House of the Dragon is back, and this time, people are older. The show traversed a full ten years in only one week’s time, replacing the incomparable Milly Alcock and Emily Carey with the equally-as-impressive Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke. Despite a full decade’s worth of potential character development, it would seem not much has changed when the series’ sixth episode, The Princess and the Queen, starts ticking. Princess Rhaenyra is now the mother of three children, fathered by someone who is definitely not her husband, and nobody seems to think their lack of white hair is suspicious. Nobody, that is, except for Queen Alicent Hightower and her entourage of sketchy male cohorts. Tensions start to rise as Alicent and Rhaenyra challenge each other in King’s Landing, and secrets about the latter’s romantic history begin to resurface.
Meanwhile, Matt Smith‘s Prince Daemon Targaryan learns that married life might not be all that he’d hoped it would be, and Paddy Considine‘s King Viserys Targaryan learns that living ten years past ones expiration date might not be as comfortable as he’d imagined. From there, in classic Game of Thrones tradition, everything starts going downhill – or, more accurately, up in flames. After all, this is the House of the Dragon. Join Murphy’s Multiverse as we dig into both the best and the worst The Princess and the Queen had to offer.
BEST – The Birth of Joffrey Velaryon
The Princess and the Queen opened with the first of two birthing scenes present in the episode. Viewers are introduced to an adult Rhaenyra while she’s in the midst of delivering her third child, whom her husband eventually names Joffrey Velaryon after his deceased lover. It’s a messy scenario, but it’s an incredibly effective way to demonstrate just how headstrong the Princess has become in the years since fans last saw her. Immediately after giving birth, Rhaenyra receives word that the Queen would like to see her old friend’s newest son. Knowing this is likely some sort of power move, the King’s heir decides to walk Joffrey to the Queen herself, in spite of the fact she had only just pushed out the afterbirth.
The move is perhaps one of the single coolest things any Westerosi character has ever done. This goes without saying, but as one learns in biology class, birthing a human is not an easy task. Standing up from said task, coated in sweat and bleeding, and trucking it directly to face a personal rival is the epitome of a power move, one-upping Alicent tenfold. Not only was the sequence great for the story, but the camera work was excellent as well. The first several minutes of the episode was some of the best shot footage the franchise has seen, and one can only hope it’s a sign of what’s to come in the final few entries of the season.
WORST – Prince Aegon II Targaryan
Folks, there’s a new Joffrey Baratheon in town. Previously only seen as a newborn baby, Tom Glynn-Carney‘s Prince Aegon II Targaryan is shown as a full-blown young adult in The Princess and the Queen. As it turns out, he’s simply the worst. From the moment he makes his onscreen debut, he’s actively working to make the lives of much more likable characters miserable. He starts with a pig-themed dragon prank on his younger cousin, moves on to – *ahem* – revealing himself to the entire kingdom, and eventually plays fairly dirty in a sparring session with the same aforementioned family member. If the history of this franchise has taught viewers anything, it’s that this behavior will get worse before it gets better. In fact, it probably won’t get better. It will just keep getting worse and then Aegon will die or he won’t. Hopefully, and this feels weird to say about a minor, the show lands on the first option. (It won’t.)