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"King of the Narrow Sea"[5] is the fourth episode of the first season of House of the Dragon. It is the fourth episode of the series overall. It premiered on September 11, 2022 on HBO and HBO Max. It was written by Ira Parker and directed by Clare Kilner.

Premise[]

After Rhaenyra cuts short her tour of Westeros, Daemon introduces the princess to the Street of Silk after dark.[5]

Synopsis[]

At Storm's End[]

KOTNS Boremund Rhaenyra and Criston Still

Rhaenyra receives suitors at Storm's End.

About one year after the royal hunt in the Kingswood, Rhaenyra Targaryen is touring the realm to hold audiences with potential suitors for her hand in marriage. On her most recent stop she is at Storm's End, the seat of House Baratheon in the Stormlands. Potential suitors are lined up in the main hall, introduced in turn by Lord Boremund Baratheon, while the princess is given the honor of sitting on his throne. Rhaenyra is frustrated that many of the suitors are either too old or too young, or lords of minor houses.

After dismissing the elderly Lord Dondarrion, she is surprised to see the underaged Willem Blackwood put himself forward. Though he is well-spoken, and Lord Boremund points out that the Blackwoods are a reasonably powerful noble house in the Riverlands, Rhaenyra does not take his proposal seriously. Blackwood is repeatedly interrupted with mockery by Jerrel Bracken, as House Blackwood and House Bracken have been bitterly feuding with each other for centuries.

Bored, Rhaenyra asks to hear the next suitor in line so they can finish up and go to supper. Dejected, Blackwood turns to leave, but as he goes Jerrel Bracken calls him a craven. Fed up with his continued insults, Blackwood draws his sword and approaches Jerrel, who eagerly draws his own dagger and advances to meet him. Rhaenyra tells her sworn shield Ser Criston Cole that they should leave. They casually head for the exit as the duel continues behind them, despite Lord Boremund barking orders for the boys to sheathe their steel. Rhaenyra orders Criston to send word to have her ship prepared to sail back to King's Landing, even though her tour for suitors was supposed to continue on to Bitterbridge. Just as Rhaenyra and Criston reach the hall's doors, they hear a yell and turn around to see that Blackwood has managed to run through Jerrel with his sword: the mortally wounded boy lays on the ground choking on his own blood while his father Lord Humfrey Bracken rushes to his side. Willem Blackwood, stunned at what just happened, begins to vomit.

Return to King's Landing[]

Targaryen Ship and Caraxes

Caraxes appears suddenly as Rhaenyra returns to King's Landing.

As Rhaenyra and Criston's ship sails back into the harbor of King's Landing, she is apprehensive that her father will be upset that she not only rejected every proposed suitor, but canceled the rest of the tour two months early to return home. Just then they hear the cries of Caraxes overhead, as Daemon Targaryen buzzes their ship with his dragon (dangerously rocking it) on the way to return to the royal court for the first time in four years.

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Viserys welcomes Daemon back to Westeros.

A full courtroom of noblemen and women assemble before the Iron Throne, as Viserys I Targaryen puts on his full regalia to formally receive his wayward younger brother. Daemon jauntily enters the throne room, not only still carrying Dark Sister sheathed at his hip, but playfully tossing the war hammer of Craghas Crabfeeder in his hand - and wearing his own crown, made of bone and driftwood. As he reaches the base of the throne, Lord Commander Harrold Westerling draws his own sword and points it slowly into Daemon's chest plate to ward him off. The tension breaks when Daemon throws the war hammer on the ground in front of the Iron Throne and says to add it to the chair (made from the melted weapons of their defeated enemies). Harrold sheathes his own sword, and Viserys points out that Daemon is wearing a crown, inquiring if he also calls himself king. Daemon says that his men hailed him as "King of the Narrow Sea" after he led them to smash the Triarchy's forces and conquer the Stepstones, but he quickly adds that he knows that there is only one true king. Daemon then kneels and offers up both his crown and the Stepstones to his older brother. Viserys asks what became of Corlys Velaryon, and Daemon says he sailed back home to Driftmark (not bothering to present himself at the royal court, due to his rift with Viserys). Viserys also asks who now holds the Stepstones, to which Daemon replies the tides, the crabs, and the corpses of 2000 Triarchy corsairs left staked on the shore as a warning to any who might follow Drahar's example. Viserys comes down from the throne, with his sheathed sword Blackfyre in hand, and is at first hesitant about what to do. After a moment, he orders Daemon to rise, and the two brothers embrace. The entire court applauds their reconciliation, save for a displeased Otto Hightower.

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A gathering is held in the godswood in Daemon's honor.

Viserys then hosts a feast in Daemon's honor in the Red Keep's godswood. Viserys gets somewhat drunk, sharing happy stories with the brother he hasn't seen since Queen Aemma's death and the ensuing succession woes four years before. The king good-naturedly admits that Daemon was always their mother Alyssa's favorite, as like him she was a rule-breaker who didn't care about custom or tradition. Queen Alicent Hightower then approaches and welcomes Daemon, inviting him to see the new fine tapestries from Norvos and Qohor on display in the gallery. Viserys laughes, as Daemon is uninterested in tapestries and artwork. Rhaenyra, much to Viserys' irritation at her presence, says she would like to see them and excuses herself, to talk with Alicent on a bench.

Alicent surmises that the tour did not go well, if Rhaenyra has returned early. Rhaenyra says she "endured it" for as long as she could. Alicent sarcastically chides that having every knight and lord in the Seven Kingdoms fawning over Rhaenyra must have been "misery," then urges Rhaenyra that it is rare for girls in the realm to get a choice between two suitors, much less forty of them. Rhaenyra counters that these men aren't fawning over her; it's her name and bloodline they want, to advance their own status. When Alicent says she still thinks it sounds romantic, Rhaenyra blurts out that she doesn't see what's so romantic about marrying so she can be locked up in a castle and "made to squeeze out heirs." Alicent is quietly wounded, as this now exactly describes her situation in life. Embarrassed, Rhaenyra apologizes.

Shifting topics, Rhaenyra asks how angry her father is. Trying to be diplomatic, Alicent says Viserys put great effort into arranging her tour, so he is of course frustrated that she ended it early. Alicent says she's happy that Rhaenyra is home: she admits that she has very few friends now, and is in fact quite lonely. She says she wishes she was still the "Lady Alicent," but these days everyone at court just thinks of her as "the queen," an accessory to the king. Feeling sorry for Alicent, Rhaenyra holds her hand to offer her comfort, and for now the two are somewhat reconciled from their estrangement the past few years.

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Rhaenyra converses with Daemon.

Some time later, Rhaenyra finds Daemon standing alone under the weirwood heart tree. Rhaenyra and her uncle continue to have a private conversation in High Valyrian while retiring to a row of seats near the feast tables along the colonnade. Rhaenyra says that her father is intent on selling her off to the lord with the biggest castle, and though she doesn't mind the attention, the rest she can do without. Daemon slyly says that marriage is just a political arrangement; it wouldn't stop her from seeking private pleasures. Rhaenyra says that it might be just a political arrangement for men, but for women it is like a death sentence, and she reveals that she is bitterly worried about ending up like her mother, made to produce new potential heirs until she died in childbirth. She refuses to accept that she will have the same fate. Daemon advises that she cannot live her life in fear, or she will forsake the best parts of it. Rhaenyra says she doesn't intend to live in fear, only in pleasant solitude.

At the Small Council[]

King Viserys attends a meeting of his Small Council, with Rhaenyra no longer serving as cupbearer but having a full seat on the council. Tyland Lannister, who replaced Corlys Velaryon as Master of Ships after he resigned in protest, brings troubling news: it seems they have traded the Crabfeeder for the Sea Snake, as now that the Velaryon fleet holds the Stepstones, Lord Corlys can control the vital sea lanes going through it, giving him considerable leverage over the crown. Viserys is surprised that Corlys would still be upset about his spurning a marriage alliance with young Laena Velaryon years ago, but Grand Maester Mellos says that Lord Corlys is a prideful man and that pride has been wounded, and they must seek to salve it.

Otto Hightower, however, reveals the situation is worse than that: he has received a disturbing report from his brother in Oldtown that Corlys Velaryon has entered into negotiations with the Sealord of Braavos. The report says that Corlys intends to secure a marriage alliance with Braavos by wedding his daughter Laena to the Sealord's son. Otto notes the obvious: if Corlys succeeds, it will add even more pressure for Viserys to quickly force Rhaenyra into a marriage pact, to secure new allies of their own to counterbalance the Velaryons. Rhaenyra hears this out in silence.

A long night in King's Landing[]

104 Rhaenyra letter Valyrian glyphs

Rhaenyra finds an encrypted letter from Daemon.

Rhaenyra returns to her chambers for the night, but finds a sack has been left on her table. Opening it, she finds a common page-boy's clothes to change into, and a note written in High Valyrian glyphs along with a map, indicating that one of the painted panels next to her bed conceals a hidden passageway to a secret staircase. Rhaenyra changes clothes and heads down the spiral staircase, leading through the shrine of Balerion's skull to the outer wall of the Red Keep, where she meets her uncle Daemon. He leads her out for a night on the town, both of them hiding their recognizable Targaryen silver-white hair, Daemon with a hood and Rhaenyra wearing a large boy's hat.

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Daemon escorts Rhaenyra through the Street of Silk.

Daemon takes Rhaenyra through a street fair, filled with tightrope-walkers, jugglers, fire-breathers, musicians, dancers, and fortune-tellers. Rhaenyra's exciting night sneaking out of the castle juxtaposes with Alicent's dreary married life: tending to her crying newborn (Helaena Targaryen), and volunteering to bathe the king's sores when the handmaids are too rough. The infection Viserys is suffering from wasn't stopped by amputating two of his fingers, only slowed, and the sores on his back are slightly worse than before.

KOTNS Mummer's Farce Still

Mummers perform a pantomime about the royal family.

Meanwhile, Daemon takes Rhaenyra to a street play: a cruel pantomime showing what the smallfolk really think of the current royal succession woes. A troupe of mummers farcically presents the succession choices between "the brother, the daughter, or the little princeling of three" (Daemon, Rhaenyra, and baby Aegon). The lead mummer asks the crowd if Rhaenyra will be a strong or feeble ruler, and they all shout "feeble!" to cheers and laughter. The lead mummer concludes that baby Aegon should be heir because he has two things Rhaenyra does not: "a conqueror's name, and a cock." The crowd of commoners applauds, while Rhaenyra jests that it is "lies and slander" that the prince has the latter. As they leave, Daemon says that he brought Rhaenyra to the farce to show her that most of the smallfolk are still convinced that as a male, baby Aegon has a much stronger claim to the throne than she does. Rhaenyra retorts that she doesn't care what the commoners think, but Daemon insists that she'll need to if she expects to rule them some day.

KOTNS Rhaenyra 3

Rhaenyra runs from a street vendor.

Rhaenyra says that she wants to just spend one night free of the burdens of her inheritance, not constantly reminded of them. Seeking some fun, Rhaenyra swipes some food from a street vendor and runs off without paying. Running through the alleys she is stopped by a gold cloak, but it turns out to be Ser Harwin Strong, who on closer inspection recognizes her, as well as Daemon as he rounds the corner. With a grin, Harwin tells her to take more care, and continues on his way.

At the Red Keep, Alicent is about to turn in for the night when Viserys sends a messenger to summon her to his bed. She endures boring, pleasureless sex with an ailing husband old enough to be her father. Alicent has a look of bored disinterest as they couple, though whenever Viserys does turn to her face she switches to a fake smile as a dutiful wife.

Back in the city outside the castle, Daemon takes Rhaenyra to a brothel on the Street of Silk. Rhaenyra watches a performance by naked male and female dancers, with a mix of fear and interest, and drinking wine. Daemon then leads her down into the lower level of the brothel, taking his hood off, and tossing Rhaenyra's hat aside, revealing their recognizable Valyrian hair to any onlookers. The lower den of the brothel is an orgy, with pairs and groups enjoying themselves: men cavort with women, women covert with other women, men cavort with other men, women cavort with two men at the same time while visibly enjoying themselves, and so on. Rhaenyra, a sheltered princess, is disoriented by the display all around her, but also transfixed in awe. Daemon says he brought Rhaenyra here to show her that "Fucking is a pleasure, you see - for the woman as it is the man."

After watching a particularly muscular man fellate another man, Rhaenyra can hold back her desire no longer, and leans in to start kissing her uncle Daemon. Between kisses, Daemon says that marriage may be a duty, but that doesn't stop them from doing what they want, having sex with who they want. Amidst the orgy going on around them, Rhaenyra leans in for another kiss, and Daemon slowly spins her around and holds her up against a wall. He opens up her shirt and pulls her pants down, while Rhaenyra lolls her head in pleasure. He gently turns her around to take her from behind against the wall - but then she spins around and starts aggressively kissing him. Seeing the lust in his niece's eyes, Daemon slowly starts backing down: either because he is no longer excited if he isn't in total control of the situation, or because part of him can't go through with doing this to his brother, or a mix of both.[b] Daemon quickly leaves, and Rhaenyra is alone at the orgy. She rushes out into the hallway and without thinking blurts out "Daemon?" as she searches for him, also not considering that she is no longer disguised. A street urchin in the hallway recognizes her.

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Rhaenyra seduces Criston.

Rhaenyra returns to the Red Keep through the front gate, in a haze of wine and lust not bothering to return through the secret passage. She comes to the door of her own chamber, which is guarded by Criston Cole. Charged up from her erotic adventures but left physically unsatisfied, Rhaenyra opens her chamber door again and playfully grabs Criston's helmet from him. She retreats back into her room and entices him to take it from her. She silently plays keep-away with it until she maneuvers herself back around to the entrance and shuts the door. Seeing the longing in her eyes and her intentions, Criston softly whispers for her to stop, as he has sworn his honor to the Kingsguard and taken a vow of chastity. Rhaenyra starts unfastening the vambrace on his left arm, and then she kisses him. Having longed after the princess from afar for years, Criston gives in to temptation and starts kissing her back. She slowly begins to remove his several layers of Kingsguard armor. After a meaningful look at the white cloak of his office after removing it, Criston and Rhaenyra both slowly undress. Rhaenyra giggles in excitement when she sees him naked, and he gently pulls down her shift until she is as well. Overcome with passion, she jumps up on Criston and locks her legs around his waist. Criston carries her to the nearby bed, and they share a night of ecstasy.

The morning after[]

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Mysaria attends to Daemon.

In the pre-dawn hours, Otto Hightower is awakened by one of his guards, informing him that a messenger from the "White Worm" has come to bring him important news. It is the same street urchin that spotted Rhaenyra calling after Daemon in the brothel. Elsewhere as dawn arrives in the city, a very hung-over Daemon wakes up in an unfamiliar chamber and sees his former lover Mysaria boiling a drink. Daemon asks if he is her prisoner, to which she says that she is his protector. She gives him the drink, saying it will take the edge off his hangover, but he spills it out. Daemon groggily says he doesn't need protection from a common whore, but Mysaria says that she is no longer a whore, having learned that the "skin trade" can only take her so far in life. Mysaria is now an information broker in the city's underbelly. Then the same street urchin enters and gives Mysaria the reward money that Otto Hightower just gave to him. Mysaria leaves Daemon, who is still too hung-over to stand, casually saying as she goes that he can pay for the room on his way out.

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Otto shares discomforting news with Viserys.

Otto Hightower then waits outside King Viserys's private chambers, hesitating on the distasteful task he is about to do. On the one hand, Otto has always sought to undermine Daemon, and has been plotting to have Rhaenyra removed as heir in favor of his own grandson Aegon, and the news he has received could easily destroy them both without any effort on his part. On the other hand, as a father himself and having known Viserys for years, he genuinely takes no pleasure in giving the king the awful news that his daughter apparently lost her virginity in a brothel.[b] Otto then knocks on the door and wakes Viserys, grudgingly reporting to him that Rhaenyra was spied at a pleasure house. This in and of itself doesn't alarm Viserys, but Otto goes on to say that she was herself "coupling" at the brothel, not just looking, and with her own uncle Daemon. Viserys is incredulous and says that it must be a lie. Otto responds that he had considered not reacting to the report of a single spy, but multiple castle servants had confirmed that they saw Rhaenyra creeping back through the main gates from the city during the pre-dawn hours, disguised as a page.

Furious, Viserys redirects his anger to accuse that Otto is so ambitious that he would have his daughter stalked with spies. Otto honestly says that he didn't: as far as he knows, one of his many informants in the city truly just happened to be at a brothel when Rhaenyra walked into it. Viserys refuses to believe it and angrily tells Otto to get out. Otto did not realize that his own daughter Alicent, however, was in the king's bed from their prior night together, and from behind a privacy screen she heard their entire conversation. Viserys was so shocked by the news that he only remembers that Alicent is still in the room after he sends her father away, and she walks out to him with tears welling in her eyes.

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Alicent confronts Rhaenyra.

Rhaenyra is combing her hair in her chambers when Criston opens the door. She greets him warmly but he says the queen wishes to speak with her. Rhaenyra then meets Alicent alone in the godswood. Her voice trembling, Alicent bluntly asks what happened the last night. Rhaenyra feigns ignorance, but Alicent says that her father Otto has made worrying allegations against her: that she was "with" her uncle. Rhaenyra, almost giggling with relief, says that she hadn't seen Daemon in years so they went out for a night of fun, but other than sneaking out of the castle and drinking some wine, she didn't do anything serious. Alicent lowers her tone and curtly says that the accusation is "that you fucked Daemon in a pleasure house!" Rhaenyra says this is a vile accusation, but Alicent ponders if it is, as "you Targaryens do have queer customs." Now feigning total innocence, Rhaenyra begs Alicent as her friend and "sister" that this is a complete lie, and that as a princess to question her virtue is an act of treason. Alicent admits she doesn't know the specific source of this report, but that her father believed it enough to report it directly to the king. Rhaenyra says that she believes in slanders, but on the verge of crying, Alicent says that she only wants to help her. Rhaenyra comes around to tactfully admitting that Daemon took her to several taverns and they got very drunk, but lies that she wanted to go home when it got too late but Daemon wanted to continue, and as he was her escort she couldn't head back through the city alone, so they ended up in a brothel. Rhaenyra admits that they watched a show at the brothel, but she was "only a spectator" and didn't actually do anything herself (all of which is technically true, if only because Daemon got cold feet and left before they could have sex). Then Daemon ran off with some whore, so she had to make her way back to the castle on her own anyway. She concludes by embellishing word-for-word that "Daemon never touched me" at all and swears this on her mother's memory. Alicent knows Rhaenyra well enough to sense whether she is lying, and can tell that something is amiss, but thinks that she's fundamentally telling the truth that she didn't actually have sex with Daemon. Alicent still criticizes that Rhaenyra was foolish to go to a brothel show in the first place, to even put herself in a position where her virtue could be called into question. Alicent stresses that the king and herself have strived to find her a good match, and if any potential suitor ever thought that she had been "sullied," it would ruin any potential marriage-alliance, which they need now more than ever.

Second exile[]

KOTNS Daemon Still 3

Daemon is brought before Viserys.

Still several hours later, a somewhat more sober Daemon stumbles through the gates of the Red Keep, only to be immediately seized by Harrold Westerling and two other Kingsguard, to bring him to an audience with the king. The guards roughly drop the still semi-coherent Daemon onto the floor of the throne room. The guards leave, then Viserys appears from a side doorway. He accuses that Daemon defiled his daughter and gives him a swift kick in the ribs, asking if he will even attempt to deny it. Daemon does not, instead asking why this matters given that when the two of them were Rhaenyra's age, they visited most of the brothels on the Street of Silk. Viserys responds that they were young men, but Rhaenyra is just a girl. Daemon counters that Rhaenyra is legally a "woman grown," and half-sarcastically says that it's better that her first experience is with him than some random whore, thus lying to Viserys that he actually had sex with her. Angered, Viserys kneels down and starts strangling Daemon, proclaiming that he has ruined her, as no lord will wed her now in this condition. Daemon brazenly says that he will wed her. Viserys stifles a laugh at the absurdity, as Daemon is already married to Rhea Royce. Daemon says he'll just take a second wife, polygamously, like Aegon the Conqueror did. Viserys is so insulted that he immediately draws his Valyrian steel dagger and holds it to Daemon's throat, kneeling on his chest, and says that he is no conqueror, but a plague upon their house. Daemon continues to insist that if Viserys gives him Rhaenyra, together they will restore House Targaryen to its proper glory. Viserys bitterly accuses that it's not Rhaenyra that Daemon wants, but the Iron Throne. Viserys rises, and dismissively tells Daemon to go back to the Vale and his lawful wife, and to try to restore what scrap of honor he may have left; or not, it makes no difference to him, as he never wants to see Daemon again.

In his chambers, a rattled Viserys looks out from his balcony over the city while Alicent brings him a cup of wine. Alicent says that she talked with Rhaenyra: she denied having sex with Daemon, and isn't known for being deceitful. More importantly, Alicent points out, Daemon pervasively lies, so openly claiming to have had sex with Rhaenyra means it probably isn't true. Viserys is baffled at how claiming such things could possibly serve him, to which Alicent suggests that Daemon's entire goal was just to taunt his older brother for disinheriting him. Viserys says that whatever happened, he can still sense that Rhaenyra is not innocent of any wrongdoing. Alicent earnestly insists that Rhaenyra swore to her that she remains a maiden, and she believes her.

The interests of the realm[]

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Rhaenyra reads from the Valyrian steel dagger.

That evening, Rhaenyra is summoned to her father's chambers and the guards are told to leave. Viserys has been heating his Valyrian steel dagger in a brazier of fire. He explains that the dagger was carried by Aegon the Conqueror, and generations before him by Aenar Targaryen when he left Valyria. Before Aegon the Conqueror died, Viserys explains, when he realized that the apocalyptic winter he saw in his dragon dream would not happen in his own lifetime, he sought to pass the warning on to future generations of their dynasty: in addition to passing the story down from king to heir, Aegon himself also commissioned the last of the old Valyrian pyromancers to etch a hidden message onto his personal dagger, only visible when it is heated red-hot. He hands the heated dagger to Rhaenyra, who reads off the High Valyrian glyphs on it: from my blood come the Prince That Was Promised, and his will be the Song of Ice and Fire.

Viserys says that the responsibility he has handed to Rhaenyra, the burden of this knowledge, is larger than the throne or herself, or her desires. Viserys says that Jaehaerys would have disinherited her, but he does not have that luxury. She says that she hasn't been given a chance to defend herself, but he replies that the truth doesn't matter: the perception of it does. Enough people have already heard the gossip that she was at least sighted in a brothel with Daemon that they are willing to entertain the rumor that she actually had sex with him there. Rhaenyra defiantly says that if she were born a man, she could bed whomever she wanted, father a dozen bastards and no one in the royal court would bat an eye. Viserys bluntly says that she's right, but she was born a woman, which means she cannot.

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Viserys commands Rhaenyra to marry Laenor Velaryon.

Viserys explains that he would disinherit Rhaenyra and name Aegon heir in her place, but his duty is to hold the realm together (should the White Walkers ever return). They are on the verge of civil war with House Velaryon, and he needs a marriage-alliance between their families to unite the Velaryons back with the rest of the realm. He commands Rhaenyra to marry Corlys's son Laenor Velaryon, and Lord Corlys will not accept the match if Rhaenyra is anything less than the named heir to the Iron Throne.

Rhaenyra agrees to do this without protest only on one condition: that Viserys removes Otto Hightower as Hand of the King. Not only has Otto slighted Rhaenyra now, but Rhaenyra points out that he has always been pushing for his grandson Aegon to be named heir to the Iron Throne. If Aegon was named heir it would ruin Rhaenyra's marriage-alliance through Laenor, which Viserys is so focused on obtaining, so as long as Otto remains Hand, he will always try to undermine peace with the Velaryons. Viserys at first scoffs that every lord on his council is self-interested somehow, but Rhaenyra insists that Otto is so self-interested that he would indeed jeopardize the stability of the realm in his goal to put an heir with Hightower blood on the throne. While reluctant, Viserys has not been blind to Otto's constant attempts at manipulation over the years, and he grudgingly relents.

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Viserys dismisses Otto as Hand of the King.

Some time later, Otto Hightower is summoned to meet Viserys alone in the Small Council chamber. Viserys immediately launches into the story of how his own father, Baelon Targaryen, served as Hand of the King for only five days. Baelon was a healthy warrior and dragon-rider in the prime of his life when Old King Jaehaerys named him as the new Hand of the King, but a mere five days later he suddenly died of a burst belly. Baelon was then replaced as Hand by Otto himself, who has held the office ever since. In only five days, Otto went from just another man in the royal court to the second most powerful man in the realm, and Viserys wonders how long it took Otto to start choosing his own interests over those of his king. Viserys says that Alicent did get him through the worst of his grief after Aemma died, but he realizes now just how much Otto intended her as a "calculated distraction" so the Hightowers could subsume his reign from within. Otto pleads that this is absurd, and he knows that Viserys and Alicent love each other. Viserys doesn't deny this, but says that Otto's interests no longer align with those of the realm. Pained, Viserys says that the crown and the realm owe Otto a great debt that can never be repaid, but he can no longer trust his judgement. Saying this, he takes Otto's pin of office as Hand off of his tunic.

Rhaenyra's tea[]

Moon tea

Mellos brings moon tea to Rhaenyra's bedchamber.

Late at night, Rhaenyra is reading alone in her chambers when Grand Maester Mellos arrives. He presents her with a round sealed jar containing a liquid and says that he took great care in brewing it, because if prepared improperly it can be ineffective or have negative side effects. When she asks what it is, he says that it is a tea - sent from the king. Mellos tells Rhaenyra that "it will rid you of any unwanted consequences." then bows and leaves. Rhaenyra has been presented with moon tea, an abortifacient, meaning that her father either didn't believe her or wasn't sure to believe her when she insisted that she didn't have sex with her uncle Daemon. She actually did have premarital sex, but with Criston Cole. Rhaenyra stares at the tea.

Appearances[]

Main page: King of the Narrow Sea (episode)/Appearances

Firsts[]

Deaths[]

  • Jerrel Bracken

Cast[]

Starring[]

Co-starring[]

Uncredited[]

Notes[]

Behind the scenes[]

General[]

  • The title of the episode refers to Daemon, who is hailed as "King of the Narrow Sea" after his victory over the Triarchy.
  • In the World of Westeros as a whole, this is the first episode to have a female director (Clare Kilner) since 2014, in Season 4's fifth episode, "First of His Name" (which was directed by Michelle MacLaren). The last four seasons of Game of Thrones had no female directors, and after Season 3 had no female screenwriters either. MacLaren was also the only female director who ever worked on Game of Thrones.

Filming locations[]

Filming locations for this episode included:

  • The extensive street scenes during Rhaenyra and Daemon's night out at a street carnival were all filmed in Cáceres, Spain. The town had previously been used for some King's Landing street scenes starting in Season 7. Because these were night scenes, the production team obtained permission from the town council to order all electric lights turned off in a certain neighborhood.[8]
  • The hall of Storm's End was not just an interior location but filmed entirely on the "Volume" virtual set. None of the walls were real. To enhance the illusion that it was a real set director Clare Kilner had dead leaves scattered around the ground, then gently blown around with fans to simulate wind.[8]

At Storm's End[]

  • This episode features the first on-screen appearance of Storm's End, the seat of House Baratheon. If not for budget constraints, Storm's End would have appeared in the second season of Game of Thrones, during the parley between Renly and Stannis. It would also have appeared later in the series, in a subplot from A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter that was cut from the series.
  • The taunting and subsequent bloody duel between Willem Blackwood and Jerrel Bracken reflects the bitter enmity between the houses, a longstanding feud which began during the Age of Heroes and endures to the War of the Five Kings, even when these houses happen to fight on the same side. Fire & Blood mentions that King Jaehaerys was such a skilled negotiator that he even managed to broker a peace between the two families that lasted for fifty years, but it ultimately didn't last - apparently broken by the duel at Storm's End.
    • Fire & Blood does mention that a Blackwood and a Bracken fought a duel over Rhaenyra at Storm's End, but it was the Bracken who won the fight, and no one died in it. Also in the book the Blackwood was named Samwell, not Willem, and he does appear again as an adult after the time skip: it's unclear if he's meant to be the same character, or if the writers simply didn't want to re-use the name "Samwell".
    • As Willem Blackwood mentions, the Blackwoods sided with the Targaryens during Aegon's Conquest. The Riverlands were being brutally oppressed by the Ironborn after they conquered the region three generations before, so House Tully rallied the Riverlords to voluntarily switch to the Targaryens' side. In reward, the Riverlands were given equal standing with the rest of the kingdoms (as the Riverlands had been a contested border region for centuries and not considered one of the "Seven" Kingdoms). Jerrel mocks Willem for citing the Blackwoods' contribution as somehow special, because all of the Riverlords joined the Targaryens, including the Brackens, and the Tullys actually had a bigger impact. The name of the Lord Blackwood who sided with the Targaryen Conquest isn't mentioned in the book, but this episode establishes that his name was Lucas Blackwood.
    • Boremund Baratheon notes that the Blackwoods are a strong house who descend from the First Men, the original human ethnic group in Westeros (loosely based on the Celts). The Blackwoods are actually the most prominent family outside of the North who never converted to the Faith of the Seven, but still follow the Old Gods.
    • Stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam explained that the Blackwood and Bracken actors didn't use stunt doubles in their brief fight, nor were there mats on the ground to cushion their falls. Irlam redesigned the fight a few times before the final version. Though most of it happens off-screen in the final cut, it is shown in "Episode 04" of House of the Dragon: The House That Dragons Built.[8]
  • Among the potential suitors for Rhaenyra are representatives from House Dondarrion, House Bracken, House Blackwood, House Frey, House Mooton, House Strong, House Swann, and House Mudd.
    • The fish sigil is not a Tully sigil, though several reviewers mistook it for one. The Tully fish is smaller trout and the head is facing left: the Mooton sigil's fish is a larger salmon, leaping in a different pose and facing to the right.
    • The presence of a man displaying a House Mudd sigil is odd, given that they were local kings of the First Men in the Riverlands who died out thousands of years ago during the coming of the Andals. Then again, there are several minor mercenaries in the Free Cities who use the surname "Mudd", who might be from minor branches of the family that survived.
  • According to the credits, the elderly Lord Dondarrion is actually named "Beric Dondarrion": names repeat in dynasties, so the implication is that it was repeated for his descendant "Beric Dondarrion" of the Brotherhood Without Banners. Given that he says he hosted Queen Alysanne at Blackhaven half a century ago, it's possible that this is the same Lord Dondarrion that Criston Cole served under for a year fighting Dornish incursions along the Boneway.
  • Costume Designer Jany Temime explained the thought that went into Rhaenyra's new red gown: she is looking for a husband now, so it shows a little more skin with open sleeves and bare shoulders; Temime says this is "a little too old" for her. At the same time, Temime notes that this inviting and alluring outfit is an intentional contrast with how she's acting, brutally honest and shunning every suitor.[8]
  • All four tiers of the nobility in Westeros are all present in one scene at Storm's End: at the top is Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (from the royal family), then Boremund Baratheon (Lord Paramount of the Stormlands), then Lord Dondarrion of Blackhaven (one of the dozen or so major lords in each of the Seven Kingdoms), and then Criston of House Cole (a minor noble family who serve as stewards to the Dondarrions).
  • As Rhaenyra grows more bored and frustrated with the suitors she once again plays with the rings on her fingers, twisting them around. This is one of Rhaenyra's character tics described in the book.
  • Criston Cole mentions that Rhaenyra's royal tour was meant to continue on to Bitterbridge, marking the first time it has been mentioned in dialogue in the franchise. Bitterbridge guards a major crossing over the Mander River in the Reach, controlling all east-west passage along the Roseroad from Oldtown and Highgarden to King's Landing.

In King's Landing[]

  • Rhaenyra's boat set was filmed on a blue-screen lot. It is not a full-sized war galley but a smaller "yacht". Ryan Condal said the idea behind it is that it is a fast, small pleasure yacht meant for personal travel shuttling back and forth across Blackwater Bay, as much of the story in Season 1 involves characters shuttling back and forth between King's Landing and Dragonstone (and nearby Driftmark). Storm's End isn't much farther away, farther down the east coast. It isn't a large war ship meant for travel on the open seas. It wasn't too expensive to build because not only is it a smaller ship but they only constructed about the rear third of the vessel, the parts they'd actually need to show actors walking around on. The design team pointed out that they only really had one ship set on Game of Thrones, which they redressed as best they could to simulate different vessels, so they knew that design on this new pleasure yacht was important because it would be extensively re-used as the show progresses into future seasons.[8]
  • When the royal court is gathering to receive Daemon, Viserys noticeably reacts with surprise when Rhaenyra tries to sneak in with the crowd: she didn't send advance word that she was returning early from her royal tour, and she didn't have time to meet her father yet because everyone is rushing to receive Daemon, so this is the first moment that Viserys learns his daughter is back in the city.
  • The full royal courtroom scene includes 250 extras in full costume.[8]
  • During the garden party in the godswood, Rhaenyra is seen picking off and eating the candied lemon topping from a lemon cake: notice that quite a few of the cakes in the tray are missing their topping, implying that Rhaenyra picked the candied lemons off all of them before the scene began.
  • Originally, the scene between Rhaenyra and Daemon privately talking at the garden party was supposed to take place entirely under the weirwood heart tree. Director Clare Kilner later decided that if the whole scene stayed there, viewers would be distracted by the impressive heart tree prop instead of focusing on the actors' nuanced performance, so she changed it to have Daemon walk over to one of the feast tables along the side colonnade and jauntily sit with his feet up.[8]
  • The specific face sculpt that was used for the Red Keep godswood's heart tree is based on the face of Miguel Sapochnik's mother.[8]
  • Production Designer Jim Clay explained that Red Keep godswood set is inspired by a "Byzantine" style atrium or prayer space in terms of the brickwork, tree at the center, and artwork on the walls - though instead of Byzantine frescoes he gave it a "Renaissance" quality by using murals instead of mosaics.[8]
    • Consider this in context of earlier comments that Rhaenyra's investiture robe at the end of the first episode is also a "Byzantine"-inspired design, and it is intended to be a relic passed down from the Conquest-era Targaryens. The Red Keep and its godswood were built during the later reign of the Conquest-era Targaryens as well (the time of Aegon I's son Maegor). The implication is that the Conquest-era Targaryens had an overall Byzantine-inspired aesthetic, from clothing styles to architecture. Although it hasn't been stated, also note that the Dragonpit (also built by Maegor) is a great dome not unlike the Hagia Sophia.
  • Rhaenyra is no longer just a cupbearer at the Small Council but has a formal seat at the table: looking closely, she even has her own rounded stone ball and plate like the other members, to mark when the council is in session.
  • Daemon reveals in his note to Rhaenyra that there is a secret passageway in her chambers: a wall panel on the right side of her bed opens up to a staircase leading down to the shrine for Balerion's skull. The Red Keep is filled with secret passageways, built on the order of Maegor the Cruel when the castle was constructed (and after they were finished he executed all the builders so they couldn't reveal them to others). It was already shown in the first episode that Daemon knows the secret passageways, as he used them to spy on the Small Council when they were discussing the succession crisis after Queen Aemma died.
    • In the books, Varys makes extensive use of these passages, and also reveals some of them to Tyrion. The TV series briefly shows this in Season 4.
  • As Rhaenyra makes her way through the shrine of Balerion's skull, rats are seen scurrying by; the scene then intercuts with Alicent seeing a rat on her bedpost. The Red Keep has something of a rat problem, because they can retreat into the secret passageways to avoid traps and cats. It is a subtle hint that any room a rat can be seen in is a room where spies might be hiding behind the walls.
  • The street carnival that Daemon and Rhaenyra walk through was filmed in Cáceres, Spain, which was previously used for some King's Landing scenes in Game of Thrones Season 7. Production did not return to the iconic city walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia, which featured in Game of Thrones from Season 2 onward. Miguel Sapochnik explained that they chose to focus on Cáceres because it is smaller than Dubronik: this is a prequel era 200 years before the original TV series, so logically the buildings of King's Landing should look smaller in an earlier era.[8]
    • Cinematographer Alejandro Martínez explained that production asked the town council to turn off all electric lights in the neighborhood where they were filming, so they would have total control over how it was lit. In theory, the series only uses natural light sources that exist within the fictional universe, which should be just three things: the sun, the moon, and fire. A key distinction is that in practice, this doesn't mean that they literally film in near-darkness, but that they think up justifications for strong in-universe light sources - i.e. they still set up artificial overhead lights, but under the conceit that the in-universe moon isn't obscured by clouds on this particular night, or torches are lighting scenes a little more intensely than they would in real life. For this episode, they took it a step forward by establishing that many of the street performers are doing tricks with bonfires, creating bursts of flame. The real bonfires on their own aren't actually powerful enough to fully illuminate Daemon and Rhaenyra, so out-of-universe they supplement them with lighting rigs that simulate the effect that bursts of flame would have. Luckily they already had such rigs easily on hand, as a "dragon breath lighting rig" has already been developed for when characters are standing next to blasts of dragon-fire.[8]
    • Instead of just having a few static shots of Daemon and Rhaenyra standing around a street festival, the production team wanted it to be a chaotic, almost overwhelming journey from Rhaenyra's POV, with the camera shaking and moving as it follows her. This was filmed by having multiple cameramen wearing steadicam rigs follow her around. For example, when Rhaenyra runs around a corner and encounters Harwin Strong in an alley, the camera isn't motionless and positioned at the other end of the street: a cameraman with a steadicam rig is running backwards a few feet ahead of Milly Alcock, moving along with her.[8]
  • Rhaenyra and Daemon watch a lowbrow pantomime performance by a troupe of mummers (actors) in the streets of King's Landing. In the books, Samwell Tarly notes that only the Free Cities have actual "theatres" with full-length scripted narratives and professional actors, while in Westeros there are just simple street farces, filled with stock characters. Notice that the players appearing as Rhaenyra and Alicent as both men in dresses. The wooden prop version of the Iron Throne that they use also doubles as a toilet, with a lid on the seat.
    • Director Clare Kilner said of the street farce: "I wanted to do it in the vein of an English pantomime - dress the men up with women, and we had a lot of fun with that. So we rehearsed that and we put together this little story on stage which was all about mocking Daemon and Rhaenyra. Then we built the throne and I decided it would be fun if it was also a toilet."[8]
  • Rhaenyra has several parallels with Arya Stark in this episode: Arya snuck through a secret passageway past a dragon skull to escape the Red Keep and dressed as a boy to avoid detection. Several years later in Braavos, Arya also saw a "show-within-the-show" stage play named The Bloody Hand, satirizing the events of earlier seasons (though Rhaenyra watches an even more ribald and poorly written street farce). Milly Alcock explained that the placeholder dialogue that the producers gave for the "Young Rhaenyra" audition was actually re-used lines from Arya Stark, indicating they do see similarities between the characters (both of them chafe against the restrictions put on them because of their gender).
  • The episode begins with a closeup of Rhaenyra playing with the Valyrian steel necklace that her uncle Daemon gave her, but notice that after he rejects her and she has sex with Criston Cole instead, in subsequence scenes Rhaenyra has stopped wearing Daemon's necklace and switched to a different one.
  • When Daemon is sprawled out drunk on the throne room floor, notice that he still has a faint scar on his right collarbone from where he was wounded by a flaming arrow about a year ago in the preceding episode.
  • During the confrontation with Viserys, Daemon points out that Aegon the Conqueror had two wives, and questions why he can't. This is the second time he's half-seriously suggested having a polygamous second marriage: the first time was in the second episode when he said he would marry Mysaria. In both cases Viserys refuses, because he is already married to Rhea Royce. It was uncommon, but not unheard of, for Valyrians to practice polygamy. Aegon I married his older sister Visenya (many suspect just to secure his succession) but then also married his younger sister Rhaenys out of love. The Faith of the Seven was opposed to both Targaryen incest and polygamy, but Aegon gave their leadership the tacit assurance that these were relics of their past which wouldn't continue now that they were ruling over Westeros. The Faith Militant uprising broke out in the time of Aegon I's sons over both the issues of Targaryen polygamy and incest, and actually ended in the Faith giving them an exception to continue their incestuous practices. No official ruling, however, was given on continuing their polygamy. The Targaryens couldn't avoid that they already had an incestuous bloodline, but actively choosing to take multiple wives agains would have restarted conflict with the Faith. Even though there was no official ban on Targaryen polygamy, therefore, by tradition they never tried to do it again. Every few generations a particularly brazen Targaryen (like Maegor the Cruel) would attempt to claim this ancient custom, but it was always scandalous: the rumors that Daemon Blackfyre and later Rhaegar Targaryen felt they could marry second wives. Daemon never explicitly claims in Fire & Blood that he can take a second wife while still married to Rhea Royce but this is in keeping with examples of other rebellious Targaryens who thought they might flout the restriction.
    • Given that Rhea later says in "We Light the Way" that their marriage was never even consummated, it isn't explained why Daemon didn't seek an annulment: one of the few grounds for dissolving a marriage (i.e. Tyrion and Sansa's marriage). Fire & Blood does mention that Daemon indeed requested that Viserys annul his marriage as soon as he became the king, but refused for unclear reasons. It's possible that Viserys didn't want to offend House Royce, or that he hoped chaining Daemon to Rhea would keep him out of trouble (but it didn't work).
  • Rhaenyra apparently has a handmaiden named "Annara", who she thinks is at the door to her chamber only for Criston to enter. As a princess, Rhaenyra has several handmaidens in the books but only one of them is named: the "youngest" of them, Elinda Massey (who will appear later this season).
  • When Rhaenyra holds the Valyrian steel dagger in fire, Valyrian glyphs are revealed, these spell: "From my blood come the Prince That Was Promised, and his will be the Song of Ice and Fire"; these are almost the same words Rhaegar Targaryen said about his son Aegon in a vision Daenerys saw at the House of the Undying (A Clash of Kings, chapter 48): "He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire".
    • This is the first time that the phrase "the Prince That Was Promised" has been mentioned in the series, as Viserys didn't say it when he first revealed the prophecy in the first episode.
    • The second part of Rhaegar's enigmatic words "There must be one more, the dragon has three heads" is not included in the hidden glyphs.
    • The correction translation of the glyphs on the dagger is actually "From my blood will come the Prince That Was Promised, and his will be the song of ice and fire."[9]

Targaryen ancestors[]

This episode prominently mentions Viserys's parents and grandparents:

  • Lord Dondarrion tries to impress Rhaenyra with a story of how Queen Alysanne Targaryen visited his castle half a century ago, and Rhaenyra points out that she was her great-grandmother. This is the first time in the franchise that Queen Alysanne's name has been mentioned in dialogue. Viserys did mention in the first episode of this series that public order in King's Landing had declined since "my grandmother" died - her death left her brother-husband Jaehaerys a shell of the man he used to be, and he died a few years later.
  • At the garden party, Viserys recalls that Daemon was always their mother's favorite, as like him she was a warrior who didn't care about tradition or rules. He doesn't mention her name, Alyssa Targaryen, though both of Viserys's parents are listed on the scroll that King Jaehaerys reads in the first episode. This description matches her personality as described in Fire & Blood: a tomboy and dragon-rider herself, she was the former rider of Meleys, the current mount of Rhaenys.
  • When Viserys dismisses Otto as Hand, he shares at length the story of his father Baelon Targaryen's death, which is straight from the books. Baelon was a great warrior and dragon-rider in the prime of his life, but he suddenly died of a burst appendix. Septon Barth had been Hand for forty years, but he died of old age late in Jaehaerys's reign. Ryam Redwyne served as an interrim Hand of the King for less than a year but was so infamously bad at it that he voluntarily resigned to return to his position on the Kingsguard. Jaehaerys then replaced him by naming Baelon as the new Hand, given that he was also the royal heir at this point (his older brother Aemon's daughter Rhaenys having been passed over). Jaehaerys declared a great hunt in the Kingswood to celebrate his appointment, but while there Baelon complained of a pain in his side, and despite the best efforts of the maesters he died only five days after being named Hand (one year according to Fire & Blood). Baelon's death is what sparked the succession crisis that resulted in the Great Council at Harrenhal seen in the prelude to the first episode. In the first episode, Viserys also named his infant son who only lived a few hours "Baelon", though the episode didn't explain in dialogue that Viserys named him after his father.
  • Viserys also mentions that his father Baelon was specifically the rider of no less a mount than Vhagar, last of the original three Targaryen dragons from Aegon's Conquest and the largest left alive. Vhagar was originally the mount of Queen Visenya Targaryen, who lived to be almost 80 years old but died a few years before her son Maegor did. Vhagar was left riderless for decades after that, until she was eventually claimed by Jaehaerys's second son Baelon. Vhagar has been left riderless again ever since Baelon's death, and as Viserys discussed with Laena Velaryon two episodes ago, she has been nesting around Dragonstone and nearby isles like Driftmark.
  • Viserys also explains that his Valyrian steel dagger used to belong to Aegon I Targaryen, grandfather of Viserys's grandfather Jaehaerys. Aegon had a warning from his prophetic dream etched into the blade (only visible when it is heated red hot), but Viserys goes on to say that before that the blade was in the family since the time of Aenar Targaryen. Aenar was the father of Daenys the Dreamer, who Viserys mentioned when he first introduced the prophecy in the first episode. Daenys had prophetic dreams about the coming Doom of Valyria, which her father Aenar took heed of, resettling their entire house on Dragonstone - and thus they survived the volcanic super-eruption that destroyed their homeland a dozen years later. Seven generations of Targaryens lived on Dragonstone between the Doom and the Conquest, counting Aenar as the first and Aegon the Conqueror as the seventh. So the blade has been in their family for at least eleven generations. Viserys also admits that he doesn't know if Aenar was the first person the dagger belonged to, because before that it is difficult to know: Aenar is the oldest Targaryen ancestor mentioned by name in the novels, and other than the general detail that they were dragon-lords no further information has been given about them in that era.

Free Cities[]

Free Cities

The nine Free Cities

This episode mentions several of the Free Cities:

  • The defeated Triarchy is mentioned, actually a triple-alliance between Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh (so far the TV show has mentioned Myr and Lys as being part of the Triarchy).
  • Norvos and Qohor are mentioned for the first time in this series, when Alicent says that they have fine new tapestries from those cities on display in the gallery. Free Cities known for their tapestries include Norvos, Qohor, Lys, and Myr - but they probably wouldn't get new tapestries from Lys and Myr due to the recent war with the Triarchy. The World of Ice & Fire sourcebook says that Qohor actually makes tapestries that are the same quality as those made in Myr, but they are considerably cheaper because they aren't as famous (i.e. similar to how sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France is much more prestigious and expensive than sparkling wine from other regions even if they are technically of nearly the same quality). In the first novel A Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark observes that there are tapestries from Norvos, Qohor, and Lys hanging in the Small Council chamber.
  • Braavos is mentioned for the first time in this series, and not as a stray reference but part of the plot, as Viserys's Small Council learns that Corlys Velaryon is seeking a marriage pact between his daughter Laena and the son of the Sealord of Braavos.
  • Two episodes ago in "The Rogue Prince", Viserys also mentioned seeking alliances with Pentos and Volantis against the Triarchy. Thus as of this episode mentioning another three, eight out of the nine Free Cities have been mentioned in House of the Dragon (all except for Lorath, generally considered the most remote and least important of the nine).

High Valyrian glyph writing[]

This episode marks the introduction of the High Valyrian glyph writing system, developed by linguist David J. Peterson who also developed the spoken languages for the TV series. He has developed writing systems for other SciFi & Fantasy series but this is the first writing system he has developed for the World of Westeros franchise. Peterson is continuing to give updates over social media as House of the Dragon progresses expalining how the glyph system works. The books mention that Valyrian has a "glyph"-based writing system, but George R.R. Martin made no attempt to develop it.

Peterson said that the High Valyrian writing system is intentionally complicated, and inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphs: it is a mixture of both ideographs and characters representing sounds, and even the characters aren't a full alphabet but an abjad (signifying only consonants and a few vowel clusters, leaving most vowels to context). The glyphs most prominently appear when Rhaenyra reads them aloud off the Valyrian steel dagger, but they first appear (very clearly) on the note that Daemon left in Rhaenyra's room.

104 Rhaenyra letter Valyrian glyphs

Daemon's letter to Rhaenyra, written in High Valyrian glyphs

Peterson made a post on Instagram giving the transcription and translation of Daemon's note:[10]

  • Kesommi aōle mīsās. (Put these on).
  • Rhakiāzmo inkot dōros indīs. (Push the wall behind the tapestry).
  • Geltilio rȳ jās. (Follow the passage).
  • Ninkiot avy rhaeninna. (I'll meet you outside).

Timeline[]

  • As Aegon is three years old in this episode, a year has passed since "Second of His Name". Rhaenyra was stated to be 17 years old last episode, so this would make her 18 years old in this episode. It's also directly stated that four years have passed since Daemon left King's Landing, and she was 14 years old in the premiere.
  • Alicent Hightower was heavily pregnant with her next child in the previous episode, but the baby has since been born and is almost a year old: her daughter Helaena Targaryen.
  • The age of adulthood in Westeros is 16, as noted in the preceding episode. Daemon points out to Viserys that Rhaenyra is "a woman grown" during their confrontation. Alicent married Viserys several months after the second episode, around the time she would have turned 16 as well. Due to UK filming laws, a character younger than 16 cannot be depicted as having sex (or by implication, through being married); Game of Thrones similarly had to age-up Daenerys Targaryen so she was 16 years old in its first season.
  • This episode confirms that Otto Hightower served for some time as Hand of the King under King Jaehaerys I Targaryen before his grandson Viserys succeeded him. In the books, Jaehaerys lived for another two years after the Great Council of 101 AC.
  • The Great Council was in the year 101 AC, and the TV series begins in the ninth year of Viserys's reign, when in the books Queen Aemma died in the second year of his reign. Adding in the last two years of Jaehaerys's reign, the first episode began in the year 112 AC of the TV-Timeline (101 + 2 + 9 = 112), also confirmed by supplementary material.[11] This episode is four years later, meaning it takes place in the year 116 AC. This also matches up with the preceding episode, stated to take place one year before, which also worked out with internal dialogue to take place in 115 AC.
  • Otto says that Rhaenyra was spotted sneaking back into the Red Keep during the "Hour of the Owl:" this continues from the mention of the "Hour of the Bat" two episodes ago. Westeros has a system of customary names for each hour of the night, though a full listing hasn't been given yet. It is known that the Hour of the Bat is followed by the Hour of the Eel, which is followed by the Hour of Ghosts. At some point later in the night is the Hour of the Owl, which is followed by the Hour of the Wolf (the darkest point in the middle of the night - i.e. around midnight), and then the Hour of the Nightingale.

Unreliable historical sources[]

Rhaenyra's activities in this episode prominently bring up the issue of the "unreliable narrator" in the source material. House of the Dragon is based on Fire & Blood, which George R.R. Martin wrote as an in-universe history book. Martin has said he is fascinated by having conflicting points of view between different POV characters in the main novel series: because Fire & Blood didn't have POV narration, the way he worked in this element of uncertainty was that the in-universe text is written by a much later historian, Archmaester Gyldayn, living over a century after these events and who has to sort through biased historical sources written by those who lived through it. There are several points where these sources drastically diverge, so Gyldayn simply presents each version and leaves it to the reader to figure out what really happened. As Martin said, real-life historians have to deal with biased sources to sort out the truth.

Gyldayn's history text presented in Fire & Blood relies on three major sources: Grand Maester Munkun's pro-Rhaenyra account, Septon Eustace's anti-Rhaenyra account, and the ribald account of the court jester Mushroom (who took no side but invented many salacious details that probably didn't happen). Showrunner Ryan Condal said it would be impossible to present all three alternate versions, so House of the Dragon is trying to present what "really" happened between the three versions, before they got distorted by rival chroniclers and rumor. This is particularly evident when the sources don't discuss army movements or actions in open court, but secondhand rumors of what characters did in private behind closed doors.

In Fire & Blood, the three major sources diverge on how Daemon was exiled for a second time and how Rhaenyra lost her virginity:

  • Grand Maester Munkun simply says that Viserys and Daemon quarreled again, leading to his exile. As the pro-Rhaenyra account, it avoids discussing the matter in detail (thus there are really only two alternate versions, Eustace and Mushroom).
  • Septon Eustace, the anti-Rhaenyra account, says that Daemon had sex with Rhaenyra: not in a brothel, but that he was found in bed with her in her own castle chambers by one of the Kingsguard. Eustace claims Rhaenyra was in love with Daemon and pleaded with her father to let her marry him but was refused. Eustace goes on to say that right before Rhaenyra's wedding to Laenor, Criston snuck into Rhaenyra's chambers to plead his love to her and suggest that they run away to the Free Cities and get married there, but she refused to join him in exile.
  • Mushroom, the dwarf court jester, gives an utterly ribald account: he claims that Rhaenyra wanted Criston more than Daemon, but he never approached her due to his vows of chastity as a Kingsguard. Daemon then took advantage of this by telling Rhaenyra he could teach her how to seduce Criston, and Mushroom claims he took her to brothels so she could watch experienced prostitutes and "learn the art of pleasing a man". Mushroom goes on to say Rhaenyra practiced having oral sex on Daemon, but kept her maidenhead/virginity for Criston. Yet, Mushroom claims, when Rhaenyra attempted to put these new skills into practice and seduce Criston, he was horrified and spurned her. Mushroom goes on to say that Rhaenyra tried to seduce Criston a second time right before her wedding to Laenor Velaryon, but he rejected her again, and by chance on the way back she stumbled into Harwin Strong, who she then had sex with (losing her virginity). When word reached Viserys of these events, Daemon suggested that Viserys let him marry Rhaenyra because no other lord would have her now in her sullied condition - which may have been what Daemon was planning the entire time.

The version of events in House of the Dragon is somewhere between the rumors in the in-universe historical sources:

  • Daemon took Rhaenyra to a brothel in an attempt to seduce her but stopped at the last minute. Daemon then falsely claimed to Viserys that he had sex with Rhaenyra, and she was therefore "sullied", so Viserys should let him marry her (when it was Harwin who did the sullying in Mushroom's version). This is implied to be what he was planning the entire time.
  • Rhaenyra happened to run into Harwin Strong while he was making his rounds as a Gold Cloak in the city streets while out with Daemon, but he just told them both to be careful and went on his way.
  • In Mushroom's version, Rhaenyra had sex with Harwin Strong after Criston Cole spurned her. In the TV show version, Rhaenyra has sex with Criston Cole after Daemon spurned her. Neither Eustace nor Mushroom ever claim that Rhaenyra succeeded in having sex with Criston.
  • None of the three sources ever suggest that Viserys sent Rhaenyra Moon tea, a medicinal tea that induces abortion, after learning she lost her virginity in pre-marital sex. This could have happened, but something so private would logically not have been known by the three major chroniclers. It is, however, common for noblemen to give their wayward daughters moon tea in order to avoid the scandal of giving birth to a bastard. Moon tea is mentioned only once in Fire & Blood itself, when it is said that prostitutes take it to abort unwanted children.
    • Several reviewers expressed confusion at why Viserys didn't simply confirm Rhaenyra's claim that she was still a virgin by ordering his maesters or septas to examine if her hymen was still physically intact. This is actually a cultural point in the books: in their medieval society, it is very common for noblewomen to break their hymens while horseback riding, so when a new bride claims to be a virgin her husband generally just has to take her word for it (for that reason, in the real world, in the past women prefered to travel in carriages or use a sidesaddle).
      • While Cersei considers how to dispose of Margaery by accusing her of adultery, she receives reports from the maesters that Margaery's maidenhead (hymen) is broken, but even Cersei - who hates Margaery and of all people would grasp at the flimsiest accusations to throw against her - dismisses that this alone isn't useful evidence, because most noblewomen break their maidenheads from horseback riding, and Renly could have bedded her. Later, after Margaery and her cousins are examined by septas, based on the testimonies of Osney Kettleblack and other false witnesses, it is publicly announced that they are not virgins, and are arrested for adultery. Listening to the verbal commotion, Cersei gloatingly thinks "I do hope the little queen and her cousins enjoyed those rides of theirs" (A Feast for Crows, Cersei VI, X).

The TV version also plays on the idea that Daemon planned all these events: notice that Daemon intentionally takes Rhaenyra's hat off in the brothel, as well as his own hood, knowing that they would be recognized there. Daemon knows that as Hand of the King, Otto Hightower has access to numerous spies throughout the city, and one of these street urchins indeed notices them and brings the information to Otto. It is later revealed that the street urchin was working for Mysaria. It is ambiguous, however, whether Mysaria was in league with Daemon or with Otto: she does manage to provide damaging information on Daemon and Rhaenyra (which Otto would want), but the information is so damaging that it makes Otto seem too ambitious, leading to his dismissal (which Daemon would want).

In the books[]

Main page: Differences in adaptation/House of the Dragon: Season 1#"King of the Narrow Sea"

This episode is adapted from the chapter "Heirs of the Dragon — A Question of Succession" from Fire & Blood. It is also influenced by the following chapter of A Clash of Kings:

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References[]

  1. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON (HBO). The Futon Critic. Retrieved February 23, 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 4: "King of the Narrow Sea" (2022).
  3. 3.0 3.1 House of the Dragon. HBO. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 House of the Dragon: Season 1. HBO. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 King of the Narrow Sea. HBO. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  6. "It was an amazing experience": Peak District girl makes screen debut in HBO hit House of the Dragon (derbyshiretimes.co.uk)
  7. https://www.instagram.com/p/CidR7nFKoGC/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY%3D
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 House of the Dragon: The House That Dragons Built: Season 1, Episode 4: "Episode 04" (2022).
  9. Valyrian Dagger | dedalvs.com
  10. Instagram, David J. Peterson, September 13, 2022
  11. Prologue of the companion book Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon: Inside the Creation of a Targaryen Dynasty (2023)

Notes[]

  1. "King of the Narrow Sea" takes place a year after "Second of His Name," which takes place in 115 AC, as Aegon II Targaryen is said to be three years old and Daemon Targaryen states that he has been gone from King's Landing for four years.
  2. 2.0 2.1 As explained in the Inside the Episode.

External links[]


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