Pain often has the potential of turning one’s core into something ugly. Aemond Targaryen had gone through a lot of mental agony in his childhood. We don’t intend to justify his ruthlessness, but his childhood traumas had scarred him for life. He had lost his innocence the day he was given a pig by his brother and nephews. We saw in the 6th episode of “House of the Dragon” that he felt insulted, but he couldn’t do anything about it. He had lost all confidence, and he often cursed the Gods for being biased against him. The young man wasn’t able to fathom what he had done wrong in order to be discriminated against like this. Everybody had a dragon apart from him. He was made to feel worthless, and that had somewhere affected him deeply. He felt like an underdog, and that is why he had a hunger to prove everybody wrong. But we didn’t realize when that hunger transformed into something so evil. His quest to prove his worth took him to risking his life and claiming the largest dragon of the Seven Kingdoms: Vhagar.
After Laena Velaryon, Vhagar was unclaimed. Aemond saw an opportunity and decided to seize it. The Gods rewarded his courage and intent. From being the only kid in the Targaryen dynasty who didn’t have any dragon, he became the rider of one of the fiercest dragons to ever exist. Baela and Rhaena had always believed that Vhagar was theirs to claim as it belonged to their mother. Aemond entered into an argument with the twin sisters. Lucerys and Jacaerys Velaryon also arrived at the scene, and Aemond entered into a scuffle with his nephews. Lucerys, while defending his brother, stabbed Aemond in the eye. That was one of the first defining moments in the history of King’s Landing that laid the foundation of the “Dance of the Dragons.” Lucerys had not done it deliberately. He was just trying to support his brother. But things escalated quickly, and even the elderly got involved in it. Aemond stayed quiet that day. He knew that a day would come when he would get a chance to take revenge. He prepared for that day. He worked on his skills. He kept the hate alive and burning inside his core.
Eventually, Aemond Targaryen became the most accomplished warrior of his generation. Additionally, he also had Vhagar by his side, and that boosted his confidence even more. He never missed an opportunity to scorn Lucerys. It almost felt like Rhaenyra’s boys were intimidated by him, and why wouldn’t they be? In the 8th episode of the “House of the Dragon,” we saw that Rhaenyra wanted to go and drop her sons off at Dragonstone as she felt that they were not safe in King’s Landing. Though Aemond had not done anything explicitly as of then, he had these barbaric instincts, and, at times, it felt as if he was capable of doing anything.
In the 10th episode of “House of the Dragon,” something unprecedented happened that changed the course of things. Rhaenyra wanted to make as many allies as she could. For the same purpose, she had sent Lucerys to Storm’s End to deliver the message to Borros Baratheon. Borros’ father had sworn his allegiance to Rhaenyra when she was named the heir to the Iron Throne by Viserys Targaryen. Now, it is a matter of debate whether the tone of Rhaenyra’s message could be perceived as being authoritative or not. She wanted to remind the lords of the oath they had taken, but she also didn’t fail to mention the cost they would have to incur in case they broke it. It could also be said that maybe Rhaenyra had taken Lord Borros and his House Baratheon for granted. She had presumed that they would choose her over Aegon II Targaryen. That is why she sent Lucerys, because she knew that Borros didn’t need any convincing. She misjudged the situation, and Otto Hightower played it to his advantage. Otto knew that Boremund Baratheon shared a close bond with Rhaenys Velaryon. He also knew that there was a possibility that Borros might side with Rhaenyra. So, he sent Aemond with an offer of a matrimonial alliance. Borros, feeling overwhelmed by the offer, gave Aemond special treatment and asked him to choose any one of his four girls.
As soon as Lucerys arrived, he saw a colossal shadow behind the tower of Storm’s End. He skipped a breath when he caught a glimpse of the devilish creature. He knew instantly that the beast was Vhagar. Lucerys walked past the hallways and entered the round hall to find Aemond standing there. Borros asked the maester to read the message that Rhaenyra had sent. Borros felt disrespected when the maester told him that Rhaenyra wanted to remind him of his father’s oath. He asked Lucerys if in case he accepted his offer then would he marry one of his daughters? A naive Lucerys told him that he was already betrothed to his cousin. It is here that we felt that Rhaenyra needed somebody who had the power of persuasion. Clearly, Lucerys was outwitted by Aemond. He had no clue what to say or what to do. He was already nervous due to the presence of Aemond. To make matters worse, Aemond addressed him once again as Lord Strong and demanded that he wanted his eye. Aemond took out his eye patch, and for the first time, we witnessed the blue sapphire that served as a constant reminder of what he had been subjected to in his childhood. Aemond stopped because Borros asked him to, but he didn’t want to let go of his nephew so easily.
Aemond Targaryen chased the already petrified prince on his deadly dragon, Vhagar. After seeing the fierce and savage demeanor of Aemond, one believed that he would have been in complete control of his dragon. Even if it was a beast, the fact that someone or something could defy the commands of one-eyed Aemond was not perceivable. But Vhagar was feared for a reason. People said the beast was equivalent to two dragons. Aemond never intended to kill Lucerys (which we realized at the end of the episode). He just wanted to toy with him. He just wanted to intimidate him. He just wanted to give him the scare of his life. But they were called wild beasts for a reason. The illusion that dragons were under the control of the Targaryens was broken. We were reminded of what Viserys had once said to Rhaenyra. He had told the young princess that Dragons were forces that shouldn’t have been tampered with. Lucerys’ dragon, Arrax, was young, and he started panicking in the presence of the old beast. He apprehended the danger and spit fire on Vhagar. Lucerys got a feeling of trepidation. He tried very hard to escape his doom, but he couldn’t. Vhagar came and tore Arrax and Lucerys into pieces. At that moment, Aemond knew that he had committed a blunder. He knew that even if he tried to justify what had happened, people wouldn’t believe him. He knew that the blame would fall on him. For the first time, we saw fear on Aemond’s face. It reminded us of that timid boy who had once tried to enter the dragon pit, trying to claim a dragon but had come out when he heard the roar. Aemond might have been a savage, but he was always bound by duty. He knew that it was not his war to start. He knew that it was not the correct time to take his revenge. He was well aware that his mistake had the potential to reduce King’s Landing to ashes. But it was too late now. The damage had already been done, and there was no going back. Aemond knew that he had sealed his fate.
According to the book, “Fire and Blood,” Aemond wanted to hurt Lucerys intentionally (though it couldn’t be corroborated if he intended to actually kill him). If the accounts of Mushroom are to be believed, then Aemond found the corpse of the young prince, that had been washed up in the wild waters, and then removed both his eyes. “House of the Dragon” tweaks the narrative, adding more layers to Aemond’s personality and abstaining from making him look completely evil.
If Vhagar wouldn’t have killed Lucerys, maybe Rhaenyra would have been able to avoid the war. She wanted to uphold the promise she had made to her father. She wanted to solve the matter without spilling blood. But it seemed like fate had decided otherwise. This was the moment that turned the tide and made Rhaenyra change her mind. A mother had lost her child and her grief was incomparable. The wrath that was seen in her eyes had the potential of burning down everything that came her way. Rhaenyra had decided that she was going to make the Greens repent for their action. She was finally ready to wage a war against them.