Is House of Dragon’s new character telling the truth about his lineage?

The most recent episode of House of the Dragon, HBO’s hit prequel to Game of Thrones, threw a wrench in the works. So far, the show’s second season has focused on the divided house of Targaryen lurching towards a bloody civil war. The Blacks, led by Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy and Matt Smith), believe Rhaenyra is the rightful queen of Westeros. However it is their rivals the Greens, led by Alicent Hightower and her son Aegon II Targaryen (Olivia Cooke and Tom Glynn-Carney), who rule from the coveted Iron Throne.

Warning – Spoilers for ‘House of the Dragon’, season two episode three ahead

Amid all this internecine squabbling, a new character has entered the fray: Ulf the White. “Lads, I’ve had quite a day of it,” says the mysterious stranger (played by PhoneShop actor Tom Bennett) when we first hear from him at Sylvi’s tavern and brothel, one of King’s Landing’s less salubrious drinking establishments. “Not sure I’m much for talking, but you know, a wet whistle does wonders...” As it turns out, once he has some drink inside him, Ulf has quite the story to tell.

After learning that his drinking companion is from Dorne, it doesn’t take long for Ulf to start bragging about his alleged heritage. He notes that while “my house” never conquered Dorne, even the Dornish people mourned the passing of his grandfather, who he claims is King Jaehaerys. Ulf goes on: “I really shouldn’t be telling you this, it could cost me my head. I’m the son of Baelon the Brave, bastard brother to Prince Daemon and the late Viserys. Uncle to the one true queen, Rhaenyra Targaryen. The blood of the dragon runs through these veins and yes, men would take my head for it. A Dragonseed must watch his own neck, when he has no white cloaked guards to do it for him.”

This outlandish claim is treated with some skepticism by his fellow drinkers, who point out that he doesn’t exactly resemble his supposed brothers Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Daemon (Matt Smith) and joke that he doesn’t have the Targaryen’s signature silver hair. “Yeah, ’cause I’m their half-brother, you f***wit,” Ulf shoots back. “Yeah, I’ll tell you who else doesn’t have silver hair. The rightful heir to the Iron Throne, my nephew, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon.”

Tom Bennett as the mysterious Ulf the White in season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ (HBO)
Tom Bennett as the mysterious Ulf the White in season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ (HBO)

At that point, the drinkers are interrupted by the arrival of King Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) who would be, as one fellow drinker points out, Ulf’s “other nephew.” Naturally enough, Ulf quickly shuts his traitorous mouth, and joins the other patrons in barking: “All hail the King!”

That’s all we’ve yet heard from Ulf, but it’s surely not the last we’ve seen of him. On social media, fans have been split over whether or not Ulf is telling the truth about his relationship to Baelon the Brave, who – in the George RR Martin novels on which the series is based – is portrayed as a loving and loyal husband who would never have fathered bastard children, even after the tragic death of his wife Alyssa Targaryen.

However, if Ulf’s claims are to be taken at face value then he could well be a significant figure in the coming civil war. Understanding just how important he is requires a quick recap of the convoluted Targaryen family tree.

The Targaryen family tree explained, from Rhaenyra to Aegon the Conqueror

Baelon Targaryen, better known as Baelon the Brave, never appeared onscreen in House of the Dragon, but it was his death that set the whole series in motion. In the opening scene of the show’s very first episode, the Great Council of 101 AC has been called to debate who should succeed King Jaehaerys Targaryen, known as the Old King (Michael Carter).

This debate was necessary because two of the Old King’s sons (Aemon and Baelon) had died. (A third, Prince Vaegon, was a maester of the Citadel and refused the throne.) Some felt that the throne should follow the rule of primogeniture, meaning it should go to the eldest born, which would put Aemon’s daughter Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) on the throne. Instead, the crown passed over her and went to the next male in line, Baelon’s son Viserys (Considine).

Ulf, it seems, wants to see Rhaenyra, his alleged niece, installed as the “one true queen.” Whether or not he can help sway the outcome of the coming war in her favor may well also answer the question of whether he’s telling the truth about his lineage: Can he ride a dragon? If he’s truly a Targaryen, he’ll have no problem mounting one. If it’s all just pub chat that’s gotten out of hand, well, he’ll be barbequed to a crisp. Only one way to find out.

House of the Dragon continues on HBO in the US on Sundays and on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK on Mondays.