House of the Dragon Episode Ten, The Black Queen Review: The Dance Commences.

The first season of House of the Dragon has come to a close with its tenth episode, “The Black Queen”, and I do not know how I am going to be able to wait until 2024 for Season Two.
Directed by Greg Yaitanes, “The Black Queen” was a fantastic way to end the season.
The episode begins, rather fittingly, with Lucerys.
He is still having doubts about his future inheritance of Driftmark, yet Rhanerya seeks to console him, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Rhaenys who has brought word of Visery’s death and the Green’s coup.
What follows is a tense scene between her, Rhanerya and Daemon, with Rhanerya being understandably distraught, while Daemon is enraged, believing the Greens have murdered Viserys.
Him coming to this conclusion is natural, given that we saw how suspicious he was of Viserys recieving milk of the poppy in Episode Eight.
There is even some suspicion around Rhaenys, due to both her unlikely escape and the fact that she did not burn the Greens with Meleys.
In the end, Rhaenys advises that Rhanerya leaves Dragonstone, before the Greens come for her and her children.
This is not possible, however, because Rhanerya’s grief and shock causes her to go into a horrific early labor.
Daemon proves himself to be quite the poor husband, as he immediately starts planning for a war, instead of being by Rhanerya’s side.
Although, he is rather smart about it, threatening the two Kingsguard on Dragonstone to swear fealty to Rhanerya or die by Caraxes’ flames.
As for Rhanerya, the stillbirth scene that follows is arguably even more graphic and disturbing that Aemma’s C-Section in Episode One.
First, there is the way that Rhanery’a screams are mixed with Syrax’s, once again showing the connection between Targaryens and their dragons.
Most of all, though, are the horrifying visuals of the stillbirth, with the amount of fake blood and prop of the baby itself being absolutley haunting.
This then leads into the funeral scene for the baby and the devestated feeling transforms into a hopeful one with the arrival of Erryk Cargyll, who stole Viserys’ crown.
And so, with Ramin Djawdi’s epic Rhanerya theme, Rhanerya is finally crowned as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
The planning for the Blacks’ war then begins, with the painted table on Dragonstone being lit up in a fantastic shot.
We can clearly see that Rhanerya and Daemon are on opposite sides, with Rhanerya being more cautious while Daemon wants war.
When it comes to dragons, the Blacks do have the advantage, and if they can sway the other lords of Westeroes to their cause then it will also boost their chances.
Before any decision can be made, Otto arrives with a delegation from King’s Landing to offer Rhanerya peace.
This is clearly Alicent’s gambit, since she won control over Aegon in Episode Nine.
Had Otto won this would have been an assassination attempt rather than a negotiation.
The meeting on Dragonstone perfectly mirrors the one from Episode Two, as Otto arrives to confront Daemon, only to be interrupted by Rhanerya and Syrax.
Only now, she stands with Daemon, and Syrax blocks the Greens’ escape as a serious threat.
Otto offers Rhanerya and Daemon control of Dragonstone, Lucerys of Driftmark, and high places at court for Aegon the Younger and Viserys.
That last one would make them, in effect, hostages and Daemon clearly picks up on this stating, “I would rather feed my sons to the dragons than have them carry shields and cups for your drunken, usurper c**t of a king.”
A classic Daemon line.
Rhanerya is not swayed by Otto’s offer, throwing away his Hand of the King badge.
However, she is convinced to think on it through Alicent’s gesture of good will, the page Rhanerya tore from their book when they were younger and closer, recalling a happier time between them.
The choice of the writers to make Rhanerya and Alicent childhood friends was an excellent one, as it creates much more compelling drama.
Alicent’s touching gesture is enough to get Rhanerya to consider the offer, angering Daemon further.
Rhanerya does make some good points in saying that relenting her claim to the throne would create peace as her father wished for.
She even brings up how this could eventually lead to the fulfilment of Aegon’s dream, thinking Daemon would understand.
Instead, Daemon grabs Rhanerya by the throat while berating Viserys’ obsession with prophecy, stating, “Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did.”
This causes Rhanerya to realise that Viserys never told Daemon.
Essentially, the grief Daemon feels for Viserys’ death makes him lash out at Rhanerya when he learns that his own brother never trusted him with such vital information.
On another note, it is kind of funny that some people were annoyed by Daemon choking Rhanerya, saying he would never do something so cruel.
They seem to be forgetting that Daemon murdered his wife.
Daemon has never been a good person.
Interesting?
Definitley.
A good person?
Absolutley not.
Following Daemon and Rhanerya’s confrontation, a recovering Corlys arrives at Dragonstone and is attended to by Rhaenys.
What follows is a tense conversation between the couple as Rhaenys condemns Corlys for leaving her alone for six years, following the deaths of their children.
Their relationship is much healthier than Rhanerya and Daemon’s, however, as, upon learning of Vaemond’s death, Corlys admits his weakness for ambition, resolving to be a changed man and retire to Driftmark with Rhaenys.
Unfortunately, this has come much too late, as Rhaenys points out that their grandchildren will still be in danger with war looming, and Rhanerya being the only one showing restraint.
And so, Corlys enters the meeting room to decide which side he will choose, if any.
It honestly feels as though Corlys was still considering, right up until he looked upon his grandchildren and saw that they had chosen to stand by Rhanerya and her family.
This makes Corlys side the Blacks, revealing his control over the Stepstones means he can block all trade with King’s Landing.
Once this is done, all that will be needed is to confirm Rhanerya’s allies among the great houses and then they can force the Greens into abdicating power without the need for bloodshed.
At Jace’s suggestion, Rhanerya decides to send her sons to confirm her allies, rather than ravens, sending Jace to the Eyrie and Winterfell, and Lucerys to Storm’s End, making them swear not to fight on their missions.
As this is happening, Daemon is attending to the unclaimed dragons on Dragonstone, among them the Bronze Fury, Vermithor, King Jaehaerys’ dragon.
Singing a High Valyrian lullaby, Daemon soothes the old dragon, as it breaths fire across the room, showing the strength the Blacks could have on their side if they could just find riders to claim these dragons.
They will certainly need it because of what happens next.
Lucerys flies to Storm’s End to treat with Lord Borros Barethon, only to find he is not the first one there.
In an intimidating the shot, the head of Vhagar rises above the castle walls, like something out of a giant monster movie.
Despite the danger, Lucerys enters the castle to treat with Borros, finding that Aemond is already there, having brokered a marriage pact between himself and one of Borros’ daughters in exchange for Borros’ support.
Lucerys gives Borros Rhanerya’s letter (leading to a humorous moment where Borros needs a Maester because he cannot read, which is true to Medieval times) but he refuses to fulfill his father’s oath, since Lucerys has nothing to offer because he is already betrothed to Rhaena.
Lucerys then attempts to leave, only to be stopped by Aemond who wants him to cut his eye out as payment for his own.
Aemond removes his eye patch, revealing that he has stuck a saphire in his eye socket, in a great adaptation from the book.
Before Aemond can attack Lucerys, Borros orders Lucerys removed, not wanting blood shed beneath his roof.
Lucerys is taken back to his dragon, Arrax but, chillingly, sees that Vhagar is gone.
It is at this point that I would like to commend Elliot Grihault for his performance as Lucerys.
He plays the character’s fear well and his High Valyrian is excellently pronounced.
Lucerys takes to the sky but the stormy weather keeps Vhagar out of sight, allowing the massive dragon to fly overhead in a terrifying shot that shows just how outmatched Arrax.
Aemond then ambushes Lucerys with Vhagar, intent on taking Lucerys’ eye.
Thanks to Arrax’s small size, Lucerys manages to manuvere him through a cliff face, allowing them to temporarily escape Aemond.
However, as Viserys said in Episode One, “The idea that we control the dragons is an illusion” and this is proven in the most disastrous way possible.
First, Lucerys loses control of Arrax, as he breaths fire at Vhagar.
This agitates Vhagar to the point that Aemond cannot control her.
In an effort to escape, Lucerys flies Arrax high above the clouds.
Unfortunately, this leads to Vhagar jump-scaring them and the audience, as she flies up out of the clouds and rips Arrax apart with a massive bite, also killing Lucerys.
Aemond clearly did not wish for this happen, as evidenced by his commands for Vhagar to stop.
This is different from the book where Aemond supposedly murders Lucerys.
Although, this version of events was just from second hand accounts, and the only one who would know what really happened is Aemond.
In any case, the horrified look on Aemond’s face shows that he clearly realizes the magnitude of what he has done as he flies back to King’s Landing, fully aware that he has started a war.
This is all but confirmed in the final scene of the episode, which sees Daemon tell Rhanerya of Lucerys’ death.
The hopeful note of Rhanerya’s theme then turns dark as Rhanerya turns towards the camera, her grief and rage obvious.
Emma D’Arcy does an excellent job of portaying Rhanerya’s feelings in this ominous moment.
They do an incredible job across the entire episode as well, from the horrifying stillbirth scene all the way up to this grim ending that has me especially excited for Season Two.
“The Black Queen” is a fantastic ending for the first season of House of the Dragon.
As for where I would rank the episode, it is definitley among the top three, including Episodes Seven and Eight.
However, at this point, I am unsure if I would rank it above or below either and will probably need a few more rewatches to decide.
Nevertheless, House of the Dragon has been a fantastic spin off to Game of Thrones, redeeming the series after the horrible Season Eight, and I cannot wait to see more.


Book Spoiler Section:

In regards to what Aemond will do when he arrives back at King’s Landing, I can definitley see him acting like he meant to kill Lucerys.
Aemond is in a no win situation.
He either claims he murdered Lucerys, which will make him known as a kinslayer, or he admits that he lost contorl of Vhagar, which will make him seem weak.
Given how we saw that Aemond being bullied as a child lead to him compensating by claiming the largest dragon in the world, I cannot see him owning up to weakness.
He would rather be known as a kinslayer than weak so he will act like killing Lucerys was intentional.
Alicent will no doubt be horrifed by her son’s actions as this has ruined any chance for peace between the Greens and Blacks.
Westeroes will be plunged into civil war in Season Two, and I am excited to see many of the events from the book unfold.
I think Season Two will end either with the Battle of the Gullet or Rhanerya taking King’s Landing.
If I am right, this means that we will also see Blood and Cheese, the death of Rhaenys, and the introduction of the Dragon Seeds in Season Two.
Of all these events, I am excited for the Sowing of the Seeds the most.
Characters like Nettles and Addam Velaryon are some of my favourite characters in the entire Dance so I am very excited to see how they will be portrayed.
Although, I have heard theories that the show will replace Addam and Nettles with Laenor and Rhaena.
To be honest, I would absolutley hate it if the writers did this because it could ruin so much of the story going forward or, at the very least, lessen the impact of numerous scenes.
I do not mind if Laenor and Rhaena have more scenes but make their characters seperate from Addam and Nettles.
However, this is just a theory at the moment and hopefully a wrong one at that.
There is no reason to be concerned until there is actually evidence of this happening.
In the meantime, there is so much to be excited for in Season Two.
It’s just a shame that we have to wait until 2024 to get it but I am sure the wait will be more than worth it.
House of the Dragon has pulled me back into the world of Westeroes and I will eagerily await its return.

House of the Dragon Episode Eight, Lord of the Tides Review: Give Paddy Considine His Emmy.

Going into Episode Eight of House of the Dragon, “Lord of the Tides”, I was expecting the Geeta Vasant Patel directed episode to be a pretty standard one but nothing special.
This is why I was surprised when “Lord of the Tides” more than exceeded my expectations, becoming my favourite episode of of the show thus far.
The episode picks up six years after the events of “Driftmark.”
In that time, Corlys has returned to fighting in the Stepstones, only to suffer a potentially lethal wound, from which his life now hangs in the balance.
And so the succession to the Driftwood Throne is now in question.
Ordinarily, it would pass to Lucerys, like Corlys wanted because, even though he is a bastard, “history does not remember blood, it remembers names,” as Corlys said last episode.
However, Corlys’ brother Vaemond wants the throne to stay in the Velaryon bloodline, so he petitions the Iron Throne to hear his claim.
This would not have ended well for Vaemond had Viserys been sitting the throne but, as Vaemond points out to Rhaenys, it is Alicent who is in charge while Viserys is bedridden with his sickness.
Meanwhile, on Dragonstone, we see Daemon retrieving a clutch of eggs from Syrax for his children with Rhanerya.
These are Aegon, Viserys, and the baby soon to be born.
His subsequent meeting with the dragon keepers is quite funny, as Daemon seems like a giddy child, having retrieved the dragon eggs for his own kids.
This giddiness is dulled, however, when he recieves a letter from Baela (Bethany Antonia), whom has become a ward of Rhaenys, warning him of Vaemond’s incoming attempt to have Lucerys illegitimized so he can take the Driftwood Throne.
Upon Daemon going to inform Rhanerya of this, he finds her tutoring Jace (Harry Collett) in High Valyrian.
Rhanerya is understandably distressed by the news of Vaemond’s actions, even more so by the uncertainty of which side Rhaneys will take, due to her believing Rhanerya and Daemon had Laenor killed so they could marry.
In the end, Rhanerya and Daemon travel to King’s Landing, only to recieve a frosty reception, as only one loyal lord greets them, despite Rhanerya being the heir.
Not only this but the Targaryen iconography seen in previous episodes has been entirely replaced by ones representing the Faith of the Seven, which the Hightowers worship, showing just how far their influence has spread.
While Daemon and Rhanerya wish to continue Targaryen traditions, as seen with Rhanerya teaching Jace High Valyrian, the Hightowers seek to replace this.
Even worse is the state of Viserys, whom Rhanerya and Daemon find bedridden, with his leprocy having consumed half of his face.
Daemon’s reaction to seeing his brother like this is a particular gut punch.
The scene turns more heart warming when Rhanerya introduces her father to Aegon and Viserys.
As for why Rhanerya would also name one of her children Aegon, in the book it is most likely a slight against Alicent.
King Viserys is overjoyed to see a grandchild named after him, saying he has a name “fit for a king,” only for pain to overwhelm him, needing milk of the poppy to sooth him.
Meanwhile, Alicent has problems of her own, as Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) has raped a servant named Dyana.
Maddie Evans’ performance as the abused Dyana is gut wrenching and you cannot help but feel sorry for her and disgusted at Alicent’s actions, as she pays her off with gold to keep silent, gives her a tea to prevent pregnancy (which is kind of hypocritical since she judged Rhanerya for this in Episode Five) and then sends her away.
Alicent then goes to berate Aegon over what he did to Dyana, with Aegon grossly saying, “It was just harmless fun.”
When Alicent slaps Aegon and calls him “no son of mine”, Aegon throws a pity party, saying nothing he does is good enough for Alicent or Viserys.
Well, if you want your parents’ love and affection, Aegon, maybe you could start by not sexually assaulting women and be an actual decent human being for a change?
Just an idea.
The argument between Aegon and Alicent is then interrupted by Helaena (Phia Saban), who wonders where Dyana is because she was supposed to dress her children with Aegon.
Alicent then embraces Helaena, clearly regretting marrying her to Aegon.
Helaena seems like the only completley innocent character on the Green’s side, so you have to feel sorry for her being married to such a piece of work.
Afterwards, Alicent meets with Rhanerya and Daemon who both accuse her of keeping Viserys drugged up on milk of the poppy.
Alicent does make a good point, however, as she states that Viserys is in a great deal of pain without it, something we see to certainly be true.
Meanwhile, Jace and Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) are looking around the training yard when they see an older Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) training with Ser Criston Cole.
I have to say, of all the aged up actors, Mitchell is particularly great as Aemond.
He gives off the perfect feeling of menace as, after defeating Criston, he calls out to his nephews without even looking at them.
Despite only having one eye, Aemond’s senses are keen, making him quite dangerous.
Any potential confrontation between Aemond and Jace and Luke is interrupted with the arrival of Vaemond, who meets with Alicent and Otto in an attempt to convince them to support his claim, promising his loyalty in the coming Targaryen succession crisis.
Meanwhile, Rhanerya meets with Rhaneys in an attempt to persuade her to her side.
Interestingly, Rhanerya does not reveal that Laenor is alive to win Rhaenys’ support.
This shows just how deep her loyalty to Laenor goes.
As for Rhaenys, Rhanerya suggests marrying Jace to Baela and Luke to Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell), which would make Baela the future Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
Rhanerya says this is a generous yet desperate offer, and Rhanerya hits back that desperation does not matter because it would still benefit Rhaenys and her grandchildren.
However, Rhaenys is correct in her next comeback that such an alliance would be worthless if the Hightowers succeed in declaring Rhanerya’s children illegitimate.
That night, Rhanerya visits her ailing father, begging him to help her, bringing up Aegon the Conqueror’s dream about the Prince that was Promised.
This is something that will have both positive and disastrous consequences.
The next morning, Vaemond makes his petition to Otto, who sits the Iron Throne in Viserys’ absence.
Things look dire for Rhanerya until, in what is the best moment of the show so far, Viserys enters the throne room and stumbles to the Iron Throne with his cane.
Much like Alicent’s entrance in the green dress during Episode Five, this epic entrance is accompanied by Ramin Djawadi’s excellent score, hyping up the bravery of this moment.
Viserys is in incredible pain, yet he still struggles to the throne to protect his daughter.
He stumbles twice, the first time refusing help and the second time accepting help from Daemon of all people.
The brothers went from at odds during the beginning of the show to reconciled near the end, and it is beautiful to watch Daemon help Viserys to the throne with gentle encouragement and then place his fallen crown upon his head.
Now upon the throne, Viserys asks to hear Rhaenys thoughts on who should inherit the Driftwood Throne, since she is the only one who would understand her husband’s wishes.
Rhaenys makes her decision, supporting Lucerys’ claim, backing Rhanerya.
However, she also plays the situation in her own favour, by announcing the betrothal between Jace and Baela, and Luke and Rhaena.
Viserys accepts this and reaffirms Lucerys claim, only for Vaemond to angrily denounce this.
Spurred on by Daemon, Vaemond goes on to call Jace and Lucerys bastards but goes a step even further, calling Rhanerya a whore.
And the Darwin Award goes to… Vaemond Velaryon for stupidly calling the heir to the Iron Throne a whore, somehow thinking this would not get him executed!
To Vaemond’s credit, he may have known this would get him killed but he decided to die getting the truth of Rhanerya’s children’s parentage out into the open once and for all.
In the end, his death is pretty quick and brutal, with Daemon cutting half his head off right after Viserys demands his tongue, stating, “he can keep his tongue.”
The reaction to this from the Hightowers are priceless, with all of them being horrified, except for Aemond who appears to be quite impressed with his uncle/brother-in law… man, Targaryen family trees are weird.
That night, after recovering somewhat, Viserys orders a dinner to take place with his family in the hopes of reconciling the two factions.
His speech is heart breaking and it seems to get through to Rhanerya and Alicent in particular who both raise their cups to one another.
Alicent even says that Rhanerya would make a good queen, seemingly accepting her rise to the throne following her own son’s terrible actions.
Aegon attempts to provoke Jace by making a sexual advance on Baela but Jace plays this off, being the better person.
This all prompts Helaena to make her own toast, encouraging Baela and Rhaena in their marriages.
“It’s not so bad,” she says. “Mostly he just ignores you, except when he’s drunk.”
Helaena is just too pure for the terrible world of Westeros.
Her toast leads to Jace dancing with her afterwards, in what is both a noble attempt to cheer her up and also to get back at Aegon for his pot stirring.
Much celebration follows, with the two sides seemingly getting along and Viserys heart is clearly warmed at the sight, as he clearly thinks his family has reconciled.
So, of course, as soon as Viserys departs, due to the pain he feels, fighting breaks out.
A pig is placed in front of Aemond and this clearly reminds both him and Lucerys of “the pink dread” prank he, Jace and Aegon played on Aemond when they were younger.
Lucerys tries not to laugh at the memory.
It was really not a good plan to provoke the guy whose eye you cut out and now definitley has a grudge against you, Lucerys.
This is proven when Aemond makes his own toast to his nephew’s health, calling them “Strong” in a clear reference to their true father.
Jace punches Aemond in retalitation but Daemon steps in before a brawl can break out and someone else loses an eye.
As Jace and Luke go to their rooms, Aemond and Daemon face off silently, before Aemond relents and leaves.
Alicent and Rhanerya then reconcile further, with Rhanerya saying she will return to visit “on dragon back.”
After Rhanerya and her family leave, Alicent puts Viserys to bed, giving him milk of the poppy again for the pain.
Unfortunately, this has the worst of consequences, as it causes Viserys to hallucinate, thinking that Alicent is Rhanerya from the night before, asking about the Prince that was Promised.
Viserys response causes Alicent to think that he is saying Aegon should be king over Rhanerya, when he is actually saying Rhanerya is the heir who will continue Aegon the Conqueror’s line.
I have made it clear that I have disliked the inclusion of the whole Prince that was Promised plotline, given that it never amounted to anything in Game of Thrones.
However, I think this was the perfect usage of it, with this natural misunderstanding between Alicent and Viserys leading to the Dance of the Dragons.
If this misunderstanding never happened then Alicent very may well have supported Rhanerya’s claim over Aegon’s, following Viserys’ death.
And because Viserys dies he can never clear up the misunderstanding that just happened.
Viserys passes alone, in his bed, seeing his dear Aemma in his final moments.
“My love,” he whispers, as he breaths his last breath.
So dies King Viserys Targaryen, the First of his Name, King of the Andals, and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.
With Viserys’ time on the show now at an end, I am now going to say what many people have been saying since this episode aired… Give Paddy Considine his Emmy!
Seriously, the guy gives an incredible performance as Viserys, turning the bland character from the book into one of the most tragic characters in the show.
If he is not at least nominated for this role then I do not what the world is coming to.
Viserys’ storyline alone makes “Lord of the Tides” my favourite episode of House of the Dragon thus far.
It is a fantastic episode, which serves as a great goodbye to Viserys and is the final calm before the storm.
And now the dragons dance.

Book Spoiler Section:
Once again for the book spoiler section, I will begin by attempting to guess what Helaena’s prophecy means.
“Beware the beast beneath the boards,” is what Helaena murmers at the dinner party.
I think this is a reference to Blood and Cheese, the tragic event in the Dance of the Dragons, where assassins are sent to kill one of Helaena’s children in retaliation for Luke’s death.
It will certainly be a horrifying moment in the show when this happens in Season Two, considering how sweet Helaena is.
“Lord of the Tides” also has a lot of great foreshadowing for the future of the show.
There is Rhanerya saying she will return “on dragon back”, which she does when she takes King’s Landing during the Dance.
There is Aemond and Daemon’s brief stand off, hinting at their final fight above the God’s Eye.
We see Mysaria has a servant of Alicent as an informer, foreshadowing her future role as a Mistress of Whisperers.
Then, there is Viserys comment about his grandson having a name “fit for a king,” which Viserys the younger will eventually become.
Although, this is decades down the line, so we likely will not see it in the show.
The next book spoiler I wish to discuss is actually not related to the episode itself.
This spoiler concerns the character of Daeron.
In the book, he is Alicent and Visery’s fourth child who has a key role to play in the Dance. However, he has been completley absent in the show.
Many have speculated that he is squiring in Old Town and George R.R Martin has seemingly confirmed Daeron’s existence in the show.
However, him not even being mentioned previously will make it quite strange for show only viewers to meet him in the following seasons.
I just hope he is introduced right and in a way that feels natural, despite him not being mentioned.

House of the Dragon Episode Seven, Driftmark Review: Eye for an Eye.

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?
Definitley.
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.

House of the Dragon Episode Six, The Princess and the Queen Review: The Clubfoot Strikes.

I was quite excited for Episode Six of House of the Dragon “The Princess and the Queen” because it would give us our first look at the new actors for Rhanerya and Alicent, Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke.
After watching the episode, I can definitley say that the two live up to Milly Alcock and Emily Carey’s performances, and I am looking forward to seeing more of them.
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik, “The Princess and the Queen” is the best directed episode of the series so far, in my opinion, beginning with some terrific long takes as a now older Rhanerya gives birth to her third son, Joffrey, named after Laenor’s lover.
D’Arcy does a great job showing Rhanerya’s pain during the birth and her instant love for her child, yet this joy is halted when a midwife tells Rhanerya that Alicent wishes to see the child immediately.
Rather than allow them to take her child, Rhanerya decides to stand up to Alicent by taking the baby to her, instead of resting.
An older Laenor (John Macmillan) arrives and is disgusted by Alicent’s actions, helping Rhanerya to see her, yet things have obviously grown cold between them, recently.
They meet with Alicent and it is then that the viewers receive what may be the biggest shock of the episode… which is Viserys still being alive.
Kidding aside, it is funny how so many viewers were surprised that Viserys still lived.
The King looks even worse than he did ten years ago and he is now missing an arm, although he is overjoyed to have a new grandson.
What is less joyous is Alicent immediately picking up on the fact that the child is clearly not Laenor’s because he has none of the Velaryon features, as she cruely tells Laenor, “Soon or late, you may get one that looks like you.”
The actual father of the child is Harwin Strong, who Rhanerya and Laenor leave to see, along with Rhanerya’s two other children with Harwin, Jacareys (Leo Hart) and Lucerys (Harvey Sadler), leaving a trail of blood as she does so, highlighting Alicent’s cruelty.
As for Rhanerya and Harwin, all we really get of the couple is a few brief looks between the two and loving exchanges.
I wish we could have got more but Harwin dies at the end of the episode.
In all honesty, I kind of like the subtle way their relationship is handled.
It is really not all that important to the overall story, except for Rhanerya’s children being bastards, so it makes sense for it not really being featured much in the show much.
Despite the short amount of time, I still think we got enough to make it work.
After the brief moment between them, the scene cuts to Jacaerys and Lucerys going to the Dragon Pit with Aegon (Ty Tennant) and Alicent’s other son Aemond (Leo Ashton) to train Jacaerys dragon, Vermax.
Jacaerys does well in training Vermax but then he, Lucerys and Aegon make fun of Aemond for not having a dragon, gifting him a pig to use they dub “the Pink Dread.”
This prompts Aemond to enter the Dragon Pit to try and claim a dragon of his own, only to be met with the dragon Dreamfyre, who is actually the mother of Daenerys’ dragons.
Her flames drive the boy away.
We then meet Alicent’s only daughter Helena (Evie Allen) who seems to be a bit of a bug collector.
On that note, I would like to praise the portrayal of Alicent’s children in this episode.
We did not get much of a sense of their personalities during their earlier years in Fire and Blood, especially with Helena, and I like what this episode did with them.
Upon learning what Jacaerys and Lucerys did to Aemond, Alicent goes to Viserys about it, using this as an excuse to bring up the boys’ obvious parentage.
Viserys is still in denial, however, bringing up a story about how a silver stallion he once had gave birth to a chesnut foul.
His denial is understandable since if the truth came out it would end badly for his daughter and grandchildren.
Alicent is frustrated by this, venting to Criston Cole about it, who goes on his own rant about Rhanerya, calling her “a spider who skins and sucks her prey dry” and a “spoiled c***.”
Criston’s feelings for Rhanerya have clearly grown into outright hatred, yet even Alicent thinks his statements go too far, saying that she hopes honour and decency will prevail.
Therefore, the shot perfectly cuts to Aegon masterbating in the window looking over King’s Landing, Homelander style, showing exactly how hypocritical Alicent’s claims of “honour and decency” are, considering how she seeks to make the perverted Aegon king.
Alicent arrives and admonishes him for making fun of Aemond, strangely ignoring the fact that she just caught her son masterbating in a dangerous position.
Her attempts to raise Aegon to rule have clearly failed, as he would rather not challenge Rhanerya, causing Alicent to grab him and shout that he is the challenge.
Meanwhile, we finally see what Daemon has been up to these past ten years.
He is revealed to have married Laena (Nanna Blondell) and had two daughters with her, Bela (Shani Smethurst) and Rhaena (Eva Ossei-Gerning), and the four of them are visiting Pentos.
Laena has also claimed the largest and oldest of the dragons, Vhagar.
I and many other book readers had been anticipating seeing her and she did not disappoint, being absolutley massive and covered in scars from various battles.
In Pentos, the prince offers them a home, so their prescence can ward off the recently reemerged triarchy.
Daemon seems to consider this idea, appearing much more laid back to Westerosi politics than he was ten years ago.
Laena is reluctant, however, wanting to eventually die a dragon rider’s death.
Back in King’s Landing, we see Criston orchestrate a confrontation between himself and Harwin to further spread the rumors of him being the father to Rhanerya’s sons.
He does this during a training session, deliberately putting the boys in a fighting situation in which Harwin has to step in, prompting him to say Harwin treats the boys like his sons.
Just as Criston expected, this leads to Harwin attacking him, spreading the rumors and ultimately resulting in his banishment from King’s Landing.
Unfortunately, this has the unintended side effect of having Criston getting away with murdering Joffrey last episode make even less sense.
Hearing of the assault, Rhanerya goes to see Harwin, only to overhear an argument between him and Lyonel, stoking her fears of what may happen to her and Harwin’s sons if the rumors are confirmed as fact.
Laenor certainly does not help matters, as he arrives in her room with his latest lover, Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan).
The two argue, with Laenor wanting to go out and fight the triarchy again, ending with Rhanerya ordering him to stay.
Rhanerya’s desperation is also seen when she offers a marriage between Jacaerys and Helaena to Alicent at the next Small Council meeting.
Although desperate, this is quite the smart call from Rhanerya, and Alicent too would have been wise to accept it.
Marrying the two would extend protection to Helaena and Alicent’s other children, which is a priority for Alicent.
It would also mean Helaena becomes queen if Alicent’s plan to make Aegon king fall through.
Unfortunately, Alicent is too prideful to accept this deal, refusing it, and Viserys is too complacent to argue.
Before the two can talk further, Lyonel arrives to resign as Hand of the King because of Harwin’s actions but Viserys will not allow it unless Lyonel says why.
Lyonel is reluctant, since this would mean admitting that Harwin fathered Rhanerya’s children, spelling disaster for his house.
Unable to resign, Lyonel instead asks to take Harwin back to Harrenhal, which Viserys concedes.
Alicent is angered by this, meeting with Larys to rant to him, even admitting her own bias, wanting Otto back because “he would be partial to me.”
Larys interprets this as permission to recruit death row prisoners, remove their tounges to keep them from talking, and then send them to kill his father and brother.
The fire at Harrenhal was another mystery in the book that I think the show answered well, with Larys ordering it and Alicent accidentally implicating herself.
One change from the book is Laena’s fate.
Rather than die of a fever after a stillborn birth, she instead suffers a similar fate to Aemma, as the baby will not emerge.
Faced with the choice of dying by C-Section or dying like a dragon rider, Laena chooses the latter, going to Vhagar and shouting, “Dracarys!”
Vhagar appears reluctant but, in the end, honours her rider’s wish, burning Laena to death, while Daemon looks on in horror.
Back at King’s Landing, Rhanerya decides to go to Dragonstone as the heir, bringing her children, Laenor and Qarl.
Upon their arrival, word of Harwin and Lyonel’s deaths reach King’s Landing, which Alicent is horrified about.
She clearly did not wish for this, as she says.
The question is if Larys really did interpret her words to mean that she did, or if he is just saying he saw it that way to blackmail her.
My bet is on the second possibility.
Larys wants his reward for killing his family eventually, after all, and Otto’s return must surely bring a big one.
It is on this disturbing note that the episode comes to an end.
“The Princess and the Queen” is another great episode of House of the Dragon.
My only criticisms are that Harwin being punished while Criston is not is weird, and that some scenes, like Laena’s death, feel a little rushed.
Although, this is understandable, given that the writers have to hurry to reach the events they want to by the end of the season.
I am quite excited for the next episode, “Driftmark”, which is sure to be a big one.

Book Spoiler Section:
In this part of the review, I would like to discuss the theory that Helena is a dreamer.
She does seem to prophesy Aemond losing an eye, which will happen next episode, stating that, “he will have to close an eye.”
I am unsure what the other vague statements she makes could be in reference to.
Speaking of Aemond getting his eye cut out, I am extremely excited to see that whole fight between him and Rhanerya’s kids.
I have heard rumors that Bela and Rhaena’s role in the fight will be bumped up, along with another rumor of a massive book change so I am intrigued to see what that will be.
Laenor’s death and Rhanerya marrying Daemon also looks to be happening.
Alot of interesting things will occur in Episode Seven and I am eager to watch then unfold tomorrow.