The kettle boils over and all the tea gets spilled on ‘House of the Dragon’

Sep. 19—[Contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” universe through episode five of “House of the Dragon”]

It sure is tough to get through a wedding in Westeros.

Veterans of this universe are well aware of the body count that nuptials can produce. I’m not sure if anyone other than Tommen “Baratheon” Lannister has made it all the way through a marriage and reception without somebody being killed.

We didn’t even get past the rehearsal dinner before the bloodshed started this week. All of the tea got spilled and the true groundwork is now laid for the lords of the realm to start taking sides when the Dance of the Dragon kicks off.

I won’t accuse Otto Hightower of spilling any tea. He’s just trying to keep his daughter safe, and he understands the gravity of the situation he’s leaving her in.

“Either you prepare Aegon to rule, or you cleave to Rhaenyra and pray for her mercy,” he tells Alicent as he is sent packing. He’s forceful but loving. He needs her to understand the stakes here.

Rhaenys Targaryen is also a concerned parent who sees the situation clearly: by marrying Laenor to Rhaenyra, she and Corlys are putting their son in danger. Corlys seems to be more concerned with whether or not the Velaryon name might one day be the royal surname in Westeros.

Viserys isn’t hearing it — and to be honest, he might not be hearing anything at all in an episode or two. The king is in real bad shape now, laboring to get through his marriage proposal, bleeding from his nose and passing out at his daughter’s hasty episode-ending wedding.

But let’s get to the tea, which is being spilled here, there and everywhere.

Larys Strong puts his one good foot in the scheming game, cleverly letting Queen Alicent know about the medieval Plan B that Rhaenyra was given last week. Larys plays it off by faking concern that the princess may have been ill, but he clearly knows what he’s doing.

Ser Criston Cole is such a noble guy that he spills his own tea by accident, under some clumsy questioning from the queen. She’s looking for confirmation that Rhaenyra and Daemon were together. Instead, she discovers that not only has Rhaenyra’s virtue as a princess been compromised, it’s also made an oath-breaker out of everyone’s favorite member of the Kingsguard.

Enter a new character: Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, a knight pledged to House Velaryon and also paramour to Rhaenyra’s new husband. Both Laenor and Rhaenyra quickly come to an understanding about the political nature of their marriage: they’re together in name only, with free reign in the romance department.

Ser Joffrey doesn’t seem too satisfied with that arrangement, though, visibly grousing during the wedding and unwittingly signing his own death warrant by pushing Criston Cole just a little too hard.

Ser Criston can’t handle this kind of political squeeze. He’s a fighter, and he’s not built for this kind of thing. His secret is pretty much known far and wide. He’s already in an emotionally vulnerable state after his romantic-dummy-let’s-elope-and-see-the-world proposal predictably failed to impress Rhaenyra. He may have broken his vows, but his puppy love has him honorable enough to quit the Kingsguard and risk his life to run away with a Targaryen princess.

There’s no honor, though, in beating Ser Joffrey to death (and beyond, by the gory look of it), and Criston knows it. He’s ready to end it all when the queen stops him. Alicent has started collecting allies in this episode, and she could use a trained attack dog like this.


More ‘House of the Dragon stories:

—Episode 4 review: Targaryens gonna Targaryen on this week’s ‘House of the Dragon’

—Episode 3 review: Everyone’s on the hunt in this week’s ‘House of the Dragon’

—Episode 2 review: A good man makes a real bad decision on ‘House of the Dragon’

—Episode 1 review: ‘House of the Dragon’ gets back to the backstabbing we loved in ‘Thrones’

—TV Talk: HBO recaptures ‘Game of Thrones’ political dynamics in ‘House of the Dragon’


Alicent is all-in now. When she upstaged not just Rhaenyra but the king during her entrance at the feast, she was wearing a bright green dress, which we learn is the color the Hightower flames glow when the lords of Oldtown call their banners to war. That’s my kind of symbolism.

Everything is falling apart. Poor Lyonel Strong, now the Hand of the King, is trying to cover for Viserys as his health continues to fail, and it’s easy to see why the various sharks in this coming conflict are starting to circle the Iron Throne: there’s blood in the water .

We’re headed into the big time jump next week, and I’m pretty bummed about it. Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra and Emily Carey as Queen Alicent have been fantastic, bringing depth and nuance to their characters. It’ll be sad to see them go.

But we’re headed into a new phase of the show. Thus far, Viserys has been flailing to get the future of his house in order, and it appears to have finally happened, at least publicly. The estate question should be sorted out now.

Of course we all know it’s not, because it looks like Alicent is going to be in the background forming a shadow government to try and shove her son onto the Iron Throne if the opportunity presents itself.

The tea kettle is boiling over.

—-A few stray dragon eggs

—Let me just say: I had a feeling Daemon Targaryen’s wife would not even come close to the awful, disparaging way he’s described her. More than likely, he’s mad because she (justifiably) can’t stand him. And once again he makes a decision that should alienate him with viewers.

I’m not sure if Daemon is best described as “chaotic neutral” or “chaotic evil.” It’s pretty evil to murder your wife and make it look like an accident so you can inherit the Vale’s Runestone neighborhood. One of the Vale’s head houses, the Royces, clearly think Daemon did it, and at Rhaenyra’s wedding, he’s just needlessly antagonizing them. It makes me wonder whether a longstanding beef between the Vale and the Targaryens made it an easier decision for Jon Arryn to call his banners to war and kick off Robert’s Rebellion in “Game of Thrones.”

—How come Ser Criston doesn’t have to wear his helmet like every other Kingsguard member at the feast? You’re not special, kid. You’re just pretty.

—I’d be curious to see a poll of who’s rooting for Alicent and who’s rooting for Rhaenyra. On one side, you have the Hightower queen who certainly seems like a good person, but at the end of the day, fighting for her son is fighting to uphold the exact type of primogeniture that both she and Rhaenyra likely think is unfair.

On the other hand, you have Rhaenyra, the named heir to the kingdom, but someone whose pursuit of her passions may not make her the best candidate for absolute power. It’s very much in line with George RR Martin’s penchant for creating a world of gray characters who aren’t all good or all bad.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick by email at or via Twitter .

Leave a Comment