House of the Dragon’s Messy Time Jumps Didn’t Benefit the Characters

With Breakbones being the biological father of Rhaenyra’s first three children, further hurting her claim to the throne in the eyes of those who already considered her an illegitimate heir, Ser Harwin’s sparse appearances and sudden death on the show are truly confounding. One could argue the couple’s extramarital affair is one of the most consequential relationships of the series thus far, yet we never see its complications or repercussions outside of its abrupt end.

Moreover, Rhaenyra’s previous lover, Ser Criston Cole, felt so scorned by her political marriage to Laenor Velaryon that he beat the prince’s boyfriend to death on their wedding day. How deliciously tense would it have been to watch both knights police the realm together once they realized they have both satisfied similar desires for the princess outside of her royal duties? Instead, Criston and Harwin only collide for a single scene, which ends in a fight that feels mostly unearned.

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon

Courtesy of HBO

Even more puzzling is how unaffected Rhaenyra seems by the loss of Harwin. Throughout the taunts, insults, and inquiries she suffers as a result of her children’s brown hair, indignation is something she seems to have more time for than mourning. Aside from Aemond once again speaking Lucerys’ true surname in the season finale, the presence of Harwin Strong is as quickly forgotten as it was introduced.

As Daemon now fights for the Blacks as Rhaenyra’s second husband and third lover of the series, House of the Dragon is so tightly focused on its titular family that it’s sucked the life out of the world around it. No one suffers more from this bulldozing of chronology and character than the siblings of House Velaryon — particularly Lady Laena.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), House Velaryon is the only noble family from Fire & Blood to be portrayed by Black actors in House of the Dragon. This racebending makes the creative casualty that is Laena Velaryon’s abridged character arc that much more disappointing.

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