House of the Dragon sent Game of Thrones fandom into a tizzy after making a reference to an infamous mystery from the series and A Song of Ice and Fire books in this weekend's episode. The mystery is commonly referred to online as "Lemongate," and it is a point of contention among fan theorists. While House of the Dragon may not have provided an answer, many fans seem confident that it at least acknowledged the existence of "Lemongate" in Season 1, Episode 5, "We Light the Way."
Summarizing "Lemongate" succinctly will be a disappointment to forum users all over the internet, so if you're interested be sure to seek out more information elsewhere. To put it simply, it refers to the observation that lemon trees should not be able to grow in the climate of Braavos. However, in the first book in George R.R. Martin's series, A Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen looks back on her earliest childhood memories, which include a house with a red door and a lemon tree outside of her window. Dany believed this house was in Braavos, so the presence of a lemon tree there has spawned all kinds of fan theories.
larys strong was referring to lemongate— glidus (@NotGlidus) September 20, 2022
In the last two decades, "Lemongate" has spawned some of the most compelling and some of the most outlandish fan theories in the entire ASoIaF fandom. Some fans have extrapolated that Dany was lied to about being in Braavos, others believe she simply misremembers her earliest years. Following the rabbit hole, you will find theories that Daenerys is actually the secret child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, or that she is the daughter of Ashara Dayne and was raised in Dorne.
Of course, many fans adhere to some variation of the simpler explanations – first, Martin may have made mistakes and written inconsistencies into his books, especially in the earliest stages. Second, the defining characteristic of this fictional world is its magically-altered climate. This may simply be a function of the extended seasons that we don't understand yet.
Still, fans are often dying for Martin or someone else with insight into the books' creation to comment on Lemongate, and they may have gotten it at last on Sunday. A scene between Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) and Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) seemed to feature some heavy-handed references to this mystery for those that were watching. It starts at around 11 minutes, 42 seconds on HBO Max, and it is set in the Godswood of King's Landing.
"An outsider among the natives," Larys muses to start the conversation. He is outwardly referring to a flowering plant called Malvales, but seems to be speaking about Alicent herself in code as well. He says that Malvales are "indigenous to Braavos," and that it "by all rights, shouldn't be thriving" in King's Landing. He may also be alluding to the fact that Alicent found a unique place in the royal court and is "thriving" against all odds.
The reference to a rare plant from Braavos surviving outside of its climate undoubtedly caused some hardcore fans to perk up their ears, and if they took a closer look at this scene they were rewarded. A painted wall behind Larys clearly shows two lemon trees with fruit on their branches. Many took to social media, believing that if nothing else, the show's producers were at least making a reference to Lemongate for their benefit.
Whether you can draw any conclusions from that reference is a different question entirely. Martin has said that his final two books will have a different ending from the Game of Thrones TV show, but it's hard to imagine that it will be so different that Dany has secret parents. On the other hand, some fans think that the more different the books' ending is from the show, the better.
Martin continues his work on the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter, and promises its release soon. He has not commented on theories like "Lemongate" in quite some time. For now, House of the Dragon airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.