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Incest is back on the menu, folks. We got to see the beginning of Daemon lusting after Rhaenyra, after coming home from the Stepstones as a self-proclaimed King. With the episode preview, it seemed that the brothers would be at odds with each other, but Daemon handed the King his crown without hesitation. They were happy and joking throughout the beginning of the episode…but that didn’t last very long.
Rhaenyra was itching to have a night away from the Red Keep, and Daemon was more than willing to show her some of the after-dark activities in King’s Landing. They happened upon a street performance about the Targaryen successors, where spectators were actively jeering towards the proposition of Rhaenyra being queen, with Rhaenyra pushing aside their concerns, since they don’t have a choice in the matter. Keep an eye on that. Another foreshadowing in that same sequence was the blind woman asking if Rhaenyra wanted to see her own death. Did you catch what the next frame was?
Next stop? A brothel, where there was all sorts of extracurricular activities going on. Both Rhaenyra and Daemon had some drinks and started making out and coming pretty close to sexing each other before Daemon had second thoughts and disappeared. Rhaenyra was still rearing to go, so she found a suitable replacement in the Kingsguard Criston Cole. This is a big change from the book, where Rhaenyra had a big crush on him, but they never actually did the thing. That was saved for someone else who you saw in the episode (not Daemon!).
Over this entire season, Rhaenyra has had some existential crises. First losing her mother, then losing her best friend-who became her stepmother- followed by worrying about being supplanted as heir, and now feeling like she is just a prize to be sold off to the highest bidder. She’s yearning for freedom and to escape these pressures, and these last two episodes she’s had Criston and Daemon to help her out.
Otto Hightower once again overreached, spilling the beans on Rhaenyra and Daemon, but Viserys was having none of it, and sent him back to Oldtown, finally. He knows that Otto’s ambition is to place his grandson, Aegon, on the Iron Throne and any ammo he gets he will use. The source of his information is none other than the White Worm, or Mysaria. She’s becoming the Varys, Master of Whisperers, of this generation. It’s shown that Daemon wakes up in her room, hinting that Daemon and her planned for Rhaenyra to be seen in the brothel and this information to get back to Viserys. Daemon’s endgame here seems to be to ruin Rhaenyra so no one else will marry her so he can snatch her up and take the throne. Kind of a dumb move, especially with your brother’s daughter.
Alicent and Rhaenyra’s time in the Godswood was also important. Alicent is horrified that Rhaenyra would even think of doing these things, especially with her uncle. Rhaenyra lies, swearing on her mother’s own grave that Daemon never touched her, and Alicent believes her. How far will Rhaenyra lie and go to make herself seem innocent?
So, what was that drink that the maester handed Rhaenyra at the end of the episode? If you watched Game of Thrones, this should seem familiar. It’s Moon Tea, a Westeros type of Plan B that would save you from any unwanted pregnancy. Lysa Arryn, the sister of Catelyn Stark, took it after her and Littlefinger had sex. The tea came directly from Viserys, who does not care who the father is, or even if there is a father. He only wants to make sure there aren’t any repercussions. The episode ends before it’s revealed if she took it. Will she keep Criston Cole’s baby, setting off a rumor mill of whose father her bastard is? Or will she take the tea, and possibly create a rift between her and Ser Criston? He was already pretty reluctant to take off that white cloak and destroy his vows, so this might put it over the top.
Somehow the show has seemingly sped through 4 episodes of this first season, and there has been a lot of setup and time jumps already. Even with years passing between episodes, it seems like we aren’t missing much, and we’re due for an even bigger jump after episode 5. If you’ve seen any previews or know the backstory, you know that Rhaenyra and Alicent both have younger and older versions of their characters in the show, and we haven’t met the older versions yet (Besides older Rhaenyra being the narrator in the pilot). This coming episode will likely be the last of the younger versions (Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy) as the primaries, so enjoy their performances while you can.