Sorry, House of the Dragon: For me, the ‘ship you officially launched in Sunday’s episode just doesn’t sail.
Those who watched the hour know that it ended with the wedding of Rhaenyra Targaryen to her uncle, Daemon Targaryen, a moment that I think we’re supposed to applaud. Or have warm feelings about. Or something. (Read a full recap of the episode here.)
Look, I’m over the fact that he’s her biological uncle, because Targaryens gotta Targaryen, blah blah Aegon the Conqueror bliddy blah. And if Rhaenyra has made peace with their history — aka that the last time she saw him, when she was a teenager, he left her panting and pantsless in a King’s Landing brothel — I probably shouldn’t judge.
But I DO! Mainly because the show’s decision to skip through Westerosi history in Season 1 feels like it has hollowed Rhaenyra and Daemon’s relationship — or, at least, leaned too hard on viewers’ imaginations to fill in the gaps. Matt Smith and Milly Alcock had undeniable chemistry in the season’s early episodes, and he was also great opposite Emma D’Arcy in the most recent hour. But did I get a strong sense that either Daemon or Rhaenyra were pining for the other during the decade that they spent apart? Nope. And having them go from loaded looks at the funeral to beach walk confessional time to sex in the sand to let’s fake your hub’s death by actually killing someone else to here comes the dragon bride all in the space of 58 minutes? Vhagar, take the wheel!
A few more thoughts on the episode:
* As the holidays season gets underway (an easy fast to those who observe this week), I’m going to go into my family’s gatherings channeling Daemon in the Hall of Nine scene, in which Alicent demands that Luke lose an eye. Uncle D just hangs back, watching the tumult with a bemused expression on his face. “Can you believe this nonsense?” his mellow pose and slight smile seem to say. And just like Daemon, I’ll only step in to moments of heightened family emotion when it seems like bloodshed is imminent.
* Speaking of that scene: I rewatched it several times to try to see who moved first in that Daemon/Criston interaction. I thought Criston stopped Daemon from going to Rhaenyra’s aid, but several of you saw it the other way.
* I’m glad that Rhaenyra wasn’t part of a plan to have Laenor killed; everything we’d seen of the affection between them leading up to that point wouldn’t have fit with it. Though I am sorry for the dude whom Daemon decided would be a good stand-in corpse.
What thoughts/questions/predictions do you have after this week’s House of the Dragon?