‘House Of The Dragon’ Repeats Past ‘Games Of Thrones’ Mistakes

by Frank Martin

It was only a matter of time before a Game of Thrones spin-off fell into the same old Westerosi tricks. In the case of House of the Dragon, it only took four episodes. This week’s installment was largely dominated by sex scenes, playing into its predecessor’s history of graphic content — not that the sex by itself didn’t serve a purpose. In terms of characterization, these were strong plot points that helped flesh out the nature of the world and the players in it. Nevertheless, the various mechanisms of the plot for this episode failed to truly capitalize on anything of importance. It felt as if it was merely spinning its wheels in terms of the story and could have done so much more.

This episode picks up roughly where the last one left off. The rogue prince Daemon (Matt Smith) returns to his brother, King Viserys (Paddy Considine), to renew his allegiance and to show off the fact that he won his war against the Crab Feeder. From there, Daemon takes his princess niece, Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), into the city for a night of debauchery. In typical royal fashion, they initiate sexual contact in a brothel — although it is not completely consummated as Daemon is surprised to see Rhaenyra is enjoying the foreplay. He is then abducted, but Rhaenyra believes he left her. From there, she returns to the castle only to seduce her guardian knight, Criston (Fabien Frankel). The king then throws a tantrum that Rhaenyra is no longer pure and can’t be used politically to wed to another house.

While the previous episode ended in spectacularly violent fashion, this episode had practically no action at all. It was largely political, which isn’t a bad thing in-and-of-itself, but it felt rather confusing and directionless. The episode was very smart in how it showed Rhaenyra as master of her future rather than her friend, Alicent (Emily Carey), who was basically pawned off to the king to create heirs. Rhaenyra is free with her sex while her friend is not. But this great character dichotomy is ruined by a strange political space. The king fired his top advisor and threatened his brother after the two were chummy following his return. The political plot of the show seems to be going in circles from its strong opening. If it’s to draw to a strong conclusion, it needs a more linear narrative with a stronger threat on the horizon.

House of the Dragon airs Sundays on HBO.

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