House of the Dragon S1E4: “King of the Narrow Sea” — Oh, What a Night


The following contains spoilers for Dragon House S1E4, “”King of the Narrow Sea” (written by Ira Parker and directed by Clare Kilner)

Now this that’s how you make a game of thrones spin off. After a somewhat slow start, “King of the Narrow Sea” finally sees Dragon House come roaring to life. Things are finally starting to happen, power moves are afoot, and while I won’t say shit hit the fan, by the time the end credits roll, the stench is so powerful you can’t ignore it anymore.

We start with another timeskip, but this time it’s the one that makes sense and the one I totally agree with! We’re only moving forward about a year this time, jumping to the big homecomings of Daemon and Rhaenyra – Daemon from her victory at the Stepstones and Rhaenyra from her “tour” of all eligible bachelors in the realm to try and find a husband. This of course immediately raises the ratio of Targaryens per square mile well above recommended safe levels, and it doesn’t take long before things start spiraling out of control.

Rhaenyra’s tour turns out to be short-lived – there are only a limited number of men who literally stab each other to death while trying to defend her affections that she can take. So it’s back to King’s Landing that she travels, arriving conveniently on time to see Daemon make his glorious return with both a new title and, thank goodness, a new haircut. He informs his brother that the survivors of the Triarchy named him “King of the Straits” following his victory, but that he knows there is only one true king in the land. To promise. Crossed fingers. Promised sworn.

Photography by Ollie Upton/HBO

Rhaenyra doesn’t buy it for a minute, but when pressed to answer, all Daemon tells her is that he longs for the “comforts of home” before a well-deserved session of shared venting over their spells. respectively in life. This interaction is one that sees Milly Alcock shine in particular, revealing a previously unseen existential dread bordering on dread of suffering the same fate as her mother: being forced to produce heirs until it does. kill.

So let’s go to the Petit Conseil for more bad news! Corlys Velaryon is still unhappy that the King married Alicent instead of his own daughter – which, and I have to keep reminding myself, has now happened Four years ago in-universe – and now plans to marry said daughter to the son of a Free City leader, potentially making him a powerful rival. Naturally, the subject of a counter-proposal of marriage comes up while the camera focuses on Rhaenyra – quick, what do we think will happen at the end of the episode?

Then we come to the centerpiece of the episode: Daemon takes Rhaenyra on an incognito journey to Silk Street – essentially a high fantasy version of Bourbon Street – for a night of freedom, escape…and, of course, , honest to God of debauchery. A quick detour to a brothel and we finally get the boob part of Ian McShane’s famous “boobs and dragons” analysis, and oh my, we get it in spades: girl on girl, guy on guy, guy on girl on guy, Dragon House offers something for everyone – and the icing on the cake is that this is where the show ultimately fully delves into the disturbing potential of the Targaryen family.

Alicent, facing Rhaenyra
Photography by Ollie Upton/HBO

It’s hard to fathom Daemon’s intentions, but the end result is a warm, heavy connection between him and Rhaenyra – quick reminder, the two are, in fact, niece and uncle. The well-known practice of incest among members of the Targaryen family is something that Dragon House had previously been surprisingly low-key, and while I certainly don’t approve of the idea, it’s good to see the show finally fully understand just how royally (ha!) screwed up this family is. Basically, the more disturbing Dragon House becomes, the more entertaining it becomes, even if it’s in the “can’t take your eyes off a car crash” kind of entertainment.

The whole encounter is framed as both unsettling and erotic (and if you know the book Dragon House is loosely based on, you’ll know full well that “equal parts disturbing and erotic” is a fairly comprehensive analysis of Daemon and Rhaenyra’s relationship), full of uncomfortable close-ups and disturbing, off-beat music and back and forth between Rhaenyra and Daemon’s meeting and Alicent’s passionless fulfillment of her evening duties as queen. The whole scene is completely and utterly screwed up in the most glorious way possible, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. In the end, it’s no more than an intense makeup session – at least for now – but Rhaenyra isn’t quite satisfied yet. She finds a somewhat more willful partner in Ser Criston upon her return to the castle, but is unfortunately seen leaving the brothel by one of Otto Hightower’s many informants, news that quickly gets to the King and Queen.

Demon, held by two guards
Photography by Ollie Upton/HBO

Turns out that’s where everything begins to crumble: Despite Rhaenyra’s heartfelt insistence that she and Daemon never fully did what was necessary, Alicent and her father fear that even the potential of her compromised “virtue” has harmed her future marriage potential. Misogyny continues to be what drives most of the narrative, now coming to us in a new and refreshing flavor: slut-shaming! The final third of “King of the Narrow Sea” is all about dealing with the fallout from Rhaenyra’s potentially outrageous evening: Alicent almost tells her to behave for once in her life. It turns out that Alicent has internalized more than a little of her. the father’s misogyny – while Viserys tells her she’s going to marry Corlys Velaryon’s son to try and mend that particular broken relationship before sending him a tea that might help her with any unwanted consequences that may arise.

Meanwhile, one particular side effect of the scandal we see is that Viserys finally seems to be growing something close to a spine. Daemon, still hungover from the night before, is dragged into the throne room and unceremoniously told to go anywhere but King’s Landing to try to salvage some of his remaining honor, but not until his last bet to ask to marry Rhaenyra himself. Dragon House It may be the beginning of the end of a dynasty, but “King of the Narrow Sea” does a great job of showing us how far the family behind this dynasty had already fallen.

Even more interesting: Viserys finally seems to be waking up to the fact that his marriage to then sixteen-year-old Alicent may not have been as natural and healthy as he previously thought. Although he comes across as more than a little paranoid, he ends up removing Otto from his position as Hand of the King and firing him from King’s Landing as well, perhaps the most impactful move in a jam-packed episode. striking movements. . Much remains to be put on the table for future conflict, but said conflict is increasingly visible and events seem to have profound consequences both for our players and for the world they inhabit.

“King of the Narrow Sea” is by far my favorite episode of Dragon House so far: fast-paced, gloriously twisted, and full of events whose consequences we’ll feel the consequences from afar, delivering what is quite possibly the show’s most entertaining hour to date, and doing it while ridding ourselves of one of the worst wigs in the show. If that’s what Dragon House has in store for us, so I can’t wait to see what’s next – and I’ll readily admit that the show got me one hundred percent on board until we reached its gloriously disastrous endgame.


Comments are closed.