Welcome to House of the Dragon MVP, our series highlighting each episode’s Most Valuable Player in the game before the Game of Thrones.
What was that Littlefinger said? “Chaos is a ladder“? Well, House of the Dragon fans, it’s time to start climbing. Larys Strong has entered the game, and if we thought Lord Baelish was chaotic, he’s got nothing on the OG Master of Mayhem.
Larys isn’t a new character this episode. He’s been lurking on the sidelines almost the entire season. He politely wormed his way into the highborn ladies’ gossip circle at the hunt in Episode 3, and cozied up to Queen Alicent with the life-changing news that Rhaenyra got a hot, lying mug of Plan T from Grand Maester Mellos in Episode 5. In his previous appearances Larys has been the kind of low-grade schemer who seemed to prefer wielding secrets to wielding violence…up until the point where he murdered his entire family and changed the course of history. Again.
To say the quiet part out loud, Laenor Velaryon is not the father of his wife Rhaenyra’s sons. Larys’ brother Harwin Strong is. It’s not hard to see what Rhaenyra sees in Harwin: He’s a lusty, blue-eyed Large Son who’s known as the strongest knight in the Seven Kingdoms. He is also the Lord Commander of the City Watch, a position that really seems to do it for Rhaenyra regardless of who’s holding it. Unfortunately “he’s thicc, Your Grace” is not a valid excuse for committing high treason and Larys knows it.
The semi-obvious bastardy of Luke, Jace, and Joffrey puts Harwin’s family in danger, especially since his father Lyonel is the Hand of the King. It’s doubly dangerous for Larys, who holds no position aside from self-appointed royal bochinchero and stands to lose everything if his brother’s treason were exposed. When Harwin all but spills the beans by defending his son against Prince Aegon, Lyonel and Larys have two vastly different responses to processing that danger.
Lyonel makes the smart and obvious move of attempting to resign the Handship and return to Harrenhal with Harwin. Even though King Viserys refuses his resignation, Lyonel still goes through with getting Harwin away from the eyes of the crown and escorting him to the castle himself, which in a just world would settle the matter. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Wrong. The above solution would only work in a situation where Larys was not a social-climbing psychopath, which he is. Larys arranges for a handful of prisoners from the Red Keep’s dungeons to sneak into Harrenhal and burn his family alive in a homicidal effort to fulfill Queen Alicent’s dark wish that the whole Strong bastard issue go away.
On one hand, has Larys ever heard of overkill? Seriously, that’s like taking out the Westeros equivalent of a spotted lantern fly with a blowtorch the size of the Louvre. On the other hand…this is exactly the king of shocking, sick shit Game of Thrones got up to in its best episodes and ol’ Larry just became an absolute icon. Slay, patricide arson king! Burn them all! Set fire to the reign!
The road from Larys shyly chattin’ up the girlies to Larys cutting the tongues off a handful of felons and commanding them to burn his dad alive is a frightfully short one. Man’s just ambitious as hell and super smart. There was a problem at court, he saw an opportunity to solve it, and if in the course of solving the problem Larys protected himself from royal backlash and became the Lord of Harrenhal while entrapping Queen Alicent in some high quality blackmail, that’s more than fine with him.
Except now that he’s played this hand, there’s the question of what his next move might be. The likely answer is, of course, “absolutely horrifying.”
New House of the Dragon episodes are available every Sunday on HBO and HBO Max.
This content was originally published here.