Saturday, October 1, 2022

‘House of the Dragon’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 4 “King of the Narrow Sea”

TELEVISIONHBO Max'House of the Dragon' Recap: Season 1, Episode 4 "King of the...

Previously on House of the Dragon

A number of conflicts centered around King Viserys boiled over at a 2-year-old’s birthday party, where the King and a pregnant again Queen Alicent named their son Aegon II and Rhaenyra navigated the beginning of many suitors. While the princess struggles with being the heir to the throne and a woman, her uncle Daemon and Lord Corlys struggled to defeat the Crabfeeder in the Stepstones. Ultimately, thanks to Prince Daemon’s brazen nature, victory is secured.

“The King of the Narrow Sea”

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Fresh off his victory in the Stepstones beside Lord Corlys, and a haircut, Prince Daemon returns to Kings Landing to bend the knee to his brother. King Viserys accepts this offer of reconciliation after the prodigal son offers the throne and crown he was given due to his victory up to the one true king. As we will later learn, the Seasnake’s control of the sea is integral to maintaining control of Westeros, and Daemon’s name claim to the Narrow Sea show itself again.

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Princess Rhaenyra has duties thrust upon her from multiple different angles — she is a woman with a responsibility to bare children; an heir to the throne with a responsibility to marry in a way that benefits Westeros; and one of the few surviving of the Old Valyrian families with a responsibility to continue her bloodline in a desirable manner. This, of course, means her father has organized a tour for her, where she meets all manner of men — often far too old or far too young — in the hopes to find a suitable husband. Rhaenyra, much like when she chose Ser Criston Cole for the Kingsguard, doesn’t like any of the options laid before her and has her sights set elsewhere.

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The Crown will take any excuse for a high-class party, and Prince Daemon’s return and victory is the perfect occasion. At the celebration the King and Prince bond over the things men in Westeros bond over, and Queen Alicent attempts to salve her friendship with Rhaenyra. Rhaeynra is still rather icy for a Targaryen but the pair ultimately are able to come together, if even for a brief moment, due to Alicent’s warmth.

Prince Daemon and Princess Rhaenyra are also allowed a moment alone when others retreat, and Rhaenyra shares her apprehensions with her uncle — she doesn’t want to marry because she would rather exist in solitude. We are also offered additional insight into Daemon’s attitude to his true wife, as he asserts that the reason he hasn’t had a child with her is because no baby could grow in such a hostile environment.

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Prince Daemon has a different idea of fun than the high-class ways of the Red Keep, though. Leaving a disguise and a map as to how to find him, Rhaenyra soon joins her uncle to set off into the city together to enjoy the festivities. Rhaenyra is forced to face the fact that the kingdom will never accept a woman for an heir, either, though the irritation is slightly satiated by the alcohol consumption. The pair continue their night to Daemon’s favorite place — the pleasure house — where the two give into their familial traditions and embrace. While Rhaenyra was willing, Daemon ultimately removes himself from their kiss and leaves the princess alone.

The pair are seen, and a young spy passes on what he has seen to Otto Hightower.

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When Rhaenyra returns to the castle she is still enjoying the buzz of the evening her uncle has shown her, but teeming with frustration at nearly losing her virginity. The result is her coaxing Ser Cole into her bedchamber, and after a playful bout of teasing from the princess, the two ultimately share her bed for the night.

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Otto accuses Daemon of stripping Rhaenyra’s maidenhood to the King, which is overheard by Alicent who also spent the night with her husband to fulfill her wifely duties (which is a much more visually distressing scene than the princess and Ser Cole). Alicent confronts her once best friend, sister, and now step-daughter about the ugly accusation. While Rhaenyra doesn’t lie when she insists Daemon did not take her virginity, she also doesn’t tell the truth and confess to the one person who is truly on her side that she has given up her maidenhood to someone else. She swears on the memory of her dead mother, so one can’t really blame Alicent for putting her faith in the promise of the future queen.

To no surprise, when King Viserys confronts his brother about the rumor, Daemon does not deny it in the hope to frustrate his brother. Viserys, frustrated by his own blood once again, chastises his brother for threatening Rhaenyra’s future by “ruining her” and remarks that he should disown both of them from the family. Daemon asks that instead of going through all of those dramatics, Viserys just marry Rhaenyra to him in the tradition of their house. Insulted his brother would suggest such a thing and that he would break the vow to his current wife by taking another, Viserys once again sends Daemon away from the city.

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Viserys and Rhaenyra have a much-needed father-to-daughter that turns into a daughter-to-father. He doesn’t care whether or not the accusation is true — the fact that she put herself in a position for such a claim is enough of a mistake. Viserys shares another family secret with his daughter in the hope to impart to her the importance of her role as a Targaryen once again, this time in the form of engravings on Aegon the Conqueror’s dagger:

“From my blood come the prince that was promised, and his will be the song of ice and fire.”

While Rhaenyra seemingly takes these words to heart and agrees to marry the most suitable match — Laenor Velaryon — she insists her father handle his overly ambitious Hand. Questioning the princess’ maidenhood is treason, after all. Ultimately, Viserys is left little choice and fires Otto Hightower from his position, remarking that he can no longer trust the man’s judgment.

House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max. Stay tuned with Nerds & Beyond here as we publish episodic recaps for the series.

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