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House of the Dragon: Driftmark

“They will fear what else we might be capable of.”

The last few episodes have been especially dramatic and intense, but this may be the most dramatic yet.

That said, not much happened in this episode. Laena Velaryon's funeral brings everyone to Driftmark, island home of House Velaryon. Aemond steals Vhagar, the oldest and biggest dragon in the world, and gains an oversized ego to match. The bad blood within the royal family comes to light, solidifying its two opposing factions.

I feel most viewers could have predicted a lot of what does happen: Rhaenyra and Daemon hooking up again, Aemond getting a dragon, the inevitable violence between the blacks and the greens, getting Laenor out of the picture somehow for Rhaenyra/Daemon.

The most interesting thing that happens, which this episode is really centered around, is the long-coming confrontation we get after Lucerys Velaryon slashes one of Aemond's eyes out when the latter starts a fight with Rhaenyra and Daemon's kids. It's a scene that forces the issues looming over the royal court into the open, particularly the deep resentments and hypocrisies between Rhaenyra and Alicent.

As much as Alicent wants to act like it's concern for her children's lives that drives her, this episode makes it pretty clear that she's actually just really mad that Rhaenyra kind of just does what she wants while Alicent coldly resigns herself to duty. And while Rhaenyra is right that Alicent is self-righteous to the point that she thinks everyone else is crazy for not letting her cut out a little boy's eye to balance a debt, this episode also makes it clear that she consistently prioritizes her own passions and desires above the duties her father has entrusted her with; despite her empathy and rationalizations, she tells dangerous lies and overcomplicates things with her selfish choices.

Really what this episode underscores is the grey area all the characters exist in now. In the beginning, it was a bit easier to look at them in terms of black and white. Other than Daemon, that is. Now though, everyone's grey. While it adds to their complexities, it does make them harder to like. Right now, the most sympathetic characters are Rhaenyra's sons and Daemon's daughters.

Rhaenyra and Alicent are lethal drama queens, of course. Though offset by his depression over Laena's death, Daemon's still a punk; he doesn't comfort Baela and Rhaena during their mother's funeral and he remains aloof for most of the big black-green confrontation. King Viserys is so unwilling to address the issues in his family that he tries to simply order a peaceful end to the strife and threatens to cut out the tongues of anyone else who addresses his grandsons' obvious illegitimacy. Corlys favors the Velaryon boys because they bear his name and are set to carry on his legacy, while Rhaenys shuns them entirely in favor of her trueborn granddaughters. Laenor was ready to be a more reliable marriage partner and father, but evidently jumped at the chance to abandon his family, his duties and his pet dragon in Westeros so he could run away to live a life of adventure with his boyfriend. Though I do think Otto Hightower loves his daughter, he's also a man who cheerfully enables all of her and her sons' worst instincts in the name of winning the game. Even scumbags like Aemond, Criston Cole and Larys Strong have layers that make them more than just "guy we like" or "guy we hate."

Which makes the fact that the show does seem to be favoring Team Black over Team Green a little irritating. I mean, I'm okay with it since George R.R. Martin basically did the same thing when writing the histories, but still. I think this might be a case of real world bias creeping in. Other than younger Alicent's arc in the first half of the season, we are given very little reason to sympathize with the green side of things. They represent the old traditions, the toxic limitations that a medieval, feudalistic society is built upon. Whereas Rhaenyra and Daemon, despite their flaws, represent a more revolutionary force that threatens the status quo. Pro-love, pro-gay, pro-having children out of wedlock, all the cool stuff. It's understandable why the writers might do this, but I fear they'll run into the same problem as Game of Thrones and end up diluting the narrative with their own contemporary biases.

How they got rid of Laenor is a good example. In the histories, it's pretty clear cut. He got into a quarrel with his rumored lover and died. Here, we are at first led to believe that Rhaenyra arranges Laenor's death so she can be free to marry Daemon. Then it turns out she, Daemon, Laenor and Laenor's lover Qarl all agreed to fake Laenor's death by fireplace, with Daemon murdering some random page to have a corpse to pass off as Laenor. I get that this is supposed to add to the moral ambiguity of things, showing us that the blacks aren't so different from the greens, but does it really? I mean, yeah, Rhaenyra has Daemon kill a presumably innocent bystander and breaks the hearts of her sons and in-laws by tricking them all into thinking Laenor's dead, and Laenor's a jerk too for being quietly complicit in all of that. However, this also is framed to make the blacks look better than the greens. Killing one guy, telling a few more big lies and giving two repressed gay men the chance to live their best life across the sea seems a lot less dark than Alicent encouraging her princeling sons to be even bigger pricks and accepting the help of a guy who kills his own family just to gain an edge.

House of the Dragon is still good. Nothing wrong with having main characters who do bad things; that's how it is with most shows, movies, books I consume. Maybe I'm just over the gradual build-up to the main conflict. Which might mean that the last few episodes of this season will be a slight bummer for me. Because I know that main conflict is only going to kick off in the finale. Which would make this whole season a major tease. Decadently entertaining, but a tease.

Blacks and greens:

* Laena's funeral ceremony was a gorgeous sequence. Very well-shot.

* Viserys accidentally calls Alicent by his first wife’s name early in the episode.

* Corlys Velaryon's brother, Vaemond, is apparently a Valyrian supremacist. He makes his disapproval of Rhaenyra's bastard sons known during his eulogy for Laena, which seems to amuse Daemon.

* I thought it was kind of lame that Corlys and Rhaenys said nothing during the big confrontation in High Tide's hall. If anything, they should have been the ones most outraged. Aemond stole their late daughter's dragon on the night she was laid to rest, assaulted their grandchildren, and Alicent makes a petty insult against their absent son, all on their turf. I know it's the royal family and whatever, but Rhaenys is a Targaryen too and Corlys wasn't shy about speaking against the monarchy before.

* The guards really suck at their jobs in this episode, much to the chagrin of Viserys and Corlys. You'd think men with their level of power would have a guard waiting beside every door. But then how would anyone be able to sneak and scheme at their leisure?

* Aemond's first flight was a very fun scene. The effects on Vhagar were dope; a couple shots even reminded me of Smaug in The Hobbit films.


Princess Helaena Targaryen: “Hand turns loom; spool of green, spool of black; dragons of flesh weaving dragons of thread…”

Corlys: “Both my seat and High Tide will be yours one day, Lucerys. Your brother will be king, of course. He’ll sit on endless councils and ceremonies, but the Lord of the Tides rules the sea.”
Lucerys: “Sorry. I don’t want it.”
Corlys: “It’s your birthright, lad.”
Lucerys: “If I’m the Lord of Driftmark, it means everyone’s dead.”
Poor kid.

Otto Hightower: "I'm sorry for your loss, my prince."
Daemon: "No matter how fat the leech grows, it always wants for another meal."

Rhaenys: “We are alone here, husband. You can speak the plain truth as we both know it. Rhaenyra’s children are not of your blood. But Laena’s are. They are her legacy.”
Corlys: “History does not remember blood. It remembers names.”

Rhaenyra: “I do not believe Alicent capable of cold murder.”
Daemon: “Each of us is capable of depravity. And more than you would believe.”
Rhaenyra: “I believe it of you.”
Daemon: “If you’re accusing me of some depravity, you’ll need to be more specific.”

Viserys I: “This interminable infighting must cease! All of you! We are family!”

Alicent: “If the King will not seek justice, the Queen will. Ser Criston… bring me the eye of Lucerys Velaryon.”
Olivia Cooke really nails the wicked stepmother vibe.

Prince Aemond Targaryen: “Do not mourn me, mother. It was a fair exchange. I may have lost an eye… but I gained a dragon.”

Alicent: “It was an ugly thing. I regret it.”
Otto Hightower: “We play an ugly game. And now, for the first time, I see that you have the determination to win it.”

Larys Strong: “If it’s an eye you want, to balance the scales, I am your servant.”
Alicent: “... That will not be necessary. But your devotion has not gone unnoticed.”
Oh, Larys! So helpful and generous and eager to please.

Rhaenyra: “I will not be a tyrant. And rule through terror.”
Daemon: “A tyrant rules only through terror. If the king isn’t feared, he is powerless. If you are to be a strong queen, you must cultivate love and respect, yes, but your subjects must fear you.”

Four and a half out of five seaside funerals.


  1. (Sorry can someone erase my previous comment? I didn’t realize it had so many typo until after, I corrected it in this comment.)

    That confrontation between the families with allicent demanding an eye from Rheanyra’s child was intense and didn’t paint her in a good light. I’m definitely team black especially now that daemon and reahnyra are married. Also the board does seem more stacked in their favor currently, Who is in real green besides Allicent and Otto? I guess they do have the whole male heir thing going for them but most of the main characters seem to be on team Black as of now.

    Also did GRRM have to make so many of the characters names so similar? I’m having a hard time keeping track especially now with all the children involved,

    I too am ready for the main conflict. I’m guessing that won’t be until season 2 though. Kind of like how season 1 of GOT set up the battle of the 5 kings.

    Also hopefully next season won’t the so many time jumps in it? I’m kind of over them: I’m having a hard time staying invested knowing everyone will be in a different place story wise the next episode;

  2. Anonymous, got it. I so agree about the names. I'm glad Logan is so good about the spellings.

  3. The similar names of people and places is somewhat annoying to me as well. Then again, it also makes me think about the naming of things in our own world. Lot of redundancies there too.


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