This post contains spoilers from Sunday’s House of the Dragon. Proceed accordingly.
It’s not the incest, it’s the power play at hand. And hoo boy, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
Sunday’s House of the Dragon depicted the scene that readers of George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood knew was coming: During an unsanctioned nighttime visit to the Street of Silk, things get hot and heavy — and by that I mean kissy and gropey — between Daemon and his niece, Rhaenyra. Just before he’s about to land the dragon, however, Daemon pulls back, rebuffing the princess’ attempts to keep things going. Ultimately, he stalks off, leaving her half-naked and alone while she tries to figure out what in the Seven’s name just happened. When word of her field trip get around, her position as her father’s successor is threatened. (Read a full recap.)
Am I pro-intrafamily romantic relationships? Decidedly not. (Again, not something I expected having to state for the record.) But as someone who covered Game of Thrones throughout its run and who has read plenty of Martins’ work, I’ve made my peace with the fact that brothers and sisters will have multi-season, psychosexual arcs, and that Targaryen Tinder is basically just the family photo album.
So it’s not the shared bloodline that gave me the icks as Rhaenyra was nipping at Daemon’s chin. It was how unaware she was that the act was all about her uncle messing with his brother, the king, and the line of succession for the Iron Throne. It was about how she clearly has an attraction to Daemon, and how he played the long game with that, for his own gain. And a small detail, but one I feel is relevant in both King’s Landing and the real world: No one likes to be left, tush-out, when their partner suddenly and without explanation dips.
When watched the episode, I interpreted Daemon’s reluctance to go all the way with Rhaenyra as evidence that maybe there’s some inner, moral line that even he can’t cross. But nope! Or, at least, his little dragon knows something his brain doesn’t. According to co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik, in a featurette that aired after the episode: “Ultimately, his impotence in the scene is a reflection of the fact that he knows, deep down, that what he’s doing isn’t right.”
Director Clare Kilner puts another spin on it that I hadn’t considered: When Rhaenyra is into what’s going on, that throws Daemon a curveball. “She doesn’t just get shocked, she gets excited by it,” she says in the featurette. “And when that happens, he has nothing. And he basically can’t handle not being in charge or in control.” Gross.
* Kingsguard armor certainly takes a while to remove completely, right? And are there any other Brienne/Jaime ‘shippers out there who feel robbed that we never got to see a similar scene between those two?
* Was Rhaenyra taking notes during her trip to the pillow house? Because, based on what we saw of her tryst with Ser Criston, the princess has a very satisfying time with the young knight. Or maybe Criston has Pod-like prowess?
* It struck me, as Rhaenyra was served moon tea at the end of the episode, that even a fictional princess in a story about dragons has better access to reproductive healthcare than many, MANY women in the United States.
What thoughts/questions/predictions do you have after this week’s House of the Dragon?