SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this post if you haven’t seen, or don’t want to know, details from Episode 4 of House of the Dragon.
Rhaenyra continues her search for a suitable match, Daemon returns to Kings Landing and stirs more trouble for the King. Rhaenyra learns a valuable lesson. -Synopsis from HBO
Are y’all ready for a new dating/reality show- The Bachelorette: Westerosi Edition? Warning: It will get bloody! Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) is on her “tour” (to find the husband of her choice, as her father decided in E3) w/ her loyal Kingsguard, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) by her side. We meet her at a castle, Storm’s End, the home of Lord Boremund Baratheon (an ancestor of King Robert from GoT). In the throne room, there is a long line of suitors (noblemen from ALL over the region) waiting to speak to the princess, as well as some onlookers. Rhaenyra looks bored/slightly annoyed; she fiddles w/ her Valyrian steel necklace (a gift from her uncle). An elderly man (Lord Dondarrion of Blackhaven) talks of his lands, home, and being honored by a visit from her grandmother/the queen (MANY yrs ago). FYI: Ser Criston is the son of the steward of Blackhaven.
Jerrel Bracken [to Lord Blackwood]: Protection? The Princess has a dragon, you dumb c*nt.
Rhaenyra [quietly w/ amusement]: I could learn to like that one.
Next, we see a young man (Jerrel Bracken) taunt a teen boy (Willem Blackwood), as the boy presents his case to Rhaenyra. At first, the princess looks amused. which makes the onlookers laugh. Then, the mood turns tense/ugly and swords come out. Rhaenyra decides to cut the interviews short; she and her entourage of royal guards start to walk out. Behind their shoulders, Willem and Jarrel fight, until (surprisingly) the older/stronger Bracken lies sputtering blood from a wound to the belly! WTH is the meaning to this, you may wonder!? Well, as Princess Rhaenys told us (E1), the young men of this society haven’t had a real war to fight in yrs. They’ve mostly fought in tourneys; of course, those could turn deadly. As one astute YT commentator noted, this also reveals Rhaenyra’s character/potential as a queen; she encourages the insults and doesn’t call off the fighting (Boremund does so).
On the trip back to King’s Landing, the boat Rhaenyra is on gets a bump from Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) atop his dragon (Caraxes). Luckily, the princess is NOT hurt, though Ser Criston is V concerned. One critic said this is was Daemon’s way of flirting- LOL! At court, Prince Daemon struts in wearing a handmade crown (made of bones); Ser Harold Westerling (Graham McTavish) keeps him from coming too close to the throne. Daemon offers King Viserys (Paddy Considine) the Crabfeeder’s hammer, saying to “add it to the pile.” After defeating the Triarchy, Daemon (now w/ short hair) was dubbed “King of the Narrow Sea.” Then, he humbly declares that there is ONLY one true king and kneels before his older brother. The tension is the court is eased when the king and prince embrace! Rhaenyra has been watching w/ interest from the back of the room.
Daemon [to Rhaenyra]: You cannot live your life in fear, or you will forsake the best parts of it.
Viserys is quick to welcome Daemon into the family’s fold; he jokes/laughs at the small garden party they have in the prince’s honor. Look carefully and you’ll see lemon cakes (Sansa’s fave food on GoT) on a table! When Rhaenyra is left out, Queen Alicent (Emily Carey) goes over to her; they have a talk about how their lives have turned out. Alicent is already a mother of 2; she feels lonely/restricted in her role as queen. Rhaenyra regrets the fact that she must marry and have children; after all, her mother died in childbirth.
Rhaenyra: Their wants are of no consequences.
Daemon: They’re of great consequence if you expect to rule then one day.
Afterwards, Daemon tells Rhaenyra she has “matured” these past 4 yrs. They last saw each other when she retrieved the stolen dragon’s egg from Dragonstone. It also confirms a short amount of time (about a year) passed btwn E3 and E4. Notice how he relaxes around her, then offers her his cup of wine to drink (treating her as an equal- as some viewers commented). Rhaenyra says that she wants to live a life of “solitude.” Daemon explains that she can marry, BUT find pleasure outside of that relationship. Their (long) dialogue is spoken in High Valyrian; I thought the actors had great tension/chemistry here!
Later that night, Rhaenyra covers her hair w/ a cap, dresses in rags, and leaves her room (via a hidden passage). The princess experiences the sights/sounds of Fleabottom; her uncle is the guide (of course). There is a fire breather, sellers w/ a variety of goods, and couples kissing in dark corners. One man walks on a tightrope above the crowd; the director (Claire Kilner) commented that “this perhaps best reflects the precarious life of girls.” They stop to watch a “mummer’s farce” (street theater); the actors wear gawdy costumes/wigs and make fun of the royals. Rhaenyra is surprised to learn that these common folk aren’t happy re: her being heir. When she retorts “I don’t care,” Daemon replies that she’ll have to care about these people IF she hopes to rule one day! Some viewers thought that Daemon was trying to make Rhaenyra feel “insecure,” so she’d “depend on his judgement.” I thought that this was also a clever way to get the (sheltered) princess to see how she is viewed outside court.
Next, we have several scenes that the internet was abuzz about! I liked the way that the tense/moody/romantic scenes were directed; we get to see two young women’s POV. Ser Criston takes a long look at his white cloak (representing the chaste life of a Kingsguard), some viewers noted. Scenes of Rhaenyra enjoying her night of freedom were intercut w/ (less than exciting) scenes w/ Alicent. Why do you think Daemon stopped himself in the pleasure house? Did you like the (playful/light-hearted) scenes btwn Rhaenyra and Ser Criston, or did you think their brief romance was a bad idea?
Viserys: Daemon and Rhaenyra share the blood of the dragon, They are restless and chaotic.
It turns out that spies (or “little birds” as Lord Varys used to saw on GoT) are everywhere to get dirt on the royals! The little peasant boy who saw Rhaenyra out on the street comes w/ a note for Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans). In the early morning, he goes to see the king w/ the reports of Daemon and Rhaenyra “coupling” (and wow- is it awkward)! The king is (obviously) angered by this; he doesn’t want to believe that his brother could put his daughter in such a precarious position. Alicent overhears what her father said; she also doesn’t want to think badly of her former best friend. When she summons Rhaenyra to the garden for a talk, the princess lies (w/ conviction) to Alicent! Well, teens can rebel, cause their elders headaches/heartaches, and NOT realize the consequences of their actions.
Later, in the throne room, Viserys berates and kicks Daemon, as he lies dirty/tired/hungover on the floor. The king wonders who’ll marry Rhaenyra, now that there are rumors she’s NOT a virgin. Daemon (showing his audacity- yet again), asks for Rhaenyra’s hand in marriage! The king throws him out of the castle- yet again. This was my fave scene in this ep! Smith and Considine are a great acting pair; they’re V good at portraying the conflict btwn brothers. We learned that Daemon’s former mistress, Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) AKA The White Worm, is no longer a “common whore.” She has been working for 2 yrs (since their break-up, we assume) as a spy; that little boy was working for her. Some asture viewers said maybe Daemon wanted to get caught in a compromising position.
That night, the king and his daughter have a serious talk; she has been his “political headache” for some time. When Rhaenyra holds the Valyrian steel dagger (part of her legacy) in fire, inscribed words are revealed: “From my blood come the Prince That Was Promised, and his will be the song of ice and fire.” Rhaenyra points out the hypocrisy of this society; a nobleman can sleep w/ whoever he choses. Viserys tells her that she’s NOT man, so she’s held to different standards. He also tells her the importance of being his heir; she can’t just seek out pleasure whenever she wants! Rhaenyra MUST marry a nobleman and birth her own heirs (which will strengthen her claim to the Iron Throne). She agrees to do what her father wants, BUT he needs to get rid of The Hand- Otto!
Later that same night, Otto and Viserys meet in the Small Council room; there is tension and a sense of foreboding. This is one of the (rare) times where the camera is positioned above/to the side of Otto’s head, putting him in a subservient position. Viserys confronts his friend/associate re: (alleged) wrongs he has done. Though he handles himself w/ dignity, Otto looks hurt and (slightly) shaken by being fired. This is also a fine scene w/ two veteran character actors who know their stuff!
There is a BIT of mystery in the final scene of the ep; we don’t see Rhaenyra drinking the “moon tea” (or Plan B: Westeros version) brought in by Grand Maester Mellos (David Horovitz). The tea was prepared carefully by himself; it was ordered by her father. So, Viserys didn’t believe that Rhaenyra was a virgin after all! Don’t forget to watch the Inside the Episode; you’ll learn a LOT more re: this story! Did you agree w/ the analysis of the cast/crew?