Let me tell you: a lot Targaryens feel sorry for yourself in today’s episode Dragon House. But what begins as a pity party becomes a gripping reminder of why the Targaryens are responsible for Westeros, and not just because of their dragons.
The “middle name” is pushed forward three years, and the future of Westeros has changed dramatically: King Viserys (Paddy Considine) finally has a son, at least one who lived long enough to see his second birthday. It’s holiday time for everyone except Rainier (Millie Alcock), who is confident that she will be replaced as heir to the Iron Throne. Like most of the lords of the Seven Kingdoms, who are obviously glad not to be ruled…shudder-woman. And Rainier is very bitter about it.
Ironically, Viserys’ happiness from having Aegon, his middle name, with Alicente (Emily Carey) is limited due to the same problem. In fact, he is very unhappy that all these lords are forcing him to publicly announce his two-year-old son as the new heir. He is also unhappy because Rainier is furious that he married her best friend, constantly sends potential suitors to her to marry her off, and does not speak up for his daughter while he is obviously experiencing constant pressure to name his son as heir instead. Viserys’ preferred way of overcoming difficulties? A ton of Tyrion Lannister-style wine.
The only thing he doesn’t particularly worry about is the Stair War that Lord Corlys “Sea Serpent” Velarion (Steve Toussaint) and Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) have fought for years against the Crabfeeder and his pirates – and lost. . Every time Damon arrives on his dragon, they run back to their caves where the dragon fire can’t reach them. Since Korlis and Daemon started this war without Viserys’ royal decree, the king is inclined to just let them lose rather than send troops and appear weak, finally acknowledging their mini-rebellion.
The thing is, Viserys is weak king. He drinks to avoid making decisions about his daughter, but with a healthy son, things have come to a head. This is evident when Viserys takes his royal family and retinue to the Kingswood for Aegon’s birthday hunt, and all the lords gathered there begin to applaud the king and his new son, completely ignoring the existence of Rhaenyra. And when it is reported that a rare white deer was seen in the forest, people rejoice at a sign from the gods that they are favorable to little Aegon. This is too much for Reynira, who leaves the camp at maximum speed. No one really cares if she leaves or ends up staying all night in the woods, except for her designated Royal Guard, Ser Christon Cole (Fabien Frankel), who is after her.
Now that Rainier is almost safely out of the way, the men can decide who she should marry. Having previously been rejected by the princess herself, Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall) approaches the king to ask him to arrange a match. Viserys is already pissed (and rather drunk) about having to deal with this annoying topic again when Jason makes the mistake of saying that Rayneera will be “well compensated for losing her position” as Lady of Casterly Rock. Viserys yells that Rhaenyra is still his declared heir, and Jason stammers, “We assumed…”
Small Council member Lionel Strong (Gavin Spox) proposes another candidate, who an enraged Viserys believes is his LL.M. Harvin’s son. Instead, Strong suggests Laenor Velaryon (Theo Neith), the (adult, thank the gods) son of the Sea Serpent and the king’s cousin, Rhaenys. Just like joining the two houses of Valirion together would have strengthened the crown and kingdom when it was suggested. Viserys married his daughter Laena., a matchup between Reynira and Laenor would do the same thing now. Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), the Hand of the King, proposes the worst possible candidate – Rhaenyra will marry her half-brother Aegon, Targaryen style, except several million times worse because the child – toddler– that’s two. Viserys, to his credit, looks at Otto like he’s lost his mind.
As the king and lords try to decide her future, another man arrives at Rainier’s camp, trying to make the decision moot. A giant boar swoops down on her and Criston’s small camp, knocking the knight down and trying to maul Reynira. It’s pretty agonizing to watch until Kriston fails to kill the beast and knocks the princess down…until it starts to rise again and Rainira finishes the job by headbutting the boar about 400 million times I would say. She is coated in blood.
However, Viserys’ hunt for the white deer failed. Of course, the king is not engaged in real hunting. Hunters who have only been able to catch a great gray elk must tie it up for it and then point to the deer’s torso where the killing blow is to be delivered. Viserys still needs two hits to bring him down because Dragon House does not make thin. Case in point, when Rainier returns to camp covered in blood and Kriston is dragging a massive dead boar behind him, it’s impossible not to compare and contrast the two “hunts” and see who looks like the stronger leader.
Meanwhile, another woman comes to the aid of not only the king, but the whole kingdom. As Viserys hesitates what to do with Rhaenyra and whether to send troops to help his brother and the Sea Serpent, Alycent arrives to guide him. Ignoring her father’s wishes that she tell the king to name Ægon as her heir, Alycente tells Viserys that the only way to marry Rhaenyra is to let her marry. As for the war with the Crabfeeder, she’s essentially asking, regardless of his feelings, Damon’s feelings, and even people’s feelings, what would be the best solution for Westeros?
The conversation essentially returns some of the Valyrian steel to Viserys. He sends a messenger to tell Damon that the troops are on their way because he knows his brother would rather die than ask for help. The King also summons Rainier and finally confirms that she is still his heir presumptive and will not be replaced. He also tells her that she can marry anyone, but it would be wise to choose someone who can secure an alliance and strengthen her succession. It’s a conversation that could (and probably should have) come up much earlier in the episode, instead of focusing so intently on Rhaenyra’s sulking and Viserys’ drunkenness, but that’s fine.
But the slow-burning reconciliation of the king and princess in “His Second Name” makes the final act of the episode even more amazing, and it’s really very cool. As Corlis, his brother Veyemond, and his son Leynor are arguing that they have lost the war with the pirates, Damon arrives on his dragon and he looks rude. But his frustration with the Crab Eater doesn’t stop him from trying to viciously beat Viserys’s messenger to death once he’s informed that help is on the way.
CUT TO: Damon is sailing in a small boat towards the island where the pirates are hiding. He waves a white flag, kneels, and offers her sword to his enemy, signaling his surrender. When the Crab Eater emerges from his cave, all he does is watch the sky for the dragon Damon, who is nowhere to be seen. Some pirates come out onto the ledge and aim at the prince, suspecting a trick; others cautiously approach the Demon… and then he starts to kill them all.
I didn’t know how much I wanted to see Matt Smith kick a wicked ass, but obviously it was very strong. Damon fights his way towards the Crabfeeder until two arrows force him to take cover. Then it seems that the entire pirate army comes out of the caves to destroy the Targaryens, which is what Velaryon’s forces were waiting for. A full scale battle erupts on the shore as the dragon scorches the pirates, but this time it’s Seasmoke on which Leynor is riding. (Remember, Laenor’s mother is Rhaenys, which means that he has Targaryen blood in him, and therefore he has a right to a dragon.)
In the chaos, the Crab Eater retreats to his cave, but this time Damon follows him. And when Damon reappears, he’s dragging his enemy’s severed torso, followed by the exposed guts of the Crab Eater.
Does this scene make sense? Not particularly, and I didn’t care. it very much rad giving visceral thrill Game of Thrones episodes such as “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards”. While politics Dragon House were exciting, it’s amazing to know that the show is able to deliver the visceral action that made Game of Thrones so exciting.
It’s an impressive ending to an episode that would otherwise take way too long to put your fingers in a saying, but it evens out in the end. I also love how Dragon House plays a long game, constantly jumping forward – and we haven’t even seen the adult actors playing Reynira and Alycent yet. Hell, the Targaryen civil war hasn’t even started yet, and a new claimant to the throne has just emerged. Those first three episodes were basically a prologue to the real story, and they were surprisingly good. When the new battle for the Iron Throne finally begins, something special really awaits us.
- As cool as Matt Smith is in the final scene, his scene at the beginning of the episode is extremely weird. Damon on his dragon, at Crabfeeder Beach, tells him to “get out” and asks, “Where are you?” but Smith’s delivery of the lines was surprisingly insensitive. It was very annoying, especially since the dialogue already sounded like it was a man playing hide-and-seek with a toddler.
- Cancel Otto Hightower.
- Goodbye, Crabfeeder. Your head was too strange and gross for this world.
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