of the series, entitled King of the Narrow Sea, depicts the first explicitly romantic (if you can even call it that) encounter between Princess Rhaenyra and her uncle Prince Daemon, and their chemistry only increases in episode five.

Daemon is very good at keeping his true feelings and motivations a secret. He may appear like a good guy at one episode while at other times he feels like the ultimate villain, which is why fans often wonder what Daemon Targaryen’s true motives are.

Does Daemon Targaryen want to be king?

It seems the simplest explanation for Daemon’s actions in House of the Dragon is that he wants to sit on the Iron Throne as Westeros’ king. On the surface, this seems to be why he wants to marry Rhaenyra. Take Daemon’s plan in episode four, for example. It seems simple: take Rhaenyra to scandalous places in public, “ruin” her and force King Viserys to agree to a marriage, making Daemon the heir apparent’s husband.

His actions once in the brothel, particularly deliberately shedding their disguises, seem to support this motive, as does his general indifference when confronted with his brother Viserys about what may or may not have happened to Rhaenyra. Viserys even prompts him when Daemon asks to marry Rhaenyra, accusing him of “coveting” the throne, not the potential bride.

In episode five, Daemon visits his wife, Lady Rhea Royce, and she gives a glimpse of how estranged they are as husband and wife: they never consummated their marriage. When she scolds him for being passed over as his niece’s heir, she asks, “What are you going to do now? will you strike [Rhaenyra] down, or . .” She falls silent, realizing too late that he is there to kill her – apparently to make room for his eventual marriage to Rhaenyra.

Does Daemon love Rhaenyra?

In hindsight, however, there seems to be more to Daemon’s feelings than just lust for the throne. Deep down there may be a genuine desire to rule Westeros by their side, not for power but for love.

For example, Daemon decides not to sleep with Rhaenyra at the last second in episode four, pauses when Rhaenyra starts kissing him enthusiastically back, and finally bangs the wall in frustration before leaving her at the brothel. He later doesn’t seem as concerned as he should be when Viserys banishes him for his misconduct, effectively ruining his plan. The possibility that he feels guilty for using Rhaenrya as a means to his own ends seems to indicate a kind of affection for her hidden beneath the intrigue.

In episode five, Daemon seems really fixated on Rhaenyra during her marriage to Laenor. He flirts briefly with Lady Laena Velaryon, but other than that moment, he seems fixated on Rhaenyra for most of the night. At one point, he approaches her and insists that her marriage to Laenor is a mistake, bordering on an outright display of jealousy. Rhaenyra then teases him, telling him to fight his way through the Kingsguard and bring her to Dragonstone to make her his wife if he feels that strong. Just as Daemon appears about to kiss Rhaenyra – in the middle of the ballroom, in front of all her subjects – a fight erupts and they are separated in the ensuing hysteria.

Could the reason Daemon never consummated his marriage to Rhea be because of his feelings for someone else? Daemon clearly has no qualms about killing people for his own ends (RIP Lady Rhea), so the question is why is he doing this would not Simply knock out Rhaenyra to secure his claim to the throne. It could indicate that he only wants power while she is alongside Rhaenyra.

Is Daemon only looking for Viserys?

In the end, Daemon’s motives may be a mixture of political aspirations and Love. For example, it often feels like Daemon is more offended by his brother’s lack of trust and attention than by his being passed over as an heir, which could indicate that Daemon ultimately cares about his family much more than he does he admits.

For example, Daemon’s plan to seduce Rhaenyra ends with Daemon being banished, but it also ends with Otto Hightower, the King’s scheming Hand, being removed from his post. Otto, telling Viserys of Rhaenyra’s “adventures,” helps the king see that Otto was always out for himself: from manipulating Visery’s marriage to Alicent to trying to bring down Rhaenyra, everything so Otto could put his own grandson Aegon on the throne. The spy who tells Otto that he saw Rhaenyra and Daemon also happens to be working for Myseria, Daemon’s former lover and now spymaster. Could the whole plan have been to get Otto to advance far enough for Viserys to finally see his true nature, with Rhaenyra only as collateral damage (aka married to him)?

Daemon and Otto have long been at odds, and it’s easy to imagine that Daemon would do anything to increase his own power and put Otto down, but he could have done it just for the sake of it, according to Viserys and Rhaenyra (in his own sick and twisted kind of course).

With Daemon being such an enigmatic character, it’s difficult to get a sense of his true motives, but we suspect we’ll learn a lot more about his conspiracy – and his complicated relationship with Rhaenyra – as the season progresses.

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