In Westeros, on the day of the wedding, what could possibly go wrong?
We last saw Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, getting the seven bells kicked out of him by his brother’s Kingsguard. But as the saying goes, “you can not keep a good man down,” and sure enough, he was back on his feet in no time, quietly murdering his wife to marry his niece.
Family is everything in the Targaryen household, which is not even the worst decision they made in this episode, marriage-wise. I love Westeros, where the average wedding guest has a 50/50 chance of making it out alive.
Daemon wears a ridiculously oversized hoodie as he prepares to murder his wife, Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford, evidently an alliteration queen). Considering they reportedly never consummated their marriage, he might have filed for an annulment or its local equivalent.
However, he may be too proud to do so, or he may be trying to steal her money. It would be more efficient to go directly to murder. However, his hostility for Rhea seems strange for someone whose personality type is “actively hostile.”
However, Viserys (Paddy Considine) has already left for Driftmark to set up the marriage of his daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) to Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate), the heir to Lord Corlys (Steven Toussaint). However, the fact that Laenor Velaryon is gay is usually overlooked in dynastic marriages. But the young pair says they will ignore it and move on with their lives anyhow.
Driftmark is a fantastic setting, with elements reminiscent of Cornwall’s St. Michael’s Mount and the treasures of the sea brought back from the Sea Snake’s travels. Viserys stresses the need to “finally” join the Targaryen and Velaryon households there, yet the groom’s mother is his cousin Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best).
Indeed this is an effort to demonstrate one more how marginalized she has been and how unquestionably patriarchal Viserys has been. His daughter’s accession to the throne has been predicted to cause no problems whatsoever, but he is the only one who thinks thus. What a letdown for someone who always imagined themselves as a Dreamer who could predict the future.
This week, specific issues arose due to the dimly lit sets and overall gloom of the presentation, and one part of the costumes failed to shock. This week, Alicent (Emily Carey) acts out against both her husband and her heir, furious because Rhaenyra lied to her (she did not exactly, but it is an issue of degree).
Also, Ser Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), who seems to be a little bit of a Littlefinger here, encourages her in this. Perhaps curiosity is growing. Alicent is meant to be making a strong statement of independence from the Targaryens when she arrives for the engagement party in green after their conversation.
The reveal of her green gown should be a dramatic moment, but House of the Dragon tells us instead of showing us. As an example, in the same scene, Rhaenyra is dressed in white instead of the traditional Targaryen black and red (an anachronism if we are basing this on medieval times; brides wearing white only really goes back to Queen Victoria in the 19th century), and we have already seen Alicent dressed in blue and bronze.
This might have been more noticeable if the program had previously made a point of changing Alicent’s look when she married or if the female Targaryens had always been dressed in crimson and black like the men. Just as it is, it is a lovely dress.
Alicent and Otto (Rhys Ifans) have had an excellent dialogue, while Rhaenyra and Laenor have also had some interesting discussions throughout the episode. Directing this episode is Clare Kilner, making her the second woman in Westeros to direct an episode of Game of Thrones (after Michelle MacLaren, who directed episodes 3 and 4).
Still, there is hope: Geeta Vasant Patel will join Kilner in the season’s final episode. Even if it is just baby steps behind the camera, it is encouraging to see an attempt at equality in such a show. I am hoping that the women will have more than just the dramatic episodes like this one later in the season and will be able to get their teeth into some action that goes beyond a fistfight.
Or, more accurately, a gauntlet to the face confrontation, as this week’s events come to a head. A fight between Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), also known as the Knight of Kisses and Laenor’s boyfriend, derails the week-long celebrations of the royal wedding almost immediately.
Because people with the surname Joffrey should never attend weddings, things do not go well for him. Sorry to hear about the loss of the young Lonmouth. This world has taught us a lot about wedding customs and superstitions throughout the years.
No need to worry about losing your virginity by seeing the bride before the big day; neither “something borrowed nor blue” nor “not seeing the bride” are required. But you should not be married if there are rats around who are feasting on the coagulating blood of your husband’s recently deceased lover.
It is also not a good omen if your stepmother is unfriendly and your sweetheart is contemplating seppuku at the same time. It is also not a good sign if your uncle glares at you while you are on the dance floor or your father collapses from his festering wounds during the wedding vows. However, my best wishes to the happy couple.
Perhaps everything will turn out nicely.
The episode this week is another talky one, but it sheds more light on the divisions within the Targaryen family. Their attempts to appear united only serve to drive a further wedge between them. Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who are both coming to the end of their respective runs just before the massive time jump, keep things intriguing with their stellar acting.