We are four weeks into House of the Dragon and things are really heating up (literally and figuratively). After being told she can have her choice of husband last week, Rhaenyra really, um, tests the boundaries of that idea. Here’s what you missed in House of the Dragon Episode 4 ‘King of the Narrow Sea’.
This article contains full spoilers for House of the Dragon. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch Episodes 1-4 over on Binge now.
House of the Dragon Episode 4: Plot Recap
We begin with Rhaenyra facing a line of potential marriage suitors. Everyone from old men to literal children are offered up to her and she has precisely zero interest in any of them. When a 10-year-old starts to murder the hecklers, Rhaenyra decides to GTFO.
As they sail back to King’s Landing, Rhaenyra’s ship is buzzed by Caraxes, heralding the return of Daemon. The prince arrives in court sporting the Crab Feeder’s axe, a crown of driftwood and a new haircut that I’m still coming to terms with.
Surprisingly, Daemon isn’t here to challenge his brother, instead, he bends the knee and renounces the claim of “King of the Narrow Sea” to Viserys. The king embraces his brother, seemingly ending their troubles.
The king rejoices that his brother is home, but he’s less pleased about Rhaenyra’s royal tour. Alicent reminds Rhaenyra that it’s rare for a woman in Westeros to get a choice of two men, let alone a whole lineup of them, but Rhaenyra is aware that her suitors are there for her title, nothing else. She doesn’t find the idea of being trapped in a castle to “squeeze out heirs” very romantic, which is basically Alicent’s entire life.
Meanwhile, in politics, the Sea Snake is making moves to wed his daughter, once promised to Viserys, to a lord in the free city of Braavos. This could cause turmoil for Westeros if the Velaryons aren’t brought on side.
Rhaenyra meets with Daemon and questions why he’s really back and, yep, there’s those uncomfortable incestuous vibes again. Both Targaryens share their marriage woes: Daemon dislikes his wife and Rhaenyra dislikes the idea of dying in childbirth as her mother did. Daemon encourages his niece to live without fear.
Daemon’s advice is put to the test when he arranges a disguise for Rhaenyra and helps her to sneak out of the Red Keep.
Ah yes, the wondrous streets of King’s Landing, where people are drinking, shagging and robbing each other on the street. What a time to be alive.
No one recognises Rhaenyra in her disguise so she and Daemon stop to listen to a dramatic re-enactment of the royal family. It becomes clear quickly that the commoners don’t support Rhaenyra as the heir to the throne, much preferring Prince Aegon II, which foreshadows the turmoil to come.
We’ve had plenty of fire and dragons so far in House of the Dragon but this week, in true Game of Thrones tradition, it’s all about sex.
Daemon takes Rhaenyra to a brothel, where he tells her that sex can be for pleasure as much as it can be for duty — which is something that Alicent is caught up in at this very moment as she lies in the marriage bed with the king.
Daemon encourages his niece to take what she wants and what becomes clear is that these two very much want each other. Daemon removes the princess’ disguise and proceeds to kiss her, almost going all the way before he pulls back and disappears.
Yes, it’s incest, and yet these are the two characters with the most chemistry in the entire show, so it’s becoming pretty hard not to ship them. It’s weird, we’re all conflicted about it, let’s move on.
Left entirely unsatisfied by Daemon, Rhaenyra turns it on for her dutiful knight Criston Cole. While he tries very hard to restrain himself, Criston succumbs to the princess’ advances — presumably half an hour later once all of his armour is removed.
This entire turn of events rams home the parallels between Rhaenyra and Alicent. Where Rhaenyra is owning her sexuality and revelling in the joy of sticking it to tradition by involving herself with her uncle and a knight of the Kingsguard (both before marriage), the Queen is trapped in a rigid cycle of screaming babies and dutiful sex with her husband.
The next morning a hungover Daemon is confronted by his ex-mistress Mysaria, who reveals that she has moved on from her old life of prostitution and has become a master of whispers of sorts, similar to Varys in Game of Thrones.
One such whisper she has shared is with Otto Hightower, who grudgingly and purposefully tells the king (and an eavesdropping Alicent) that Rhaenyra was spotted getting intimate with her uncle. This guy must be Littlefinger’s ancestor, I swear to god.
Alicent confronts Rhaenyra about the whole thing, to which she vehemently denies (and lies) about the night’s antics, claiming she remains virtuous.
The king goes to Daemon about these accusations and their newfound brotherly forgiveness is gone.
Even though Daemon and Rhaenyra didn’t consummate the act, the prince has no problem making it seem like they did. He asks Viserys to wed Rhaenyra to him, in the tradition of their house.
— out of context house of the dragon (@oochotd) September 12, 2022
Viserys could not disagree with this more and banishes Daemon once again.
Alicent goes to bat for Rhaenyra with the king, claiming she believes her friend is still innocent.
When Viserys finally confronts Rhaenyra about it he does so with Aegon’s valyrian steel dagger, which is a reminder to Rhaenyra of the responsibility she holds as heir. Rhaenyra is frustrated at the fact that if she were a man these rumours would mean nothing, but Viserys reminds her that she is not, so instead, she will do her duty and marry Laenor Velaryon to help unify the realm.
Rhaenyra isn’t going down without a fight, so she takes down the man who spread the rumours about her: Otto Hightower. Otto is hellbent on seeing his grandson, Aegon, on the throne and this has led him to give biased advice to the king all these years, Rhaenyra claims.
Viserys takes his daughter’s advice to heart and strips Otto of his role as Hand of the King, citing his suspicious rise to power and calculated meddling as the reason.
In one last dark turn of events, the Grand Maester delivers a potion to Rhaenyra in her chambers, saying it will “rid her of any unwanted consequences”.
House of the Dragon Episode 4: Easter (dragon) eggs
Episode 4 of House of the Dragon was literally a family affair. Here are some things you might’ve missed:
- The blade that Viserys gifts to Rhaenyra is inscribed with the words “from my blood comes the prince that is promised, and his will be the song of ice and fire.” We know that the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy is a big part of George R.R. Martin’s novels and was often debated in Game of Thrones. This means that, in line with Aegon the Conquerer’s dream, the saviour who was prophecised is of Targaryen blood. It’s presumably Jon Snow who is revealed further down the line to be the secret son of Rhaegar Targaryen.
- Speaking of that Valyrian steel dagger, it’s the same one we’ll go on to see many times in Game of Thrones as the dagger that nearly kills Bran and then ends the Night King.
- Another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from our Aussie boy Ryan Corr this week. His character, Ser Harwin Strong, appears as a character on the street who recognises Rhaenyra in her disguise but lets her go unchallenged.
- The Moon Tea that is delivered to Rhaenyra is intended to show that, despite her best efforts, the king doesn’t trust his daughter. But it’s also hard to avoid the social commentary on abortion here, which is far more accessible in Westeros than in some modern-day countries.
If you missed last week’s recap of House of the Dragon you can find that here. Now, as always, I leave you with the best the internet has to offer:
— Hara (@harammiii) September 12, 2022
House of the Dragon airs weekly on Mondays at 11am AEST on Binge.
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