“Chaos is a ladder,” as Littlefinger infamously said on “Game of Thrones.” And the prequel series “House of the Dragon” just revealed that Larys Strong is climbing it.
SPOILER ALERT: Contains details from Episode 6 of “House of the Dragon,” airing Sunday, Sept. 25, on HBO and HBO Max.
Episode 6 of “House of the Dragon” introduced a dramatic, decadelong time jump. After 10 years, we can expect a lot of changes.
Princess Rhaenyra and Queen Alicent are played by new actresses (Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, respectively). Rhaenyra is now the mom of three sons. Daemon (Matt Smith) now has two daughters and is married to Laena Velaryon (the daughter of Corlys and the sister of Rhaenyra’s husband, Laenor) until Daemon becomes a widower by the end of the hour. King Viserys (Paddy Considine) now looks like he’s got one foot in the grave.
But one thing that’s stayed exactly the same? Larys Strong is a snake. He’s this show’s version of Petyr Baelish, a k a Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), on “Game of Thrones.”
Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) is the brother of Harwin Strong (a knight who’s not so secretly the biological father of Rhaenyra’s three sons, since she has an open relationship with her gay husband).
The son of Lyonel Strong (the Hand of the King who replaced Otto Hightower, after the King fired him in the fourth episode), Larys has a club foot, so he doesn’t participate in traditionally male activities. In the third episode with the boar hunt, he joined the ladies’ circle and listened to their gossip, instead of hunting with the men.
So, similar to Tyrion Lannister, Varys and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish on “GoT,” he uses his brain as his weapon instead of a sword.
The sneaky strategist’s cunning ways came into focus during the fifth episode, when he approached Alicent and gave her a push towards turning against Rhaenyra (by spilling the news that Rhaenyra got a special delivery of Westerosi Plan B in the form of tea).
This meant that when Alicent was trying to defend Rhaenyra from rumors about her sex life, Rhaenyra lied to her (when she swore that she didn’t do anything). That was the last straw in Alicent’s friendship with her stepdaughter, causing her to wear a dress that symbolically declared war. So, that rift between Alicent and Rhaenyra was largely instigated by Larys.
Now, in this sixth episode, after Larys’ dad Lyonel and brother Harwin leave court (because of the rumors about Harwin fathering Rhaenyra’s sons), they die in a fire that’s set by assassins. The culprit? Why, none other than Larys Strong himself.
Earlier in the episode, Alicent talks about wishing that her father Otto Hightower was at court with her, since he would speak the truth to the King when nobody else is willing to, and he’d also be on her side against Rhaenyra. Now, the current Hand of the King is conveniently dead, killed by his own son, leaving that position open.
“The Queen makes a wish. What servant of the realm would not strive to fulfill it? I assume you will write to your father, now,” Larys says, after revealing his crime.
Alicent is horrified and says, “I did not wish for this.” A smirking Larys responds, “I feel certain you will reward me, when the time is right.”
So, Larys is such a villainous schemer that he’s willing to arrange the murders of his own father and brother, just to curry favor with Queen Alicent.
“House of the Dragon” has had several villains so far. At first, it seemed like Daemon was the adversary; also, sexually preying on one’s niece isn’t exactly good-guy behavior. King Viserys has made some shady moves, and Rhaenyra’s petulant teen half-brother Aegon could be a mini Joffrey in training. But by the end of this episode, it’s clear that Larys Strong has emerged as a Petyr Baelish-type of villain who’s lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike when everyone least expects it.
“House of the Dragon,” airs 9 p.m. on Sundays on HBO.