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REVIEW: HBO’s House of the Dragon, “Driftmark” (S1E7)

Tom Falite

Warning: There are spoilers ahead!

On this week’s episode of House of the Dragon, the blacks and the greens begin to solidify as the crown is put on the fast track to impending civil war.  Here is the list of things you might have missed, and what you should keep in mind ahead of episode 8.

Aemond is Vhagar’s new rider

I was holding out hope that Aemond would be one of the good Targaryens, but it seems that finally bonding to a dragon has skyrocketed his ego.  Now he feels like he can do anything, and he says it best himself: “I may have lost an eye, but I gained a dragon.”  Vhagar is a titan compared to the rest of the dragons as well, and having her on the side of the Hightowers is a major advantage as we approach the infamous dance of the dragons.

Aegon is betrothed to Helaena

At Laena’s funeral, we hear that Aegon is less than thrilled about being betrothed to his sister Helaena.  It is Targaryen tradition to keep the bloodline pure, but I don’t see this marriage being all sunshine and rainbows.  Aegon continues to relish in his irreverence, and Helaena seems to be experiencing things on a completely different plane than everyone around her, so I foresee some trouble down the road for them.

Larys Strong is the new Lord of Harrenhal

After the nuclear bomb that Larys dropped when he had his father and brother killed in episode 6, he not only strengthened his ties with Alicent and the greens, but also effectively installed himself as Lord of Harrenhal and leader of House Strong.  With one fell swoop, Larys has become one of the most formidable names in all of Westeros, and his ruthlessness and cunning will know no bounds with this newfound renown. 

Alicent has shown her true colors (green!)

After the altercation that left Aemond missing an eye, Alicent couldn’t keep appearances one moment longer; she had been so agreeable for so many years, but the lack of respect for her son’s well being from the King (the boy’s own father, mind you!) was enough for her to crack.  Her request to have Criston take Lucerys’ eye was trouble enough, but what really took over the scene was when she lunged at Rhaenyra with the Valyrian dagger.  Rhae’s words, “Now they see you as you are”, hit so hard in that moment.  In the scuffle, we also get a clear presentation of who is in service to each faction, black or green.  I would venture to say this moment is one of the most important in the whole season, as it is responsible for setting so much in motion in the story and it was used so heavily in the promotional material.  

Rhaenyra and Daemon are finally together

At long last, our favorite incestuous couple tied the knot in a secret Valyrian blood-bonding ritual (not to be confused with House Velaryon, rather originating from Old Valyria).  The books left much to the imagination when talking about these Valyrian wedding ceremonies, simply saying that those involved were “wed with fire and blood”, but I think that the show did a good job of portraying the mysterious ritual with the information that was available.  With Daemon and Rhaenyra together, her claim to the throne will not be so easily challenged, and they will no doubt be an intimidating force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

Laenor is alive

“The wise sailor flees the storm as it gathers.”  These are words that Laenor originally shared with Rhaenyra when they departed for Dragonstone, and now they come full circle as he fakes his death to live freely across the Narrow Sea.  He has always wanted to be free from the stress and responsibility of his nobility, and Rhaenyra allowed him an escape; it worked in her favor as well, not just by allowing her to be with Daemon but also because the insinuation of her possible involvement in Laenor’s “death” will make others afraid of crossing her.  Laenor is actually killed in the books, so there is no more reference to go off of for his character, but he still remains in the show and therefore could always return as a wildcard dragon rider for the blacks when we finally come to the dance.

Final thoughts

All in all, I thought this episode was gorgeous.  There has been a slight issue with the breakneck pacing coming into this episode, but I felt that the handling of the storylines was done exceptionally well here.  Brightness levels still continue to be a problem here in this one, which I hope HBO or the showrunners will have an answer to soon.  I’m sick of having to turn my TV brightness almost all the way up just so I can see what the hell is going on in those day-for-night scenes.  As far as performances go, I have very little complaints.  Everyone is knocking it out of the park, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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