“History does not remember blood. He remembers names.” ~ Ser Corlys Velaryon
Its seventh episode House of the Dragon it has a little bit of everything:
- Some of the most wonderful music Ramin Djawadi has ever written, for this or any other show Game of Thrones and Westworld.
- A funeral scene that was at times magnificent and quivering with tension.
- An unreasonably hot incestuous sex scene that makes Jaime and Cersei’s romance feel almost cartoonish in comparison.
- A young boy’s taming of an ancient, husky dragon is wonderful and triumphant – cut short by an explosively violent confrontation between children that ends with one of them losing an eye.
- The strained, deteriorating relationship between Rhaenyra and Alicent eventually boiled over into actual violence with blood being spilled in front of the entire court.
- A murder that turns out to be an elaborate fake, paving the way for Rhaenyra and her uncle Daemon to finally tie the knot in a small, strange wedding by the sea.
I have to say that in many ways this episode really took the show to all new heights for me. This was an incredibly beautiful episode, from the dragon riding to the lovemaking to the many shots of Driftmark at dusk, the sea and the sand and the spray. The same color as sadness.
In driftmark, many very important events occur. We open at a funeral. King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) traveled to Driftmark along with the King’s new hand, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) who has his old job now that Lyonel Strong is dead. As the king tells the Demon (Matt Smith) the years have a way of mending old divisions.
Coryls Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and his wife Rhaenys (Eve Best) mourn, as do Daemon’s daughters and Laena’s uncle, who performs the service. At one point he says something about how Velaryon’s blood is old and must remain pure, so the Daemon laughs—a deeply inappropriate response to his late wife’s funeral, but no one pays him much attention. No one is surprised by Daemon’s antics anymore. Laena’s body is encased in a stone coffin which they push into the sea. The Targaryens are burning. Velaryons are buried in salt water.
Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) stares at Alicent as they all talk about after the ceremony.
The funeral ends and everyone makes their way to their beds or elsewhere. Young Aegon is drunk and scolded and sent to bed by his irascible grandfather, the Hand. The younger children go to bed. Laenor (John MacMillan) is so distraught over his sister’s death that he wanders the ocean. His father angrily tells his lover to go get him back.
Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) goes for a walk on the beach with her uncle. She is not happy with him. “You abandoned me,” she tells him, asking him to imagine what her life has been like all these years since he left. “I spared you,” he tells her. He was just a kid then.
Well, she’s not a kid anymore and she let him know the same, her hand on his chest, their lips touching. Soon the two entered the side of an ancient wreck, slowly peeling off each other’s clothes.
Of the children, only one has avoided sleep. Aemond hears the sound of wings overhead and searches. As we learned last week, he still doesn’t have a dragon of his own, and this fact has made him the object of ridicule and bullying by his brother and Rhaenyra’s children.
He follows the sounds into the sand dunes and eventually meets the sleeping behemoth: Vhagar, Laena’s old dragon, but much more than that. Vhagar was the dragon of Visenya, one of three used by Aegon the Conqueror to subdue the Seven Kingdoms over 100 years ago. Vhagar is huge and ancient and perhaps deadlier than any living dragon. Only Belarion the Black Dread was bigger and by now Vhagar has grown almost as much.
Emond approaches the sleeping dragon and reaches his hand up to the rope ladder hanging from its massive frame. Vagar wakes up and looks at the boy, sniffling, then closes her eyes. Aemond makes the ladder again, but Vhagar opens her eyes and then her mouth, and we see the flame billow at her throat. He shouts orders in old Valyrian and the flames recede. Vagar, it seems, is willing to listen to the child.
So he climbs up, climbing into the seat very high and onto the giant creature’s back, and orders her to fly.
There really should be better harnesses or seatbelts of some sort for dragon riders, but at least Aemond seems to have a very strong grip because the flight that follows is more of a rollercoaster ride than a carefree jaunt above the clouds. Aemond might as well be on a wrecked bronco in the sky. Vhagar ascends into the clouds and then plummets into the sea. At times, Aemond is held only by the ropes, his entire body fluttering in the wind.
But he manages to stay on top of the beast and eventually lands it back on the Driftmark, where Daemon’s children, Baela and Rhaena, awaken Rhaenrya’s sons, Jace and Luke, telling them that someone has stolen Vhagar, whom Baela planned to claim it was hers.
When they discover that Aemond has taken the dragon for himself, the girls are enraged. He grins at them awkwardly. The girls lose their temper and attack the boy, who doesn’t hesitate to use physical violence against them, which in turn draws Jace and Luke into a fight, as does his taunts that the boys’ father is dead. “My father lives,” protests young Luke, “doesn’t he know that?” says Aemond. “That you are bastards.”
Emond doesn’t hold back. After the four younger kids give him a good beating, he grabs a large rock. When it looks like he’s going to smash Jace’s head in with the rock, Luke grabs his brother’s fallen knife and lunges at the older boy, cutting his face. Then the Kingsguard appear.
The children are brought before the king, where the Driftmark master begins to stitch up Aemond’s wound. “The flesh will heal,” he tells Alicent, “but he lost the eye.” Alicent is furious and unwilling to believe that Aemond could be in any way to blame for the fight. Lord Corlys and Rhaenyra arrive soon after, as does Daemon, and Rhaenyra tells the king that the fight was partly due to Aemond’s slander of her sons.
“He called us bastards,” Jace says. Viserys is furious and demands to know who told Aemond this “slander”. Aemond says it was Aegon, but when the older boy is pressed, he tells his father that they have eyes. Everyone can see that the boys are bastards. “I mean, just look at them,” he says.
Viserys wants them all to make up and move on—they’re all family, he reminds them—but Alicent is still angry. “This is insufficient,” she tells her husband. There is a debt to be paid. He wants Luke’s eye to replace Eamond’s eye. He orders Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) to cut it. “You have sworn to me!” she tells him, and he replies, “I swore to protect you.”
So Alicent grabs her Valyrian steel dagger and rushes Rhaenyra. The two fight and Rhaenyra calls her out. “Now everyone can see you for who you really are,” she whispers, and Alisen screams and thrashes her old friend, severing her forearm. Shocked by her own violence, she drops the dagger and steps back, devastated.
Aemond tells his mother not to mourn his lost eye. It was a fair engagement, he tells her, and a fair trade for a dragon. This gives everyone pause.
Later, her father does not punish her. He seems more impressed than disappointed. Now, he tells her, he knows he has what it takes to play this dirty game. Viserys is less pleased. Larys Strong tells her that if it’s an eye she wants, she just has to ask. Once again, Alicent resists the cripple’s willingness to commit heinous acts, but keeps him in her pocket.
Rhaenyra and Laenor talk a lot about their family and the young lord promises to do better, to be the husband she needs and father to their children. He says he wishes the gods hadn’t made him like this, but Rhaenyra disagrees. He is an honest and good man, she tells him, which is very rare.
But he has other plans. She tells Daemon that they must marry, to strengthen her claim against Alicent and her children. “For her to marry, Laenor would have to die,” Daemon replies. “I know,” Rhaenyra says. And so they plan to kill her husband, or at least that’s what the show leads you to believe.
Daemon pays Laenor’s lover to kill him – a clean death with witnesses – and we see the two men fighting in the Corlys’ chambers. When Corlys and Rhaenys and the guards arrive, all that remains is the charred body of their son, burning in the fireplace. For a moment, we believe that Rhaenyra and Daemon are far more cold-blooded and ruthless than we could imagine. “They will fear what we can do,” Rhaenyra tells her uncle.
We see their wedding ceremony—a lonely affair by the sea, with few attendees and none of the pomp and circumstance one might associate with a royal wedding. There is something ancient and almost tribal about it as they cut their lips and smear blood on each other’s foreheads.
And then we see Laenor’s killer pushing a boat into the sea. She is with a hooded companion. When the hood comes down, we see a familiar face, although all that white hair has been shaved off. Laenor lives. The body in the fire was a servant (which is still pretty confusing) and Laenor starts a new life, away from marital obligations and children that aren’t his.
Alas, his parents will never know. They have now lost a daughter and a son in a short space of time, and are left with only grief and terrible fiery loss.
Overall, this was a terrible episode House of the Dragon. I’m still a little worried by how much it went down and what that means for the future. Aemond getting his creepy little hands on the most powerful dragon out there means the greenies have some serious dragon firepower now. But so do Daemon and Rhaenyra, who have several dragons between them and their combined families.
I also want to reiterate that the music in this episode was really great. Sad and intense and wonderful at the same time. A beautifully shot episode, with a beautiful score that pushes the story forward, heightening the tension between these families and characters and setting the stage for an upcoming civil war. Viserys is knocking on death’s door at this point, and the moment he leaves, anything could happen.
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