Life’s a Bronze Bitch, and then you die.
That handily sums up the first few minutes of Sunday’s House of the Dragon, which finally introduced Daemon’s wife, Rhea Royce, and then promptly killed her. Actually, let me be more specific: And then he promptly killed her. (Read a full recap.)
Since the series’ premiere, we’d heard Prince Daemon take any and every opportunity to kvetch about the woman he was forced to marry. But all we truly knew about her was that she was the heir to Runestone and, in Daemon’s telling, uglier than one of the many sheep that dotted The Vale. You’ll recall in the first episode, Daemon even offered Rhea to Otto Hightower? Admittedly, though, that was more about goading the Hand of the King over his own wife’s recent death and less about Daemon divesting himself of a life partner he sorely loathed.
So Episode 5 gave us our first real look at Lady Rhea, who turned out to be a skilled huntress with a very low tolerance for Daemon’s BS. I liked her INSTANTLY. Too bad that the moment Viserys’ brother crossed her path, among the rolling hills outside Runestone, she was deader than a Dracarys’d goat.
“…There came a tragic mishap, of the sort that shapes the destiny of kingdoms: the “bronze bitch” of Runestone, Lady Rhea Royce, fell from her horse whilst hawking and cracked her skull upon a stone,” George R.R. Martin writes in Fire & Blood, the show’s base text. In a post-show featurette HBO released after the episode aired, executive producer Ryan Condal pointed out that the vagueness of that line seemed the perfect place to introduce a little Daemon deviance; later in the Dragon episode, Rhaenys reports that Rhea’s neck and head were “crushed,” leaving little question regarding what Daemon did with the rock he picked up just after his wife’s… accident? It sure didn’t feel like an accident when the horse reared up, right? We’re all in agreement that he spooked the animal and got lucky with what happened next, yes? (For what it’s worth, in Fire & Blood, Rhea “lingered for nine days before finally feeling well enough to leave her bed, only to collapse and die within an hour of rising.”)
But I’ve lingered too long on the unseemly details of Lady Rhea’s death. Let’s instead focus on how she used her final breaths as The Seven would have wanted: pissing Daemon off. “I knew you couldn’t finish,” she taunted him as he tiptoed his boot along her forearm. “Craven!” Too bad we won’t see more of Shadow and Bone‘s Rachel Redford in the role; I liked her a lot. Here’s hoping that if Daemon somehow winds up with her family’s ancestral castle, she chooses to haunt it, if for no other reason than to shame him for his inadequacies in the bedroom for eternity.
A few more thoughts on the episode:
* With the amount that Viserys is oozing, bleeding, puking and listing to one side in this episode, how is this man still alive in the promo for next week’s big time jump?
* Hmm, after that dancefloor beat-down-turned-murder, perhaps Ser Criston is not the tenderhearted young lad I’ve been led to believe? Still, his entreaty to Rhaenyra about running away together called to mind this also-doomed Thrones couple who talked about escaping their responsibilities and sailing to the Free Cities.
* Was anyone else confused by the knights rushing into the pre-wedding banquet? I’m guessing that the fight between Joffrey and Criston had broken out, and they were responding to it, but we just couldn’t see it at that point? At first, I thought that maybe Alicent had summoned Hightower bannermen to stage a coup or something.
What thoughts/questions/predictions do you have after this week’s House of the Dragon?