House of the Dragon preview: Episode 7, “Driftmark”

House of the Dragon Episode 7
House of the Dragon Episode 7 /

The previous episode, “The Princess and the Queen,” brought us 10 years into the future. Now the future is the present. But what about the future of the present? That’s what we’ll see in “Driftmark.” Here’s where our main players stand:

House of the Dragon Episode 7
House of the Dragon Episode 7 /

Rhaenyra Targaryen — Status: Running away from her problems as bravely as possible

Things have gotten tense in King’s Landing. Rhaenyra has had a third child who obviously was produced via sexual congress with a man not her husband, and tongues are starting to wag. Rhaenyra opted to solve the problem by taking her family and going to her seat on Dragonstone, even though it means her rival Alicent Hightower will redouble her efforts to influence the king. So it’s not the worst plan, but it has its drawbacks.

At least Jacaerys and Lucerys can enjoy training sessions without their abusive instructor subjecting them to needless brutality. As for Rhaenyra’s husband Laenor, he seems game to come along, especially after Rhaenyra let him bring his new paramour. The family could have a nice life out there…which probably means things are about to implode spectacularly.

House of the Dragon Episode 7
House of the Dragon Episode 7 /

Viserys Targaryen — Status: “Everything is fine with my family la la la can’t hear you la la la”

Viserys Targaryen does not have control over the situation and hasn’t for quite some time. If he wanted, he could have accepted Rhaenyra’s offer to wed her son Jace to his daughter Helaena, but he let himself be overruled by his wife the queen, who has it in for his daughter. Meanwhile, his hobbies include working on his scale model of Old Valyria, denying that Rhaenyra’s kids aren’t the product of an extramarital affair, and trying to stay upright between naps.

Viserys never had the strongest of wills, but he seems to grow weaker with every episode. In his court, power belongs to whoever can take it.

House of the Dragon Episode 7
House of the Dragon Episode 7 /

Alicent Hightower — Status: Mother of madness, queen of pain

The last 10 years have not been good to Alicent. She took her rivalry with Rhaenyra and ran with it, channeling her father as she screams at her kids that they must prepare themselves to rule and to fight Rhaenyra’s children for the throne if need be. She seems much angrier and more hostile than before, perhaps because she’s had a decade to contemplate the injustices done her early in life and embrace them as warm hateful grudges that can sustain her into old age. In the upcoming episode, you can bet that Alicent will continue to push every advantage she has.

House of the Dragon Episode 7
House of the Dragon Episode 7 /

Criston Cole — Status: I can’t even with this guy

Alicent has friends at court, including Criston Cole, who I think might be the worst person in King’s Landing…possibly the worst person in Westeros…maybe even the worst on TV. This is a guy who got so triggered by a girl turning him down that he brutally beat a man to death at a wedding and punched the future king consort in the face. Now, a decade after he miraculously got off for all that, he has the gall to paint himself the victim of Rhaenyra’s wicked nature and bully her kids.

I’m sure Criston will continue to support Queen Alicent in her quest to put her son Aegon on the throne in place of Rhaenyra. But what I want to happen is for him to choke on a lemon cake and fall out a window onto a bed of spikes. Who says I can’t have both?

House of the Dragon Episode 7
House of the Dragon Episode 7 /

Daemon Targaryen — Status: Eternally unsatisfied

Daemon Targaryen always keeps us on our toes. One episode he’s off to war, the next he’s trying to seduce his niece, the next he’s straight-up murdering his wife with a rock. How does he top that? He settles down with Laena Velaryon and raises twin daughters on a beach vacation that lasts 10 years. He zigs when you think he’s gonna zag and becomes a responsible father when you think he’s gonna firebomb King’s Landing! Guy is everywhere.

That said, his new family fell apart when his wife died in childbirth. Does Daemon keep it together for kids Baela and Rhaena, or does he make up for lost time with an orgy of sex and violence? I’m not going to both predicting what he does next because I know I’ll just be wrong.

House of the Dragon Episode 7
House of the Dragon Episode 7 /

Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen — Status: What a difference a decade makes

When last we left this power couple, they were sitting pretty. They’d won a war for the Stepstones and their son had married the heir to the Iron Throne. We didn’t get to see their reaction to their daughter taking up with Daemon Targaryen, but if there’s one person in the world who wouldn’t be terrified by that, it’s Daemon’s old war buddy Corlys.

But since then, things have come back around. The Stepstones are under attack again, their daughter is dead, and while their son may be a king in waiting, it’s pretty clear that his marriage to the future queen is unconventional at best. Much worse, people have noticed and are whispering. I’m very curious to see how these two react to Laena’s death, and what they make of the other developments of the past decade.

House of the Dragon Episode 6
House of the Dragon Episode 6 /

Larys Strong — Status: Yikes

Okay, we knew Larys was a mite bit sneaky, but I don’t think anybody saw him committing patricide, fratricide and arson in one fell swoop, all because his boss kinda-sorta expressed a wish that her father could have his old job back. If you’re ever in an elevator with Larys Strong, don’t mention wanting anything; you don’t know who he might murder to get it for you.

He’s backed Alicent into a corner: if she accepts his help, it means working with a psychopath who’s capable of anything, including things she may come to regret being associated with. But if she shuts him out or tries to take him down, he may fight fire with fire, and we all know what he can dow with fire.

My bet is that Alicent will continue her partnership with Larys Strong. Sure, he’s dangerous, but she’s determined enough to stop Rhaenyra that she’ll take any help she can get.

House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO
House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

Otto Hightower — Status: Return of the smug smirk

Otto has spent the last decade in Oldtown after King Viserys fired him as Hand, but one patricidal murder later and he’s back in the running!

Alicent is already leaning on Viserys to name their son Aegon as his heir in place of Rhaenyra. If Otto comes back, he’s going to be getting daily blasts of that noise in both ears. Either that, or time has softened Otto and he’ll respect the king’s decision to name his daughter as heir.

Just trying to keep things light. Otto will again be the worst, and very soon.

Next. House of the Dragon gets grimmer and meaner in Episode 6. dark

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