House of the Dragon excels when the series puts the complicated dynamics of the Targaryens to the forefront.
House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 4 was relatively slower than the first three episodes, but the series clearly wants viewers to be aware of the relationships before the backstabbing begins.
Otto has got to be one of the most cunning players in franchise history. He’s very reminiscent of Littlefinger from Game of Thrones.
Otto has carefully manipulated everyone to get Alicent as Queen; his next trick would be to get Aegon on the throne. It’s not a bad plan, but he overplayed it when he took the news about Daemon and Rhaenyra to Viserys.
It’s fitting that something that actually happened was his undoing, but it’s hard to believe he’ll sit back and let this play out.
Viserys isn’t the best judge of character, so it was highly satisfying to hear him hit back at his Hand. The King loves Alicent, but they both realize they are pawns in Otto’s games.
Her conversation at the top of the episode with Rhaenyra was pleasant because it highlighted the strong bond between them, despite Otto wanting them well and truly against each other.
Emily Carey is killing it as this young woman who is trying to get to grips with her life. Once upon a time, Rhaenyra was her constant, but they’re slowly being pulled apart by the politics in King’s Landing.
Then again, Alicent was blindsided to hear about Rhaenyra’s tryst with Daemon, and frankly, she was disgusted. It was a turning point for the relationship between these two young women, making you wonder how much worse things would get for them.
Alicent will probably be more ruthless as she grows up. She said herself she’s a spectator, and as a result, she can tell when people are lying to her.
However, I do think she would have been forgiving to Rhaenyra had she told her the truth.
Rhaenyra being told about the secret passage in her bedroom and escaping the castle for a night made for good TV, but it’s hard not to think that Daemon knew how the night would end.
He’s always had this strong bond with Rhaenyra, but it was inappropriate of him to take it further. It looked like he had some remorse when he rushed off, but we’ll never truly know what this man is thinking.
We know that he wants to rip the power and influence from his brother, and having Rhaenyra by his side would probably get more people on board with it.
Rhaenyra got to witness firsthand house the townsfolk view of the King and his decision to make the Princess heir to the throne. The only person who truly understands that is Rhaenys because she was overlooked for the throne based on her gender.
She and Rhaenyra had quite the war of words on House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 2, but they could perhaps form a bond now that House Targaryen is uniting with House Velaryon.
Corlys has been vocal about wanting these houses united for some time, but it is mildly concerning that he was possibly allying with the Three Cities.
Then again, how do we know Otto didn’t make that little nugget up to sow some more seeds of doubt?
Rhaenyra trying to find a husband gave us some of the most comical scenes of the series to date, but will she truly be able to live happily married to her cousin?
Rhaenyra wants to be free to do as she pleases, and being married means she won’t be able to do anything that will cause any problems for the Velaryons or the Targaryens.
That isn’t the lifestyle Rhaenyra wants.
Then there’s the Ser Criston of it all. He knew something was amiss with Rhaenyra based on how she returned to the castle, and I doubt he’s too thrilled to know that she had sex with her uncle before their night of passion.
“King of the Narrow Seas” scaled back the politics to show the characters’ wants and desires, but it played out more like the calm before the storm.
If the series takes a significant time jump that involves recasting key roles, then there must be a significant shift in the narrative before it happens.
The series continues to impress, but the true test will be when this time jump occurs. Thankfully, I got to watch until after it occurred, and it’s a pretty seamless switch.
House of the Dragon is telling us everything we need to know before things get gnarly.
Bonds are forming, bonds are being broken, and the backstabbing is underway.
What are your thoughts on Daemon and Rhaenyra’s night out beyond the castle’s walls? How crucial do you think the passages will be to the survival of some of the characters down the line?
What’s your take on Otto’s decision to manipulate again? Do you think Viserys will regret firing him?
What’s your take on Alicent?
Hit the comments below.
House of the Dragon continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.