Warning! SPOILERS ahead for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 and episode 4 trailer.
Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 “The Long Night” sees Jon and Daenerys engage the Night King in battle while all three are riding their dragons - but what happens to Jon's dragon, Rhaegal? It was already known that the third episode of the HBO’s series' final season would feature a massive battle, but episode 3 surpasses expectations, depicting a battle on a scale never before seen on television.
By being the final season of Game of Thrones, season 8 was always going to include some of the show's most shocking moments. Already this season, Game of Thrones has surprised viewers, but "The Long Night" is where those surprises turn into horror. Now that the Night King is attacking Winterfell, nobody is safe. That includes the two living dragons - Drogon and Rhaegal. They're essential to the plan for defeating the Night King, but taking part in that fight also puts them in danger of joining their brother, Viserion, in his undead service.
In Game of Thrones season 8 “The Long Night”, Daenerys rides Drogon in battle while Jon is atop Rhaegal, and when they spot the Night King riding Viserion, the undead ice dragon, they attack. The dragons tear into one another as the Night King has Viserion try to pull Jon off Rhaegal's back. Daenerys and Drogon beat him away, knocking the Night King off of Viserion and plummeting to the ground. Viserion then flies off, but Rhaegal has been badly injured in the fight and crashes, sending Jon falling off his back. And though it appears like Rhaegal could have died from those injuries (he doesn't appear again in the episode), the preview for next week's Game of Thrones confirms that Jon's dragon does survive. A distinctly green dragon flies across the screen above one of Daenerys' ships at the :19 second mark, while Sansa watches two dragons flying above Winterfell at :22 in the trailer.
It was during the previous Game of Thrones episode, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" that Jon rides a dragon for the first time, climbing on to Rhaegal's back and flying north of The Wall with Daenerys and Drogon. The episode mostly plays the scene for laughs (with Jon almost falling off Rhaegal), using it to further the Jon and Daenerys romance rather than having it play a part in the big revelation that Jon is a Targaryen, but it's an important moment nonetheless. And of course, with Jon have ridden Rhaegal once, it became pretty obvious that Jon would ride Rhaegal in to battle alongside Daenerys and Drogon in the Great War.
In the end, however, Drogon and Rhaegal are not the difference makers that many thought they would be. Drogon is almost killed by a swarm of wights and his dragonfire has absolutely no effect on the Night King. In fact, the dragon who is most effective during "The Long Night" is Viserion, sidelining Rhaegal early on and laying waste to Winterfell's walls with his blue flames. Had the Night King not been killed when he is, you best believe Viserion would have roasted Jon alive, too. But when the Night King dies, all those he has resurrected and made fight for him also fall down dead - including Viserion.
With the battle against the Night King and his army of the dead now over, those who survive "The Long Night" will turn their attention south. Game of Thrones is now just midway though its final season and there are still two dragons left alive. Both Drogon and Rhaegal will certainly need a little time to recuperate, but the dragons are sure to have big parts to play in the coming war against Cersei. Whether or not they survive that battle, though, only time will tell.
Game of Thrones season 8 continues Sunday, May 5 at 9:00pm on HBO.