After a tough break for Daemon Taragaryen (Matt Smith), the chess board seems to have been thrown to the ground. This week on House of the Dragon, we are in full catchup mode. Six months have passed since the death of Queen Aemma and Baby Baelon. Before we catch up with the latest gossip in King’s Landing, we’re treated to a new Game of Thrones intro, this one featuring lots and lots of CGI blood. While the literal fire and blood sequence calls back to George R.R. Martin‘s history of Westeros book, it feels disorienting. Perhaps it will take some getting used to, but the intro certainly did not feel as interesting or helpful as the last intro. With time, we’ll get over ourselves, and the Taragaryen sigil remains a gorgeous image.
“The Rogue Prince” features one of the grossest intros to any episode of television in recent memory. We scour a beach covered by crabs, where The “Crab Feeder” tortures the sailors of Westeros. The disgusting sequences transitions back to the Red Keep, where Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen finds herself serving the Small Council wine. While Corlys continues to harp on the importance of taking out the Crab Feeder and conquering the Step Stones. Many grow uneasy at the thought. When Rhaenyra jumps in with her own suggestion, to let the dragon riders handle it, her father chastises her. Simultaneously, we come to learn that Daemon has taken over Dragonstone, the long-standing home of the Targaryens.
In an attempt to distract her, the King pushes Rhaenyra to help choose the passed Ser Ryam’s replacement on the Kingsguard. She chooses Ser Criston, despite the objections of Otto Hightower. Her shrewd choice helps provide more protection for her father (just in case Otto was thinking of pulling something), and breaks his stranglehold on choosing those who will surround the king. The new leader of the Kingsguard, Ser Harrold Weesterling, takes control of the famed guard.
King Viserys meets with Alicent Hightower in secret. They speak about his model of Valeryia, and he breaks one of the dragon figures. This allows Alicent to grow even closer to the King, and allows her to continue courting Rhaenyra as a friend. The two share a sweet moment remembering their mothers in the Sept. For a moment, the two teenage girls seem bonded for life.
Corlys, still demanding justice for his people and his family, proposes a new wedding engagement for King Viserys. At first, Viserys is shocked, but it becomes even worse when he realizes Lady Laena Velaryon is only 12 years old. His advisors, including the arch maester, look at marrying a family of Old Valeryia as a welcome choice.
During a “cleaning” session for the cut, he received on his hand during the banishment of Daemon Taragaryen. The wound shows tremendous displays of infection. While being treated, Viserys pitches Otto and the Grand Maester about the importance of his choice. The Grand Maester believes that Daemon should marry his cousin, while others (Otto) proclaim alternatives for the “good of the realm.”
Viserys has dinner with Rhaenyra, meets with Laena, and finds time to play with his model of Valeryia. Alicent continues to hide her burgeoning relationship. Alicent gives Viserys a replacement piece for the one that he broke episodes ago. While Viserys and Laena walk around the grounds that make up the Red Keep, Rhaenyra and Rhaenys have a heart-to-heart. As one might expect from Rhaenys, she does not have the faith in the lords and powerful families to embrace a woman as queen. Rhaenys goes on to note, “Men would rather put the realm to the torch than see a woman inherit the Iron Throne.” Considering Daenerys Targaryen had to literally melt the realm, this logically makes some sense.
They are all called back to the Small Council chambers. It turns out that Daemon Taragaryen found a new mistress, who is pregnant with a child. To mark the occasion, Daemon stole an egg from the Dragon arena. The egg is the same one meant for Baelon, which was chosen by Rhaenyra. Viserys originally offers to go himself, but the other members of council advise against it. Otto and several well-equipped members of the King’s Guard travel to recover the egg.
Daemon meets the convoy with his dragon Caraxes, his mistress Mysaria, and the egg. Similar standoffs have ended in tragedy, with neither side admitting fault. Yet the arrival of Princess Rhaenyra on Syrax turned the odds. Now with each team having a dragon patrolling the other side, the discussion becomes a tete-a-tete between Rhaenyra and Daemon. They acknowledge each other’s role in this story, and Rhaenyra even challenges Daemon to strike his blow. Eventually, Daemon returns to the egg. As this exchange occurs, Otto begins to fully realize how powerful and charismatic Princess Rhaenyra has become, despite her role in court.
When Rhaenyra returns to King’s Landing, she receives a strong verbal punishment from the man. Once again, Viserys takes ownership of his marital status but wants Rhaenyra to be okay with his choice to remarry. At the small council table, Viserys announces his upcoming nuptials to Alicent Hightower. This insult infuriates Corlys, begins to recruit Daemon to help him stop the pirates and Crab Feeder. We cut back to the Crab Feeder, doing what he does best.
Light the Funeral Pyres
- The sailors of Westeros, many of whom are now crab meat
- Ser Ryam – we hardly knew ye (seriously, he had a non-speaking role in “The Heirs of the Dragon”)
- The friendship between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower. They may interact in the future, but that bond seems dead in the water.
Things to Look Forward To
- A new prince is coming! Aegon II will be born during the next episode, which will upset the lines of succession. Princess Rhaenys already laid the seeds of doubt for Princess Rhaenyra, but given how weak King Viserys appears, this may create bigger issues much sooner than anticipated.
- A Daemon Taragaryen redemption story. Most specifically, a battle episode. Fingers crossed for Saponchnik. Even if it’s not under his direction, his fingerprints are all over the show, and delivering a large-scale conflict so soon could mean some pretenders disappear from the field.
- King Viserys versus the realm. While we warned last week that Viserys has acted out of spite and personal malice before, the choice to choose Alicent will reverberate. Only a single member of the Small Council advised him to make this choice. The rest of the council favored another suitor.
Last week, he overturned the precedent set by the Lords to keep his direct line in power. If even being on the small council means you will be overruled, how can Viserys inspire loyalty? Audiences will side with Viserys due to the age of Laena Velaryon (12), but in the context of Westerosi history, this was not as absurd. Good move for the modern world, terrible move for this fantasy one.
- As Cersei Lannister once quipped, “Power is Power.” King Viserys reminded Lord Corlys of this as a swift retort to his outrage. Yet sometimes its good to remember who keeps you in power. Especially when losing an ally will leave your entire reign at risk. Corlys seems to know how much power he wields because turning to a potential rival to Viserys could sow a rebellion.
- “He didn’t Choose me. He spurned Daemon” line from Rhaenyra proves she is fit for the game in ways her father is not. She has the knowledge and wit to read the room, even when others have let whispers poison their thoughts.
- “You are my only heir. You could have been killed.” – the moment that King Viserys gave away the bag. As if Rhaenyra did not already suspect her father’s intentions, he made them crystal clear now. He only cares about his bloodline continuing. Nothing else.
- “When I am Queen, I will create a new order.” If only we had heard this one from a silver-haired, dragon-riding lady in Westeros. Hopefully, history is kinder to this speaker.
- Daemon was poking the bear with his “wedding announcement.” In previous meetings, Otto Hightower referred to Daemon as “a new King Maegor.” Daemon’s relative not only rode dragons but also had two wives (as his father Aegon did before him). This would be quite the insult, as Maegor became known for his cruel methods. As we learned on episode 1, Daemon had the penchant for listening in on small councils he “was not present for.” He May have purposely kicked the hornets nest because he knew this possibility scared the council.
- We hear word that Vhager appears to still be alive. Originally, Queen Visenya’s dragon, Vhager, survives almost 100 years after the Conquest.
Alan’s Favorite Quick Character Power Rankings
Great week for my guys, who stay near the top. However, the actual winner of the week is a different story (Otto Highgarden). That said, these are not winners. This is simply a ranking of my favorites, and these five are just killing it.
- Lord Corlys Velaryon – Seriously, just throwing fireballs. He not only struck a secret alliance with the spurned Daemon Targaryen, but he knows where he stands in the eyes of King Viserys. He will not have the wool pulled over his eyes again, and path forward will provide him some unique opportunities.
- Rhaenyra Targaryen – The way she whooped on Daemon, my god. She’s not number one because of the end of the episode, where events that will supplant her claim to the throne have been introduced.
- Daemon Targaryen – lost a spot because someone else shot up. Daemon’s choice to steal an egg is cool, just wish we had seen the egg-heist.
- Ser Harrold Weesterling – Promoted, travelling the world, helping pick out the King’s Guard? He’s moving on up.
- “The Crab Feeder” – move over True Detective, we’ve got a new disturbing masked individual claiming the title of the creepiest closing scene of an HBO show. The Yellow King had a good run, but here’s hoping “The Crab Feeder” gets up to some Leatherface-inspired shenanigans soon.