It isn’t a spoiler to say that weddings within the Game of Thrones franchise don’t usually finish properly. There was, after all, the notorious Red Wedding, the place Robb and Catelyn Stark had been murdered after the previous spurned a wedding/political alliance with Home Frey. Then there was the marriage of the horrible King Joffrey to Margaery (not Sansa), the place he was poisoned throughout his feast. So, after the choice that Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate) must be wed in last week’s episode, you really shouldn’t be shocked to be taught that their getting hitched didn’t go off and not using a hitch.
Though to be honest, even established marriages have a troublesome time in “We Gentle the Means,” because the episode begins with Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) bludgeoning his hated spouse Rhea Royce to loss of life with a rock after which pretending she fell off her horse. That is technically true, since Daemon induced her horse to rear up and fall on her, however then he completed the job himself. Now he’s free to wed a brand new spouse and inherit Rhea’s riches, since she was the Girl of Runestone.
Even the overture to Rhaenyra and Laenor’s “courtship” begins ominously as Viserys (Paddy Considine) and his daughter journey to Driftmark to make (i.e., request) Lord Corlys “Sea Snake” Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) to just accept the match between the 2. Viserys seems tough. He throws up on the ocean voyage, he’s coughing up extra blood than ever, and is clearly weak and getting weaker quick. Corlys is aware of he has the higher hand as a result of he instructions the largest fleet in Westeros, and feels the best to throw his weight round after Viserys snubbed his daughter Laena (Savannah Steiy) for Alicent (Emily Carey). He asks if Rhaenyra and Laenor’s kids could have the daddy’s final identify, as per customized, and the irritated Viserys agrees to it however with the caveat that whichever offspring inherits the throne will change their identify to Targaryen upon changing into queen or king. It’s a great compromise, provided that Viserys had backed himself right into a nook.
On the plus facet, Rhaenyra makes a really totally different proposal to Laenor as they take a stroll on the seaside. She spells out how this marriage can work for each of them. She is aware of that Laenor is homosexual, and she or he actually needs to proceed her dalliances with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel). Her thought is that this: they make an inheritor, after which they’ll every “dine as we see match” on different sexual companions as per a belabored metaphor about preferring broth versus juice, lifted almost wholesale from Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus.
Criston Cole, however, is not at all pleased to be dined on. During the voyage back to King’s Landing, the princess’ Kingsguard asks Rhaenyra to run away with him to Essos and marry him, something he feels somewhat confident she might choose given how much she’s complained about her lack of freedom. Instead, Rhaenyra rebuffs him by telling him she must prioritize her duty as an incipient queen. Milly Alcock’s excellent performance also conveys she has no intention of giving up the throne for a life of obscurity and powerlessness for a guy she’s just hooking up with. Cole is hurt, angry, and upset that he broke his oath of chastity to the Kingsguard, and Rhaenyra has no idea she’s just lit a fuse.
Meanwhile, at King’s Landing, trouble is brewing, and it’s being brewed by Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), the unexpectedly sly son of the newly-minted Hand of the King Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes). He asks Alicent if Rhaenyra has been unwell, all so he can slip the queen the news that Grand Maester Mellos brewed the princess a medicinal tea by hand upon the king’s order. Knowing what that tea could mean, Alicent has enough doubts that she summons Ser Criston Cole to question him about whether Rhaenyra had sex with Daemon. But since she’s too delicate to mention the king’s brother by name, Criston assumes she’s asking about himself, who definitely had sex with Rhaenyra that night. He quickly confesses, and that’s how Alicent learns that Rhaenyra lied to her face. Another fuse is lit.
When the Velaryon family arrives for the wedding and Viserys begins holding a seven-day celebration of feasting and jousting tournaments, Alicent is conspicuously absent from the king’s side. But guess who shows up? Why, Daemon Targaryen, who just got exiled from King’s Landing forever last week. But Viserys forgives his brother yet again—it’s probably easier than acknowledging what potentially happened between Rhaenyra and his brother—and invites him to the royal table.
It’s hardly the only drama happening on the first day of the week-long wedding party. Rhea’s cousin accuses Daemon of murdering his late wife. Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall), Lord of Casterly Rock, makes a sexist joke to the king in front of Rhaenyra. And Alicent, without a speck of warmth in her eyes, makes a grand entrance timed specifically to interrupt Viserys’s big speech. And when she sits, she greets Rhaenyra coldly as “step-daughter,” and then refuses to look at her.
Like the royal hunt seen in “Second of His Title” a few weeks in the past, “We Gentle the Means” showcases the over-the-top, hedonistic pageantry of medieval life to what have to be George R.R. Martin’s immense satisfaction. There’s a ridiculous quantity of meals and wine, there are ornate decorations, and everybody (together with an amazing many extras) wears the best outfits the costumes cepartment might make. There’s even an elaborate dance that Rhaenyra and Laenor play out in entrance of the group, adopted by a full dance ground of extras getting down. It’s a marvel to behold, at the least earlier than all of it comes crashing down.
The issue is Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), Laenor’s lover, who realizes Criston Cole have to be Rhaenyra’s lover by the upsetting intense method he’s gazing her whereas she dances with Laenor. Joffrey sidles as much as his fellow sidepiece to commiserate collectively about their soon-to-be fulfilling lives as paramours to the wedded couple. Criston, having hoped to marry Rhaenyra and regain some measure of honor after breaking his oath disagrees, and by disagrees, I imply he beats Joffrey to loss of life together with his naked fingers.
The best way Clare Kilner, who did an amazing job directing final week’s extraordinarily sexy episode, phases all of that is simply implausible. When Rhaenyra and Laenor’s dance begins, all eyes are on her—Viserys smiles at his daughter, blissful she’s lastly doing her obligation; Daemon gazes at her together with his sardonic smirk, lusting for the ability she’ll wield; and Criston ogles her with anger, ache, love, and self-loathing. After the group dance begins, Daemon cuts in with Rhaenyra and tells her to marry him, however Rhaenyra solely taunts him and says to hold her away if that’s what he needs. It’s upsetting and will get more and more tense, however so does all the pieces else. Kilner makes use of fast, tight pictures to accentuate the nervousness constructing each within the viewer and the characters when the combat all of the sudden breaks out and none of us see who’s combating. It takes what appears to be a really very long time to disclose Criston and Joffrey because the combatants, though that’s being somewhat magnanimous to Joffrey, who principally has the facet of his face caved in, to Laenor’s heartbroken horror. (It’s extraordinarily gross.)
It’s all so horrible, in truth, that Viserys seemingly ends not simply the social gathering however maybe your entire week of deliberate festivities. That very same evening, he has Rhaenyra and Laenor married in a small, extraordinarily personal ceremony within the throne room to keep away from any extra disasters. Kilner additionally does a wonderful job right here; aside from an establishing shot of the “blissful” couple’s backs and a fast mid-ceremony peck on the cheek, the director retains Rhaenyra and Laenor fully out of one another’s footage. Because the Excessive Septon talks in regards to the unity being shaped, Kilner exhibits it’s something however, lingering on Rhaenyra essentially the most as she struggles with Criston’s anger, Daemon’s advances, Laenor’s grief, Alicent’s fury, her standing as inheritor, and her father’s more and more in poor health well being—which causes Viserys to collapses on the ground instantly after the ceremony. The final shot of the episode is a close-up of a pool of Joffrey’s blood and viscera, nonetheless mendacity on the throne room ground, as a rat comes ahead to get pleasure from a free meal.
It doesn’t get far more ominous than that, however “We Gentle the Means” is all about folks choosing sides within the combat that can erupt the minute Viserys kicks it. The Velaryons have thrown their weight in with Rhaenyra, as a result of it’s the one method their blood with sit on the Iron Throne. Alicent, livid at Rhaenyra’s betrayal and sure jealous the princess has been having fun with the liberty and happiness she’s lengthy denied herself, is clearly making ready to seize the throne for her son Aegon in opposition to her husband’s needs. And it seems like she’ll be joined by the despondent Criston Cole, who’s about to commit suicide when Alicent stops him, virtually actually recruiting the jilted lover to her facet. Rhaenyra made two main enemies tonight, one thing that she will definitely remorse when she takes—or, extra possible, tries to take—the throne.
I feel it could have been useful for the present to have taken extra time to concentrate on Rhaenyra’s friendship with Alicent and love affair with Criston to make their rejection of the princess extra highly effective and poignant, however I perceive why Home of the Dragon stored it brisk. The present has already spent 5 episodes (minimal!) exploring the characters and the occasions main as much as the battle of succession, so the battle can have extra resonance. It’s lots. In addition to, we’re midway finished with the present’s first season, and we nonetheless haven’t seen the essential actors who will likely be enjoying Rhaenyra and Alicent.
The excellent news is that each one that should occur for the battle over the throne to get began is the loss of life of Viserys. If tonight’s episode is any indication, he’s not going to make it previous episode six, at which level this violent, tragic social gathering can get began. And in contrast to Rhaenyra’s marriage ceremony feast, everybody in Westeros will likely be attending—whether or not they need to or not.
- Thanks to everybody who replied to final week’s recap; you had been considerate and civil and I significantly recognize listening to your ideas and views, particularly relating to the tea. I’ve realized one thing I have to be extra considerate and cautious about, and I’m higher for it. Thanks!
- Which facet will Daemon choose? Nicely, he does some flirting with the Sea Snake’s daughter Laena, which might kind of put him in Rhaenyra’s camp. Plus, I feel he’s received a greater probability at wielding some sort of energy if Rhaenyra turns into queen, given their… relationship. If he supported Alicent and Aegon, he’ll be fully supplanted by the male inheritor eventually.
- In Spartacus, the comparability between preferring ladies or males got here all the way down to preferring oysters or snails as a substitute of broth or juice. Simply FYI.
- When Criston confesses he had intercourse with Rhaenyra to Alicent, he begs the queen to kill him as a substitute of gelding him. Only a fast, informal reminder of the brutality of the instances!
- Joffrey, at the least earlier than he was overwhelmed to loss of life, was referred to as the “Knight of Kisses.” I really feel like that’s in all probability a homophobic epithet given to him by others, however a Knight of Kisses sounds lovable.
- Matt Smith is amongst an elite few who can say “I’m positively bereft” and convey how infinitely he does not give a shit. It was excellent.
Need extra io9 information? Take a look at when to anticipate the most recent Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on film and TV, and all the pieces you’ll want to learn about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.