Aemond who lost an eye, but gained a dragon
"Aemond who lost an eye, but gained a dragon," House of the Dragon, "Driftmark," directed by Miguel Sapochnik, 2022, (HBO)

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“Driftmark” reminds you that, no matter the time period or world, there is no such thing as a family gathering that won’t lead to drama.

Aired (HBO) 10/2/2022
Director(s) Miguel Sapochnik
Writer(s) Kevin Lau

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Recap

When A Family Meets Only For Weddings & Funerals – Jace, Baela, Alicent, Rhaenyra, Viserys, Daemon, Laenor, Aegon

Laena’s funeral is peak awkward. Everyone just looks at each other, including the cousins, and even in the case of Jace, he is forced to console Baela and her sister. Though in his defense, his father and grandfather just died, and no one but him seems to be mourning them since his blood uncle is just excited about becoming a lord.

But, what doesn’t help matters is that there still is a clear line in the sand. Alicent and Rhaenyra refuse to talk, Daemon refuses to return to the Red Keep with his children, despite Viserys’ offer, and Laenor? If you didn’t know better, you’d think he was ready to follow his sister into the grave with how long he stood in the sea.

Add in Aegon getting drunk, because liquor was available, and you can tell that nothing good would come out of this family reunion.

You Plan For A Future While Dwelling On The Past – Rhaenys, Corlys, Daemon, Rhaenyra, Laenor

Losing a child is abnormal no matter what kind of show or movie you are watching, and for Rhaenys, she sees this as only the beginning. No one is willing to admit Rhaenyra has bastard children and the issues that presents, but with that in mind, she asks of Corlys to have Laena’s children inherit Driftmark, not Rhaenyra’s second son, as he is not of kin to them.

However, Corlys won’t hear of it. He’d rather maintain his sense of legacy, and patriarchal views, than have a woman inherit the head of Driftmark and potentially leave a boy without a title. And with that in mind, it becomes clear to Rhaenys that any talk about how she should be queen is all nonsense. What Corlys is thinking about is what he could have done with a queen at his side instead of a princess with no claims to the throne.

Rhaenyra complimenting Laenor, who is wracked with guilt
“Rhaenyra complimenting Laenor, who is wracked with guilt,” House of the Dragon, “Driftmark,” directed by Miguel Sapochnik, 2022, (HBO)

And speaking of princesses with claims to the throne, taking note of her husband, Rhaenyra starts to ponder her future, considering their past. While Laenor is a man with a good heart, he has shown himself to be a terrible partner. He couldn’t muster the strength to help legitimize Rhaenyra’s claim further through children, and he not only publicly embarrasses himself but her. The combination makes him a decent friend who she can laugh with and maybe have a real conversation, but not a good husband.

Enter Daemon. He is a good match, at least in Rhaenyra’s mind, so she proposes their marriage, leading to Daemon reminding Rhaenyra that Laenor is alive. Thus leading them to cook up a plan so that the perception is that he is dead.

It’s Not The Worst Trade – Baela, Luke, Jace, Aemond, Alicent, Viserys, Otto, Larys, Rhaenyra, Daemon, Laenor, Qarl, Criston

Now, being that Laenor is someone that Rhaenyra sees as a friend, perhaps one of her closest, the idea of him being killed isn’t one she wants to be factual. She’d rather people think she and Daemon are capable of it, for it allows a certain level of fear. But, the truth is, Laenor is given the option Rahenyra denied Ser Criston in the form of relinquishing his title and all that comes with it, to be free. Which he does, thus allowing him and Qarl to cross the narrow sea and live a life together.

Meanwhile, his wife, and adopted children, are dealing with Baela losing Vhagar, her mother’s dragon, to Aemond, who stole it. Never mind a fight among cousins that led to Luke’s broken nose and an eye loss for Aemond. Which, of course, throws Alicent into a tizzy since Viserys isn’t willing to do more than yell and try to coerce his family to be united.

But that doesn’t work for Alicent. Her son, the King’s as well, has been maimed, and his attitude is for those involved to get over it after an apology? Nope. She calls upon Ser Criston to get her the eye of one of Rhaenyra’s children, but Daemon blocks that. So, she decides to take up a knife to do it herself and in the process cuts the heir to the iron throne with a blade.

This act for Rhaenyra makes her feel like she has the upper hand since the realm has saw her as a potential mad woman. But, while that might be true, Otto sees the act as a sign that Alicent has her head in the game. Plus, while Aemond might be maimed, he did gain a dragon, and between the dragons and Larys, who would kill his brother and father for Alicent’s favor, she may just have the gall needed to play the game of thrones after all.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. So, you can harm the heir to the iron throne and not be in trouble, even if the queen?
  2. Is Ser Criston in love with Alicent? His loyalties to the crown seem to be confused since, last I checked, the queen can’t demand much beyond a meal without the king co-signing.
  3. Is it that all you need is to known Valyrian and have silver hair to snatch up a dragon?

What Could Happen Next

  1. Clearly lines have been drawn, and all that is needed is Viserys to come to a point where he either doesn’t push reconciliation or can’t push for it

Review

Highlights

Loyalty To The Patriarchy Over Ambition

Rhaenys calling out her husband was the most hilarious thing, but also is necessary. Imagine how long he has spoken about what she deserves when really he just means what he would want. He wants the power of being king consort and, if she died, likely sitting on the Iron Throne. After all, what else is there for him? He came from nothing and built up his family’s name, and the last thing he can accomplish is becoming king, but while he has resources, it isn’t enough to take over without huge losses.

So, he has to play it smart, seek ways to live vicariously and be it through Rhaenyra, his son or grandson, that gave him the option since he can’t through his wife. But, what really matters when it comes to that whole conversation is denying his granddaughter Driftmark. They clearly have his blood, yet he’d rather a man be lord and inherit his castle than a lady who he knows, without a doubt, has his blood. Him doubling down on that tells you all you need to know about why most do not see Rhaenyra becoming queen and sitting on the iron throne.

Alicent Snapping

Alicent isn’t a Targaryen or has ties to Valyria. She doesn’t have a dragon to make her a notable asset in the war to come. So, with that in mind, she has to operate on the art of surprise and espionage, and it seems with realizing, as before, she is her own strongest ally, she acted. Now, was it smart? Absolutely not.

Otto happy to see his daughter has some fight in her
“Otto happy to see his daughter has some fight in her,” House of the Dragon, “Driftmark,” directed by Miguel Sapochnik, 2022, (HBO)

However, Alicent hasn’t truly tested how much she could get away with until now and going to maim a prince, never mind injuring the heir to the iron throne, and nothing happen to her? That allows her to understand it isn’t just Rhaenyra who can get away with a massive amount of things. Alicent, too has that privilege, and with the fear removed, with the need to have the high ground no longer in play, it means a new Alicent. One who, between her boys and father, no longer is waiting and seeing what happens but is a player in the game.

Aemond Going For Laena’s Dragon

A part of me believes Aemond has a bit of Daemon in him because that was a Daemon move. Rather than wait for something to become yours, Aemond took initiative. Now, did he lose an eye because of it? Yes. However, he knows he isn’t next in line for the throne, and may not inherit Dragonstone, so he is going to have something of his own to stake his claim in the family. So why not one of the biggest dragons in existence? An ass whooping is certainly worth that.

Laenor and Rhaenyra’s Friendship

There is something to be said about two people having an understanding. Both needed a marriage, but more than anything, both needed a friend. Rhaenyra lost Alicent, and for Laenor, I’d submit that his only friend was whoever he was having sex with. Otherwise, the people he interacted with, unable to accept his sexuality, likely only communicated with him due to his title and fighting skills.

So you can see when Rhaenyra is complimenting Laenor, it isn’t to get him into the idea of disappearing and being replaced with Daemon. She is having a genuine moment with someone who just lost his sister, fears another failure in not helping with Rhaenyra’s succession, and is being real down on himself. And despite it all, Rhaenyra loves this man. No, not romantically, but consider how no one but these two have an actual friendship. Even the marriages are based on someone’s obligations or ambitions, and yet these two get it. They chose each other, and to much surprise, both made a good choice.

Laenor rowing with Qarl, leaving Driftmark and going off to live their lives together
“Laenor rowing with Qarl, leaving Driftmark and going off to live their lives together,” House of the Dragon, “Driftmark,” directed by Miguel Sapochnik, 2022, (HBO)

Hence, she wants Laenor to be happy rather than continue to suffer due to what he doesn’t want or isn’t built to do.

On The Fence

Lack Of Interest For When We Get To The Dance of Dragons

Politics isn’t as interesting in “House of the Dragon.” Neither Rhaenyra nor Alicent are making strong or notable moves to build alliances or squash enemies. Everything is very reactive. So as much as you know the “Dance of Dragons” war is coming, there feels no need to get excited. Yes, it is clear the cousins already have animosity towards each other, with Alicent playing a notable role in that. But, the kids don’t drive the show, so playing a notable part in the war to come, paired with Rhaenyra, who pales in comparison to nearly all of the women in “Game of Thrones,” just doesn’t make the future seem bright.

But, considering all these little spats we’ve seen, maybe when there is an outright war, and a real sense of life and death comes to “House of the Dragon,” things can seem less tame, ho-hum, if not boring at times.

[ninja_tables id=”69249″]

Aemond who lost an eye, but gained a dragon
House of the Dragon: Season 1/ Episode 7 “Driftmark” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
Overall
“House of the Dragon” is too much petty family drama and not enough life or death politics. The shift is starting to happen, but with taking so long to get there, and the players not necessarily the type who can make it interesting without grandeur moments like Alicent pulling a knife on someone, there is a need to question the future of this show.
Highlights
Loyalty To The Patriarchy Over Ambition
Alicent Snapping
Aemond Going For Laena’s Dragon
Laenor and Rhaenyra’s Friendship
Disputable
Lack Of Interest For When We Get To The Dance of Dragons
74

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