House of the Dragon preview: Episode 4, “King of the Narrow Sea”

House of the Dragon episode 4
House of the Dragon episode 4 /

It looks like we’re getting another time jump heading into the fourth episode of House of the Dragon, “King of the Narrow Sea.” Where do our main players stand heading into tomorrow night? Let’s go down the list:

Image: House of the Dragon, HBO/YouTube
Image: House of the Dragon, HBO/YouTube /

Viserys Targaryen — Status: Energy waning, grip slipping, hair thinning

King Viserys hates making difficult choices, but those are the only kinds of choices he’s ever faced with. Does he help Daemon even though he’s been a disrespectful little s**t? Does he continue to maintain that Rhaenrya is his heir in the face of increasing pressure to name his new son Aegon? Who should Rhaenyra marry? And why does she seem to hate him so much now?

Well, it probably has something to do with him marrying her best friend, which was a dumb-headed move even for Viserys, but he’s too deep in now to turn back. I imagine Viserys walks around all day with his stomach in knots. No wonder he was blitzed for half the royal hunt.

At least he seemed to commit to a course of action at the end of “Second of His Name,” saying plainly to Rhaenyra that she will not be supplanted as heir. But the pressure to make a different decision is only going to get worse, and the king only going to grow more stressed out.

Image: House of the Dragon, HBO/YouTube
Image: House of the Dragon, HBO/YouTube /

Rhaenyra Targaryen — Status: Digging her heels in three feet below the ground

Rhaenyra is increasingly isolated these days. She’s not talking to her best friend Alicent on account of that whole marrying-her-father thing, and she’s mad at her dad for that whole marrying-her-best-friend thing. Her uncle Daemon is away, and it’s looking more and more like she may be replaced as heir to the Iron Throne by her new half-brother Aegon.

Rhaenyra has spent the last few years angry, but anger alone won’t get her far. By the end of “Second of His Name,” she seemed to cotton on to the fact that she needs to build her own coalition and press her claim if she wants to keep it. And it looks like she already has one of her first adherents.

Criston Cole - House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

Criston Cole: Writing his parents to tell them he met someone

Criston Cole spent some quality time with Princess Rhaenyra in “Second of His Name,” and while Kingsguard knights aren’t allowed to take wives, there’s definitely a bit of a spark between them. The court is slowly dividing between those who support Rhaenyra’s claim to the Iron Throne and those who support Aegon’s. Criston told Rhaenyra that he owes everything he has to her; when it comes to blows, he will most definitely be in her corner.

But is that all he wants? If she is to be queen, Rhaenyra knows she must marry, but she couldn’t marry Criston even if he wasn’t Kingsguard, since the union would offer no strategic advantage. Might this turn into a tale of star-crossed love, or will they merely remain colleagues, work friends and siblings in arms?

Image: House of the Dragon, HBO/YouTube
Image: House of the Dragon, HBO/YouTube /

Alicent Hightower — Status: Pregnant with possibility

Alicent spent the first two episodes of the show more or less doing whatever her father told her, including comforting the king after the death of his wife. That eventually resulted in a marriage proposal. It seems to have turned out alright, all things considered; Alicent and Viserys are comfortable enough around each other and she is managing a growing family, but there are complications. Namely, Alicent’s marriage destroyed her friendship with Rhaenyra and it looks very unlikely to ever be repaired, no matter how much Alicent wants it.

It’s unclear if Alicent has given up completely on that, but she is starting to think more for herself. Otto told her to lean on Viserys and get him to name Aegon as his heir, but Alicent avoided the subject and talked about the Crabfeeder instead, perhaps sensing that pushing Viserys on the issue would only make him more obstinate. Otto plays the game well, but Alicent is leveling up.

Image: House of the Dragon, HBO/YouTube
Image: House of the Dragon, HBO/YouTube /

Otto Hightower — Status: Overplaying his hand

Actually, Alicent may already play the game better than her father, because Otto is overreaching lately. The key moment came when he suggested to Viserys that Rhaenyra be married to her half-brother Aegon, then a boy of 2. Viserys saw this for what it was: an attempt to solidify Aegon — who is Otto’s grandson — as heir over Rhaenyra, with not a care for Rhaenyra’s happiness. The King is displeased with his Hand.

That’s bad enough, but another guy has already suggested himself as a potential replacement: Lyonel Strong gave the king good advice that didn’t seem self-serving. Otto has had a lot of wins lately, but he may not be as secure as he thinks.

House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon episode 4 /

Daemon Targaryen — Status: Celebrating so hard you can’t put it on TV

Daemon ended the last episode by cutting a bloody swath through the Crabfeeder’s army before chasing the man himself inside a cave and cutting him clean in half, effectively ending the War for the Stepstones, at least for now. And he managed to do it without the help of his big brother Viserys. Daemon must be feeling on top of the world right now.

He’ll probably come down from that sooner or later, but right now, I imagine Daemon is neck deep in booze, women, and gold. But will it earn him what he really wants: the approval of his big brother the king?

House of the Dragon episode 3
House of the Dragon episode 3 /

Corlys Velaryon — Status: Laughing while eating the world’s biggest pile of crab cakes

Corlys will probably join in Daemon’s celebrations for a while, but he didn’t get into this war for glory; he did it to make sure his house continues to prosper. Otto won’t be satisfied with taking down the Crabfeeder; he’ll want to aim higher, and if King Viserys takes Lord Lyonel Strong’s advice, Otto may soon have an opportunity to join his house to House Targaryen. In Westeros, it doesn’t get bigger than that.

To get specific, Lord Lyonel advised the king that Rhaenyra should be married to Corlys Velaryon’s son Laenor, whom we met briefly in “Second of His Name”; he swooped in during the climactic battle on his dragon Seasmoke. Corlys will jump at the opportunity to marry his son to the future Queen of the Seven Kingdoms…if Rhaenyra goes along with it.

We also met Corlys’ brother Vaemond Velaryon, who seemed to have a bit of a frosty relationship with Corlys. (Man, the brothers on this show do not get along.) And we can’t forget about little Laena Velaryon, last seen walking and talking with King Viserys in “The Rogue Prince.” House Velaryon is coming into focus. Remember these people, because they all have roles to play in the wars to come.

dark. Next. Matt Smith says young House of the Dragon actors “will emerge as stars”

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