If there’s anything you should already note from “House of the Dragon”, it is that incest may be a recurring phenomenon in the Seven Kingdoms. And, conversations on sexual orientations were not dependent on gender but on the fact that “fucking is a pleasure, you see. For a woman, as it is a for a man,” Daemon says when he takes Princess Rhaenyra to a brothel in King’s Landing.
This is the episode where “House of the Dragon” asks, “what part of ‘the Targaryens are incestual’ didn’t you understand?”
“You Targaryens do have queer customs, and Daemon certainly knows no limit,” Queen Alicent says to Rhaenyra, whose sexual exploit with her uncle had been seen, reported to the King’s Hand and is fast spreading.
Rhaenyra, the princess who should be a maiden but had sex with Ser Criston Cole after Daemon ‘leaves her hanging’, denies the sexual encounter but agrees that she sneaked out with her uncle.
“Daemon never touched me. I swear this to you upon the memory of my mother,” the heir to the Iron Throne swears to Alicent, who is obviously saddened by the story.
There’s a theme running through this episode about sexual freedom, with Daemon promising that Rhaenyra can do what she likes once she’s married – to him?
You would already argue at this point that House of the Dragon episode 4 has done a lot to talk about political marriages, but it drags it.
At the beginning of this episode – the fourth instalment of a TV series that is dragging action and gives more bizarre sexual encounters and boring, uninspiring scheming – we are reminded that political marriages are needed for Houses to stay relevant and look strong enough to defeat any enemies.
This episode begins with the boring process of choosing suitors from a lineup of Knights and Lords who visit the princess to take her hand. Quite an unnecessary scene, we would argue.
But, the self-proclaimed conqueror, Daemon, makes this more interesting (depending on how you define the word) when he asks the king to make Rhaenyra his wife.
“Give me Rhaenyra to take to wife, and we will return the House of the Dragon to its proper glory,” Daemon says to King Viserys.
We had earlier mentioned that he intentionally defiled her, but we know at this point that it was to put himself in a vantage position.
“What Lord would wed her now in this condition?” King Viserys asks. ‘I will,’ Daemon suggests.
Procreation is kind of a big deal in a political landscape dominated by inherited empires, and Daemon knows this, reason he tries to place a child in Rhaenyra.
Though, to our greatest relief, Rhaenyra is at least closer to our modern perception of adulthood now than she was in episode 1 (even if it is hard to see her as anything other than a 15-year-old).
However, we learn that her maidenhood is sacred, notwithstanding the age, and Rhaenyra soon learns the consequences of her actions soon after.
With the focus on political marriages, we are also reminded of women and their forced roles as heir producers. Not a significant highlight in today’s world, but there are still men who would prefer a male offspring.
The climax of this episode is Rhaenyra‘s consecutive moments of sexual awakening, just as Daemon and Lord Corlys’s war in the Stepstones did last week.
But, there’s still no torture, no murder, just a few kicks in the stomach – and on a Westerosi scale, that barely registers as violence at all. This is still a Throne with knives and dragons.
We have gone past the lockdown period where loneliness and unhappiness were a constant occurrence, but each lead character here reminds us that the film was developed during that period. Viserys wants to have a peaceful reign; Rhaenyra wants freedom; Daemon wants Rhaenyra; Alicent wants a little respect. No one’s enjoying themselves right now, even at the sex party.
Maybe, House of the Dragon can throw in a little more fun characters who would flash the light in our faces.
Episode 4 is, however, not a bad one, especially because there are good actors delivering their roles as probably directed, but it is lacking in variety. There’s little comedy and a lack of real human connection.
This episode is action-free and, again, focused on succession matters, sex and a sprinkle of sexual orientation, phasing out the continuation of last week’s action.
Its scenes and visual aesthetics are bright, but its unhappy, self-involved characters need a little leavening. And yes, we want the action, not the sexual drama.
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