The board is set. Pieces from the past are in place. And they’re moving fast.
The King is dying by the second. Collapsing multiple times, the Iron Throne wounds are festering all over the place on him. Even with this, he braves stormy weather to go to Driftmark and set things right with Lord Corlys Velaryon, by combining their houses through the marriage of Rhaenyra and Laenor, giving Corlys what he’s been vying for since day one: his family and blood on the Iron Throne. Viserys isn’t used to being the one to ask for things, because being the king, his word is law. He recognizes the danger that Rhaenyra will be in if he dies and she is still unwed and heirless, especially with his son Aegon in the picture. He needs to cement his daughter as the one heir, and this marriage should seal the deal. Maybe…
Another key factor is Lyonel Strong, the replacement Hand of the King, having taken over from Otto Hightower. He’s been following Otto’s example in finagling his children into the mix, with his son Larys whispering in Alicent’s ear to create more of a rift between her and Rhaenyra. Passing on the knowledge that Rhaenyra drank the moon tea seemed to cause Alicent quite a problem. And Larys really laid it on thick that he hoped Rhaenyra isn’t ill. The other Strong, Harwin, saved Rhaenyra from the brawl at the end of the episode. If you didn’t notice on first watch, take a look at how Lyonel prods Harwin to go after her. Shades of Otto telling Alicent to comfort Viserys in the early part of the season.
The Green Dress
Alicent has tried to play nice with Rhaenyra. She didn’t choose to be Viserys’s wife and has been a pawn of her father’s since the very beginning. She is doing what the Westerosi society requires of a noblewoman: to marry a lord, be faithful, follow the rules, and spit out those kids. So when she sees that Rhaenyra is throwing a fit because she has to marry, and can even choose who to marry, it’s easy to feel sympathetic towards Alicent. Last week we noted that Rhaenyra lied right to her face about her extracurricular activities and that quickly came to a head this episode. Alicent brings Ser Criston Cole in to grill him about Rhaenyra, still thinking that it was Daemon who was the partner. Criston folds like a lawn chair and confesses almost instantly, with Alicent taking it all in silence and rage that her best friend would lie so easily to her.
This combined with Otto stating that her children will never be safe if Rhaenyra takes the throne, were the final dominoes for Alicent. In his mind, the children will always be rivals and Aegon being male makes him the better claimant, and Rhaenyra will eliminate them from contention. Her arriving late to the feast dressed in traditional Hightower green was a statement in itself, and this is the scene that names Alicent’s faction The Greens. The Hightower light burns green when at war.
Laenor, Rhaenyra, and That Scene
Rhaenyra and Laenor grew up together, so they’re very familiar with each other. Laenor is gay, Rhaenyra knows this, and takes some advice from Daemon in that they will marry, make public appearances together, do all the necessary stuff, but also have some paramours on the side. Laenor’s partner is Joffrey Lonmouth, and for now, Rhaenyra’s side piece is Criston Cole. Both Laenor and Rhaenyra agree with this notion, and happily go into the feast with a plan in place.
Criston Cole will be one of the most polarizing characters in this series that isn’t named Rhaenyra or Daemon. He feels that he’s simply being used and that his vows mean nothing to his Princess (which is very true). The only way he sees he can redeem his honor is if he and Rhaenyra run away to the Free Cities in Essos and start over. For some reason, Rhaenyra doesn’t want to give up her entire kingdom and family for a guy she’s been sneaking around with. Who knew! So with them done and finished, Cole was staring daggers at Rhaenyra, something Joffrey noticed. Joffrey sauntered over, thinking that he could come in and make quick friends with his paramour buddy, and what he got in return was his entire skull caved in with everyone looking on in horror. Whoops! Maybe don’t approach a Kingsguard knight sworn to celibacy and tell him you know that he’s been porking the Princess he’s sworn to protect, since, you know, if it gets out that is a death sentence for him. Cole, destroyed by the entire ordeal, was about to seppuku in the Godswood before Alicent came to save the day.
Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding was a little depressing after that debacle, along with Viserys collapsing for the 17th time this episode.
Halfway Through Season 1
This episode ends the first part of the timeline for House of the Dragon, and both Rhaenyra and Alicent will have different actors (Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke) take the stage beginning in Episode 6, which also means there will be a substantial time jump. Next time you’ll see them, Rhaenyra will have 3 children to keep up with Alicent. From the promotional pictures, Rhaenyra’s children are all dark-haired. Pretty odd that two silver-haired parents gave birth to someone with dark hair.
The sides are established, the seeds have been planted, and you’ll see the growth next Sunday. It’ll only get crazier from here.