Yes, yes, yes. It was only a matter of time, you know. House Of The Dragon – like its predecessor – is on pay cable, and Thrones rather famously made use of some adults-only footage early in its run on HBO. Honestly, I didn’t have as much an issue with it as some viewers seemingly did; sex acts without some kind of narrative relevance – think of it as just gratuitous – might be status quo for some broadcast and streaming entities, but I thought most of what was crafted in the expansive kings-and-queens franchise had more thematic purpose than I’ve seen elsewhere. Granted, there are always exceptions, but I found most of it perfectly acceptable.
However, I think all of us knew going into this particular House that we were inevitably going to see more of the same, and “King Of The Narrow Sea” delivered the goods not so much in regal fashion as it did to – ahem – stir the pot.
Though it only took him four years (according to the dialogue), Prince Daemon Targaryen found himself back in the good graces of the king (though it didn’t last for long, did it?). Returning to Kings Landing, he essentially prostrated himself to his older brother, pledging his commitment once again to the crown while surrendering his own newly earned title as well. Applause, applause! Bring out the wine! It was a curious development – one I hadn’t foreseen in the slightest, expecting Daemon’s greater arc to follow the course of a magisterial rival – but it did allow for the somewhat randy uncle to make a move on his niece (and heir to the throne) Rhaenyra.
Certainly – it would seem – one way or another, this prince will have this kingdom!
While their quasi-coupling (and conscious uncoupling) may’ve come as a surprise to those not watching closely, it fit perfectly well within what House has kinda/sorta loosely established in its first three hours: there’s a smoldering chemistry to these two when they’re together. (In fact, one might argue that’s the only real fire burning anywhere away from the show’s signature dragons.) They’ve been sharing glances and moments alone, so I think their ‘relationship’ was always destined to be something deeper. All I can say is that it came to a head much sooner than I expected it to, but it is what it is. The fact that Daemon had pause when he did, ultimately refusing to go through with the – ahem – intimacy, could underscore that there’s more to him than meets the eye … but hasn’t that been the case with, perhaps, every character audiences have come to know since this franchise began? Could this signal a full turnabout with him destined to be the show’s hero? I guess – in that respect – only time will tell. (Alas, I’m not familiar with the source material as are some who blog Science Fiction and Fantasy.)
Not to be left out of the – ahem –spring fever, Queen Alicent finds herself summoned to her husband’s chambers for some royal intrigue of her own; and we’re shown a rather discomfited lady doing little more than lying beneath the man as he goes about his business. It’s a rather proper portrait for the girl who kinda/sorta found herself silently and secretly manipulated (by her dear old dad, Otto Hightower) into the arms of the widowed king; clearly, she’s entered into this marriage out of some sense of familial responsibility and not over love. Though we’ve all suspected as such, these moments confirmed all of our suspicions. (And, for the record, I still think there’s something ‘up’ with Otto. I’ve got my eye on you.)
All of this heavy petting aside, “King Of The Narrow Sea” was little more than a series of calculated developments, all that shifted the program’s focus in a different direction.
Where do I begin?
Daemon finds himself banished. Again. His beloved Mysaria’s back in the whoring business. Again. The King fires his Hand. Alicent doesn’t know whom to trust. And Rhaenerya’s fidelity remains a sticking point … but father has pledged her hand to another anyway. Gone is all talk of war – likely a brief respite, mind you, knowing this franchise – and now these various pieces have been moved about the figurative chess board. The hour’s pacing felt a bit off – at one point, I wondered if this was two different hours edited into one, resulting in a bit of clunkiness – but sometimes that happens when the focus shifts from action to drama, as it appears this one has.
Buckle up, kids. It looks like the kingdom’s still in peril.