This review contains spoilers for House of the Dragon, for last week’s review, click here.
Tradition is often something families want to carry on for generations. It is held in high regard to continue a bloodline. For the Targaryen family, it is how they’ve kept the Iron Throne for so long. Tradition can also create rebellion in a family, the younger generations begin to rebel against the system that has kept their family thriving. In the case of the Targaryen family, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) are very rebellious to their traditions, especially in the terms of marriage. The latest House of the Dragon episode is every bit of evidence that tradition can be both good and bad. There’s more to unpack as well, the King is dying, and Queen Alicent (Emily Carey) is looking for the truth about the Princess.
House of the Dragon starts with Prince Daemon causing chaos. In the last episode, where he asked to be wed to his niece, his brother told him to go be with his wife, so Daemon visits his wife. He’s been resentful of her since the show started. He takes it upon himself to finally get rid of what he considers to be his problem, Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford). He kills her by shoving her horse down and then murders her offscreen. Which opens him to inherit her land but also frees him to be available for Rheanyra. However, King Viserys (Patty Considine) has other plans for his daughter. He will wed her to her cousin Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate).
The King is getting sicker by the day and is trying to wed his daughter before he dies. When they arrive at the Driftmark, the King immediately begins the negotiations of his proposal. Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint) and King Viserys agree that while Rheanyra may take the Velaryon last name, their children will use the Targaryen last name when they take the throne. Rheanyra and Laenor also agree with their sexual behavior, as he is gay and she’s in like with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel).
You can tell that Ser Criston Cole is bothered by Rheanyra getting married. She tries to ease his mind but just makes him more anxious. He tries to get her to run away with him, but she’s insistent on doing her duties. This builds tension, leading to this episode of House of the Dragon’s ending. Queen Alicent is hellbent on finding out what happened with Princess Rheanyra the night she disappeared, and she gets Ser Criston Cole to tell her the truth. Afterward, she arrives at the wedding festivities late.
Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Sally Mcleod) puts two and two together and figures out who Rheanyra’s lover is. He goes to speak to Criston Cole and almost intimidates him. Things get tense as the wedding festivities go on and Prince Daemon arrives. They do their traditional Westerosi dance, and he enters the dance floor, causing Viserys to become worried after Daemon’s exchange with Ser Gerold Royce. A fight breaks out as Daemon joins his niece on the dance floor. Ser Criston Cole beats Joffrey to death, taking off a chunk of his face in the process. The next day, the Princess and Ser Laenor are wed, while Criston Cole tries to commit suicide. The King also finally seems like he may have met his fate as he passes out at the wedding.
Claire Kilner comes back to House of the Dragon to direct this episode, Much like King of the Narrow Sea, this episode is tense and thorough. Kilner brings a sort of tension to this unmatched show. Her direction continues to help build the show’s foundation. Charmaine De Grate is an amazing writer, she is very precise with the moments in the episode. Everything builds on top of everything, and she understands the show’s characters, The two women seem to work well together, and I applaud them for not showing Daemon murder Lady Rhea Royce. There are choices to make in shows, and while the Game of Thrones spin-off hasn’t exactly shown violence towards women as much as its predecessor did.
Alejandro Martinez’s cinematography is a bit crisp in this episode. There are a few great shots in this episode. The Dragons at the wedding were amazing, and the shots at Runestone of the land. Also, the entire ball before the wedding was shot very well. The editing from Crispin Green was another highlight of this episode. From the very beginning, when Daemon grabs the rock, it’s just sequence after sequence. These two elements seem to feed off of each other in this episode, as did the writing and directing.
This was by far one of the more tense episodes, simply because of all the politics around the wedding. Daemon also causes plenty of drama per usual. He’s easily become a fan favorite, deservedly so. People love chaotic characters on television, and he presents that. My only issue is that there aren’t many Dragons shown in the House of the Dragon so far. We can get passed that simply because the drama is living up to the hype. We’ve got plenty of great things from this first season. Building a foundation for seasons to come is always great.
Overall, House of the Dragon continues to feed its audience. We are being treated to some great television, and it’s great. I enjoyed this from start to finish, there was never truly a dull moment. The cohesiveness of House of the Dragon is a sight to see. No department is ever left unchecked. Is the show perfect? No. It has so much potential to be seen as perfect, though. This cast and crew deserve to be believed in. Everything else runs smoothly when your writers’ room and directors are clicking. – Rascal F. Kennedy
House of the Dragon is now streaming on HBO Max