At the beginning of this episode of House Of The Dragon we are again several years into the future, and the first news we hear is that Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint) has suffered a serious stab wound and is now developing a worrying fever. His brother, Vaemond (Wil Johnson), says that in the event of Corlys’ death he is entitled to be Lord of Driftmark.
With a squelching noise, meanwhile, Daemon (Matt Smith) collects a dragon egg. His stepson, Jacaerys (Harry Collett), is learning High Valyrian and we notice that Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) is pregnant again – this time, surely, with Daemon’s baby. Worried that Jacaerys’ (in fact illegitimate) claim to the Driftmark throne will be challenged by Rhaenys (Eve Best), Rhaenyra and Daemon travel to King’s Landing to petition for their position. There, we see a truly awful-looking Viserys (Paddy Considine), somehow still clinging on to life on what must surely be his deathbed. At this point we also learn that Rhaenyra isn’t just with child now; she and Daemon have actually had two children already: Aegon and Viserys.
In a grim subsequent scene, a maid tells Alicent (Olivia Cooke) in almost as many words that Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) raped her. Implying that if word got out about this, people wouldn’t blame Aegon but might blame the maid, Alicent gives her the tea that by now we know has morning-after-pill properties. But she also seems to imply that she is going to have the maid killed, which feels a little over the top. She berates Aegon in the next scene, another one that sees mother shouting at son while son wears no clothes.
After Daemon and Rhaenyra make clear to Alicent how little they care for her treatment of the King – sedating him so that he is powerless while she rules with her father Otto (Rhys Ifans) – Vaemond arrives in King’s Landing and plots with Otto and Alicent about who should be Lord of Driftmark. Talking to Rhaenys, Rhaenyra tells her ex-mother-in-law that she was not complicit in Laenor’s death – a claim that we take to be true, given her affection towards him. She tries to persuade Rhaenys to back Lucerys’ claim to Driftmark and let her grandchildren (Laena’s children) marry hers. In vain Rhaenyra then tries to persuade an almost comatose Viserys to support her.
During Vaemond’s official petition for the title, Rhaenyra shoots him down in front of a home crowd. As she is about to launch into her own argument, Viserys comes hobbling in, wearing a gold mask on half of his face, and takes 45 minutes to sit on the Iron Throne. When Viserys has given her permission to speak, Rhaenys announces that Corlys wanted Driftmark to go to Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), and she accepts Rhaenyra’s marriage suggestion. Incandescent at the injustice, Vaemond says of Rhaenyra, “HER CHILDREN… ARE BASTARDS. And she is a whore.” Before Viserys can make good on his threat to cut his tongue out, Daemon has sliced off Vaemond’s head in one wonderfully clean blow.
At a family dinner, Viserys takes off his gold half-mask to reveal that his face is basically caving in. It really is unclear how the man is still alive. After some conciliatory toasts from Rhaenyra and Alicent, the kids – now young adults – cause trouble: Aegon taunts Jacaerys and his fiancée Baela (Bethany Antonia); Jacaerys, the class act, responds not with violence but by dancing with Aegon’s wife Helaena (Phia Saban); then Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) initiates a fight, getting punched by Jacaerys and seeing Aegon assault Lucerys. It’s all a bit unnecessary, really.
In our final scene, a confused Viserys, speaking to Alicent but believing her to be his daughter, tells her that she (i.e. Rhaenyra) is the one person who can unite the realm – a proclamation a disappointed Alicent has to take on the chin.
- “You are no son of mine” – Alicent is truly repulsed by the sight of Aegon, her own son, despite him being biologically hers and Viserys’
- “That… is no true Velaryon, and certainly no nephew of mine” – sealing his gory fate, Vaemond commits a serious act of treason by stating what everyone already knows about Lucerys (and his brother): that there is no way Laenor could have been the father
- “Your graciousness moves me deeply, Princess” – to say that a lot has happened between Alicent and Rhaenyra would be an understatement, but in offering olive branches as they toast each other, the pair seem to make some form of progress in this episode
‘House Of The Dragon’ releases new episodes at 2am every Monday on Sky Atlantic and NOW