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House of the Dragon season 1 episode 4 breakdown- Cinema express

House of the Dragon season 1 episode 4 breakdown  

Princess Rhaenyra continues to reject wedding proposals.After killing the crabfeeder and liberating the stepstones, Daemon Targaryen returns to King’s Landing.

Published: 20th September 2022

Spoilers ahead

You have been warned

Episode 4 titled King of the Narrow Sea begins with an impatient Rhaenyra listening to proposals from a long line of suitors. Prince and knight from afar, both unbearably young and inappropriately old for Rhaenyra, try to sway her by explaining how a union of their houses and wealth could be the most perfect political move. Rhaenyra’s countenance has evolved from being one of exasperation at the thought of marriage in earlier episodes to one of utter boredom and impatience. Through her lines to Ser Criston Cole, we know that she thinks all the suitors are only after her for the wealth and rank it might endow upon them. This rightful conclusion of hers reverberates throughout the episode and would go on to influence her decisions.  

After killing the crabfeeder and liberating the stepstones, Daemon Targaryen makes a surprising return to King’s Landing after being crowned as the King of the Narrow Sea. To everyone’s surprise, Daemon bends the knee to his brother, King Viseyrs, and swears loyalty. A pleased king then throws a feast to celebrate his return. We know Daemon to be overly ambitious so for him to bend the knee might sound like a curious choice.

The conversation between Daemon and Rhaenyra at the feast further elucidates the theme of the episode: the power of one's blood and lineage. Daemon tries to assuage her fear of marriage by saying that “marriages are just political arrangements, you can do whatever you want after you’re married.” he later reiterates the same point while taking her into a brothel, disguised as commoners. 

We don’t exactly know why Daemon chose to seduce his niece and then why he later stopped himself from sleeping with her, it only adds to the mystique of this supremely grey character. When King Viseyrs later confronts Rhaenyra about the scandalous rumour, he shows her the writings on his dagger, through which the theme of the episode, which talks about the importance of blood lineage, rears its head once again.

The writing on the dagger says, “From my blood come the prince that was promised and his will be the song of ice and fire”

Perhaps one of the greatest merits of this episode is how it holds up King Viseyrs’ character as a wise leader. While he was shown as a weak king, ready to be manipulated in the previous episodes, King Viseyrs redeems himself through wise actions: He listens to Rhaenyra’s council, albeit begrudgingly, and removes Otto as Hand of the King, He sends Daemon back to his castle without reprimanding him for unfounded rumours, he ascertains his position that Rhaenyra will remain to be the heir to the throne. 

In a heated conversation with Rhaenyra, where the young princess warns her king not to trust Otto, he says “Every lord and lady that calls for an audience with me. Every man on my small council, and all councils past has been self-interested. It is unavoidable.”

The levels of complexity woven into Viseyrs’ character shines through his ability to see through the strategies, power plays, and schemes of those around him. 

The episode ends with the maester of the citadel delivering a contraceptive potion to Rhaenyra, we are subtly shown how her blood is protected by the powers that be. 

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