This week’s House of the Dragon, entitled “Driftmark” really kicks off the war we know as The Dance of the Dragons. Set during Laena Velaryon’s funeral at Driftmark, we get to see just what 10 years of animosity between two families can do to their children, and just how far that animosity and bitterness can push a person.
This episode gave us a small glimpse into the type of people these characters have become. It showed us what their motivations are, and just how far they are willing to go to get what they want. We see Rhaenyra at the beginning of the episode tell Daemon that she doesn’t think Alicent is capable of cold murder… but later in the episode, we see an Alicent that is almost unhinged in her vengeance take a blade to not just Rhaenyra — but also her son.
There is a small glimpse of understanding as to why Alicent has grown into the woman she is today. Why she has so much spite and malice towards someone who was once her friend… it’s a tale as old as time.
She’s jealous that Rhaenyra got to live the life she wants. Alicent was whored off by her own father (Who’s back by the way! I’m sure he will stir up more trouble than we need), whereas Rhaenyra grew up in a house of love — with a father who stood by her, even while everyone else told him he should change his decision and pick a boy over her. Any boy.
Alicent was forced to have children with a man who maybe she didn’t hate, but didn’t necessarily love — out of duty. Rhaenyra was married off for duty, yes, but was still able to have children with a man she loved, in plain sight. Without any repercussions.
Of course, all of these feelings of jealousy and hurt, betrayal and anger have bled into Alicent’s children, who honestly, are not the best kids. While we have seen Aemond be more docile in the past episodes, as soon as he claimed Vhagar he really became more like his brother. The fight scene between the children was shot beautifully, but it looked brutal. The way Aemond had no remorse or concern for punching his younger cousins or even trying to maim them with a rock was shocking.
This poses the question of if these kids, Aemond, Aegon, and Joffrey from Game of Thrones become these… hedonistic, apathetic beings because of what they have absorbed by their parents, and how much power they are given.
The contrast between Alicent and Rhaenyra as mothers and wives was really a central theme in this episode. Viserys, who yeah, didn’t sentence Alicent to death for trying to maim the heir to the throne or her child, seems to be just completely over Alicent, her politics, and her viciousness towards Rhaenyra.
Laenor, on the other hand, wins Husband of the year. He apologized for this episode, owned up to his shortcomings, and perhaps even conspired with his wife to fake his death so she could marry someone who could help solidify her position as Heir to the Throne.
While I have not read or am up to date with all of the Game of Thrones lore, I do know that Rhaenyra is not always the most well-liked queen in history. But as of right now, it feels like the viewers are to feel more for Rhaenyra, rather than Alicent. I do hope there aren’t too many more time jumps so we can see Rhaenyra’s downfall!
Things I thought of during the episode:
- Even though Rhaenyra is older, her hooking up with Daemon and then saying “I need you, uncle” right before proposing made me throw up in my mouth a little
- I cannot believe Viserys is still alive. He looks so much worse every episode, and I always think he’ll be dead soon. But he’s still kicking!
- Laenor getting a happy ending made me smile. Finally! Someone who can get away from all the politics… and just be happy
- Ser Criston… he became so unlikeable so quickly.
- This episode did a great job of showing just how much power is dwindling from Viserys’ hands. While he is a fair king, he is not feared anymore, and perhaps it is because of the lack of consequences those closest to them have faced.
House of the Dragon airs Sundays on HBO.