It all started with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it exchange from the Game of Thrones prequel's sixth episode, "The Princess and the Queen," in which viewers spotted a seemingly affectionate exchange between Daemon (Matt Smith) and a male servant during a seated dinner with his pregnant wife, Laena (Nanna Blondell), at their Pentos residence.
Fans took notice of a loaded glance between the characters and set out to investigate, with Twitter user @outofcontexthouseofthedragon uncovering a telling, but still subtle, HBO press image from a deleted scene. In the shot, Daemon and the servant appear in the background, in soft focus, engaged in what looks like a kiss or embrace while Laena approaches them -- seemingly suggesting that Daemon may be bisexual.
House of the Dragon is set approximately 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and chronicles the Targaryen family history. The story is adapted from George R.R. Martin’s book, Fire & Blood.
Fans of the book were quick to note on Twitter that Daemon is never said to be bisexual in Martin's telling, but that Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy), in fact, is. Some criticized the fact that Rhaenyra's bisexuality has not been depicted and that an incestuous love triangle storyline from the book -- between Daemon, Rhaenyra and Laena -- was omitted from the show.
She was in a poly relationship with both Daemon and Laena. There was also a rumor that she had a thing with Mysaria. But Daemon never had flings with men in the books
Still, House of the Dragon was accused of "queerbaiting" with its depiction of the teen friendship between Rhaenyra (then played by Milly Alcock) and Alicent (Emily Carey) in the first episodes of the series.
"I mean, we kind of started that discourse," Carey recently told Variety, addressing whether the actresses chose to play their characters' interactions with romantic undertones. "We were in the rehearsal room…I believe it’s episode 4. I sat on the bench. It’s not necessarily something we had talked about yet. We were doing that scene, and Milly and I looked at each other like, ‘It kind of felt like we were about to kiss? That was really weird!’ And so we talked about it."
Carey continued, "We didn’t intend to play it. We weren’t 'making them gay' or 'queerbaiting,' or anything like that. It’s just, if you want to read into it and see it like that, do it. If you want to see them as more than friends, do it. If you don’t, then don’t."
"Being a queer woman myself, it was something that I was conscious of. But I wasn’t consciously putting it out there," Carey added. "They’re 14-year-old girls, they don’t know the difference between platonic and romantic. They don’t even know what the words mean, let alone what the feelings mean."
Of course, Rhaenyra and Alicent's relationship quickly sours as we see the two at odds in future episodes. In a recent interview with ET, D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke -- who plays the grown version of Alicent -- open up about their adult characters and what to expect.
“Ultimately, they were each other’s first love, and I think that heartbreak has never really had the chance to heal,” Cooke told ET, referring to the deep bond Rhaenyra and Alicent had as kids.