This review contains spoilers for House of the Dragon, for last week’s review click here.
Unity is the name of the game. It’s how you keep control of a throne, a government, or a country. Whatever party, royal family, etc. must keep unity to keep control. In Westeros, it is no different. The houses of old Valyria know this, and that’s why there’s been a calculated effort to keep that control. Unfortunately, bad blood, a messy marriage, and a senile king may be what ruins that control. As we see in the latest episode of House of the Dragon.
Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Daemon are summoned to King’s Landing as Ser Vaemond (Wil Johnson) and Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) challenge Rhaenyra’s son’s spot as the heir of Driftmark. As Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint) has been killed in battle, so someone must take over the land. While Jace (Harry Collet) is practicing his Valyrian and getting ready to take the throne after his mother passes, a mess of things are happening in King’s Landing during this ten-year jump.
Alicent’s sons are married and are horrible husbands, all things considered. Prince Aegon sexually assaults one of the maids. Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) is essentially acting like a scorned child still, and Alicent is beginning to realize that Rhaenyra may be the only person who ever cared about her. Also, Rhaenyra has welcomed another son, who’s also named Aegon.
King Viserys (Paddy Considine) is on his deathbed, but he’s still King. Unfortunately, his wife, Alicent, and his Hand Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) are speaking for him. The truth is, Otto wants to see his grandchildren on the throne, and not Rhaenyra’s children on the throne. He’s made it very obvious what his intentions are, and that’s partially why Alicent has been so crazed about the throne. Her father is purposely sabotaging the throne.
During the petition of Driftmark, Ser Vaemond is speaking and being utterly disrespectful towards the princess. Even though what he’s saying is true, sometimes you take your losses and go. King Viserys eventually musters up the last bit of strength he has to take his seat on the Iron Throne and defend his daughter and grandsons. He states that he has already said who’s the heir of what and that it’s final. Vaemond decides to disrespect him and his daughter by calling her sons bastards and her a whore. Daemon (Matt Smith) doesn’t like it and cuts his head off.
The family has dinner that night to celebrate the arranged marriage between Rahaenyra’s sons Jace and Luke (Elliot Grihault) to Rhaenys’ (Eve Best) granddaughters Baela (Bethany Antonia) and Rhaena (Phoabe Campbell). At the dinner, Alicent and Rhaenyra set their differences aside while their sons are still at each other’s throats. Aegon’s wife, his sister Helaena (Phia Saban), embarrasses him at the dinner. Eventually, a fight between the boys breaks out, and they’re all sent away.
Aemond and Daemon get very personal as he sends his nephew away, which foreshadows a battle not far off. Later that night, Alicent goes to visit her husband and on his deathbed, he accidentally undoes everything he fought to keep together. He thinks he’s telling Rhaenyra of the Night King, but it’s Alicent, and she takes it as him saying Aegon is supposed to sit on the throne.
The back half of this introductory season for House of the Dragon has delivered. Episode after episode, this team puts together an amazing show. Geeta Vasant Patel takes Eileen Shim’s teleplay and creates an amazing episode. There’s tension, anxiety, and violence which is what this universe feeds off of. Ramin Djawadi, Catherine Goldschmidt, and Chris Hunter all deserve praise also for the score, editing, and cinematography as well. On every level yet again, this was an amazing episode of House of the Dragon.
Considine deserves all the praise for this episode as King Viserys and this series in general. He was simply amazing and never stopped giving us some extremely great acting. Smith of course continues to be amazing as Daemon Targaryen. Cooke and D’Arcy have some amazing chemistry, and whether they’re fighting or making up, it’s always great when they’re onscreen together. Glyn-Carney and Mitchell are simply amazing as Aegon and Aemond. It will be interesting to watch these last two episodes of House of the Dragon.
Overall, this was just another fantastic episode. There’s a lot that hasn’t been covered, but in a ten-episode season, you can only do so much. For them to have so much material to cover and still be able to be this good, it’s amazing. The team behind House of the Dragon is giving it their all. The writing has been sharp, and I can’t wait to see the conclusion of this series. I am happy we are getting more stories about Westeros on screen, to say the least. – Rascal F Kennedy
New episodes of House of the Dragon premiere on HBO/HBO Max at 9 pm/8c