HBO’s hit series House of the Dragon returned this week to remind everyone that, in it’s heart of hearts, it’s really just a big budget soap opera. The episode begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding, both of which are lined with the messiest of family drama one could possibly imagine. Nanna Blondell‘s Lady Laena Velaryon has recently died by self-inflicted dragon immolation, a real thing, and now everyone from both sides of the Velaryon-Targaryon family tree must unite at Driftmark to say their goodbyes. Unfortunately, neither of these bloodlines can ever maintain niceties, and the gathering quickly devolves into drunken shenanigans and children beating the life out of each other in the middle of the night. Normal, typical reunion stuff.
Emma D’Arcy‘s Princess Rhaenyra Targaryan clings to what she has, ultimately wedding her Uncle Daemon (played by Matt Smith) after faking the death of her husband Ser Laenor (played by John Macmillan). The Queen Regent, Olivia Cooke‘s Alicent Hightower, can’t handle the situation and tries to cut a person’s eye out after her own son is attacked, but everything turns out alright when young Aemond (played by Ewan Mitchell) bonds with a dragon well beyond his own years. It’s quite a bit to pick through, but here at Murphy’s Multiverse, that’s never been a problem. So, without further ado, here are the best and worst moments from this week’s episode – Driftmark.
BEST – The Funeral
There’s a lot of good in Driftmark. In fact, it was actually kind of difficult to select a specific part of the episode as the very best it had to offer. However, one would be remiss if they didn’t single out the opening funeral sequence as the epitome of what the entire series has been over the last several weeks. It’s one of those rare television moments when every major player left on the board is in one place at the same time, and they all act exactly the way viewers would hope. Tom Glynn-Carney‘s Prince Aegon immediately gets drunk, Laenor stands forlorn in the water, Daemon laughs at the most inappropriate time, Rhaenyra and Alicent are at each other’s necks, Harry Collett‘s Prince Jacaerys is thinking about his illegitimate father, Paddy Considine‘s King Viserys goes to bed way too early, and Matthew Needham‘s Lord Larys Strong stares unabashedly at the Queen for far too long. It’s a chaotic masterpiece.
Every minute of the funeral that passes is more entertaining than the last. It’s the show at its very best, with high-stakes politics and poor familial relations clashing to create the kind of drama tornado fans and critics both live for. The rest of Driftmark is also incredibly well-done, but the first chunk sets the tone so beautifully it simply must be recognized. More of this in the future, please.
WORST – It’s Still The Incest
Truthfully, it’s insane how many times this website has had to state that incest is bad. True to its source material, it seems House of the Dragon will continue to double down on incestual romance for the long haul. While it might have been more fun if the series kept examining the false marriage between Rhaenyra and Laenor, it will instead pivot to showing a lot of an uncle making love to his niece in a super uncomfortable manner. Strap in, because it appears this whole family-that-hates-each-other-but-also-really-loves-each-other vibe is part of the show’s package deal. With any luck, the creatives will at least include less graphic visuals in the last few episodes of the season. Until then, viewers can only hope Rhaenyra one day sees the light and moves on to another Ser Harwin Strong.