The sixth episode of House of the Dragon introduced an element to the show that audiences had been expecting for a while: a big time jump. New actors have stepped in to play old roles, and a host of new characters have been introduced in the 10-year gap between episodes 5 and 6.
But the character whose role in the show increased the most in the interim was present (and played by the same actor) before the time jump: Larys Strong (portrayed by Matthew Needham). Who is he, and what’s his whole deal? We’re here to help, dear reader.
[Ed. note: Significant spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 6 lie ahead. Tread carefully.]
Who is Larys Strong?
Larys is the younger of the two sons of Lord Lyonel Strong of Harrenhal. In House of the Dragon, Lyonel was promoted to the position of Hand of the King for King Viserys Targaryen just before the time skip. Larys’ older brother, Ser Harwin Strong, is a knight and a member of the “gold cloaks,” the City Watch of King’s Landing. Ser Harwin is also very close to Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, which has led to rampant rumors in the Red Keep that he is the illegitimate father of her three children, whom we meet for the first time in episode 6.
What’s Larys up to?
Larys has forged a connection with Queen Alicent Hightower, correctly identifying King Viserys’ wife as an important mover and shaker in the political machinations of the Targaryen kingdom. In episode 6, this comes to a head. The queen is deeply concerned about Rhaenyra’s bastard children — ostensibly out of concern for the Targaryens’ legacy, but it’s not too much of a stretch to say that it is primarily out of self-interest, with the hope that her own eldest son, Aegon Targaryen, will be named heir to the throne rather than Rhaenyra.
Taking Alicent’s privately shared concerns to heart, Larys organizes a scheme wherein a group of men working under his command set a fire at Harrenhal castle, seemingly killing Lord Lyonel and Ser Harwin in the process.
Why did Larys do that?
It’s pretty cold-hearted to so flippantly organize the death of your father and brother, but this isn’t House of the Family Good Times. Larys is a schemer and a conniver — my friend and colleague Austen Goslin pointed out that the easiest way to remember his name is that he serves as both the Varys and the Littlefinger of this show. Varys + Littlefinger = Larys. It’s just simple math, folks.
To forecast into the future a little bit, Larys anticipates the succession struggle that will occur once King Viserys inevitably dies. He has identified Alicent as his most crucial ally in this battle, and has staked his bet on Aegon as the likeliest winner. When Larys reveals to Alicent what he has done and she reacts in horror, he makes it very clear that she now owes him, and that he intends to collect in due time. Whether that happens sooner or later is something we’ll just have to wait to see.