The Royal Rumble – Rolling Stone

A toddler runs throughout the moonlit sands. As the celebs shine down into the ocean close by, the boy approaches a dragon asleep on the seaside — Vhagar, large and historic, the most important and oldest animal in Westeros. Decided to grab what he feels is his birthright, he braves the beast’s looking out eyes and fiery gullet, climbing up the rope ladder to its again dozens of toes off the bottom. Commanding the creature in an historic tongue, he drives it into the sky, chickening out in the end. The boy shakes, tumbles, hangs on for expensive life…however in the long run, he stays in management. A toddler, commanding essentially the most harmful factor on the planet.

That’s the mythic imagery and energy round which this episode of Home of the Dragon (“Driftmark”) facilities: younger Aemond Targaryen, the second male offspring of King Viserys — the son and inheritor of nothing specifically, because the previous music goes — seizing management of his late aunt Laena Velaryon’s legendary reptilian steed. If solely it have been all this poetic and magical. Sadly for Homes Targaryen and Velaryon, Laena’s funeral and the occasions that comply with largely play out like a slow-rolling catastrophe. Alliances are shaped, previous friendships are severed eternally, and the realm will doubtless by no means be the identical.

In different phrases, it’s a royal household gathering in Westeros. What else did you anticipate?

From the beginning of Laena’s funeral, at which the complete households of King Viserys Targaryen and Lord Corlys Velaryon are gathered, issues go poorly. Laena’s widower, Daemon Targaryen, spends the complete ceremony eyefucking forwards and backwards along with his niece, Princess Rhaenyra — that’s, when he’s not overtly guffawing on the entire “we come from the ocean and to the ocean we return” spiel from Laena’s uncle Vaemond (Wil Johnson). And when Rhaenyra manages to lastly look away from the man, she sees her once-upon-a-time pal Queen Alicent staring daggers at her.

The younger era fares little higher. Laena’s daughters, Baela and Rhaena, are devastated by the lack of their mother. Rhaenyra’s personal sons are reeling too: Elder brother Jacaerys mourns the dying of his secret organic father, Harwin Robust, whereas Lucerys struggles with the notion of mortality itself. Alicent’s neurodivergent daughter Helaena spends the service enjoying with spiders, seemingly oblivious to the truth that she’s been betrothed to her personal brother, the attractive, younger drunk Aegon.

Issues get even worse as night time falls. Viserys retires early, on account of his more and more debilitating diseases. Rhaenyra and Daemon sneak off to screw beneath the celebs beneath the bleached stays of a shipwreck. (Word that not like previous encounters, wherein Daemon stripped Rhaenyra and he or she later stripped Ser Criston Cole, they share the duty of taking off one another’s garments, suggesting an equal relationship has been shaped.) Rhaenyra’s husband Laenor, so devastated over his sister’s dying and burial at sea that he waded into the ocean himself, is nowhere to be discovered, discovering consolation within the arms of his boyfriend Ser Qarl Correy.

Then Aemond claims Vhagar, and that’s when all seven hells break unfastened. When he rides the large beast again into the fort courtyard, he’s greeted by Rhaena and Baela (who’re livid he “stole” their late mother’s dragon), and Jacaerys and Lucerys (who’re backing the ladies up). A really vicious struggle ensues, wherein just about each child takes a whupping, culminating in little Luke Velaryon actually stabbing out Aemond’s left eye with a knife.

In case you thought their elders would calm issues down, suppose once more. In a scene that feels very very like an echo of the second episode of Recreation of Thrones — the place Cersei Lannister hauls Sansa and Arya Stark earlier than the king to account for shitty little Joffrey Lannister’s accidents — the assembled lords and women, princesses and princesses, kings and queens, and Kingsguard knights attempt to largely fail to find out who’s at fault for the fracas. Rhaenyra pins the blame on Aemond, who referred to as her sons bastards; it’s an apparent undeniable fact that has turn out to be the complete realm’s job to disclaim. Alicent calls for a watch for a watch, calling on her sworn protector Ser Criston Cole to maim younger Lucerys. (The lunatic practically does it, which reveals you ways a lot he’s within the tank for his patron.)

Then shit actually hits the fan. Stymied, Alicent grabs a dagger from Viserys’s belt and lunges at Lucerys herself, stopped solely by the intervention of Rhaenyra, who incurs a slash on the arm. “Now they see you as you might be,” the blonde snarls on the brunette — not inaccurately, given all that the Queen has finished to undermine the Princess.

Viserys calls all of it off, his royal command nonetheless holding some authority regardless of his infirmity and the rising divisions in his household. From right here on out, he orders, anybody caught spreading the “slander” that Rhaenyra’s sons are illegitimate may have their tongue minimize out. Word: He’s staring proper at Alicent as he says this!

But it surely’s okay, so far as younger Aemond One-Eye is worried. “A good change,” he proclaims the entire bloody affair. “I misplaced a watch, however gained a dragon.” Man, attempt getting this child to eat his greens, do his homework, or wash behind the ears ever once more.

What follows is a twist that’s a marked departure from creator George R.R. Martin’s supply materials, Hearth & Blood, and it’s arguably an enchancment. Because the royals return to King’s Touchdown with their three dragons in tow, Laenor apologizes to Rhaenyra for his absence the night time earlier than, declaring his newfound dedication to their sham marriage. Rhaenyra smiles and proclaims him a superb and first rate man…then promptly proposes marriage to Uncle Daemon!

With stunning self-control, Daemon notes that for his or her marriage to happen, Laenor must die, polygamy having been verboten after the dying of Aegon the Conqueror practically two centuries earlier. So be it, Rhaenyra appears to say; wouldn’t they then be correctly feared by the realm they hope to rule?

Positive sufficient, we then see Daemon bribing Ser Qarl and murking a Velaryon guard. Qarl then challenges his boyfriend Laenor to a swordfight, claiming the prince consort had at all times appeared down on him. Minutes later, Qarl is MIA and Laenor is discovered burning up within the corridor’s fire, leaving his dad Corlys and mother Rhaenys devastated.

However whilst Rhaenyra and Daemon say their Valyrian vows in entrance of their very, very confused youngsters, Qarl rows out to sea…in a ship with Laenor on board, his trademark white locks shaven clear off. Collectively, they head throughout the Slender Sea to Essos, the place they’ll lastly stay collectively in peace.

Is the episode jam-packed, nearly to a fault? Sure. Squeezing all these occasions into the house of 24 hours, give or take, is a narratively environment friendly choice for certain, however you wind up wishing that sure storylines — Laenor’s relationship with Qarl, Rhaenya’s with Daemon’s, and even Alicent’s together with her father Otto, who’s returned to court docket to be Viserys’s formidable and dubiously loyal Hand as soon as once more — had extra room to breathe.

However, as Aemond may say, it’s a good change. The intercourse and violence, the incest and intrigue, the patriarchal plight of the queer and the feminine, and, after all, the godlike younger Valyrians driving big freaking dragons: isn’t this what we come to Westeros to see? Complaining that there’s simply an excessive amount of of all of it is a bit like worrying that you simply obtained an excessive amount of sweet whereas trick-or-treating on Halloween. Feast on these comparatively low-stakes, low-body-count hijinks when you have the possibility, of us. It’s prone to get an entire lot nastier.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply