House of the Dragon has kept with Game of Thrones tradition by making sure that weddings always err on the side of disaster. Though it didn’t rival a Red Wedding massacre, tensions ran high, and one poor soul got beaten to a pulp. Each sequence was absolutely packed, with a lot of unspoken communication through eye contact and camera angles. Let’s dive into some of the episode’s most important moments and how they set things up for the upcoming episode 6 time jump.
Daemon Being Daemon
Episode five opened in the Vale, where we finally catch a glimpse of Daemon Targaryen’s wife, Rhea Royce. Unfortunately, her character introduction is very short-lived as her hunt is halted when she comes across Damon (giving major Grim Reaper energy).
Daemon, in his new villain signature, doesn’t say a word during this entire opening sequence. Rhea, at first, is largely unfazed by his random appearance and taunts her estranged husband. That is, until she realizes his return is far from harmless. While reaching for her bow, Daemon appears to knock her off her horse. The impact is brutal, as she lays seemingly paralyzed on the ground. He turns to leave her, but Rhea gets in one last line of mockery, which pushes him over the edge. The last thing we see is him holding a large rock in hand and walking toward her.
I found this whole opening sequence interesting for two reasons. One, it is a great example of the showrunners having some creative freedom about details from Fire & Blood. In the book, George R.R.Martin only gives one short line on Rhea’s untimely death, which basically says that she fell from her horse during a hunting accident and crushed her skull. Though it’s brushed over as an “accident,” that little detail about the skull seems to allude to something nefarious. Clearly, Ryan Condal picked up on that and decided to run with the Daemon killed his wife narrative. RIP Rhea.
Secondly, I thought this opening segment served to make the wedding even more unpredictable. I was wholeheartedly expecting the outbreak of violence at the wedding to be tied to Daemon’s shenanigans. Especially since Gerold Royce throws the accusation right at him during the festivities. All of which made for Ser Criston Cole’s violent snap to come out of left field and leave the audience trapped in the chaos and confusion of the crowd.
The Happy Couple
We can’t talk about a wedding episode without addressing the bride and groom! In episode four, Rhaenyra concedes to marrying Leanor Velaryon out of duty to the realm. Little do we know, Miss Rhaenyra had a crafty plan for her political marriage with a childhood friend.
During Viserys’ sickly visit to Driftmark to propose the marriage to Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys, Rhaenyra goes on a nice stroll with her husband-to-be and lays out some terms for a polyamorous relationship. We learn that Leanor is gay and has a lover of his own, which lines up perfectly with Rhaenyra’s wishes to carry on with Ser Criston Cole or any other man (wink wink).
Evidently, Rhaenyra is taking Daemon’s notion that marriage is only a political arrangement to heart. Moving forward, this particular marriage agreement widely shapes Rhaenyra’s future controversies, as we catch a glimpse of her dark-haired sons in the episode 6 trailer. Rhaenyra seeks to have agency over her life (especially her love life), and her decision to wed Leanor was meant to appease the burden of her inheritance while maintaining her freedom. Though, might I add, she seemed ready to drop everything and run away with Daemon during their heated exchange on the dance floor…
The Green Dress
I thought Daemon had surely won the dramatic entrance contest at this wedding party, but I was quickly proved wrong. Right in the middle of Viserys’ speech, the whole room descends into stunned silence as Alicent strides into the hall fashionably late, sporting a very symbolic green. Daemon, of course, is the only one not to stand for the Queen (love that for him).
As we learn from the side conversation between Ser Harwin and Larys Strong, wearing this color is a truly bold statement, paying homage to her family’s house, whose beacon burns green when they call banners to war. In other words, this moment cements Alicent’s individual entrance into this looming succession dispute. It signifies her move from being a political puppet to a power player in her own right.
She makes her character turn abundantly clear when she coldly calls Rhaenyra “stepdaughter” while offering an apathetic line of congratulations. With this single move, the show signals that Alicent and Rhaenyra’s friendship is surely at an end. I thought this was a brilliant send-off for Emily Carey’s portrayal of young Alicent that will transition over well to where Olivia Cooke picks up the torch.
On that note, we are officially halfway through season one of House of the Dragon! I admit I’m quite sad about having to say goodbye to Milly Alcock and Emily Carey. They were absolutely brilliant in introducing us to these two vital female leads. Though, things are only going to pick up from here – with the time jump ahead, we are moving full throttle towards Targaryen civil war.
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