House of the Dragon Season 1 Ep 5 is the fifth instalment of an American fantasy TV drama series based on the Fire and Blood novel written by George RR Martin and is a prequel to the highly successful Game of Thrones TV series. House of the Dragon will focus on the war of succession within House Targaryen, the ruling House of Westeros, almost 200 years before the events depicted in Game of Thrones.
S P O I L E R S
Entitled “We Light the Way”, House of the Dragon Season 1 Ep 5 marks the mid-point of this first season and it is mainly pre-occupied with the arranged marriage of Rhaenyras and Laenor, signalling an alliance between House Targaryen and House Velaryan. Throughout the episode, there is atmosphere of foreboding as King Viserys succumbs to his ill health. In addition, discontent is being sown within the Seven Kingdoms as several feuds form and fester, culminating of course with the civil war that will break out within House Targaryen itself in the second half of the season.
The main source of conflict comes from the unlikeliest source as Queen Alicent becomes a key player in House of the Dragon Season 1 Ep 5. After her father Otto Hightower is ousted as Hand of the King (as instigated by Rhaenyra), Alicent is made keenly aware by her father that her future (and that of her children) might not be secure if Rhaenyra became Queen. Alicent’s distrust of Rhaenyra grows as she realises that her best friend had lied to her about her virginity. Ser Criston Cole also comes into play here, as he inadvertently confesses to having sex with Rhaenyra and compounded with Rhaenyra’s earlier rejection of his marriage proposal, the knight is not in the best mental state by the opening dinner of the wedding ceremonies.
Yes, another wedding dinner ends in death – par for the course for a Game of Thrones prequel, eh? Rhaenyra’s betrothed Laenor – who is a closeted homosexual – has a similar paramour in his entourage viz. Ser Joffrey Lonmouth. Ser Joffrey believes that he is coming to an understanding with Ser Criston about secrets kept but Ser Criston flies into a rage during the dance sequence and kills Ser Joffrey in gory fashion. The episode ends with two cliffhangers as Alicent stops Ser Criston from committing suicide and Viserys collapses (and dies?) at the wedding – now reduced to a private affair, in light of earlier events.
Rhaenyra is perhaps fully-realised in House of the Dragon Season 1 Ep 5, as she accepts the responsibilities of the crown and puts that ahead of her heart’s desires. Her taunting of Daemon at the dinner reveals the confidence of someone grasping her destiny. Daemon, as usual, plays the bad boy and his simmering discontent and machinations have still not seen fruition but presumably that will come. What happened to him when the fight broke out is unclear though. Ser Criston Cole is given the broadest development here as he goes from unrequited lover to raging psycho by the end. It is particularly sad to see Viserys come to his ignominious end but his death (?) was always on the cards, and foreshadowed throughout earlier instalments. Hopefully, Viserys is still alive in the next episode! Alicent has also come of age as a political animal and will no doubt play the antagonist in the episodes remaining.
The Final Analysis
House of the Dragon Season 1 Ep 5 is more evidence that this series possesses the writing chops to deliver the visceral dark fantasy that Game of Thrones gave us in its first six seasons. Hopefully, the second half of this entertaining season will live up to this promise. Highly recommended!
Now streaming on HBO Max.
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