House of the Dragon: We Light the Way   Books Included 
September 19, 2022 3:21 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Daemon visits his wife in the Vale. Viserys and Rhaenyra broker agreements with the Velaryons. Alicent seeks the truth about the princess.
posted by suburbanbeatnik (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm still processing this episode, but I would love to hear what everyone thinks! TBH one of my favorite parts of HOTD is all the water-cooler discussion that comes around afterwards.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:23 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


I liked it, but I think the time compression thing makes some aspects feel rushed or unearned.

Like I fully believe that Larys Strong was capable of having a spy network that would know about Rhaenyra's whereabouts, but we the audience haven't been privy to his machinations, so it feels like he went from a demure, unkown courtier to a hypercompetent super-spy too quickly.

Same thing with the Cristin Cole/Joffrey Lonmouth saga - it happened too quickly for me to fully buy Cristin's heel turn and Joffrey's oddly-timed attempt to form an alliance with Cristin.

Don't get me wrong- I love all their performances, and I like where they are going with the story- I just wish the plot had more time to breathe so that character motivations didn't seem so abrupt.
posted by ishmael at 5:05 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


It seemed pretty cheap to kill off two characters right after they were introduced.
posted by octothorpe at 5:10 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


I agree with octothorpe, that seemed like a tremendous waste and a cheap way to raise the stakes.

Who was the dude who told Alicent about Rhaenyra & Daemon's nighttime escapades & the Plan B Tea? Is that the son of the new Hand?
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:14 PM on September 19


This has been my favourite episode so far because at least things happened (the others have felt like 45 minutes of television stretched to fit an hour). It's still no GOT, and I agree that characters should not die in the same episode we meet them, but it's getting better.

My observations:

Have I just over-watched GOT to the point where everything that happens in this show reminds me of something else? Rhea Royce is a lusty smartass tomboy like Yara / Ygritte / Osha, and she gets a spinal cord injury like Bran, and she's murdered in a hunting mishap like Robert. Mysaria is Shae. Larys is Littlefinger with a side of Tyrion (sardonic disabled second son). Lonmouth is another Joffrey killed at a wedding and gets an eye popped out like Oberyn. Laenor and Joffrey are like a much less charismatic Renly and Loras.

I liked Lady Rhea Royce and am very sorry she died. "Lusty tomboy with a smart mouth" is truly one of the best character archetypes. "I knew you couldn't finish" is such a sick burn it was almost worth getting your skull bashed for.

The scene where Alicent probes Criston and he confesses has been the best scene in the series so far. Her performance as she made sense of wtf he was saying was just phenomenal.

Why did Alicent wear her mom's shoelace dress again in this episode? Was she craving green so she didn't want to wear her Targaryen Queen Red Gowns any more, but she hadn't had her Green Lighthouse Gown made yet?

The paintings in Alicent's and Viserys' bedrooms!! Just a ton of naked gay sex. So much naked gay sex. But then they have the most boring sex ever.

"I prefer roast duck to goose. I cannot say why." What a great scene. GOT does a good job with these understanding women, gamely helping gay men stay undercover. Remember Margery offering to bring Loras into their marriage bed to help Renly impregnate her? Same same. Now it's high time this show gives a gay man a nice life and stops killing them in horrible ways.

Another great line was Joffrey's, "Am I meant to be the duck or the goose?"

Alicent's green entrance was amazing. So dramatic, great payoff.

Weird flappy dragon wedding dances, HEY! It was like they were HEY! in drama class. Or at a Lumineers show. HEY! HEY!

Giant royal weddings are NOT a good time to: stare moodily at the person you love (Criston), or cuddle your head into their neck (Laenor), or hiss dramatic accusations at known bad guys (Gerold Royce), or stare at people as you gossip about them (Joffrey and Laenor), or tell them everyone knows they broke their vow (Joffrey) or grab their face and whisper intensely into their mouth (Daemon). Like, you GUYS. Be CHILL. People can SEE you.

Criston, COME ON. So much drama. Just be chill. You got made a knight, the person you like wants to be poly with you, you have it MADE, why are you ruining everyone's lives and literally dragging your honour through the literal mud. You ruined everything.

I love the rats everywhere. This was like the fourth rat shot in the series (there was a rat in the giant dragon skull, a couple in the hallway when Rhaenyra was sneaking out, in Alicent's chambers, and now lapping up poor Lonmouth's brains).

Viserys' illness feels overplayed - he collapsed like a hundred times in this episode. He's just walking around shedding body parts behind him like confetti at this point and dramatically barfing, bleeding, and fainting too much. When you throw up more than my cat it's time to settle down, your grace. Have a pepto bismol and just keep it (your body) together. I LOVED his empty gloves trying to handle a lobster fork and Alicent's disgust at his yucky eating manners. Shades of Taika Waititi's Blackbeard using the wrong fork at the dinner party.

Saddest wedding ever, poor Laenor. I hope he meets another goose.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:19 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


Five episodes in, I don't think we're ever going to see the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul argument about whether HotD is secretly better than GoT. But that doesn't mean HotD is a bad show. I look forward to it, I enjoy watching it, and I feel like it has potential. What worries me is that the actresses playing Alicent and Rhaenyra have absolutely killed it, and are at least half of what made HotD worth watching. I loved Olivia Cooke on Bates Motel, and I'm pretty confident her Alicent will be great; I am not familiar with the Rhaenyra actress, but here's hoping.

I think the show is at its best when it settles into a character's POV and lets us dwell there for a while. I realize the book is basically a glorified outline, and that any deep characterization is more or less invented for the show. I'm not sure if the writers are uncomfortable elaborating too much or what, but I vastly prefer a more immersive scene to one where we're simply presented with, say, a murder, and left to sort out for ourselves how we should feel about it, and about the perpetrator. Is Daemon a charming rapscallion, or the guy from Wolf Creek? Is Criston a homophobe who felt emasculated by Joffrey comparing their roles, a moralist pushed to the breaking point by having his sin stuck in his face, a man in love who killed Joffrey to protect Alicent's secret, or...what? Like, literally, what the fuck? In an outline, a fake journalistic account, you can kind of go, "It sure was a weird thing that happened, I guess we'll never really know what motivated him," but this is a work of fiction, and the whole point is that we are privy to knowledge that we could never have in real life.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:36 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]


Why did Alicent wear her mom's shoelace dress again in this episode? Was she craving green so she didn't want to wear her Targaryen Queen Red Gowns any more, but she hadn't had her Green Lighthouse Gown made yet?

I mean, it's a good dress.

The paintings in Alicent's and Viserys' bedrooms!! Just a ton of naked gay sex. So much naked gay sex.

Love that nobody acknowledges them. Tapestries and murals both get no-selled in Kings Landing.

Is Criston a homophobe who felt emasculated by Joffrey comparing their roles, a moralist pushed to the breaking point by having his sin stuck in his face, a man in love who killed Joffrey to protect Alicent's secret, or...what? Like, literally, what the fuck?

Yeah! Explain yourself show!
posted by ishmael at 8:59 PM on September 19


Who was the dude who told Alicent about Rhaenyra & Daemon's nighttime escapades & the Plan B Tea? Is that the son of the new Hand?

Yep. Larys Strong, called Larys Clubfoot in the books.
posted by ishmael at 9:01 PM on September 19


Have I just over-watched GOT to the point where everything that happens in this show reminds me of something else?

Rhaenyra and Laenor talking about roast duck vs goose are David and Stevie talking red wine vs white wine
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:18 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


I liked this episode. I agree that the pacing is a little rushed, but they're cramming in a lot of material before the time skip.

I thought it was pretty clear that Criston's reaction was mostly or entirely due to option B (a moralist pushed to the breaking point by having his sin stuck in his face), maybe with some of columns A and C sprinkled in. There's a spirited discussion over on Reddit re: whether Joffrey was trying to blackmail him. I don't think he was, but he massively misread the situation -- to him it was something two men in comparable positions could flippantly rib each other over; to Cole it was the end of his world, and that flippancy could easily have come across as threatening. But I don't think that was his primary motivation.

I think the show is trolling viewers with Viserys' inevitable but ridiculously prolonged demise, and I love it.

RIP Rhea Royce; that's a lot of likeability packed into an extremely brief appearance.
posted by confluency at 1:56 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


OK, I just rewatched the exchange between Joffrey and Criston, and it may have been a more deliberate threat than I previously interpreted it to be. Joffrey wasn't trying to blackmail him, but I do think that he was trying to reach an understanding about mutually assured secrecy.

I still think that Criston is driven mostly by an emotional breakdown. It may be significant that when the exchange happens, he has already betrayed Rhaenyra's secret to Alicent.
posted by confluency at 2:11 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


Why did Alicent wear her mom's shoelace dress again in this episode?

Someone (Laenor's bf? Or was it Larys Strong?) noted that House Hightower displays green flags when calling their bannermen to war. Alicent had learned about Rhaenyra's indiscretions with Ser Cole and may also still think Rhaenyra also had something with Daemon. Interrupting the celebratory speech at Laenor & Rhaenyra's wedding was a total power move, Alicent subtly announcing that she's going to champion her offspring in the eventual power struggle over the throne.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:04 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


It seemed pretty cheap to kill off two characters right after they were introduced.

Especially when one of the deaths is a straight-up Bury Your Gays move. The behind-the-scenes featurette was incredibly frustrating on this: a lot of talk of how Rhaenyra and Laenor's arrangement was so very progressive, none at all on the regressive so-of-course-we'll-kill-his-boyfriend outcome.

GQ: Like Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon has a queer problem

Viserys' illness feels overplayed - he collapsed like a hundred times in this episode.

And SO MUCH FORESHADOWING COUGHING.

I assume there's somewhat of a time-jump from last week's "you will wed Laenor" to this week's wedding and the show wants to make it clear -- or is faking us out on, take your pick -- that his illness has progressed during that time? but it's like, in the previous multi-year timejump he lost two fingers; in this one, presumably a couple of months, he's basically become a walking corpse.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:48 AM on September 20


In his recap for NPR, Glen Weldon made a drinking game of the all the times Viserys' coughed or fell.
posted by octothorpe at 10:10 AM on September 20


And SO MUCH FORESHADOWING COUGHING.

The first time he coughed, I was like, "Oh, shit! He has COVID! Where does it end for this guy?!"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:27 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


Not being a fan of Doctor Who or The Crown, I'd not really seen Matt Smith in much before but, my God, the man is charismatic. He completely owned every scene he was in.

As others have said, the plot seemed to move very quickly this episode and I was confused at why Ser Criston went apeshit on Joffrey.

I loved the dancing, it looked so cool. Particularly Rhaenyra and Laenor's dance, that looked like the swans' mating dance.
posted by essexjan at 1:20 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Criston is the worst.

First he breaks his oath to the Kingsguard.
Then he breaks Rule #1 of being the Princess' Secret Whore: Don't tell anyone you're the Princess' Secret Whore.
Now he's killing random guys at weddings and staying alive so he can be used against the princess.

This man is off the rails.

Does Rhaenyra have any obligation to not defile knights of the Kingsguard or is that entirely on Criston? She's leagues above him in power and station. Hell, she hired him.
posted by yonega at 1:57 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Giant royal weddings are NOT a good time to: stare moodily at the person you love (Criston), or cuddle your head into their neck (Laenor), or hiss dramatic accusations at known bad guys (Gerold Royce), or stare at people as you gossip about them (Joffrey and Laenor), or tell them everyone knows they broke their vow (Joffrey) or grab their face and whisper intensely into their mouth (Daemon). Like, you GUYS. Be CHILL. People can SEE you.

It's the best time. I love everyone and their bad choices in this dumb soap opera.

When I say everyone, I'm including the symbolic rats. These are the best symbolic rats since The Departed.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:23 PM on September 20


Re: the green shoelace dress:

It’s clear why Alicent wore the green ball gown to the wedding - to alert her Hightower kin and bannermen that she planned to back Aegon’s claim.

But before that scene, when questioning Criston, she wore her mother’s dress again - a teal dress with lots of lacing. It’s the same dress she chose to visit Viserys, back when Otto told her to wear her mother’s dress and pay him a nighttime visit after Aemma died (Otto’s ploy to make Viserys want to marry Alicent).

It’s been 5 years and two babies since Alicent wore that teal dress. Since marrying Viserys, she usually wears red and black - Targaryen colours.

So I love the subtle wardrobe story that’s being told here. Alicent suspects that Rhaenyra has sullied herself with Daemon and then lied about it. She’s pissed at the Targaryens and their “strange customs”. So she puts on her old Hightower teal shoelace dress while she questions Criston to figure out what’s going on.

Choosing the old teal dress of her mother’s symbolizes Alicent’s potential impending return to her original values.

Then once she knows for sure that Rhaenyra has betrayed her, she gets the new vivid Hightower green dress made to wear to the wedding and declare her allegiance shift back to her own people.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:20 PM on September 20 [4 favorites]


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