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Today’s House of the Dragon is up late this morning because my wife threw this foam birthday party for my eight year old last night.
No House of the Dragon live reaction show tonight because @LaraTravis has turned our 8 year old’s birthday party into a giant foam party, circa Cancun 1998. See y’all next week. pic.twitter.com/X1TaoDNAjo
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 19, 2022
Yeah, it was like Cancun 1998 at our house last night.
But when we eventually got everything cleaned up and sat down to watch Sunday night’s episode, it was fantastic. Let’s dive right in to the maelstrom:
1. Daemon Kills His Wife
She’s out riding her horse when it appears Daemon, who can speak to dragons, says something to her horse, which rears back and tosses her. Paralyzed and laying on the ground, Daemon’s wife, Rhae Royce, still has time for an insult: “I knew you couldn’t finish,” she says, taunting him for not consummating their marriage.
Daemon grabs a rock and we cut away from what we presume to be the death blow.
But, remember, “Game of Thrones” has previously cut away and left us believing someone was dead only for us to find out later they were still living so there is some momentary uncertainty about what might happen here. (Later in the episode it’s confirmed Rhae was found dead, with her head bashed in.)
Clearly Daemon can be motivated to marry Rhaenyra and this could be why he committed the murder, but the fact he would have never slept with his wife is strange. Certainly he’s said he doesn’t like her and resents their marriage, but that doesn’t appear to have been an issue for any number of Thrones relationships that were consummated regardless of bitter enmity between the couple.
So what was it that he found so unacceptable about Rhae?
Especially since, based on our limited experience with her, she was witty, fit, and attractive.
I feel like this needs to be explained more. And how about Rhae’s character, on the screen for what, two minutes total in one episode and she’s gone? Tough break on that casting.
2. King Viserys Is Traveling To See Lord Corlys And He’s Seasick
Or maybe it’s not just the seasickness. The king’s ill health is a consistent theme of this episode from start to finish.
Meanwhile back in King’s Landing Otto Hightower, no longer the king’s hand, is leaving the capital, upset with his daughter Queen Alicent for not fighting hard enough for her son and his grandson, Aegon, to be named the heir.
“The king will die,” Otto says, “If Rhaenyra succeeds him, war will follow and she’ll have to kill your kids…Either you prepare Aeegon to rule or pray for Rhaenyra’s mercy.”
Having delivered this ominous warning Otto then rides away.
3. Lord Corlys Disrespects The King By Not Being There For His Arrival
But Corlys kneels on the king’s entrance to his main room.
An ill king then presents his plan, Rhaenerya will marry Laenor, the oldest son of Coryls and Rhaenys, aka, the Queen Who Never Was.
The two men discuss whether the children will have the Velaryon or Targaryen last name. A compromise is agreed upon — the child will have the Velaryon name until ascension to the iron throne, at which point he will be a Targaryen. “This is an equitable compromise,” Lord Corlys intones.
Later Corlys and Rhaenys discuss their oldest son’s being gay. “He will outgrow it,” Corlys suggests. But this masks the bigger issue, Rhaenys says, “The knives will come out,” in a succession battle involving Rhaenyra, whom she believes the kingdom will never accept.
4. Queen Alicent Learns Princess Rhaenrya Was Given The Abortion tea.
We still don’t know if she took it, which leaves open the possibility she could be pregnant with Criston Cole’s child.
Meanwhile Rhaenyra and Leanor walk on the beach to discuss their coming marriage. Rhaenrya knows Leanor is gay and essentially proposes an open marriage. The two agree to this relationship and Leanor later makes out with his lover on the beach as they discuss their future life.
By the way, am I the only person who sees Leanor as a young Russell Wilson wearing a wig? If you’re an NFL fan once you see it you won’t be able to unsee it.
5. Ser Criston Cole, Romantic At Heart, Suggests He And Rhaenyra Should Elope And See The World Together
He sounds like Aladdin, wanting to have a magic carpet ride with his own Princess Jasmine.
But Rhaenyra shuts down the idea, coldly: “I am the crown…it is my duty to marry a noble man from a fine house…but my marriage doesn’t have to be our end.”
Cole doesn’t take this idea well. “You want me to be your whore?”
The power imbalance between Rhaenyra and Cole is made stark based on this conversation. And we know that things arne’t going to go well for Cole from here.
6. The King Collapses Upon His Return To King’s Landing
Later as he receives treatment for his maladies — leeches are always a great choice for any illness according to the maesters in King’s Landing — he wonders how history will judge him and laments that he’s been given no test as a crucible to determine how great he can be.
The king’s arm looks absolutely awful and when he’s given medicine to help him sleep I wondered whether he might die in his sleep.
7. Queen Alicent, Acting With Agency Given The King’s Health And Her Father’s Own Warning, Summons Criston Cole To Inquire About Rhaenyra’s Behavior
Now that she knows about the abortion tea, she’s aware the king didn’t believe Rhaenyra’s denial.
With barely a hint of pressure put upon him, Criston Cole confesses everything: “It happened your grace…the sin you’ve alluded to, I have committed it…my oath has been broken, I have dishonored myself.”
He asks for a quick death instead of gelding and torture.
8. It’s Party Time In King’s Landing!
The gentry of the kingdom turn out for a great feast to honor Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding.
It’s a grand rehearsal dinner full of pomp and circumstance.
Jason Lannister — I love that everyone’s name is impossible to spell and then we get a Jason — greets the king by pointing out the reason men fight war is because women are never ready for the battles.
This is in reference to Alicent, who is not present for the start of the dinner.
Indeed, she arrives late wearing a green dress, which as fortune would have it, is the exact same color the Hightower’s wear into combat. Alicent’s arrival interrupts the king’s speech and she offers a strained, “Congrats, what a blessing this is for you,” to Rhaenyra as she takes her seat at the main table.
This episode airing on the same weekend as Queen Elizabeth is mourned, made me think of Alicent and Rhaenrya as Kate and Meghan.
Okay, moving right along.
9. Daemon Arrives And We Have A Confrontation Between He And Rhae’s Cousin
Daemon makes it clear that he expects to inherit his late wife’s estate and wealth and Ser Gerold Royce essentially accuses Daemon of murder.
Unbothered by the accusation, Daemon joins the dance floor where he and Rhaenyra speak Targaryen amidst the bedlam. Rhaenyra tells her uncle to kidnap her and take her away to become his bride.
King Viserys, troubled by his brother’s public dalliance with Rhaenyra, attempts to see what’s happening as it appears Daemon is about to kiss Rhaenyra in public on the dance floor.
The Real Housewives of King’s Landing is about to be CRAZY.
Prince Rhaenyra is about to marry a gay dude, while her uncle, who she secretly pines for, and her white knight, who she already slept with, all are within ten feet of one another.
10. Laenor’s Lover, Joffrey Lonmouth, Tells Criston Cole That Their Secrets Will Remain Safe With Each Other
This does not please Criston, who we see becoming increasingly agitated as the wedding celebration continues. The celebratory drumming acts as an ominous soundtrack, seeming to mirror the rhythmic beat of Criston’s raging heart.
Suddenly Criston snaps, surging into the dancing masses and stabbing Lonmouth to death, gouging out his eyes in the process.
For a time we can’t quite tell what violence is occurring on the dance floor — and we think Rhaenyra might have even been spirited away in the chaos — but eventually we see Cole stabbing again and again at Lonmouth’s body.
Laenor, seeing his dead lover, wails.
Criston heads to the courtyard, lays down his sword, and prepares to kill himself with a knife, but just before he does so, Queen Alicent arrives and spares him anew.
She wants to keep the evidence of Princess Rhaenyra’s tryst alive.
11. Troubled By The Violence, The Seven Days and Nights Of Feasts Are Tossed Aside And Rhaenyra And Laenor Are Married In A Somber Ceremony With Few Witnesses
The blood is still fresh on the dance floor, a rat scurrying amidst it as this episode ends with the king collapsing at the ceremony.
This is a fantastic episode, building on last week’s episode to finally create a writhing mass of palace intrigue. Based on the previews for next week, it appears we are jumping many years into the future and replacing some of the younger characters with older characters.
King Viserys, who appeared to be on his deathbed in this episode, will last another 10-15 years based on the previews and one suspects that the battle for the iron throne will kick off in earnest as Alicent and, presumably, Rhaenyra’s children all come of age.
An early prediction, Rhaenyra’s oldest child is not going to look like Laenor at all.
See you guys next week.