The third episode of Game of Thrones‘ final season, The Long Night, finally brought the climactic clash we’ve been waiting for since the opening moments of the show’s very first episode. The Night King’s army of the dead breached the Wall, and the forces of the living, led by Daenerys, Jon Snow, and Dany’s two dragons, laid down everything to try to stop them once and for all during the Battle of Winterfell.
It was a pitched battle that had lots of casualties–check out our full rundown of everyone who didn’t make it through, and our review for our take on whether The Long Night succeeded in its aims of resolving the conflict with the Night King. But after the dust had settled, there were still a few lingering questions. Ghost, Jon Snow’s direwolf, disappeared in the first charge, leaving everyone online asking what happened to him (here’s the answer). And then there was Rhaegal, the dragon ridden by Jon, who fell halfway through the battle and was never seen again. So what happened to him?
Despite it looking pretty harrowing for Rhaegal in the middle of the battle, we know for sure he survived the Battle of Winterfell. That’s because he appears, albeit very briefly, in HBO’s teaser for Episode 4.
Rhaegal and Drogon, the dragon Daenerys rides, were a powerful force in the battle until a snowstorm wrecked all visibility, and the dragons struggled to help out the fighters on the ground. When the Night King showed up riding the undead Viserion, things got even more hectic.
Viserion and Rhaegal literally slammed into each other in the snowstorm, with the wight dragon trying to cook Rhaegal’s rider as they slashed away at each other. The Night King took the opportunity to try to spear Rhaegal and take him down for good, just as he did with Viserion during the Season 7 episode Beyond the Wall. But Rhaegal eventually won the fight, tearing off a piece of Viserion’s face, and both the Night King and the wight dragon fell to Earth. But Rhaegal’s injuries were pretty severe, and he went plummeting to the ground, too–he crashed, throwing Jon from his back, and that was the last we saw of the dragon.
So the question that remains now is what condition Rhaegal will be in going forward. Like Daenerys’s other forces, Rhaegal took a beating during the battle with the Night King, with Viserion raking a huge gash in his chest. It’s also looks like he has tears in his wings in the teaser (although it’s tough to tell the dragons apart at any distance). It’s very likely he won’t be back to 100% for some time, and that could call into question his role in the coming battle for the Iron Throne at King’s Landing.
Daenerys has already lost a lot of her military might leading up to her final push to take down Cersei Lannister, and the dragons have always been her ace in the hole. We’ve seen her get a lot done with just one dragon, but a weakened Rhaegal (and possibly Drogon) will definitely be a setback.