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THERE are shows that are simply guaranteed. A Madrid-Barcelona classic, the NBA playoffs, a Tarantino play, or a Federer-Nadal match. Something similar happens with weddings in the Game of Thrones universe, where there is never a lack of situations that change dynamics within the story, brutal closings of subplots or iconic scenes that go down in posterity. House of the Dragon did not want to destroy tradition and delivered what is, so far, the best episode of the still young series.
As much as one tried hard to anticipate what would happen in the chapter, the first scenes were genuinely disconcerting. First with a Daemon at his most bloody and unsympathetic, and then with the king’s former hand, Otto Hightower, fallen from grace and telling his still young daughter and queen, Alicent, that she must awaken from her lordly slumber to protect her son.
Otto, who had earned the contempt of the viewers for his way of doing politics, seeking to position a grandson for the throne, finally launched a speech that could well have been for his daughter as for all viewers: I’m just playing the Game of Thrones and it’s for my family, my house. An unexpected “I did what I had to do” in the face of her impending exile. A reminder that in the GOT universe evil is relative and politics is devastatingly amoral realism.
A confused Alicent finally runs into Lord Larys, one of the most interesting characters of the chapter and, perhaps, the new Lord Varys of House of the Dragon.
This character, who does not appear in the books and has everything to be one of the big bets of the series, is the son of the king’s new hand, Lyonel Strong, and plays a leading role after underhandedly revealing to the queen that Rhaenyra lost her virtue and she was betrayed by her best friend.
Larys, seeing the terrible situation that tortures Alicent, shows himself to be a surprising ally; someone trustworthy for a person who has run out of protectors and friends. His only duty is ultimately to look out for the interests of his son and his household. And Larys can be very useful for those goals.
At the same time that Alicent discovers the secret of the princess, King Viserys achieved his goal of uniting the most powerful houses of the kingdom, through the union of his daughter and heiress, Rhaenyra, with Laenor Velaryon.
With this, Sir Criston, the protector of the princess, enters into a trance for a crass mistake: falling in love with the wrong person. He, having been with the princess, tarnishing his oath, believes he can regain his honor by marrying and removing Rhaenyra from her institutional duties.
What Criston never understood, perhaps biased by love, is that Rhaenyra is no longer the immature princess who wanted nothing to do with responsibilities. She, sensible, with time understood the sense of duty; that her place is with the legacy of her family and as heir to the throne. She knows, better than anyone, that she was born to take the place of her father and ancestors in the future to transcend in history. Not to run away, disappoint her own and be hidden in the inconsequence of traitors; all for the sake of a romance.
Criston, immature, did not understand, being visibly touched and disheartened; something that can lead a man to do stupid things, in this case in front of the queen, Alicent, who clicked in this episode.
Although the talks with her father and Larys upset her, the final conversion of Alicent, who goes from faithful wife and companion to another player in the Game of Thrones, occurs when Sir Criston reveals the obvious in a summons ordered by the queen herself: Rhaenyra cheated on her, Criston committed “the sin” of misrepresenting the princess and, consequently, she treated her father unfairly. A perfect storm that served as a preamble to the main course: the wedding.
House of the Dragon and the wedding of the messages
As they announced the arrival of the great lords and families to the wedding between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon, the feeling was that of a parade where aesthetics and message would be the main attractions.
There House Lannister opted, however uncomfortably, for diplomacy. Evidently the choice of House Velaryon over them was a blow to the morale and self-esteem of a proud institution. But what else could their representatives do but swallow their pride?
However, the next grand entrances were completely different. House Velaryon gave a demonstration of power and beauty. Proud to be in a new position of privilege, knowing themselves to be as important and great as the Targaryens.
Then, the always disruptive Daemon, overlooking the exile of his brother Vyseris and arriving unannounced at the wedding of his niece, in an act of arrogance that caught the attention of those present, putting his own brother in a very uncomfortable situation, who ended up granting him, reluctantly, a place at his table.
But the one who caused the most noise was none other than Alicent, missing the entrances of all the great families (a fact that did not go unnoticed among those present), purposely interrupting the speech of her husband, the king, and wearing a defiant and beautiful green dress representing the warlike color of her Hightower house that closed ranks around its queen and most powerful representative.
Alicent, finally, began to play politics, accepting her role as the mother of a potential heir who has every right to claim the Iron Throne, challenging Rhaenyra’s legitimacy and popularity.
Of course a wedding in GOT cannot end without tragedy. That was what Sir Criston, the other major protagonist of this episode, completed. Beating to disfigurement and death Laenor Velaryon’s lover, Joffrey Lonmouth, who moments before had put in check the Kingsguard and also Rhaenyra’s lover.
In the midst of that shocking scene, Daemon had burst onto the dance floor to take his niece to the back and start an argument where she ends up asking her uncle to marry her and take her to Dragonstone, an image that made Viserys furious, even if he may not have been able to watch properly.
The ending, almost silent, shows a sad and muted celebration between the consummation of the vows between a dejected Rhaenyra and a disconsolate Laenor. Sir Criston, meanwhile, tormented, is about to sentence his end by stabbing himself in the belly, before being stopped by Alicent. The king, Viserys, increasingly ill, ends up fainting in the middle of the wedding causing great concern among the few attendees. The wedding that promised to go down in posterity as a historic feast, ended in embarrassment, shame and death.
The closing of a masterful episode, the best so far, of a series that is exceeding expectations and even begins to settle its main debt: the political game. Now it really feels like a series of the GOT universe. Weddings in this world never disappoint.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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