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House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon - Episode 4 Review Image

Helen O'Hara


Sep 12, 2022 2: 05 am

Warning: The below contains full spoilers for Episode 4 of House of the Dragon, which aired on HBO on Sept. 11. To refresh your memory, have a look at our overview of last week’s episode.

Nobody is pleased with what theyve got in this weeks House Of The Dragon. A parade of royal malcontents complain about their lot in life with, relatively speaking, hardly any reason. Theres no torture, no murder, only a few boots in the kidney and on a Westerosi scale, that barely registers as violence at all. That is The Crown with dragons. Well, one dragon anyway, swooping past within an opening scene to remind us that the show includes a budget, before soaring away and leaving visitors to talk in rooms for all of those other running time. Look, that they had to recuperate from the outlay on stunts and visual effects the other day for that battle scene. Time and energy to make contact with politicking and fretting about womens private parts for another episode.

Thats not just a joke: were again dwelling on women and reproduction specifically Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) this time around, since Alicent (Emily Carey) is having a rest between pregnancies. The episode opens with the heir on tour because the noblemen of the realm, too young and too old, make their case to marry her. Rhaenyra struggles to keep any degree of decorum while hearing their suits, a Bachelorette without roses to provide. Shes unconsciously fondling the necklace that Uncle Daemon (Matt Smith) gave her, and you also dont need to be Freud to learn who shes cast because the benchmark against which to measure these dodderers and whippersnappers.

Every Dragon in Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon

When Daemon returns, all swagger sufficient reason for a fancy new haircut, its clear these two who, again, are UNCLE and NIECE have the hots for every other. He gives her a disguise and takes her for a night out: drinking, carousing, and sex show in a brothel, your typical family outing. However when they both get fired up at the sight and begin making out, its Daemon who pulls away.

Why he does so is interesting: he doesnt later deny, when accused, they did the dirty, so that it cant be about protecting her reputation. Nonetheless it may nevertheless have already been a cack-handed try to protect her virtue from their own desires, and when it really is then thats so much creepier. Does Daemon desire to leave her a virgin so he is able to marry her therefore? Is he waiting to create everything legal, once he persuades his brother to permit him another wife alongside the bronze bitch he already married? If that’s the case hes out of luck, because Rhaenyra is indeed thrilled that she goes straight home and seduces Ser Christen Cole (Fabien Frankel). So shes telling the reality when she later swears she didnt have carnal understanding of Daemon, albeit not the complete truth.

This whole icky episode is taken more-or-less from George R.R. Martins book Fire And Blood, which also sees Daemon teach his niece about sex with instructive brothel visits (in the novel shes even younger) and which also sees Rhaenyra create a searing crush on the Whitecloak. Theres a style running right through this episode about sexual freedom, with Daemon promising that Rhaenyra can perform what she likes once shes married, which he does with the blithe self-assurance of a guy whos sure no rules really connect with him.

What Daemon doesnt mention is that when its treasonous to accuse the heir to the throne of experiencing sex outside marriage (as Rhaenyra claims), it has additionally historically been treason for a royal woman with an affair once shes married: just ask Anne Boleyn. Sure, different rules might connect with Targaryen dragon riders, considering that its her bloodline thats important rather than that of her husband, if the reason were revelling in every this endless sexism is these books are like medieval history then, well, any shagging around is bad news for Rhaenyra. The Targaryens, if they found its way to Westeros, brought two radical traditions using them: a tradition of incestuous marriage, and a tradition of allowing women to rule and inherit. Guess which they fought to keep? It may be a far more interesting and less creepy show had they gone for another.

It is a strong Considine episode, with all Viserys pettiness and weakness fully on show.

Rhaenyras brothel trip is contrasted here with the sight of Alicent disassociating while she carries out her marital duties with Viserys (Paddy Considine). She could have played for, and got, the crown, but whatever satisfaction Alicent has within her social status or in doing her duty by her family and country, shes rather a sad figure currently: a nursemaid, a bed companion on call, and a counsellor with the softest of soft power no official role. She and Rhaenyra at the very least reconcile momentarily, that is a rare moment of genuine warmth in a show that often feels chilly, but shes clearly lonely and isolated too.

Regardless, Viserys doesnt believe his wife or daughters denial of an affair with Daemon, or he wouldnt send the maester to Rhaenyra with contraceptive tea. It is a strong Considine episode, with all Viserys pettiness and weakness fully on show. He seems warily very happy to be reunited along with his brother, but needless to say his notion of manly bonding would be to ridicule both his wife and daughter. Hes now covered in sores and cuts from his throne, a martyr to his wounds, and susceptible to swaying whatever way the wind blows. Or is he? Rhaenyra persuades him to ditch Otto (Rhys Ifans) as his Hand, claiming its the cost of her agreeing to marry. When Viserys foretells Otto, however, the bitterness and anger he spits at him appears to be their own; we certainly dont see Rhaenyra feed him those lines. He appears to have been holding some kind of grudge since their own fathers death years before, and there’s fury there under the easygoing exterior. Its worth remembering, in moments such as this, that Viserys was the final man to ride the fantastic dragon Balerion, whose skull now rests under the keep. He’s got a genuine dark side here, and Otto is to fear it. With the positioning of Hand shared and Daemon exiled once more, theres yet more instability ahead.

This is simply not a negative episode, in the sense there are plenty of good actors here delivering well-written drama; its well shot and beautifully produced. But this show is starting to feel just a little one-note. Theres little comedy, and a genuine insufficient human connection. Maybe we ought to blame the truth that so a lot of its development occurred in lockdown; perhaps no-one pointed out that chronic loneliness, everywhere and for everybody, isn’t a human default setting. Each lead character here’s deeply unhappy within their gilded cage. Viserys wants tranquility; Rhaenyra wants freedom; Daemon wants Rhaenyra (it appears); Alicent wants just a little respect. No ones enjoying themselves at this time even at the sex party. It could have been smart to write in a few more pleasurable side characters, people not mentioned in Fire And Blood who could put in a bit more lightness to proceedings. Martins source novel is really a faux history, more framework than narrative, so theres room to expand the essential facts a lot more than weve seen up to now.

Never to continuously compare both even though shared theme tune and Viserys repeated incantation of the initial book series title invite it but Game Of Thrones gave us a close-knit category of Starks to value, and a funny, cynical onlooker in Tyrion Lannister, in addition to all of the serious people jockeying for thrones. Here its all royals no perspective, and House Of The Dragon has already been feeling just a little flat because of this even before you obtain into its determination to take care of women as breeding machines rather than as humans. Hopefully in a few days can grab the power, or at the very least give us some jaw-dropping drama to distract us.

Every IGN Game of Thrones Review

This quieter, almost action-free episode is once more centered on dynastic matters and sexposition following the action of the other day. Its well played, shot, and paced, but its unhappy, self-involved characters require a little leavening if theyre likely to match the heights of Game Of Thrones.


Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon – Episode 4 Review


A good particular date at a sex party cant cheer up the Targaryens internal Of The Dragon, which remains well-shot and acted, but might use a little bit of action.

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Helen O’Hara

Official IGN Review

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