House of the Dragon Recap: Rhaenyra’s Secret Leaks and Alicent’s Succession Allegiance Shifts

Warning: This post contains spoilers for season 1, episode 5 of House of the Dragon.

A cloaked Daemon (Matt Smith), acting on King Viserys I’s (Paddy Considine) orders, actually returned to the Vale in the eerie first scene of the House of the Dragon episode “We Light the Way.” There, using great cunning, he paralyzed and then killed his wife, Lady Rhea Royce, while she was out riding a horse. Most people think that her death was an accident because there were no witnesses, and Daemon is pitied for the loss. However, Lady Royce’s cousin suspected something more sinister, and she subsequently accused Daemon of murder.

Viserys, whose health was rapidly failing as a result of his spreading hand illness, made his way with a fleet to Castle Driftmark where he formally proposed marriage to Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Lord Corlys Velaryon’s (Steve Toussaint) son Laenor (Theo Nate). It took considerable wrangling over inheritance rights before the marriage was approved. Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best), the spouse of Corlys, warned her husband that war would break out if Rhaenys truly became queen. She is Viserys’ cousin. Corlys swore to crush anybody who stood in the way of the fortified families’ ascension to the throne.

The cousins Rhaenyra and Laenor decided to get married in secret so they could each pursue the person they were genuinely drawn to while their parents planned their lives and futures within the castle. Rhaenyra was obviously thinking about Ser Criston Cole in this situation (Fabien Frankel). Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, Laenor’s lover, was the one responsible (Solly McLeod).

Before leaving King’s Landing as an unemployed Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), he had a candid conversation with his daughter, Queen Alicent (Emily Carey). Otto’s attempts at succession puppeteering turned out to be more the result of his ability to clearly see the situation for what it was and how hazardous it would develop than any scheming or plotting. Viserys will soon pass away from his sickness, Otto admitted to his daughter. And if Rhaenyra were to become monarch while a male heir—whom most would consider legitimate—was next in line, the conflict would undoubtedly break out. Otto predicted that Rhaenyra would execute Alicent and Viserys’ children in order to avert war and solidify her position of power.

Gavin Spokes’ Lyonel Strong, the Lord of Harrenhal, who is considerably smarter than he initially looked to be in earlier episodes on the king’s little council, took Otto’s position as Hand. Larys, Lyonel’s youngest son, told the queen about the “tea” that Grand Maester Mellos (David Horovitch) supposedly delivered Rhaenyra to “remove any undesired effects” following her alleged encounter with Daemon. The king allegedly ordered Rhaenyra to do so. Rhaenyra had made a promise to her former close friend and current stepmother that nothing had occurred and that she had maintained her chastity.

With regard to Rhaenyra, it was clear from the “tea” information and Otto’s insight that Alicent no longer had faith in her. This impression was further strengthened when Criston unintentionally revealed to the queen that he and Rhaenyra had engaged in sexual activity while Alicent was merely attempting to confirm the Daemon rumor. The queen immediately had daggers for Rhaenyra, and it was obvious that she would join the opposition to Rhaenyra succeeding to the Iron Throne over her son.

To commemorate Rhaenyra and Laenor’s impending marriage, a huge feast was hosted in King’s Landing. This was followed by a week of games that would end with the wedding itself. (Of course, most Game of Thrones aficionados are aware that you should never trust a wedding feast.) Of course, the huge party ended in murder and bloodshed. Joffrey, Laenor’s lover, basically revealed to Criston that he and Laenor had discovered a relationship between him and Rhaenyra. Joffrey advised the four to take care of one another in order to protect their privacy and lives. Criston, who had just had his heart destroyed when Rhaenyra retorted that he was only her F-boy after he demanded that she resign her title and run away with him.

The only thing Daniel Plainview’s “I’m finished!” at the conclusion was lacking as an incensed Criston smashed in Joffrey’s face. The hall descended into chaos, and the monarch started oozing blood from his nose. Criston was about to commit himself while by himself outside when Alicent intervened. Right before Viserys passed out, Rhaenyra and Laenor were married quickly after the hall had been cleaned out.


 

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