I was quite excited going into Episode Seven of House of the Dragon, “Driftmark.”
This was because the Miguel Sapochnik directed episode would adapt an event I had been looking forward to seeing ever since the show was announced, this being Aemond claiming Vhagar and then losing his eye.
The end result did not disappoint, with “Driftmark” being my favourite episode, until it was unexpectedly overtaken by Episode Eight, “Lord of the Tides.”
As for Episode Seven, it entirely resolves around the titular “Driftmark”, beginning with Laena’s funeral, after she died by Vhagar last episode, choosing to die as a dragon rider, rather than being ripped open in a medieval c-section.
However, this being Westeros, even a funeral is not safe from political manuvering, as Corlys’ brother, Vaemond Velaryon is clearly unhappy about Lucerys being set to inherit Driftmark, due to him being a bastard.
This leads to him insulting Lucerys, Jacaerys and Rhanerya by subtly calling them out in his funeral speech.
The insults do not go unnoticed, causing Daemon to laugh, potentially because of his incredulity at this happening at his own wife’s funeral; also potentially to draw attention away from Rhanerya and her sons to protect them.
Again, I love the ambiguity the show is painting Daemon’s actions with.
There are multiple different ways you could interpret his decisions over the course of the show so far.
Following the funeral comes a pretty awkward wake for Laena, as the green and black factions all interact, with various disdainful looks being thrown about.
Jacaerys clearly does not understand the severity of the situation, as he complains to Rhanerya about wanting to be at Harrenhal, mourning Lyonel and Harwin, whom he now knows was his true father.
Rhanerya’s concerned look to make sure no one heard Jace talking is well played by Emma D’Arcy.
While the tension is clearly growing at the wake, Helaena remains oblivious to it all; content to play with her bugs and spin prophecies.
“Spools of green, spools of black,” she murmmers. “Dragons of flesh weaving dragons of thread. Hand turns loom, spools of green.”
It is pretty obvious after this episode and Episode Eight that Helaena is a dreamer and I will get into what this specific prophecy may mean in the book spoiler section below.
As Helaena is murmmering her prophecy, she is looked over by Aegon and Aemond.
Aegon has been bethrothed to his sister but is clearly not happy about this,
Aemond, on the other hand, says he would gladly marry his sister.
Targaryens gonna Targaryen I guess.
Aemond does have quite an intriguing moment later on, however; when he walks over to Jace and looks like he might be about to console him over his own loss, only to walk away without saying a word.
This is yet another moment where we can only speculate about whether things could have turned out for the better, if only a different decision had been made by these characters.
While Jace is interacting with Aemond, and also comforting Baela and Rhaena, Lucerys is lectured about inheriting Driftmark by Corlys, only for him to say, “I don’t want it.”
This, I am sure, triggered many PTSD flashbacks for Game of Thrones fans, as they remembered Jon Snow’s most overplayed sentence from Season Eight.
Thankfully, the line that follows this is much more impactful, with Lucerys stating, “If I’m the Lord of Driftmark, that means everyone’s dead.”
More tragic shots follow, including Laenor sitting in the tide, mourning the loss of his sister, prompting Corlys to demand Qarl retrieve him.
Probably the most interesting interactions of the wake, however, are those of Viserys.
First, he tries to convince Daemon to come back to Kings Landing and reconcile, only for Daemon to outright refuse.
In another subtle moment, Daemon appears to almost say he needs Rhanerya before catching himself.
Viserys then goes to bed for the night, informing Alicent but accidentally calling her Aemma, showing just how much he is slipping.
The final shots of the wake see Aemond looking up at the sky as Vhagar flies overhead, foreshadowing what is to come.
That night, Rhanerya meets with Daemon and the two walk on the beach, discussing the loss of their loves, Laena and Harwin.
Daemon is also shown to heavily suspect Otto (whom has since returned as Hand of the King), along with Alicent, of orchestrating the murder of Lyonel and Harwin.
Rhanerya, however, speaks up for Alicent because she does not beleive her to be capable of murder.
In a sense, both are kind of right.
Daemon is right to suspect Otto of benefitting from Lyonel’s death and Rhanerya is right in so far as that Alicent did not actually order Lyonel’s death, rather it was orchestrated by Larys, with Alicent unwittingly playing a part.
Regardless of their disagreements of the Hightower’s involvement in Lyonel and Harwin’s deaths, Rhanerya and Daemon reconcile and sleep togethor.
Targaryens gonna Targaryen, right?
Well, for those of you especially creeped out by the incest in the show, no need to worry because it is so dark you probably will not see anything.
Seriously, the colour grading for these night scenes is quite bad at times.
I had to to turn off every light in the house and squint at times just to see what was happening.
It is a shame too because the night scene where Aemond claims Vhagar as his dragon is excellent.
This episode really showed just how massive Vhagar is, making Aemond’s taming of her even more epic, as he calms her with the valyrian language, climbs into her saddle and then orders her to fly, nearly dying on multiple occasions.
The massive dragon nearly shakes him off and Aemond nearly falls to his death on the ascent, yet he still succeeds in claming Vhagar, or stealing if you ask Baela and Rhaena.
I have seen a lot of debate online about whether Aemond taming Vhagar counts as stealing or not.
Rhaena was supposed to claim her, yet because she was mourning her mother she did not.
This lead to Aemond taking his opportunity and claiming Vhagar before Rhaena could.
Is this in poor taste?
But I would draw the line at saying it’s stealing, since Vhagar did choose Aemond as her new rider.
Rhaena and Baela’s anger is certainly understandable, though, and it is a much better reason for the fight happening, rather than Aemond throwing Joffrey into dragon poop, which is what happened in the book.
What is less understandable is Aemond insulting them all after claiming Vhagar, stating maybe Jace and Luke can find Rhaena a pig to ride.
This insult definitley stems from the bullying Aemond suffered from in the previous episode, directing his anger at Jace and Lucerys.
Unfortunately, this leads to the conflict escalating into a full on brawl, resulting in the best fight in House of the Dragon so far, and it is a fight between literal children.
Again, we have to think of that moment when Aemond almost comforted Jace back a the wake.
If either of them had spoken up, would they have ended up in such a violent showdown?
We will never know.
Instead, the resenment grows into bloodshed as, after threatening Jace with a rock, Aemond gets his eye cut out by Lucerys, before the Kingsguard finally show up to intervene.
Upon hearing of the fight, Viserys is understandably outraged, berating Ser Harold Westerling and Ser Criston.
It is here that we see the difference in standards among the Kingsguard.
While Ser Harold accepts responsibiltiy and apologises, Ser Criston attempts to redirect blame onto Rhanerya’s sons.
Tensions rise when Rhanerya enters the room, with Daemon just observing.
Viserys is focused on learning what happened, until Rhanerya reveals Aemond called her sons bastards.
Viserys then focuses on this, rather than his own son losing an eye.
This is most likely because of his love for Rhanerya but also because he knows that if Jace, Luke and Joffrey are considered bastards by the realm then it could plunge Westeros into war.
So, Viserys focuses on this instead of Aemond, likely increasing his own son’s hatred for his nephews.
In the end, Aemond blames Aegon instead of his mother for spreading the bastard rumor.
Aegon’s following response to Viserys when he questions where he heard this, “everyone knows, just look at them,” is a great line adapted from the book.
Viserys’ following frustration about the infighting in his family is palpable, with Paddy Considine giving another fantastic performance.
Alicent is understandably unmoved by Viserys order that everyone should make ammends.
She is angered by Aemond losing an eye, leading her to demand an eye for an eye from Lucerys.
When Viserys refuses, she steals the catspaw dagger from him and lunges at Rhanerya and her children, a moment that had been especially hyped up in the trailers and does not disappoint, with both calling the other out, leading to Alicent slashing Rhanerya’s arm.
Afterwards, the tension is finally calmed when Aemond reassures Alicent with another excellent line from the book, “I may have lost an eye but I gained a dragon.”
It really would have been better if you said that before Alicent tried to stab the heir to the throne, Aemond.
On another note, I would like to praise Leo Ashton for his role as Aemond this episode.
He was the best of the child actors this episode and perfomed the claiming of Vhagar scene especially well.
As for Alicent, she is confronted by Otto in her chambers and, for the first time, he seems to be proud of her, saying he now sees that she has “the determination to win” the “ugly game” they play.
Alicent takes her father’s support to heart by also embracing Larys’ support on the ship back to Kings’ Landing, further cementing an alliance with a powerful and dangerous ally.
Rhanerya is also cementing more allies, with Laenor committing to helping as her husband in a touching scene between the two.
This is despite the fact that we can see how conflicted Laenor is about the direction in his life.
The second ally Rhanerya gains is Daemon, offering marriage to him, to which Daemon says Laenor would have to die.
I will admit, I was completley fooled when it looked like Daemon hired Qarl to kill Laenor.
I thought Rhanerya had turned down a dark path and helped orchestrate the death of Laenor, and I was quite unsure about it, considering how much Rhanerya had seemed to care greatly for Laenor beforehand.
This is why it was a relief to see that Laenor’s death had been staged, allowing him and Qarl to row off into the sunset togethor.
Laenor did the smart thing getting out of the Game of Thrones.
He will live much longer that way.
Shame about the random guard whose body was used as a stand in for him, though.
Laenor living is an interesting change from the book and I wonder how if it will play into the future of the story?
There is a theory about Laenor’s future role going around but it is one I do not particularly like.
I will have to mention book spoilers, though, so I will explain what the theory is in in the section below.
As for Daemon and Rhanerya, they are finally able to marry, in a scene that is actually kind of funny when you see the disgusted faces of their children, Rhaena and Baela in particular.
I also wish we could have seen Viserys reaction, since he was so against any union between Rhanerya and Daemon in Episodes Four and Five.
All in all, “Driftmark” is one of the best episode of House of the Dragon so far.
It more than delivered on the Vhagar and Aemond storyline I have been waiting to see play out ever since I read “Fire and Blood.”
Book Spoilers Section:
Regarding Helaena’s prophecy this episode, I think it is a clear reference to the beginning of the Dance of the Dragons.
“Spools of green, spools of black; dragons of flesh weaving dragons of threads,” references the division between the blacks and the greens, leading to the Dance.
“Hand turns loom, spools of green,” references Otto’s work in the coup to put Aegon on the throne, and the greens in power, following Viserys’ death.
With my speculation for Helaena’s prophecy out of the way, I can now talk about the theory concerning Laenor’s survival.
This theory states that in Season Two of House of the Dragon, he will take on the role of Addam of Hull, the dragon seed who joins Rhanerya’s cause.
The theory is that Laenor will pose as his own bastard to come back and help Rhanerya, taking on the name Addam.
Personally, I am very much against this theory.
If Laenor is Addam, it would ruin Addam’s entire arc about proving the worth of bastards.
Rhanerya suspects him after Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White’s betrayal, something Rhanerya would never consider of Laenor.
Addam then flees to avoid arrest, only to rally Rhanerya’s supporters in an attempt to take back Tumbleton, dying in the fighting.
Having proven his worth, his brother Alyn then has the words “loyal” carved into Addam’s tombstone.
Laenor just does not fit into this storyline because he is not a bastard and he does not even have a brother to pose as Alyn.
Just keep Laenor and Alyn as seperate characters please.