House of the Dragon Ep 5 Review
WHAT. THE HECK. JUST HAPPENED? I knew knives would come out on House of the Dragon, since this is Westeros, but damn. I didn’t expect that to happen so soon! We are now past the point of no return for House Targaryen. In what should be a “joyous” royal wedding, instead becomes a tragedy. And for once, Daemon wasn’t at fault.
No, seriously, Daemon wasn’t at fault this time.
In the episode’s opening minutes, we get our first look at Daemon’s “bronze bitch,” Rhea Royce. It’s also the last because Daemon kills her.
The books say Rhea died when she fell off her horse. The show takes some creative liberties that would make George RR Martin proud. Daemon tricks Rhea into causing her own fall…and then just kills her. The knives have come out, and Dameon’s taking crap from no one.
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship?
For the players in King’s Landing, though, there’s plenty of crap to go around, especially for Rhaenyra and Set Criston Cole. Rhaenyra heads to Driftmark to meet her betrothed, Ser Laenor Velaryon. On the surface, it seems like an ideal match. Both houses are Valryian, and both have dragons. However, there’s an issue: Laenor’s gay, and Rhaenyra knows it. While the parents discuss inheritance, Rhaenyra and Laenor come to an understanding. They essentially agree that after they do their duty, they’ll have an open relationship. It’s not that bad of a deal, honestly. Unless your Ser Criston Cole.
Poor Ser Criston Got His Heart Broken
Oh, poor Criston. My heart couldn’t help but go out to you just as much as I wanted to slap you across the face. Rhaenyra made him break vows of celibacy as part of the Kingsguard, something he deeply regrets. Being the idealist he is, he gives Rhaenyra an offer: walk away from all this madness. They can leave for Essos, forget everything, and leave the insanity behind.
Hindsight has never felt more painful than it does here. Because if you know the story, then you know how it will likely end. What Ser Criston’s offering is the best chance Rhaenyra could get for a happy life. If this weren’t Game of Thrones, then maybe Rhaenyra would take that offer. Instead, her sense of duty, pride, and desire for the Iron Throne make her turn him down. And he’s not happy with the idea of sharing Rhaenyra with someone else.
Again, I feel for Ser Criston. From his perspective, he feels like Rhaenyra just used him for her own amusement. The Lords and Ladies can afford that kind of slip-up, but someone common born like Ser Criston? He tarnished himself as part of the Kingsguard for nothing. It’s painful to watch, especially when he just admits it to Alicent when she lightly prods him.
Knives Come Out With Blood in the Water
Things come to a head at the feast that’s supposed to mark the start of Rhaenyra and Laenor’s weeklong wedding celebrations. Alicent comes dressed in Hightower green, which is her way of saying to Rhaenyra, “I know what you did. I know you lied to me, and our friendship is over.”
It gets worse. In the middle of the dancing, Ser Criston lets the guilt and resentment he’s feeling get to him, and he snaps. What happened next was a tragedy that left people horrified and me with my jaw on the floor. Thus, Rhaenyra and Laenor hastily wed in a private ceremony, even while blood lays dripping on the floor as a rat comes by.
So, to recap: two minor characters are dead. Any relationship Alicent and Ser Criston had with Rhaenyra’s damaged beyond repair. And if it’s not clarified, King Viserys won’t live to be old.
Knives Out, Lines Drawn, Bonds Destroyed
Can someone ring the gong to announce the impending doom for the Targaryen’s? Because, as Princess Rhaenys said this episode, knives will come out. People will fight over who sits on the Iron Throne. All because they can’t accept having a woman as a leader.
What’s especially tragic about all this is that Rhaenyra had an out. She had the chance to walk away with Ser Criston. They could’ve taken Syrax and left for parts unknown, but pride and duty made her stay. Now she must face the consequences of what comes.
This episode also marks the final appearance of Milly Alcock and Emily Carey as Rhaenyra and Alicent. Starting next episode, they’ll be played by older actresses to signify the big time skip. They both did an amazing job as these two women, and I hope they find success in the future.
Alright, people, the knives are out. Let’s watch the Dragons tear at each other’s throats!!