House of the Dragon S1.05 — Basically Game of Thrones
Spoilers below for House of the Dragon S1.05 — We Light the Day
Right now, I think my biggest problem with Dragon is that it is, as the title of this review suggests, basically Game of Thrones. The tropes are the same (troublemaker who loves brothels, not able bodied person who loves to observe, rebellious blondes, gay men who have to hide their sexuality and true loves, etc). Throw in murderous weddings and you really hit the jackpot of basically watching Thrones again.
And that’s just what tonight’s episode did. To start at the beginning: famed horse rider and huntress Rhea Royce of the Vale declines her cousin’s invitation for company on her ride and then almost immediately regrets that decision when met with her hooded husband. Daemon spooks her horse, who then falls on Rhea and paralyzes her. She eggs him on to finish the job, which he gleefully does by bashing her head in with a rock. Daemon is now officially on the market and, as we’ll see later in the episode, exclusively looking to marry a relative.
Daemon’s continued moves towards the throne make sense when you consider how badly the king has been feeling. His flesh-eating virus is still eating his flesh and now he is also coughing up blood, fainting in public, and crying out in pain during a handshake. His failing health doesn’t stop him from going out to Driftmark and begging Lord Corlys to agree to the marriage between his son Laenor and Rhaenyra. Corlys does, as long as the kids take the Valaryon name until they ascend to the throne, when they will go by Targaryen.
While these negotiations are going on in the throne room, Laenor and Rhaenyra are walking along the coast and making some negotiations of their own. Turns out Laenor is gay and we know Rhaenyra’s heart isn’t in this marriage anyway, so they decide to do their duties to the realm (aka have a baby) and then continue to “dine as they please” otherwise.
Hands are shaken across all parties (figuratively — literally, Viserys can’t stand to have his hand shaken and Rhaenyra prefers knowing smiles) and the Targaryens get back on their ship. In the early morning on their return voyage, Ser Cristen Cole approaches Rhaenyra and proposes that they run away together to live normal and anonymous lives in Essos. She denies him, obviously, because complain as she might, all she wants is to be queen. Plus, she wants to have her cake and eat it too, but Cristen is disgusted by the idea that he would “be her whore” and that he sullied his oath and his white cloak.
Meanwhile back at the ranch (aka King’s Landing), Alicent watches her father leave in the pouring rain. Before he goes, he tells her that she betrayed him by believing Rhaenyra over him. He reminds her that in order for Rhaenyra to lay claim to her stake without an uprising, she will need to kill Alicent’s kids. Then, Lord Larys who walks with a cane and is the son of the new Hand (the one who I think looks like Samwell Tarly), says he observed the Grand Maester bringing the special Plan B tea to Rhaenyra on the night that Daemon returned.
This sows seeds of doubt and distrust in Alicent’s mind, so when the ship returns and the king collapses, she takes the time to call Cristen into her chambers. She mentions that there are rumors circulating about Rhaenyra but doesn’t fully expound on them and Cristen blurts out that they banged. This wasn’t what Alicent was thinking he’d say, but now that she knows this, she knows Rhaenyra was lying to her and man, she’s pissed.
The next scene is the start of the wedding celebrations for Laenor and Rhaenyra. Time is weird on this show, but I guess they are getting ready to age the characters up so they’re trying to rush a bit. After a an old school misogynistic comment from Jason Lannister (“Men go to battle because women would take too long getting ready”), the welcome feast is getting ready to commence. Daemon arrives fashionably late, but gets a seat at the head table. Then, in the middle of the king’s welcome speech, Alicent walks in wearing emerald green, the color of the signal that calls Hightower bannermen to battle. She’s out for blood and she calls Rhaenyra “stepdaughter” which is just funny since they are the same age.
During the formal dancing, Joffrey, Laenor’s lover, explains to Laenor that he figured out Cristen Cole is Rhaenyra’s paramour. He goes over to Cristen and explains the predicament, attempting to enact mutually assured destruction if either of their secrets get out. Daemon and Laenor’s younger sister (the literal child that the King rejected — she’s all grown up now and very pretty) dance and chat and flirt before Daemon pulls Rhaenyra into the fray and they start speaking in Old Valyrian. He asks her if this is what she really wants and she is extremely horny for her uncle and tells him to take her back to Dragonstone and marry her before it’s too late.
Daemon grabs Rhaenyra’s neck and a fight breaks out. It’s not easy to tell what exactly started it, but Rhaenyra gets pushed, Laenor’s face gets smashed, and Ser Cristen Cole ends up beating Joffrey to a bloody pulp. Joffreys just do not survive weddings in Westeros, do they? When it finally stops and Laenor sees what happened to his love, he starts sobbing.
The party is over, Laenor is still bleeding and crying, but the families do an impromptu and extremely private wedding in the Great Hall, while a rat licks the blood left on the ground. The king collapses at the end of the wedding. Finally, in the Godswood, Ser Cristen Cole readies himself to die by his own sword when Alicent stops him.
It’s clear Alicent is going to use Cristen to ruin Rhaenyra’s stake so Aegon can be the heir. There didn’t seem to be a preview for next week, so maybe they will finally be aged up and they want to keep that from us for as long as possible. We shall see!
Originally published at http://lizziekreitman.wordpress.com on September 19, 2022.