Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Episode 4 of HBO's House of the Dragon.
In Episode 4 of House of the Dragon, a major George R.R. Martin character is finally mentioned: the White Worm. In the world of Essos and Westeros, the White Worm ends up playing a major role as the Dance of the Dragons ensues. The first reference to her in House of the Dragon happens to be by Otto Hightower, the shady hand to King Viserys.
Otto clearly has his own motives of power, and it seems like the White Worm is there to aid him … or that the White Worm has her own motives. So who is she, and what role does she play in the wider House of the Dragon canon?
We actually met the White Worm earlier in ‘House of the Dragon.’
Although Episode 4 is the first mention of the White Worm by her new nickname, we actually met her in the beginning of the spinoff series. Yes, the White Worm is actually Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), also known as Daemon Targaryen’s paramour. Mysaria has a key role in Episode 2 when Daemon steals a dragon egg from King’s Landing for his “unborn son.” We later learn in the episode that Daemon hadn’t told Mysaria about his intentions to marry her, nor was she with child.
By Episode 4, Daemon returns to King’s Landing after defeating the Crab Feeder and conquering the Stepstones. It becomes clear that Daemon and Mysaria’s relationship is over, which shouldn’t be too shocking, considering the fact that Mysaria wasn’t afraid to speak up for herself when Daemon tried to use her for his own political gain.
In Fire & Blood (the source material for House of the Dragon), Mysaria is also known as Lady Misery. While it seems that she’s first out to get revenge on her former lover, by the Dance of the Dragons, Misery the White Worm becomes both Daemon and Rhaenyra’s mistress of whisperers. This means that Mysaria was the main vessel through which knowledge, secrets, and gossip flowed on its way to Rhaenyra.
In the book, Mysaria is called the White Worm because of her milky white skin and worm-like agenda of spreading gossip; but in the series, she's just always wearing white! We love a good obvious nod to her secret alter ego.
In Episode 4 of ‘House of the Dragon,’ the White Worm works for Otto Hightower.
While the White Worm eventually works for Rhaenyra in the Dance of the Dragons (the Targaryen civil war), she first works against Rhaenyra as Otto Hightower’s informant. Basically, after Rhaenyra and Daemon’s tryst in the brothel — yes, that’s some of the Targaryen incest we’ve been promised — we see a street urchin report their presence to someone.
Then, Otto is sent to the Red Keep gate, where “a messenger brings word from the White Worm." And we can put the pieces together when the urchin shows up at Mysaria’s bedchambers (where Daemon wakes up hungover and rudely speaks to Mysaria), and the urchin hands Mysaria payment. What for? Not for bedding, but for the knowledge she so graciously sent to Otto.
Basically, the urchin reports what he saw to Mysaria, who then asks him to bring that knowledge to Otto. Whether this is for revenge against Daemon or to support another heir’s claim to the throne is unclear at this point. What is clear, however, is that Mysaria/White Worm’s underground network of spies will give her much more power than we initially anticipated.
New episodes of House of the Dragon air every Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on HBO, and can be streamed on HBO Max.