Call me Otto Hightower because I’m running to tell everyone about Rhaenyra’s night out on the town! As a seasoned GoT fan, nothing really phases me anymore, so I have no issue getting into all the Targaryen family shenanigans. However, for all the newcomers to HoTD, this episode was probably nothing but shocking. Wherever you may lie in the fandom, we welcome you to this relatively chaotic edition of House of the Dragon weekly recaps. On the agenda today is the directorial style of this episode, the power politics of the Red Keep, and, unavoidably, the whole Daemon and Rhaenyra situation. Let’s get started!
Daemon and Rhaenyra
I might as well get this one out of the way. From the opening scene, it was immediately made clear that this episode’s spotlight was going to be on Rhaenyra and Daemon. We first see Rhaenyra this week dealing with a line of unideal suitors (young and old) holding the necklace that Daemon gave her in episode 1. No doubt, there’s been an apparent connection between these two characters from the outset. However, this week really leaned into the romantic undertones.
I’ve read Fire & Blood, so I knew all of this was coming. I shouldn’t be surprised. And yet, my jaw was on the FLOOR during the pair’s sneaky night on the town. Surely, I’m not alone in my reaction, as the whole world will be stuck processing that whole… umm “brothel date” for the foreseeable future.
Clearly, the immense source of controversy here is the fact that, well, Daemon is her uncle. So, this romance between him and Rhaenyra has many fans feeling uncomfortable. That said, other fans (like me) are at the point where they’ve just accepted that the way things are in Westeros is pure chaos and on a whole other moral plane. In other words, we just have to accept that the Targaryen dynasty has some questionable customs to say the least. Whether you’re uncomfy or unfazed, one must admit that it wouldn’t be a proper GoT prequel without some controversiality.
A Female Director
Also of note in this steamy episode is the impact of the series’ first female director, Clare Kilner. As most fans know, GoT has an uncomfortable track record of violent or exploitative scenes regarding female characters. Perhaps this can be tied to the fact that “only one out of nineteen” GoT directors was a woman. Already, House of the Dragon has shown a departure from the mainline in trying to be more perceptive about having female input and direction in the storytelling that invariably spotlights the particular hardships that women navigate in the patriarchal world of Westeros.
In the case of Kilner’s directing, I thought it readily apparent that the ramped-up romantic component is not diminishing to Rhaenyra’s character. If anything, it cemented her unflinching independence and self-empowerment now as an adult. Honestly, Daemon and Sir Criston Cole aren’t even on her level! She’s living out her rebel phase and having fun doing it. Not to mention, when Viserys was scolding her, she flipped the script real quick and pointed out the double standards women are held to when it comes to sexuality. Now, that’s my queen!
As mentioned, Kilner’s focus on directing for the female gaze led to a much more complex, character-developing dynamic rather than just surface-level romance. In many ways, it has left some room for debate about character motives. Rhaenyra makes sure to cover up her late night with Sir Criston and tells some fibs about what went on between her and Daemon. We see Daemon asking a furious Viserys to marry Rhaenyra in the aftermath. And how does Sir Criston Cole fit into all this?!
Per the Tweet below, it’s notable that the same informant that went to Otto reported back to Mysaria and Daemon. Does this show that Daemon planned the entire excursion to force Viserys’ hand to wed Rhaenyra to him? Did he do it to set up Otto Hightower’s demise, whom he (rightly) loathes? It’s honestly still up to some interpretation.
Clearly, Daemon is fond of Rhaenyra, but perhaps she caught him off guard last night rather than vice versa. All I have to say is YOU GO GIRL, and good riddance to Otto Hightower, the former Hand of the King. That said, the aftermath of this one eventful night further sows the divisions that will soon boil over to create even more betrayal and chaos. Will the GoT fandom split in two as well based on our succession preferences? It’s certainly likely. Stay tuned for more HoTD content each week here at Bookstr!
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