Inside the Cursed Wedding in “House of the Dragon” Episode 5
The only thing more dangerous than a war during an episode of Game of Thrones? A wedding. In last night’s fifth episode of House of the Dragon, the first GoT prequel kept up its end of the bargain with yet another bloody celebration, and while the body count wasn’t as high as GoT‘s infamous “Red Wedding,” the results were still gruesome and grim.
“Every Game of Thrones season needs its wedding that doesn’t quite go right in the end,” says showrunner and executive producer Ryan Condal in a new “Inside the Episode” video for episode 5. The wedding in question was between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne, and Ser Laenor Velaryon. The mood was already fraught, thanks to a late arrival by the uninvited Prince Daemon (fresh from killing his wife, Lady Rhea, in the Vale) and an even later one by Queen Alicent, both unnerving the ailing, failing King Viserys.
As Milly Alcock, who plays the young Princess Rhaenrya, says in the new video, this is to be a marriage of convenience. Princess Rhaenyra wants to keep cavorting with her sworn protector Ser Criston Cole, while Ser Laenor will get to stay romantically committed to Joffrey (a bad name to have for a Game of Thrones character). Yet Joffrey makes a fatal mistake, mentioning the arrangement to Sir Criston at the rehearsal dinner. This leads to one of the most gruesome scenes yet in the new series, with Ser Criston literally beating Joffrey to death in a fit of rage.
All of this misery was predicted by the banished former hand, Otto Hightower, who warned his daughter, Queen Alicent, that the only possible outcome from the wedding and Princess Rhaenyra remaining her father’s heir was bloodshed. Otto told his daughter that her friend Rhaenrya would have no choice but to murder Alicent’s child, Aegon Targaryen, and any other of her offspring to prove herself the sole and worthy heir to the Iron Throne.
Alicent’s thunderstruck by these words, but it’s not until Larys Strong whispers into her ear in the royal garden that the queen’s transformation begins. Larys Strong tells the Queen that Rhaenrya was visited by the Grand Maester himself with some special tea, and at last Alicent starts seeing the forest for the trees. This clues her into the fact that Rhaenrya lied to her—she had, in fact, coupled with someone on that infamous night she slipped away with Prince Daemon to Old Town—and then Ser Criston reveals to her that he slept with the Princess that very night, and begs for her to simply have him killed. She declines, but she’s no longer the meek Queen and hopeful friend we’ve seen up until now. Episode 5 saw the birth of a new Queen Alicent, one who will make her allegiances known as she looks to a future without King Viserys by her side.
“Sometimes that’s what it takes, anger and betrayal, and then people rise out of the ashes of that and know who they are,” says the episode’s director, Clare Kilner. “Alicent doesn’t like to be observed. She’s the observer. But she comes in, and she holds the room. For once, she looks like the queen,”
“She doesn’t need to come in and shout and scream at Rhaenrya. Because of the dress that’s she wearing, that says enough,” says Emily Carey, Queen Alicent herself. “She’s a Hightower through and through, she’s representing her father, and this is her saying, ‘screw all of you, I know the truth, and I know where I stand.”
The grand wedding that King Viserys had planned comes undone right before his eyes. His Queen is now in rebellion against his daughter and heir. Ser Crispon has murdered a member of the Velaryon party, and his brother, Prince Daemon, has openly flouted his command to stay away from King’s Landing and is once again stirring up trouble. All the King can do is call for a shotgun wedding to get his daughter married quickly before things get worse.
Then they do. The King collapses. The wedding is over. Another royal wedding has been soaked in blood, and House Targaryen teeters on the edge.
Check out the “Inside the Episode” video below.
For more on House of the Dragon, check out these stories:
Featured image: Matt Smith, Gavin Spokes, Emily Carey, Paddy Considine, Milly Alcock, Theo Nate, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Wil Johnson, Savannah Steyn. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO