We Light The Way
Episode 5 of House Of The Dragon starts with an overcast sky. Lady Rhea rides out alone, stopped by a strange cloaked figure dwarfed by the castle atop a hill behind him. It’s Daemon, and he’s arrived to see his wife.
She taunts him about his arrival, pointing out that they haven’t consummated their marriage yet and asking exactly what he intends to do with the crown. His stern look is enough for Rhea to reach for her bow. The horse grows scared and knocks her off, running away, leaving her defenceless and cowering on her back. Picking up a rock, Daemon (off-screen) smashes her skull in.
Meanwhile, Viserys is wretchedly ill while Criston Cole continues to grow affection for Rhaenyra. Alicent is less content though, given her father has been pushed out as Hand of the King. Out in the courtyard, as rain pours down, he warns that a time will come where war will consume the land, especially if Rhaenyra ascends to the throne.
Deep down Alicent knows the horrors this brings, but weeps for her father as he’s banished from the castle and forced to leave. Alicent is clearly conflicted over her choice and ponders its ramifications going forward.
Viserys eventually makes it to High Tide, where he’s greeted (coldly) by Lady Laena. Lord Corlys awaits him, notably delaying a bow and paying attention to Viserys’ nasty coughing. The new Hand to the King is Lord Lyonel, who is given some warm words of encouragement from Corlys. Word reaches them that Rhea was killed “in a hunting accident” with her skull crushed.
Viserys, clearly realizing that the throne is in jeopardy from Daemon and unsure where Alicent’s allegiance lies, proposes a marriage between Corlys’ son, Ser Laenor, and Rhaenyra. The thing is, Corlys isn’t exactly pleased with the idea of a woman taking the throne – namely that of Rhaenyra. Viserys talks a good game though and the promise of a Second Age for Dragons is enough for Corlys to agree to the terms.
As for Rhaenyra and Laenor, they come to an agreement of their own, deciding to “dine where they see fit” after doing their deed for the Kingdom. That is, of course, a reference to their preferred love interests but the show cleverly doesn’t feel the need to spell that out to us.
Laenor’s heart grows for Ser Joffrey, and it appears that Corlys and his wife know about his extramarital activities, especially if their cryptic chat is anything to go by. The dialogue here is beautifully illustrated!
On the boat on the way back, Criston Cole stakes his claim for Rhaenyra’s hand, suggesting they run away together and she leave the crown and everything else behind her. “I am the crown, Ser Criston.” Rhaenyra says in return. That’s a defiant “no thank you” if I’ve ever heard one!
Viserys makes it back to King’s Landing but he’s weak and collapses as he gets out the carriage. As for Criston Cole, he’s summoned to see Alicent where he admits his oath has been broken and had sex with Rhaenyra. Given the crime, Criston Cole asks for death rather than torture. Alicent decides to mull this over.
As for Viserys, he’s weakened considerably and after the Maesters have buzzed around him, offering up leeches and medicine, Viserys is left with his Hand, Lyonel. Viserys wants to be known as a good King, and it’s clear he’s been trying his hardest over the season but everything he touches turns to ash. However, the King does gather his strength in time for the royal wedding.
The big day goes ahead, with Ser Laenor and Rhaenyra both playing their parts. Daemon also shows up too in the middle of this, smirking away but offered a seat at the head table all the same.
Right in the middle of Viserys’ big speech, Alicent interrupts and approaches in a stunning green gown. A shade of green that also signifies Oldtown’s banners for war. And during the dancing and festivities, Alicent is given the nod of support by her Uncle, who admits that he stands by her side.
Meanwhile, Ser Gerold Royce approaches Daemon and tells him he needs to pay for his crimes. He’s the cousin to Rhea and knows that Daemon’s wife didn’t succumb to a hunting accident. Daemon is clever though, and points out, with tricksy, dancing eyes, that Rhea was on the verge of inheriting Runestone. Now with her dead, that passes to Daemon instead. He intends to petition himself when the wedding is over, shutting Royce down completely. Interestingly, Lyonel listens to all of this intently.
Laenor also figures out that Rhaenyra has slept with Criston Cole, prompting Ser Joffrey to show and admit that they’re both deeply invested in this matrimony and it would do them both good to keep quiet about it.
Daemon is the wildcard here though and he approaches Rhaenyra on the dancefloor, who challenges him to kill the Kingsguard and take her to Dragonstone if that’s what he wishes.
However, guards suddenly show and there’s pandemonium in the hall. It’s hard to see what happened… to begin with. Ser Criston Cole beats Ser Joffrey, leaving him beaten, bloodied – and dead.
Laenor and Rhaenyra are married in the wake of this death, with the former struggling to hold back tears. Out in the courtyard, Ser Criston is saved from killing himself by Alicent Hightower. However, it doesn’t save Viserys, who collapses as the pair exchange their vows.
The Episode Review
House of the Dragon once again steps up and delivers a beautifully poignant and really well written episode. The dialogue in this chapter in particular is full of many double entendres; little hints at what’s to come and what’s happened, mixed in with visual metaphors too.
Seeing Alicent show up at the wedding in green is a clear, defiant act of foreshadowing that Rhaenyra’s wedding is going to have very big consequences. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alicent manipulates Ser Criston Cole, perhaps using him as a device to spark a war and keep her “step-daughter” from the throne.
With Viserys presumably dead, is it outside the realm of possibility that the Grand Maesters are behind this? Their busying and fussing about the King, giving him tonics and claiming he likes leeches, could well be a hint that they’ve been worsening, not bettering, his condition. I’m not completely clued up on the Westerosi lore but surely they should have offered him milk of the poppy to subside his pain?
Either way, the pieces here are moving nicely toward a strategic checkmate but quite which side of the conflict will come out on top is anyone’s guess. One thing we do know is that wildcard Daemon is likely to flip the table upside down, and when that happens, what will happen to the realm?