Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for Episode 5 of Dragon House on HBO.
The first season of Dragon House is officially halfway there, and the fifth episode proved that big weddings go wrong in Westeros even more than a century before the red wedding and the purple wedding of game of thrones. The royal wedding between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Valaryon has already been revealed in the trailer, but even viewers familiar with the lore of the books couldn’t have guessed how badly the first party in honor of the upcoming nuptials would go. And that was just one of the key events of the hour!
So, as we look to the second half of Season 1 and Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke reprising the roles of Rhaenyra and Alicent from Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, let’s dig into some highlights from the fifth episode.
Rhaenyra and Alicent are ready to play the game
Although still played by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey in this episode, Rhaenyra and Alicent are barely recognizable as teenagers from the series premiere. Rhaenyra clearly learned a lot from her interactions with Daemon last week, as she approached her engagement and marriage to Laenor as a political arrangement that wouldn’t stop her from doing whatever she wanted. She sees herself becoming “the crown” and was quick to dismiss Ser Criston’s idea of running away and running away.
From Alicent, she learned that Rhaenyra had indeed had sex last week, but not with Daemon, as she had thought. After a tip from Larys Strong, a guilt-ridden confession from Ser Criston, and instructions from his father (who lost his place as Main to Rhaenyra) to groom Aegon to rule, Alicent has seemingly reached his limit as a obedient wife of rot. and much older king.
She attended the wedding feast in the greenery of Hightower House, interrupted Viserys’ speech, and coldly addressed Rhaenyra, calling her “daughter-in-law.” She has the allegiance of her Hightower parents and seems assured of outliving her husband, and Rhaenyra might regret seducing Ser Criston and misleading Alicent. (Although Rhaenyra technically wasn’t lying when she denied having slept with Daemon.)
Daemon’s wife is dead
In perhaps the least surprising twist of the episode after the previous one ended, Lady Rhea Royce died in the valley almost immediately reunited with her husband. She clearly didn’t love Daemon any more than he loved her, and even revealed that the marriage was never consummated. She connected the dots that he – wearing a balaclava and obviously not diving into his bright red dragon – wasn’t exactly in the valley because he wanted to carry out his marital duties, and she was thrown off his horse soon after. and his neck. was broken.
To me, it actually looked like the horse threw her off because she suddenly grabbed her bow and startled her, so the neck snap might not have been her fault. Making sure she was dead was definitely her fault, as we later learned that her skull had been shattered as well as her neck broken. Daemon is a free man, but some at least suspect he played a part in his death, and he failed to marry Rhaenyra. Rhea Royce is dead and Daemon is free to remarry. He certainly wasted no time flirting with Laena Valaryon and trying to ruin Rhaenyra and Laenor’s marriage!
Rhaenyra and Laenor have an arrangement
When Laenor was clearly much happier training with her lover, Ser Joffrey, than he was at the prospect of becoming king consort, the princess made it clear that she was aware of his preferences and that it was not going to be a problem for their marriage. . She said they could do their duty to the kingdom (and their families) and get married, then each pursue their pleasure wherever they please.
For him, that meant Ser Joffrey, and she apparently intended to keep Ser Criston very close even after his marriage. They were both perfectly happy playing their role as the happy couple about to get married before their wedding party turned bloody, and it seems the husband and wife having affairs won’t cause any problems between them after the time jump.
Ser Criston seems to be changing sides
While Ser Criston made a very bold and ill-advised grand move asking the princess to run away with him to Essos, where they could choose to marry instead of forcing her to marry. He broke down a bit about breaking his vows after she turned him down, and Alicent didn’t really have to torture him into confessing that he slept with Rhaenyra. He then beat Ser Joffrey to death when the knight implied he knew about Criston and the Princess, and was about to kill himself in the Godwood until Alice stopped him. If that’s not enough to shift his loyalty to Team Alicent/Team Hightower, I don’t know what is!
Daemon is Team Rhaenyra
After bringing his special brand of chaos to the Red Keep in Episode 4 (including a trip to the brothel), Daemon seemed to show his true feelings about his niece when he threw the first wedding feast for newly single man Rhaenyra to ask if marrying Laenor was really what she wanted. While she even called him that her goal was to marry him himself, her first question was whether she wanted to do what her father was forcing her to do.
Are his motives 100% pure? Definitely not, but I’d say he’s firmly on Team Rhaenyra as the lines start to be drawn. He seemed like the only person invested in his happiness and said nothing about the Iron Throne. Is he a good decision maker? Not really, but it sure is entertaining!
House Strong is split
It looks like Rhenyra, Viserys, and Alicent all have House Strong’s backing…but not everything of House Strong. Patriarch Lyonel was arguably the only Viserys council member to consistently give him sound advice, and made sense as the new hand to replace Otto Hightower. Eldest son Harwin has ties to Rheanyra, as he seemed more amused than anything to find out about her out on the town with his uncle last weekand they danced at the wedding feast before Daemon intervened. He even came to her rescue (at her father’s request) when the violence started.
Younger son Larys is responsible for informing Alicent that Rhaenyra has had sex with someone and appears to support her. With Lyonel on Team Viserys, Harwin on Team Rhaenyra and Larys on Team Alicent, it looks like something is going to have to give.
Rhaenyra and Laenor are married
Rhaenyra and Laenor got married after 1) Viserys reiterated to Corlys and Rhaenys that his daughter is his heir, 2) he confirmed that their firstborn (regardless of gender) will be his heir and will bear the name Velaryon until until he took the throne, 3) the engaged couple made their arrangement, and 4) their beautiful wedding party turned bloody and Laenor’s lover was killed.
Instead of a week of tournaments and celebrations before the official ceremony, they married with only their parents and Alicent as witnesses in the ransacked throne room, with Laenor still bleeding from her wounds during the mob. The marriage – made in the Faith of the Seven – ended with Viserys’ collapse. So while the groom didn’t die like Joffrey at his wedding and half the guests weren’t murdered like the Red Wedding, it wasn’t a happy event.
Milly Alcock and Emily Carey were fantastic
Based on the trailer for the next episode, this was the last with Milly Alcock and Emily Carey playing Rhaenyra and Alicent. The two actresses have been tasked with introducing key new characters to audiences that are brand new or perhaps still bitter about the ending of game of thrones. Their characters grew from pretty carefree teenagers to where we left them at the end of Episode 5, after going through quite a bit.
The actresses were great in their roles, and while Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke seem like great picking up where Alcock and Carey left off, the two young stars will no doubt be missed early on. The redesign was inevitable given how quickly Dragon House is crossing the relevant Fire & Blood source material and the major time jump on the way.
Bonus key points to remember:
- Can we all agree that Viserys shouldn’t have told Daemon to go back to the woman he hates, after refusing to let him marry Rhaenyra as he wanted because of said woman? He practically told Daemon to kill Rhea!
- Daemon may not be the King of the Seven Kingdoms, but he sure is the King of Dramatic Entrances.
- Rhaenyra and Laenor haven’t discussed the question of the heirs their two fathers expect (and Rhaenyra needs), which is bound to arise.
- Rhea Royce seemed pretty awesome, which suggests Daemon was the problem in this marriage.
- Maesters may not all have good judgment and/or the best interests of Viserys at heart. He’s not much better, and the Grand Maester in particular doesn’t seem willing to try anything new.
- It says something about Viserys that he didn’t kick Daemon out after crashing the wedding feast and heading to the head table.
- Between Rhea’s comment about not consummating their marriage and the fact that Daemon “couldn’t finish” killing her, is this another clue to her ability to…perform?
See what happens after the time jump with the next new episode of Dragon House Sunday, September 25 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO or stream with an HBO Max subscription. You can also review the complete series of game of thrones through the streaming service, and find upcoming viewing options set outside of Westeros with our 2022 TV premiere schedule.