House of the Dragon: The Princess and the Queen   Books Included 
September 26, 2022 5:40 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Ten years later. Rhaenyra navigates Alicent's continued speculation about her children, while Daemon and Laena weigh an offer in Pentos
posted by suburbanbeatnik (36 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
So much of this episode was so, so stupid. Especially everything to do with Rhaenyra and her quite obvious bastard sons and 10 yr long affair conducted with absolutely no discretion. I find it very hard to believe that Laenor's parents wouldn't have said something LONG before about the hair color of their purported "grandchildren." And of course, they introduce Rhaenyra's piece on the side, he starts up a potential feud storyline with Ser Cole... and then gets killed at the end of the episode. OH WELP ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST.

And Daemon has just been on an extended family cruise this whole time? What happened to all his ambition?

Also, why didn't Ser Cole get any punishment from last episode when he straight up murdered a minor noble in the middle of a wedding? You'd think Viserys would at least bump him down to traffic control for a while, rather than allow him to be his wife's CLOSEST CONFIDANT. (Although I do think it is funny that Cole did a complete 180 w/r/t Rhaenyra. He just seems like a petty little baby.)

This show has gone full Soap Opera in terms of the quality of writing.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:26 PM on September 26, 2022 [6 favorites]


I 100% agree, Saxon Kane.

This was the first episode of HOTD I actually hated. The show has so much going for it, but they're shooting themselves in the foot with the ridiculous pacing and the time jumps. Also, I have a lot of issues with the new cast. They're giving it their all, but they are sooooo different from the previous cast. I also dislike how, by and large, the women characters are being replaced with slightly older actors, but the men (except for Laenor) have stayed the same-- Daemon, Harwin, Criston and Otto haven't even been aged. WTF?

It's hard for me to see the new cast as being the same characters. Rhaenyra's nose, chin and voice have seemingly morphed overnight, Laena's voice has changed as well (the actress's unsuccessful British accent grated on my nerves), and Laenor's mannerisms are different as well. The performance I mind the least is Olivia Cooke's-- at least she seems, semi-plausibly, like an aged-up version of Emily Carey. Everyone else seems like they've been replaced by alien dopplegangers in their sleep.

Let me be clear, their acting isn't bad, per se, I just found it jarring and inconsistent with what had been established for the first five episodes. It seems a very odd decision to replace the most prominent actors in the middle of the first season. I don't get it.

Perhaps the lack of cohesion in the performances might have been due to Covid restrictions while shooting. I feel like this sort of cast change would have been more effective between seasons-- not in the middle of season 1.

The writing has also become really shaky. Why hasn't Criston gotten any blowback from killing Joffrey Lonmouth in the previous episode? The Lonmouths are very important Marcher lords. You'd think SOMETHING would have happened. The Velaryons are barely there, and Laena has two scenes before she immolates herself. And a hugely important relationship between Rhaenyra and Harwin sprung up beween episodes 5 and 6-- so important that Rhaenyra had three children with this man, possibly threatening the line of succession-- but don't worry, it's not THAT important, because Harwin is dead by the end of the episode, inexplicably killed by his own brother. Again, I don't get it.

For me, watching this season feels like a joyride in a sports car which has done a U-turn in the middle of a highway, stopped, and taken on a new driver before continuing to speed down the road. I wish we'd had one or more episodes detailing out all the relationships and character beats, but things were rushed instead, a la the latter seasons of GOT. So yeah. Decisions were definitely made here.

Anyway, dwellordream's HOTD takes are always worth reading, if you like that sort of thing.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 6:29 PM on September 26, 2022 [6 favorites]


Yeah, aged-up Alicent is inspired casting -- but I can't help but feel like they should've gone with younger looking actresses (or a bigger time jump and older actresses) if they were planning to switch actors. American shows have twentysomethings play every role in the 15-35 range, so the show's idea that "this 22 year old was playing a 18 year old, but to show time has passed we cast a 27 year old to play a 28 year old" doesn't make much of an impact.

Viserys is clearly a bad king and responsible for 80% of the bloodshed to come, so I can forgive all manner of bad decisions on his part. Canon: he sucks at kinging! But I am amused by how truly awful Alicent was in this episode; just last week there were a bunch of pieces written about how she was a complex character, she was no Cersei, etc. This is quite a heel turn.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:56 PM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]


The time jump was completely stupid solely because we never got to see Harwin and Rhaenyra get it on.

You know I’m right.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 PM on September 26, 2022 [3 favorites]


Are we meant to identify with any of these characters? I feel like we view them all at such a chilly remove that it's almost like watching a documentary -- not a good documentary, but like a Keeping up with the Kardashians set in Narnia, or a revival of Jersey Shore where everyone is suddenly British for some reason. And because we zoom through plotlines without ever getting to know anyone, it all seems low stakes: Leana seems nice and I'd obviously rather she didn't immolate herself, but now that she has, so what? I guess that one kid can have a dragon now...whoever that kid is. I didn't even put together that Larys was the hand's son until I read a recap...why would I remember that? I barely know who Larys is, and he'll probably get killed next week.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:03 PM on September 26, 2022 [6 favorites]


Thanks for the link, suburbanbeatnik, love recaps by people who care about the material.

I'm completely won over by the performances of Olivia Cooke and Emma Darcy. They both fully embody the characters that they are playing, and really convey the conflicting bitterness and past affection that has been coursing through their relationship these many years.

Neither one is willing to bend, and they've both become so much more ruthless in their own ways. Rhaenyra with her complete willingness to disregard her body and her pride to do what needs to be done, and Alicent with the wanton cruelty that comes from years of resentment toward people who do not reciprocate the care that she gives to them.

Nobody appreciates Alicent's love language. Well, Larys clocks it so that he could use it to his own ends, but that's it.

Kinda reminds of the relationship between the main characters of another amazing show/book series, My Brilliant Friend.
posted by ishmael at 8:09 PM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]


The discourse is harsh on Alicent for being vindicative and humorless but she’s playing the thankless job of the straight woman- thrust into a power she never asked for, all she wants is to protect her children. Isolation has driven her paranoid. Spousal incompetence has driven her impatient. I don’t see what’s so unsympathetic about her.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:09 AM on September 27, 2022 [4 favorites]


the women characters are being replaced with slightly older actors, but the men (except for Laenor) have stayed the same

That one is explainable by all of those characters being teens and younger. They were coded as kids and thus that reinforces the time skip. Certainly Aegon has been replaced.

That said Criston not being aged up is so incredibly lazy that I’m going to choose to pretend it’s because he’s the subversion of a Prince Charming white knight type character, ageless in fairy tale perfection. Of course, they never explain how he got away with the murder from the last episode, which is even lazier. I’m going to give the show the chance of some sort of wistful “ah, remember how I became your confidant?” scene later in the season.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:16 AM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


I don’t see what’s so unsympathetic about her.

Demanding to see Rhaenyra‘s baby immediately after it was born.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:44 AM on September 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


That said Criston not being aged up is so incredibly lazy that I’m going to choose to pretend it’s because he’s the subversion of a Prince Charming white knight type character, ageless in fairy tale perfection.

Maybe it's because he's not going to live much longer and there was no point in negotiating such a short contract with a new actor.

I think one of the biggest hurdles people are having is the longer timeline and the quicker lifespans of the protagonists.
posted by Stanczyk at 5:17 AM on September 27, 2022


Yeah, this was a pretty bad episode, for all the reasons people have given above. The trouble is, GoT was 73 episodes over 8 seasons and over a timeline of about 7 years, and so time jumps would be months rather than decades. They're trying to cram too much into too few episodes to make the story credible or get us properly invested in the characters. I am quite enjoying Larys Strong though, but then Varys and Littlefinger were always two of my favourites in GoT.
posted by essexjan at 5:55 AM on September 27, 2022


Hey Allicent. Hey Queen. Just a reminder that Larys had his own father and brother murdered and cheerfully admitted that to you with the expectant of a reward for said murdering. Take a minute, let that sink in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 AM on September 27, 2022 [8 favorites]


kittens for breakfast: Thank you, I will henceforth be referring to this show as "Keeping Up With The Targaryens"
posted by jordemort at 6:42 AM on September 27, 2022 [9 favorites]


Agreed that things are too rushed to induce actually caring, though TBH I was struggling with that in the first portion of the season, on account of all these characters being despicable in one way or another.

This, though, is the first episode of this show (GoT had at least a few) where I felt like I wasn't invited because I didn't read the book(s).

I had high hopes for Larys as a character, but he went from DS9 Garak to Terok Nor Garak in the time-skip.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:43 AM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


I can't trust Olivia Cooke since she explained The Technique in Thoroughbreds (2017) and that was such a powerful and weirdly meta performance that she is now and always will be Olivia Cooke, no matter who she is pretending to be.
posted by Molesome at 6:45 AM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


We've been watching the show because our Resident Teen Critic has decided they are invested in the show for reasons passing understanding.

At first I figured HotD would be an apologia from HBO how GoT was wrapped up... my working theory now is that they're trying to make S8 look good by comparison. This show just drags and I can't stay interested, by and large. The "soap opera" comparison is apt, except that I can usually find soap operas somewhat entertaining even if not high quality.

I was horrified by the demand to see the baby immediately after it was born... I figured it was about to be chucked out a window or something. But, instead, it just seemed like a display of cruelty / power and a pretty petty one at that.

Somehow, every episode, they manage to have at least one scene that is almost entirely unlit. I don't understand how anyone thinks this is a good idea.

Also agreed with the time jump / change of actors. Emma D'Arcy seems like a fine actor in general but she doesn't in any way remind me of Milly Alcock/Rhaenyra 10 years older.
posted by jzb at 7:59 AM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


I can feel some of the dissatisfaction expressed above but I'm not quite ready to give up on this show yet (and I've given up on the Rings of Power).

Agree that it's a little weird that Criston hasn't lost his position for 1. killing a noble 2. in a brawl 3. at a royal wedding. It's weirder that the Captain of the King's guard was banished for beating up a subordinate on the training field. I guess we can put this down to political machinations and my bet is that Larys Strong has had a strong role in anything that has gone the Queen's way.

I think Daemon is actually up to something, not just hanging out on vacation. No one spends that much time in a fantasy show studying dusty old tomes without picking up a trick or secret knowledge that they will use a few episodes later. Prove me wrong.

Both actresses did a good job. Rhaenyra's appearance is a little jarring but the actress is great, and Alicent is just older Alicent.

Edit: Also, it seems like I caught a few moments where the Queen didn't seem to have the servants quite on her side? Maybe there are some rumors going around about her, or maybe she's being a tyrant to more than just Rhaenyra? Maybe I just imagined it.
posted by natteringnabob at 11:00 AM on September 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


I can't trust Olivia Cooke since she explained The Technique in Thoroughbreds (2017) and that was such a powerful and weirdly meta performance that she is now and always will be Olivia Cooke, no matter who she is pretending to be.

Ooh, that Technique just made my hair stand on end.
posted by ishmael at 11:48 AM on September 27, 2022


That baby was big for its age.
posted by biffa at 2:23 PM on September 27, 2022


The Lonmouths are very important Marcher lords.

I don't think this was stated? Their total presence in the books are a couple of very minor characters. They are probably not in a position to start asking a lot of questions.

In the book (no spoilers for future events, and this is the "books only" thread), the fight was supposed to happen at the wedding tourney. Tourneys in Westeros are the best place to literally get away with murder and have it written off as "boys will be boys".
posted by Gary at 4:51 PM on September 27, 2022


It's weirder that the Captain of the King's guard

Harwin Strong was commander of the City Watch (Daemon’s old job), not commander of the Kingsguard. They were really tossing characters at us so it is easy to miss.

I agree that a lot of the consequences and motivations for characters are more sketched in than fully fleshed out. I’ll still watch but it feels like the story planning could have used another pass.

I’m surprised there aren’t more Succession mashup memes given Aegon’s ahem performance.
posted by jeoc at 7:18 PM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


I’m surprised there aren’t more Succession mashup memes given Aegon’s ahem performance.

“Give me the meat and give it to me raw!”
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 PM on September 27, 2022


I think Daemon is actually up to something, not just hanging out on vacation. No one spends that much time in a fantasy show studying dusty old tomes without picking up a trick or secret knowledge that they will use a few episodes later. Prove me wrong.

I think they were actually using the time to redeem Daemon and make him more sympathetic. Note: how when talking about his lack of wanting to go back to King's Landing, he was asking about whether Rhaenyra was still having Harwin's bastards? It seems kind of like the chain of events given the last episode was, Rhaenyra decides to marry Laenor, Daemon makes a pitch to Rhaenyra to stop it and choose him, Rhaenyra was tempted and was like 'carry me off if you want me, buddy' but everything was stopped by the killing of Joffrey and the rush wedding, at which point Daemon actually married Laena who he had been previously just flirting with, at which point Rhaenyra had an affair with Harwin, who had kept her secret previously when she was sneaking out into the city as a girl, at which point Daemon was like "Fuck this, I'm leaving and don't want to see this."

Also, he refused, unlike Viserys, to do the C-section that would have killed Laena.

I think the point is less about the dusty tomes and more about the fact that Laena had the world's biggest dragon - and remember, their youngest daughter had no dragon, and Laena had told her that sometimes you have to pick up a dragon where you find them. My bet is on the youngest daughter who wants to prove herself, riding the oldest, biggest, baddest dragon.
posted by corb at 8:05 AM on September 28, 2022 [3 favorites]


Rhaenyra's eldest also has no dragon, and would probably enjoy having the biggest one in the world. I'm guessing that's going to be a major point of contention, going forward.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:43 AM on September 28, 2022 [2 favorites]


Also I need some clarity on who can and cannot be killed by fire. Is that only a Targaryen thing?
posted by jeoc at 12:31 PM on September 28, 2022


I don't think it's normal for anyone not to be killed by fire. When Dany's brother died of having molten gold dumped over his head, Dany said something like, "He was not a dragon," implying that if he were, fire could not have hurt him...but I'm not sure anyone believed this was literally true. Dany's survival seemed to herald the return of Magic to Westeros, but I think the time of Magic-Magic was WAY before what we're seeing now, like when White Walkers were all over the place and there were tree spirits and shit. Maybe those Targaryens were fireproof. At this point, it seems like they're kinda rolling the dice if they expect to get dracarysed and live.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:33 PM on September 28, 2022 [2 favorites]


According to GRR, Targs aren't immune to fire or heat. That Dany wasn't consume by the fire when walked into was a miracle, a one off instance.

But obviously, the show had several instances of her immunity to heat, so in the end "it depends" on who's writing what and which version you choose to believe.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 PM on September 28, 2022


Rhaenyra's eldest also has no dragon,

Pretty sure that it was Alicent's 2nd son who didn't have a dragon, whereas both of Rhaenyra's do, but they still haven't mastered them?
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:19 PM on September 28, 2022 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Maybe. Who even knows?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:45 PM on September 28, 2022


Yeah, on review, I guess you're right. It's really hard for me to keep all these unremarkable new characters straight. Is it the Bowlcut Prince, is it the Jacking It Prince, I don't know. Whatever.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:52 PM on September 28, 2022 [3 favorites]


Sons of brown, Rhaenyra's crown; sons of white, Alicent's fright.
posted by ishmael at 10:57 PM on September 28, 2022 [2 favorites]


Brown haired lad, Laenor's not the dad. White haired punk, Targaryen Spunk.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:26 PM on September 28, 2022 [6 favorites]


I think the episode (and show overall) is fine so far.

I never read the books, and didn't even know what they were about before the first episode of GoT. A big difference I'm finding is that GoT got my attention immediately from the first episode. I really don't care about dragons and walking dead at all, but the politics drew me in. Perhaps it's the familiarity with the universe, but I haven't had that reaction with this show.

I did find the aging in this episode a little distracting, but acceptable. Except for Cole. C'mon, put in a little more effort here. And Rhaenyra's recklessness during the interim is pretty wild. To depend on Daddy's merciful obliviousness so boldly feels crazy. You'd think Laenor would at least put in an effort for the sake of his own neck. Curiously, Laenor and Rhaenyra's relationship doesn't actually seem all that bad, in relative terms. Their understanding is mutually respected, though quietly flaunted publicly.

Alicent turned out to be a force to be reckoned with. For all her old man's faults, he seems to be genuinely warm with his grandkids. Now, I'm not quite sure I understand why her relationship with Rhaenyra soured as badly as it did, but Rhaenyra's reaction to the Queen's request to see newborn Joffrey lets us know how bad it has gotten. But again, it doesn't quite square with Alicent's reaction to the Harrenhall massacre. Rhaenyra expects the axe to fall at any time, but Alicent seems astonished that Larys actually does what she asks. As if that kind of fuckery is unheard of.

For those so inclined, it might be interesting to contrast House of the Dragon with another new show currently running on Starz: The Serpent Queen. The latter being a historical drama about Catherine de' Medici, which takes a more refreshing approach than one might expect, and covers very similar themes as House of the Dragon.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:47 PM on September 29, 2022 [2 favorites]


Just caught up with the last few episodes last night. Really enjoying it, despite the occasional bumps and warts.

I don't understand at all the 50% or so of folks who seem to be hate-watching. I'm accustomed to critical consumption, but dang, if you think it's that terrible, why are you watching?
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:57 AM on October 1, 2022 [1 favorite]


As someone in the thread for the next episode says, some of us are just suckers for fantasy and will consume even frustratingly disappointing stuff like this.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:45 AM on October 4, 2022


You'd think Laenor would at least put in an effort for the sake of his own neck.

Yeah, just lay back and think of the King, or something. On the other hand, I asked my wife which would be worse - one obviously Targaryen child in a field of brown haired children, or all brown haired children?
posted by Kyol at 7:18 PM on November 30, 2022


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