After Laena’s dragon-assisted suicide, the entire extended clan of Targaryens and Valeryans gathered at Driftmark for the funeral. It’s a solemn occasion as Laena’s casket is dropped into the sea, except when Daemon starts laughing, (Come on, dude. You actually liked this wife).
The wake follows and it’s an extremely awkward affair. Everyone is glancing nervously at everyone else, fearful of secrets being spilled or old grudges being unearthed. Young prat Aegon is drunk on the steps until his grandfather Otto kicks him back to his room. Yes, Otto is back as the hand (and Larys is now the lord of Harrenhall) after last week’s fiery “mishap.” Laenor is bereft after his sister’s death and is walking into the ocean. Corlys tells Carl to go save his ‘patron.” (Look I know it’s spelled with a Q but I god damn refuse to write “Qarl” anymore).
So, pretty typical for your average extended family funeral so far. Someone got too drunk, someone was histrionic, someone fucked their niece…
Oh, wait a minute. That one’s a little unique to GoT. We all mourn in different ways.
Yes, Daemon and Rhaneyra are back together for apparently the first time since the wedding feast. They have a long walk on the beach to catch up. Rhaneyra confirms the court gossip that Ser Harwin fathered her children since Laenor prefers lusty young men and nothing came of the few times he tried to do his royal duty. They try to keep up appearances for the sake of court. Rhaenyra is upset that Daemon abandoned her years ago, Daemon protests that he spared her, and then they kiss. They then go to a shack on the beach and do a lot more.
This is an odd scene, to say the least. Put aside the whole incest thing (I know.) It’s shot like a long-awaited, romantic rendezvous, with romantic music playing in the background. Maybe that is something the time jump skipped over, but as far as I know, Rhaenyra has not once pined for him. Their brothel hookup made sense in context, seeing as how she was drunk and had her head turned by Daemon taking her on a night on the town. And when he told Viserys to let him marry her, it came across as a power play, not a romantic yearning. So for their reunion to be played off as the consummation of a romance for the ages is just strange.
They aren’t the only ones involved in some illicit evening activity. Young Emo Aemond is skulking across the dunes, heading off to see Vhagar, Laena’s now ownerless dragon. After a few tense moments, where it looks like we might go two weeks in a row with a toasted royal, Aemond speaks enough High Valeryan to get Vhagar to let him ride him. Vhagar is the biggest dragon in the world, and Aemond has never ridden before, so this seems like taking your driver’s test in a Formula 1 race car, But! After clinging on for dear life, Aemond seems to get the hang of it, only crushing a few tents when he lands.
As he strides back into the castle through some tunnels, he gets confronted by his four cousins Baela and Rhaena are furious. That was their mother’s dragon and Rhaena was going to claim it. Well, sneers Aemond, you snooze, you lose, Aemond rides one dragon for ten minutes, and all of a sudden he’s a swaggering dick. This kicks off a fight among the five of them, with Jacerys and Lucerys joining in, and Aemond breaking Lucerys’ nose. Aemond taunts Rhaenyra’s kids, saying shouldn’t they be mourning the death of their father? This infuriates Jacerys, who pulls out a dagger. Aemond disarms him and is about to smash his head with a rock, but Jacerys distracts him with a handful of dirt in his face and Lucerys slashes him, slicing open his eye. It’s at this point the King’s Guard runs in to break things up. Fantastic work, men. Way to stay on top of things.
The maesters tend to Aemond. His flesh will heal, but the eye is gone. Alicent and Rhaeyra act like protective moms everywhere. Your thug son ambushed my poor boy and sliced out his eye! He was only defending himself from your son’s attacks! Viserys tries to get to the bottom of this. Rhaenyra tells him that Aemond called her children bastards. Viserys asks Aemond who told him this lie. He shrugs and throws big brother Aegon under the carriage. (Little brothers are the worst.)
Viserys turns his question to his other son. Aegon hems and haws until he just says, everyone knows this. Just look at them! (For a minute, I thought he was going to tell on his mom.) Enraged, Viserys says enough of this (truthful) slander. The House Targaryen is a family, and family has to stick together. Now, knock this off, and let’s have some goodwill.
Alicent is not in the mood to sing kumbaya. Her son’s eye is gone! What justice is that? No, she won’t be happy until Lucerys gets his eye cut out.
The court is shocked by this rather biblical turn. Viserys tells her no. Rhaenyra tells her she’s crazy. Alicent isn’t having it. She orders Criston to bring her Luc’s eye since he answers only to her. To Criston’s credit, he’s not eager to gouge out a child’s eye, order or not. Enraged, Alicent grabs a dagger and charges at Rhaenyra and her kids.
Rhaenyra grabs Alicent. (And just to be safe, Daemon keeps Criston at bay) At last, Rhaenyra tells her, the court sees you for who you really are behind all that self-righteousness. Otto tells her to drop the knife. She does, but not before slashing Rhaenyra’s arm.
In the aftermath, Otto consoles his daughter. Sure, the whole court thinks she’s a loon and her husband will now automatically favor Rhaenyra, but Aemond now controls the biggest dragon in the world. More importantly, Otto has seen a new side of her. He’s now convinced that she has what it takes to win the game, this game of thrones if you will…
The other power couple, Daemon and Rhaenyra, are also scheming. In order to solidify her claim on the throne, she proposes that they get married. Just like Aegon the Conqueror did when he married his sisters! (Not sure that’s the role model you want to follow.) One problem, Rhaenyra is still married to Laenor. No worries, Daemon has a plan for that.
He approaches Carl with some sweet words about how across the Narrow Sea, there are places where men can be free and no one cares about your name or if you were highborn. We then see Carl challenging Laenor to a duel, claiming he’s been disrespected. The page runs away to get Corlys. When Corlys and Rhaenys enter, they find Laenor’s body burning in the fireplace, dead.
As Rhaenyra and Daemon chat about this murder – people will suspect, but never be able to prove anything. But they’ll think you’re capable of anything and fear you – we see Carl and another passenger rowing a boat to a ship docked offshore. Who is the mystery man? Why it’s Laenor! He’s shaved off his white dreads and faked his death and is now ready to start a new life across the sea. Best of luck guys! Pity about the rando that Daemon murdered so there would be a body in the fireplace, but you can’t scheme for the throne without murdering a few little people.
This was the best episode since King of the Narrow Sea. We have now clearly delineated the warring factions for the throne – Hightowers and Valeryans vs Rhaenyra and Daemon. Both sides are showing their propensity for depravity and murder and underhandedness. We are now getting to the big dragon battles they’ve clearly wanted to have for weeks. It looks like a breakneck pace for the last three episodes.
Score: 4 out of 5
WHO’S THE WORST?
Tough call this week. Aemond stole a dragon, Daemon fucked his niece, but I think we have to go with Queen Alicent here, capped by her stabby rampage in court.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Daemon (to Otto): “No matter how fat the leech grows, it always wants another meal.”