TL;DR – The more we try and break out of King’s Landing, the more the story feels small.
Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.
House of the Dragon Review –
Few phrases carry more weight in the world of Game of Thrones than that of a wedding. Whether it is the Red Wedding or the Purple Wedding, no good has ever come from walking down the aisle in Westeros. The bells are ringing today, so the danger must be near.
So to set the scene, tired of the endless stream of poor suiters, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) took the invitation of her uncle Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) for a night on the town in King’s Landing. This led to calamity when Daemon was publicly seen leading her into a house of ill repute. Now Rhaenyra has no choice over who she marries as King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) makes his way to Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen’s (Eve Best) home on Driftmark to petition them to allow Rhaenyra to marry their son Ser Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan). But over in The Vale, Prince Daemon has returned to great his lady wife, Rhea Joyce (Rachel Redford), and we see a side of him we knew was there all along. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
While I have some growing reservations about this series, that does not mean the show is without strengths, and the first is in how it represents weakness. Power is a concept that the show is constantly steeped in, and you see it dripping off every conversation and action in the show. The king’s trip to another lord’s keep is a reverse asymmetry of how it should go. The fact that he is in this position stems from his weakness at court, with only the trappings of his title holding things together. Indeed, by the end of the episode, even the Queen has started to position herself for his coming demise.
Then there is the hint of coming calamity. As Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) states plainly, the king will not live to an old age. His health is rapidly failing, so fast that I wonder if he will still be around next week? But as people prepare for what, The Expanse would call the churn. There are fractures and alliances already going down. It is like all the characters just hit the beach in Survivor, and all hell is about to cut loose. This kind of situation is usually my jam, but I am finding myself starting to lose engagement with it all.
I think part of the issue is that even though we get to visit the Vale and Driftmark this week, both show how good the show’s production, set design, and location scouts are. However, this just feels like a small story for a universe so extensive. Part of this is probably that I already know the outcome, but I have that same indicator with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and that is filling me with wonder while this show is making me wonder what it is doing with its time. To be fair, I think part of this has been that there has been this threatened age-jump coming for a while now, which has created this dissonance in the show.
In the end, do we recommend House of the Dragon: We Light the Way? Well, look. This is still a phenomenal production, with character moments that shine. However, I am not sure the overarching story is catching me, or if I am about to bounce off hard.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of House of the Dragon
Directed by – Claire Kilner,
Written by – Charmaine DeGraté
Created by – Ryan Condal & George R. R. Martin
Based On – Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin
Production/Distribution Companies – 1:26 Pictures, GRRM, HBO Max, Binge & HBO
Starring – Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Milly Alcock, Emily Carey & Rhys Ifans with Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Graham McTavish Matthew Needham & Jefferson Hall and Gavin Spokes, David Horovitch, Bill Paterson, Ryan Corr, Wil Johnson, Theo Nate, Savannah Steyn, Kurt Egyiawan, Solly McLeod, Owen Oakeshott, Gary Raymond, Lucy Briers, Alana Ramsey, Kathryn Delaney, Rachel Redford, Martha Thomas & Arthur Conti