Familial in-fighting dominated this episode of House Of The Dragon, which commenced with Rhaenyra turning down a bevy of suitors lined up by her father, King Viserys, in a bid to solidify his alliance with the winning suitor’s house but issues snowballed on her return to King’s Landing.
Prince Daemon, with a crown perched on his head, returned home to a hero’s welcome after his annihilation of the Crabfeeders which earned him the epithet ‘King Of The Narrow Sea.’
In the aftermath of this, Daemon and Rhaenyra talk about their changed fates in this world, including the latter’s numerous suitor proposals. Of course, none of this is in the name of love, it’s all about power and titles.
Speaking of authority, Viserys calls the little council together in the royal room where they are dealing with more pressing issues. Lord Corlys and the Sealord of Braavos are negotiating. He intends to marry the son of the Sealord with his daughter Laena. Why is that awful, then?
In any case, the Free Cities would be compelled to seek out their own marriage contract in order to fortify their frontiers if Velaryon formed an alliance with them. And of course, Rhaenyra is the source of that “nuptial agreement.”
Meanwhile, daughter and uncle sneaked out of the palace grounds, wandering across the city before ending up in a brothel — not before they ended up kissing each other. Well, in-breeding was an in-thing with royalties during medieval times.
Disappointingly (or not), nothing happened but that did not stop a spy from relaying the affairs to Otto, the King’s Hand.
On her return to the palace, Rhaenyra blithely risks her closest companion’s life, luring Ser Criston into her chambers for a game of hide-the-helmet. Viserys was magnanimous in his initial forgiveness of Daemon and then demanding in his suppurative midnight lust.
Viserys eventually receives the information from Otto, and Alicent meets Rhaenyra and demands an explanation. Naturally, there was only kissing involved; Rhaenyra is eager to clarify that these allegations are false and defamatory.
The fact that Daemon is carried into the throne room in the morning and put on the floor doesn’t augur well for him in particular. While kicking him, Viserys demands the truth. Viserys is advised by Daemon to allow Rhaenyra and him to wed because doing so will restore the House of the Dragon to its former splendour.
Viserys tells Daemon to leave and get out of his sight after recognising this as a plot to seize the throne.
Alicent sticks up for Rhaenyra that evening, pointing out to to her husband that she believes her friend after their chat in the courtyard. Viserys is conflicted over what to do and eventually brings Rhaenyra in to see him so they can talk.
Viserys calls her his “political headache” and goes on to decide they should set up a wedding to Ser Laenor Velaryon. That would unite the two most powerful houses together. Rhaenyra is quick to point out Otto is the real vulture and opportunist here, as he’s trying to put Aegon on the throne.
Viserys shrugs it off until Rhaenyra throws an ultimatum his way – get rid of Otto Hightower as Hand and Rhaenyra will marry.
Viserys makes a big decision. He reflects on how Otto has wormed his way in, calculating all of this with Alicent and Aegon. He takes the title from the Hand, pointing out he can’t trust Otto’s judgment anymore, leaving the man shocked and incredulous.
As the episode closes out, Rhaenyra receives a tea from the King, intending to “rid her of any unwanted consequences.”
Final Thoughts on House Of The Dragon S1E4
We were essentially given what was promised. Compared to the peripatetic, realm-hopping “Game of Thrones,” “House of the Dragon” would be a more simple melodrama, according to the showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik (Sapochnik has since left).
The Sunday episode was a pure soap opera, complete with secret relationships, betrayals within families, and palace-level intrigue. The approach seems to be that if you’re going to make a soap, you might as well make it as operatic as possible, staying true to the maximalist inclinations of “Thrones” storytelling.
Even if there were a lot of situations that were difficult to watch, let’s just state the obvious: This is objectively disgusting material. This disclaimer is applicable to this week as well as to prior weeks and future weeks.
Gross behaviours include uncles “coupling” with nieces, sore-covered old men sleeping youngsters, sex enslavement, and child brides.
Although age differences and other factors may make us feel uncomfortable, if we wish to believe this story, we must all check our modern moral standards at the door to some extent.