Things are ready to blow in House of the Dragon, which is why the anticipation for episode seven, “Driftmark,” is so high. In episode six, Princesses have died, kings are only getting weaker with age, and a new meddler in chief has entered the narrative. The show has felt like the best Game of Thrones can offer while supplying mostly character melodrama and scant action. But there be dragons, as we see in today’s episode.
“Driftmark” opens with a funeral for Prince Daemon Targaryen’s (Matt Smith) wife. She previously burnt to a crisp after she died by dragoncide (suicide by dragon). In the funeral scene, we see Daemon nearly emotionless, the Hand of the King Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) has returned to the role by the king’s side, and most are sorrowful. That is, until Daemon begins to giggle, which upsets a few onlookers.
Daemon continues to be the most fun to watch in this show. Sure he’s toxic, but he’s also unpredictable and seemingly capable of anything. With his power and psychotic unfeeling nature, anything is possible. That includes giving his niece Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) some flirty looks. He’s unwed and thus already looking to sow his oats with the one he truly loves.
It doesn’t help that Rhaenyra’s husband, Ser Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan), is falling apart due to his mother’s death. He was already weak and a kind of placeholder husband to begin with due to his philandering with men. Expect some big changes for him which only adds more drama and complexity to these characters.
Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) seems to have come into some added power since conniving to murder the Hand of the King. Interestingly, when we see Needham early on, he seems slightly nervous. Likely it’s because he’s not used to being around royalty, but it’s a surprise since he’s been confident in every second we’ve seen him in the series so far.
All that tension pays off fairly quickly in “Driftmark”, as Daemon and Rhaenyra have some private time. First, it’s a chat on the beach, and they practically trade off their hardships being married to people they don’t genuinely love. This leads to a rather long love-making scene. In the case of this sex scene, which is totally ick given they are family, it’s played out to show how passionate and in love they are. You’ll believe these two are practically meant for each other. Like in all of Game of Thrones, though, love only lasts as long as an orgasm, it seems.
Similar to the last episode, we get some unique dragon action. Two dragons fly around a bit at the funeral, but we see one sleeping at one point when a character seeks to wake it. This scene shows off the impressiveness of riding Vhagar and how a rider unaccustomed to flying has a difficult time. The scene runs a bit long and leans a bit silly with kid-adventure stuff, but it leads to an incredible confrontation.
That confrontation not only reveals King Viserys Targaryen’s (Paddy Considine) youngest son is a brat, if not an evil jerk, but that there is great unrest in Viserys’ household. After the kids of these kings and princes fight — and one loses an eye — things get very tense in a grand hall amongst everyone. Ever the protective mother, Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) refuses the king’s judgment to let things be and makes a brash move to take Rhaenyra’s son’s eye in retaliation. If ever these characters showed their hands, it’s in this scene that should change how these characters act going forward.
The blocking of this scene makes it quite obvious whose side folks are on. With only three episodes left, a battle will likely erupt between Alicent and Larys versus Daemon and Rhaenyra. Now it’s up to how these characters play out the final moves before the all-out war takes place.
Much of the rest of the episode is table setting, but with some incredible acting across the board. Daemon may be the only character that seems a bit inhuman and lacking empathy, but that’s on purpose. He’s a bit of a monster. The episode progresses so quickly that it’s surprising how much they pack into the final ten minutes. We see major plot development and huge reveals so big any other show would have needed at least another episode to cover it all. If episode six was slow and a bit laborious, episode seven makes up for it tenfold.
House of the Dragon’s “Driftmark” is edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Romance, death, and conflict are at the forefront of this excellent episode. On top of all that, the characters’ actions are earned and what comes next is all the more exciting due to their decisions.
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