House of the Dragon star says heartbreaking death detail was ‘my call’

House of the Dragon has said goodbye to one of its lead stars – but fans are complaining the death was “unnecessary”.

The Game of Thrones spin-off aired the fourth episode of its second season on Sunday (7 July), which culminated in a bloody battle sequence that left one burning question on everyone’s lips.

One week after what appeared to be a hint at the off-screen death of one character, another one of the show’s ensemble was killed off – and the actor involved in the twist has revealed that a heartbreaking detail featured in the scene was their very own decision.

But, although the scene occurs in author George RR Martin’s source material, fans aren’t happy with the outcome – especially as it seems the moment could have been avoided.

*Spoilers follow – you have been warned*

The episode, titled “The Red Dragon and the Gold”, saw Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) lead an army to take on Rhaenyra’s allies. This led to a climactic battle scene that involved several major players, including King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), his brother Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), and Rhaenys (Eve Best).

Rhaenys, flying on her dragon Meleys, takes her niece Rhaenyra’s place in battle and has a fight in the air with Aegon and his dragon. After emerging from the battle somewhat victorious, Rhaenys looks set to fly back to safety in Dragonstone – that’s until Aemond and his dragon Vhagar arrive.

After a few seconds, Rhaenys decided to head back into battle – and after she seemingly escaping unscathed again, Vhagar, who was hiding from view, takes a chunk out of Meleys’s neck while high in the air.

In a detail many are praising, Rhaenys, rather than panicking, puts her hands in the air as she plummets to the ground, succumbing to her fate. Speaking in a post-episode interview, Best told Deadline this detail was her idea.

“It was my call. I think they wanted a moment of hanging on and then letting go. It felt like a very natural thing, actually. It was sort of a peaceful moment after all that,” she said.

Rhaenys (Eve Best) succumbs to her fate in ‘House of the Dragon’ (HBO)
Rhaenys (Eve Best) succumbs to her fate in ‘House of the Dragon’ (HBO)

Best continued: “She lets go literally and spiritually. It was a real surrender.”

Fans, though, have been left feeling frustrated by the plot twist. While some are unsure whether Rhanyes knew she would die in the battle, many are hailing Rhaenys as a hero for turning back to take on Aemond.

It seems Rhaenys turned back to seek vengeance for Rhaenyra’s son Lucerys, whom Aemond killed in season one.

“This shot broke me entirely. Meleys looking back at Rhaenys. Rhaenys realising she isn’t going to live this. I think pretty much Rhaenys already accepted she’d very likely die when she saw Vhagar BUT SHE STAYED AND FOUGHT,” one viewer wrote.

Another fan offered a differing view, writing on X/Twitter: “When Rhaenys turns back, I dont think its because she knows she'll die. Meleys is the fastest dragon, she can easily escape. I think Rhaenys saw that there was a chance to kill Aemond and took it, and the thing is she would've won too if Vhagar didn't hide,” one viewer wrote.

Fans have been left upset by the ‘unnecessary’ death of Rhaenys (Eve Best) (HBO)
Fans have been left upset by the ‘unnecessary’ death of Rhaenys (Eve Best) (HBO)

Others are merely heartbroken that Rhaenys so nearly survived the battle, and think her decision to return was “unnecessary”.

“Rhaenys had the chance to save her dragon, she was given the opportunity to escape. Meleys didn’t even have to die. #HouseOfThedragon is breaking my heart,” one fan wrote, with another stating: “Bro Melyse didn’t have to die, Rhaenys sacrificed both their lives for naught, LITERALLY.”

One more fan chimed in: “Rhaenys could’ve just retreated after landing that first blow. Having Meleys attack again was so unnecessary man.”