HOUSE OF THE DRAGON Episode 4 Breakdown & Review

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON Episode 4 Breakdown & Review
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HOUSE OF THE DRAGON Episode 4 Breakdown & Review

House Of The Dragon Episode 4 has just been released on HBO Max, and we get an episode that gives us the rising romantic tension between Rhaenyra and Daemon, which leads to some big complications surrounding King Viserys, Alicent, and Otto Hightower. In this spoiler review and analysis, I’m going to be breaking down and giving you my thoughts on House of The Dragon episode 4, entitled King Of The Narrow Sea. But before I get into it, if you want to see more videos on Season 1 of House Of The Dragon, let’s dive into my review for House Of The Dragon Episode 4.

So House of the Dragon has been planting the seed for Daemon and Rhaenyra’s attraction ever since we saw the moment in the opening episode where the prince put that Valyrian steel necklace around her neck, and we know that Game of Thrones has played out the history of familial romantic relationships within the Targaryen house, so it wasn’t long before we’d be seeing this built upon. This time it’s between an uncle and his teenage niece, and the development of this brings about many more consequences, that seem to be piling up every week. The timeline of episode 4 is about 4 years after the death of Baelon in the premiere, and we begin episode 4 with quite the frustrating duty that Rhaenyra needs to attend to.

King Viserys has sent her on a tour, in which potential husbands line up in a large hall for her to choose from. Rhaenyra is with Lord Boremund Baratheon and Ser Criston Cole of the Kingsguard and the potential bachelors that come before her, leaving the princess ultimately mocking them and canceling her tour quite early. The first was a drunk old man and the second was a small boy. While they’re leaving the room, the young boy from House Blackwood takes revenge upon a man from the Brackens because he was mocking him during his presentation, and eventually kills him with his sword. This is a cool callback to the bitter feud between the blackwoods and the Brackens and again highlights the endless bloody conflict between houses even in a time that’s supposed to be more peaceful. So while that’s taking place in the background of this scene, it’s almost being framed as the bloody consequences of all the conflict that’s building with the Targaryens. Even though Rhaenyra and co are not supposed to sail back to the capital for a while, they still leave and travel back on a ship to Kings Landing, and once they’re close, Caraxes flies above them, making the princess realize that her Uncle Daemon has finally returned with his dragon. They all proceed to come together in the great hall, and we soon learn that Daemon is ready to make peace, which means chaos. Last week, we saw him refuse his brother’s help in the Stepstones, and in the end, he decided to use himself as bait to draw out the crab feeder and his enemies, eventually leading to his victory alongside Corlys Valerion and his forces. Now, he’s back as king of the narrow sea, he has a clean new haircut and bends his knee, portraying a sense of peace for the time being. The king embraces his brother, with the whole room, including Rhaenyra applauding him. So we ask, did the man of theatricality get everything he wanted? Well seems like that’s the case because his alliance with the Velarions is something the king lost when he didn’t marry Corlys’ daughter. The problem is that the Velaryons’ sea power could make or break the Seven Kingdoms, and one of the scenes that follow makes that blindingly clear. At the small council meeting, Otto Hightower tells the king that Corlys Velarion has allied with the Sea Lord of Braavos by promising Laena to the Sea Lord’s son. And if that does happen, they would need to search for their marriage pact.

Speaking of marriage, for Rhaenyra, that means being imprisoned in a castle and made to squeeze out heirs, which is what she tells Alicent in the moments after Daemon’s applauded return. Of course, Alicent has done exactly that since she married Viserys and later on we start to see how Rhaenyra’s words become quite truthful following the kings’ late-night call for her. She spends her time looking after the king’s son, bathing Viserys and his many wounds, drinking by herself, and then having Viserys wake her in the middle of the night so that he can try and create another heir. It’s this sense of desperation to keep hold of crippling power and shows how this episode is truly about the political use of marriage and sex in the seven kingdoms. But this is not the only focus on sex and marriage in this episode, because as mentioned before, we start to get the seeds of that between uncle and niece, now that he’s returned to the capital. The princess is happy to see her uncle again, and in Godswood, Daemon gives her advice about the potential husband she might have. He says it doesn’t matter if she dislikes her future husband, because marriage is a political arrangement that gives you the space for other pursuits. In reply, Rhaenyra says that for men, marriage might be political, but for women, it is a death sentence. So something is going on between Daemon and Rhaenyra and the show makes it strikingly clear by also focussing on that Valyrian steel necklace that Daemon gave his niece once again.

When she later returns to her quarters, Rhaeynra finds that someone has left a bag of commoner’s clothes and a map, pointing towards a secret door within her bedroom wall. She puts on the clothes and leaves through the door, which leads her straight back to Daemon, also dressed in similar clothing. Turns out, he’s taking her on a walk through the underbelly of King’s Landing, where we witness public sex and chaotic undertakings. They even stop to watch a play about the current events surrounding the throne and Rhaenyra being named heir, leading to the crowd being completely against that. She doesn’t seem bothered when Daemon says that the people want Aegon to be the true successor to Viserys and after stealing an item off a vendor and escaping being caught, Rhaenyra and Daemon eventually end up at a brothel, where the traditional Game Of Thrones nudity and sex is on full display. She asks what the place is and Daemon explains that marriage doesn’t have to stop someone from taking what they want or doing who they want. And of course, what follows is something we knew was coming. Daemon starts making out with Rhaeynra, and while it does get heated, he lets the situation get ahold of him and leaves her there. There’s clear affection between them but it tells us that something else is also going on when it comes to bringing Rhaeynra to a brothel in the heart of the city. With her cap removed, she’s now quite recognizable as she walks back, especially clear to a boy sitting on the stairs, who will come into play a few moments later. Rhaenyra does manage to get back to her room in the Red Keep and once Ser Criston appears shocked to find her out of her room, she takes his helmet and leads him inside so that she can seduce him. He takes a while to be convinced into going ahead, but in the end, he chooses to remove his armor and cloak, a symbol of swearing not to marry, and proceeds to make love to her anyway. So it’s a complicated time for Rhaenyra who shows affection for both Cristen Cole and her uncle Daemon, alongside feeling unbothered surrounding marriage and the feelings of others towards her being the current heir.

Unluckily for Rhaenyra is that the boy on the stairs that I mentioned before did see her at the brothel and eventually reports back to Otto Hightower about the affairs he saw. But what Otto doesn’t know is that the boy works for Daemon’s wife Mysaria, so we start to see the underlining plot that Daemon has. Still, Otto goes to Viserys to let him know that Rhaenyra and Daemon were spotted at the brothel and engaged in a Coupling. Of course, Viserys denies this and thinks that it’s all a lie, replying that he thinks Otto is trying to destroy Rhaenyra’s reputation as the heir, to eventually push his grandson for the throne. Alicent overhears all of this and takes it up herself to go and speak to Rhaenyra so that she can truly learn about what happened. Rhaenyra denies the accusation and says that questioning her virtue is an act of treason. She continues by saying that she was only a spectator, that she didn’t do anything with him, and that when Daemon got drunk, he abandoned her for some whore. Alicent seems a bit more at ease after her reply, but what Rhaenyra says next truly highlights that she has lied. She says, “Daemon never touched me, I swear this to you, upon the memory of my mother.”

But Viserys isn’t going to lightly, because Daemon is then dragged to the Throne room, where his brother accuses him of defiling the princess. He doesn’t deny it and proposes an idea to the king in the process. He tells Viserys that he could wed him to her while referencing the historical incest that could return house Targaryen to its full glory. In reply, Viserys exiles his brother to The Vale for good and it leads to the following conversation between the king and Alicent. Of course, following Rhaenyra’s lie, she thinks that the princess is telling the truth, and it convinces Viserys to meet with his daughter to command what will happen next. He reveals that she will now marry Ser Laenor Velaryon, to unite their houses and strengthen their control. She does agree to do this but in doing so, Rhaenyra herself says that Otto Hightower only wants baby Aegon to be king, making him the real threat to the throne. She says that he must do his duty as king, and therefore, a weak Viserys calls Otto to the council room and claims that he planned Alicent as a distraction following Queen Aemma’s death. He removes Otto from the King’s hand, including his pin, and tells him that he can no longer be trusted. This brings us to the final scene where Rhaenyra is brought some tea from the king, and the master says that this will get rid of any unwanted consequences. So Viserys is not buying into her claims that she didn’t get up to anything with her uncle, but he also distrusts Otto to the extent of removing him from the hand of the king. So he’s anxious towards everyone, all while getting weaker himself and we’re seeing that reflected in not just the injuries he sustains from sitting on the throne but in the very frustration he brings in each scene with the other characters. As the King becomes anxious, Rhaenyra, Daemon, and the characters around him start to make questionable choices that will surely bring upon the civil war that has been set in motion. You can see both sides to nearly every decision and it’s making this show all the more intriguing as we reach the middle of the season.

So what are my overall thoughts on this latest episode of House Of The Dragon? Well, King Of The Narrow Sea is an episode that impressed me because it was focused on the political intrigue surrounding the central characters through the themes of marriage and sex, it gave them the added charm that I felt the show was missing, and it also provided different sides to characters like Alicent and Rhaenyra. Take Alicent for example, who just in a few quieter scenes conveys that she does truly care about the realm and her king, but in her stare at the ceiling following Visery’s call for her, we also see that she’s quite over it too, and feels trapped by the whole marriage. It’s the reaction of these supporting players to the King’s degrading power yet desperation for strength and unity, that adds depth to this entire show. Of course, Game of Thrones certainly spiced up the genre with its nudity and violence, but both have felt natural to the story and told us something about the characters and we get that here too. I think they have to be praised because the difficulty of adapting this story and having to present it in multi-year breaks between each episode, makes it harder to tell something consistent. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but in this episode, I think it’s a good example of a plotline being truly focussed on how the characters feel and react to a situation. The actors have to embody the current complexions realistically for that given time and to do this without making it feel jarring, shows that the writing is doing its job. So that was a big point for me on why this episode worked, and all the political intrigue and developing tensions that will ultimately lead to a Targaryen civil war, make this groundwork all the more important. While it wasn’t an episode that left me feeling like it was the best that the show can give, it was one that is crucial for the family dynamics at play and will be central to the consequences that do follow. Paddy as Viserys was a standout to me and I have to also praise Milly Alcock and Emily Carey for bringing that needed depth to both Rhaenyra and Alicent.

But that was my spoiler review and explained video for House Of The Dragon Episode 4. I’m giving it a rating of 8.5 out of 10. I will be doing a video every week on the show, so stay tuned to my channel each week for breakdowns and reviews of the Game of Thrones spin-off. But to those who have already seen the episode, what are your thoughts on all the events that went down, and what do you think will happen in Episode 5? But anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed it.

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