“You have Baratheon blood from your grandmother, Anise. And Lord Boros is an eternally proud man. You’ll be honored to host a prince of the realm.”
Do you hate the Greens? I know I do. George R.R. Martin stated when he wrote The Dance of the Dragons, he expected fans to be divided on which side to support. Then he found out that it was something like 90% in support of the Blacks and 10% in support of the Greens. The show has actually probably modified those numbers but it’s now, 80% support of the Blacks and 20% people who think the Greens aren’t being portrayed right due to treating them as the scumbags they are.
I admit, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a bit biased in my Pro-Rhaenyra support. I think the Greens being a bunch of scheming evil bastards is one of the things necessary to give any weight to the Dance of the Dragons. I feel like they should be the most contemptible scummy monsters imaginable while the Blacks should be antiheroes who are facing someone worse with just a DASH of a question whether it matters which side is on the throne because the common people will suffer the most no matter what.
However, whether or not you support #TeamAlicent or #TeamRhaenyra, the fact is you’ve been waiting for the civil war to happen between House Targaryen’s three branches. Yes, I’m throwing in the Velaryons there. Everyone knew there was eventually going to be a war between the dragonriders and we all just wanted to see how it would come about. Indeed, HBO executives reportedly wanted to start with the Dance of the Dragons and had to be persuaded by George R.R. Martin to give it a season of build-up.
The premise is that Rhaenys arrived at Dragonstone and tells Daemon and Rhaenyra that Aegon has crowned himself King of Westeros. Rhaneyra is furious but not quite ready to start a war since it’s clear that not nearly the level of support she expects is available and House Velayron is an uncertain ally at best. Corys and Rhaenys decide to throw their lot in with Rhaenyra anyway, mostly because Rhaenyra is showing restraint, but Otto provides an unexpected offer of terms that would allow her to back down with dignity. Daemon, of course, is furious and almost strangles his wife over it.
What follows is an interesting depiction of Rhaenyra’s mindset as she really does want to be a good ruler and not tear the realm apart. I like Daemon’s reaction, though, because he points out Viserys may have been a fan of omens as well as prophecies because it allowed him to think he was more important than he was–a mediocore king over an utterly uninteresting time. However, the losses she suffers in this episode pile up with her father dying, her baby being stillborn, and the horrifying death of one of her sons. I can understand when and where she breaks in deciding to burn them all ala Aerys II.
Speaking of which, the actual beginning of the Dance is interesting to interpret from the perspective that Aemond didn’t intend to kill his nephew. He was clearly interested in scaring the living crap out of him by chasing him down but lost control of the world’s largest dragon. Which is a a nice callback to Viserys trying to warn everyone that the dragons are not really under their control. It’s also still Aemond’s fault, like aiming a gun at his nephew to scare him only for it to go off.
This episode was tense and built on a lot of the things I liked about the previous episodes. As stated, without the time jumps, the show feels much-much stronger. We needed the cast to be able to follow-up on events from story to story. Plot elements are also not being tossed away like Corys thinking Rhaenyra had something to do with Laenor’s death. I’m not sure I quite buy the fact that he still intends to support her but since he does view her children as his grandchildren, maybe that’s enough.
Overall, I’ve had my issues with the season. I’ve felt the time-jumps have absolutely killed the pacing, that some of the plot twists were unnecessary (like Viserys’ delerium being misinterpreted or Criston Cole not getting any punishment for multiple murders), Alicent’s characterization has been all over the place, and way too many deleted scenes. They cut away a lot of scenes that deserved to be in the story. Still, I think we’ve finally reached a point where actions can be properly followed up on.