In a very real sense, “We Light the Way” is the end of Season One of House of the Dragon and in a more just world where HBO had more faith in the series then it would have been Episode 10 rather than Episode 5. The series has been rushing through the majority of the story about the Dance of the Dragons in Season 1 with numerous time skips as well as signs that another lengthy one is ahead. They seem to want to desperately get to the actual Targaryen Civil War and unwilling to give any time to rest to the plots going on. I think the show would have strongly benefited from letting them have an additional five episodes to soften the characters up.
I have somewhat mixed feelings on this episode as a result as it resulted in the jumping past of several more points in the story as well as signals the end of our current crop of actresses. Milly Alcock and Emily Carey did fantastic jobs as both Princess Rhaenyra and Queen Alicent. While neither of them can pass for mothers of twenty-year-olds, I think their absence from future episodes is part of the reason that I am so down on this episode. They did an amazing number of changes to the status quo but no room for following the consequences up.
The episode opens up with what I suspect will be one of the two major controversial scenes of the episode with the introduction of Lady Rhea Royce, Daemon Targaryen’s wife, who makes a great first impression. Unfortunately, Lady Rhea Royce taunts Daemon one too many times and he either causes her horse to rear or takes advantage of it doing so to kill her. This is the darkest action Daemon has taken yet and I wonder if any of the fanboys or girls will change their minds about supporting him.
Rhaenyra accepts the marriage proposal of Laenor Velaryon and the two of them discuss their impending nuptials. The problem being that Laenor is gay as the day is long and Rhaenyra is aware of it. However, they’re cousins and good friends so they decide to make the most of their marriage by agreeing to have an open relationship. This IMMEDIATELY backfires with the fact that Ser Criston Cole has fallen deeply in love with Rhaenyra. He’s crippled with guilt over breaking his oath of celibacy and the idea of being Rhaenyra’s lover while she’s married to another man disgusts him.
Viserys Targaryen is on his seeming last legs both heath-wise and monarchy-wise, so he’s doing his best to marry Rhaenyra off to a house that will support her claim. Lord Corys is kind of iffy about the whole thing, far more so than you would have imagined for a man being offered the chance to make his grandson or daughter ruling monarch. It’s clear that not even Corys has much faith in Rhaenyra’s ability to keep the throne.
Ser Otto, by contrast, is someone who holds the blame for his dismissal on everyone but himself. Particularly, he blames his daughter for siding with Rhaenyra and says that her children would be murdered by the Princess if she were to ever ascend the throne. It implies that Otto would have the same sort of view to any children of Rhaernya and shows the man to be truly contemptible. Alicent also lets the poison sink into her soul due to both her father’s influence and Ser Criston Cole confessing, unprompted, that Rhaenyra slept with him.
This leads to the mother of all awkward feasts as everyone has started plotting against one another openly for what amounts to no reason whatsoever. The friendship of Alicent and Rhaenyra is severed because the former is jealous of the latter’s freedom as well as a willing pawn in her father’s games. The latter is not really aware how the hurricane of her actions has affected the people around her and enjoys stirring the pot more, including teasing her uncle who wants to wed her.
I have some issues with the wedding itself as it seemed like murdering a man in the middle of one would have more consequences than it does. Then again, Ser Criston Cole is a Kingsguard so I’m sure the Kingsguard union will come to his defense. He might end up on Administrative Leave for a month with pay thanks to Alicent’s involvement. I’m sure Laenor’s lover will be found with a sword in hand and some milk of the poppy sprinkled over him. AKAB.
Oh well, we’ll see how the next massive time skip of about fifteen years or so goes.