The malarkey ends the wedding festivities. Instead of the seven days of feasting and jousting Viserys talked about, Grand Maester Mellos weds Rhaenyra and Laenor in the empty Great Hall.
Otto places the blame on Alicent herself for convincing King Viserys that the reports of Daemon’s brothel liaison with Rhaenyra were not to be trusted. Alicent fires back that Otto is at fault for being so relentless about positioning Aegon, her son and his grandson, as heir.
The Lady of the Vale
He suggests the two of them leave King’s Landing behind and head to Essos, for her to leave the “burdens and indignities” of royal life.
Rhaenyra replies: “Thank you, Lord Jason, I can think of no better man than Ser Laenor.”
Viserys and the new Hand of the King exchange concerned glances. The implication is obvious: Foul play is at work.
Lady Royce rides into the Vale, only to find her path blocked by a cloaked Daemon. Dude couldn’t have looked more murdery if he tried.
“This is better than what we could have hoped for,” he says. “She has a paramour of her own. I wonder who it is.”
Rhaenyra begins yammering on about royal duties again, but the fuming Ser Criston storms off before she can finish her speech.
Farewell to the Hand
Ser Criston, unaware of the liaison between the Targaryens, admits to the crime he thinks Alicent is accusing him of.
“The beacon of Hightower, do you know what color it glows when Old Town calls its banners to war?” Lord Strong whispers to a chap next to him. “Green.”
A confused and alarmed Ser Criston scurries off.
Daemon not only threatens that “in King’s Landing, men are made to answer for their slanders,” he adds that he plans to fly to the Vale to collect his inheritance. Since he and Lady Royce had no children, her inheritance – all of Runestone – now comes to him.
“You flatter me. I was sorry to hear about your lady wife.”
A full recap of House of the Dragon episode 5, We Light the Way, is below. Caution: Spoilers ahead.
Targaryen x Velaryon
King Viserys kicks off his speech about uniting the two oldest houses in the realm, the Targaryens and the Velaryons, when Queen Alicent finally makes her entrance. A hush falls over the room as ominous music plays. Alicent, wearing an emerald dress, is radiating bad bitch energy.
Cut through the Kingsguard, Rhaenyra dares him, and take her to Dragonstone as his wife.
Meanwhile, Daemon takes Rhaenyra aside and asks if she really wants to get married. “Laenor is a good man and a fine knight. He will bore you senseless,” he counsels.
Otto isn’t having it.
They haggle back and forth and strike the following bargain: When Rhaenyra and Laenor have children, they’ll inherit the paternal family name of Velaryon. But when any of those children become king or queen, they’ll rule under the name of Targaryen.
Could that paramour be Ser Criston Cole, who Rhaenyra bedded in the last episode? Ser Criston certainly hopes so. On the voyage back to King’s Landing, the knight shoots his shot.
Next in the room isn’t the queen, who to the king’s consternation has yet to arrive, but Daemon Targaryen. The king is clearly discomforted by Daemon’s presence, but offers him a chair at the royal table.
A deal is a deal
Strong keeps rambling sycophantically about being glad that Rhaenyra is well enough to sail to Driftmark, but the implication of his revelation was clearly grasped by the Queen. She realizes that the King believed Rhaenyra to be guilty of the charges Otto Hightower laid against her and Daemon, which is why he sent the Westeros equivalent of a morning after pill to her chambers. Yet he dismissed Hightower all the same.
After being dismissed as Hand of the King in the final moments of episode 4, Otto Hightower is on the way out of King’s Landing. He’s met at the city gates by his daughter, Queen Alicent. With a backdrop of pouring rain, as with all good farewells, she tells her father that she regrets the King’s decision to expel him.
When King Viserys returns to King’s Landing from Driftmark, his first order of business is to… not die. After descending from his horse carriage, he takes a few steps before collapsing. Queen Alicent is watching the commotion from the balcony of her chambers.
When the queen congratulates Rhaenyra, her mouth says this is a great blessing – but her eyes say, “I intend to murder you, post-haste.”
“Daemon’s wife, the Lady Rhea Royce, has passed,” Lord Corlys announces. Rhaenys explains that Lady Royce was killed in a “hunting mishap,” that her neck and skull were crushed after being thrown from her horse.””I did wonder if she could be relied upon, now that she is unwell,” he says. “On the very same night your father was dismissed, the grand maester delivered a tea to the princess’ chambers.”
Rhaenyra clarifies that she knows there’s a difference in “taste”. Some people like roast duck, she says, while others like goose. Translation: Some men like women, other men like men.
“It happened, your grace. The sin you allude to. I have committed it. At her instigation, it is true, but that is no excuse. My oath has been broken, I have dishonored myself, I deserve no consideration.”
She smiles, but not in a “yes, let’s do it way”, and more in an “oh, sweetie” way.
“As is yours who took his place,” she replies briskly.
Later, we see Laenor lying on a grassy knoll with his lover. “I’ve always feared the day you’d have to marry a woman, and now it comes,” the chap says. They frolic a bit and begin to get intimate when the unnamed man notes that Laenor will need a “sworn protector” in King’s Landing.
Episode 5, titled “We Light the Way,” takes place shortly after the climax of the previous episode, meaning there’s no big time gap like the 3 years that passed between the second and third episodes.
Heeding the advice Daemon gave her, Rhaenyra suggests they wed, perform their duties to the Realm, and then “dine as we see fit” once that tomfoolery is done.
“Marriage is only a political arrangement, I hear.”
This bloke is a schemer. Strong hints that he’s seen some foul play behind Hightower’s dismissal, and innocently asks the queen if Rhaenyra is her ally.
“Mayhaps we can toward happier pursuits,” a clearly annoyed Viserys says. He’s also got a conspicuous cough he can’t seem to shake. Viserys proposes wedding the two families in blood. Lord Corlys is honored, but wants to know how the succession will work.
“Ser Laenor is a good and decent man, but you did not choose him. He was chosen for you,” he tells her. “If there were another path, one that led to freedom, would you tread it?”
A Queen’s Hand
Viserys Targaryen has tired of daughter Rhaenyra’s bachelorette antics, and
“Congratulations, your grace, you have made a fine match for the princess,” Lannister says to the king, who’s seated next to Rhaenyra.
“I am the crown, Ser Criston.”He asks only one thing of the queen: That, instead of torturing him, he be sentenced to swift death.
“There is a part of me that wishes I’d have been tested,” Viserys says, as he begins to drift to sleep, “I often think that in the crucible I may have been forged a different man.”
King Viserys resumes his speech, the typical stuff about great houses and the feasts to come. Princess Rhaenyra and Lord Laenor have their first dance – as Ser Criston looks on sourly.
But as the ominously cloaked Daemon advances on her, she realizes he has other plans. Daemon doesn’t want to kill Rhaenyra, he wants to marry her. To do that, he’ll need to get rid of his wife.
The King is in strife
Strong calls that good fortune, and says it’s more important to live in peace than it is to have songs sung about you by distant generations.
Alicent uses this opportunity to question Ser Criston, who unbeknownst to her is fresh off being rejected by Rhaenyra. The queen questions him about what he did or did not hear and see of Rhaenyra on the night Daemon returned to King’s Landing.
In any case, he reappears in the Godswood to comfort a saddened Queen Alicent. While she’s praying to the Godswood Tree, he starts rhapsodizing about flowers — so you know he’s up to no good.
The first lord to be announced to us is Jason Lannister, master of Castlereagh Rock, who Viserys initially tried to set Rhaenyra up with. He greets King Viserys and Princess Rhaenyra, who are sitting at a table atop a stage overseeing the Great Hall.
Daemon grabs her behind the head as if to kiss her, an undignified sight that Viserys catches. Just as he’s about to get inflamed, a commotion breaks out: Screaming and yelping.
She admits to chafing at her duties, but says it’s her duty to marry a nobleman from a great house. But, Rhaenyra adds, that doesn’t mean their fling has to end. “Laenor and I have an understanding…”
“The time is coming, Alicent. Either you prepare Aegon to rule or you plead to Rhaenyra and pray for her mercy.”
“It has, and yet it is a dark day for the realm. Your father was a good man.”
Daemon isn’t the only Targaryen with marriage on his mind. King Viserys sails with his court, plus Rhaenyra, to Driftmark. He intends to wed Rhaenyra to Laenor Velaryon, the son of Lord Corlys Velaryion.
And by “foul play” I mean Daemon. And by “at work” I mean “killing his wife.”
Lord Corlys and his wife Princess Rhaenys embrace the king and his court inside Driftmark castle’s Great Hall. Corlys congratulates Lord Lyonel Strong on his promotion to Hand of the King – you may remember Lord Strong as the Master of Laws who counseled Viserys a couple of times in earlier episodes – but sighs about the unfortunate circumstances in which they all meet. Viserys is confused – the circumstances seem perfectly fortunate to him.
Next up to congratulate the royals is a lord from House Royce. Viserys offers condolences for Lady Rhea Royce, and as Rhaenyra is doing the same, the Velaryon family makes their entrance.
And so he does. Daemon startles Lady Roce’s horse, causing her to fall back and injure her arm. He then picks up a nearby rock to finish the act. That’s a wrap for Lady Royce.
“And still, the manner of your father’s departure, it feels something of an injustice.”
“I know that whatever agreement they struck up there will not change your appetite,” Rhaenyra says, “and nor will it change mine.”
As King Viserys and Lord Corlys were bartering over marriage arrangements, both Rhaenyra and Laenor were conspicuous by their absence. In the next scene, we see them sharing a romantic walk by the beach – during which they agree to pretend to love each other in public.
“The King will die. It may be months or years, but he’ll not live to be an old man,” he says. “And if Rhaenyra succeeds him, war will follow… the realm will not accept her, and to secure her claim she’ll have to put your children to the sword. She’ll have no choice.”
Ser Criston looks super salty about it all.
Life moves fast in House of the Dragon. At the beginning of the episode, Rhaenyra wasn’t even officially betrothed. Halfway through the episode, the welcome party for the wedding begins. It’s not the wedding, but the feast that kicks off a week of wedding celebrations.
“I hold nothing against you, cousin,” Laenor glumly replies – reminding us that, even if Daemon doesn’t get his way, Rhaenyra is still marrying within the family. (Rhaenys, Laenor’s mother, is Viserys’ cousin.)
In the final moment before the credits play, King Viserys collapses. A rough ending to a rough wedding.
“Husband,” she says, “what brings you to the Vale? Have you at last come to consummate our marriage? The Vale sheep might be willing, even if I’m not.”
“A most surprising end, Lady Rhea’s skill as a rider and hunter were well known,” Corlys says.
She taunts Daemon about King Viserys choosing a “little girl” over Daemon, and wonders aloud whether Daemon will kill his own niece.
A royal brawl
“Will I be remembered as a good king, Lyonel? What will they say of me when the histories are written? I have neither fought nor conquered, nor suffered any great defeat.”
“Don’t be, I wasn’t.”
Instead of a spectacular royal wedding, the only guests are the parents from each side, plus Lord Strong. “I am yours, and you are mine,” Laenor says behinds tears as he grieves for his real lover.
We see Ser Criston Cole kneeling at King’s Landing’s Godswood Tree. Having disgraced the princess, he’s about to commit suicide by impaling himself with his dagger. But he’s stopped at the last minute by Queen Alicent calling his name — the second time in the same episode.
As Daemon chats up Laena, who’s very receptive to his overtures, Lord Laenor and his lover (whose name we still don’t know) commiserate. The fellow reckons he knows who Rhaenyra’s paramour is – Ser Criston Cole. He’s figured it out because Ser Criston is unable to take his eyes off her.
Daemon descends on the dance and makes his move on the Lady of Driftmark, Laena Velaryon.
“You want me to be your whore?” Ser Criston incredulously responds. “I took an oath, as a knight of your Kingsguard, an oath of chastity, I’ve broken it. I’ve soiled my white cloak and it’s the only thing I have to my fucking name. I thought if we were married I might be able to restore it.”
The tensions within House Targaryen escalated in Sunday’s episode. Queen Alicent is now dealing with the political implications of Rhaenyra scheming to get Otto Hightower dismissed and Daemon continues to cause a ruckus wherever he goes.
Bit of a stretch there, since keeping his eyes on Rhaenyra is literally his job.
Queen Alicent walks off to greet her uncle, who tells her that Old Town stands with her. She looks with consternation at Rhaenyra, who’s still grooving with Laenor. There’s trouble a brewin’.
Damn. Some pretty full-on parting words there. No pressure.
In the end, Cole literally beats the guy to death. It’s super full on.
“So take me then. Has this not been your purpose? I am not yet married, but the hours pass swiftly.”
Meanwhile, the maesters are tending to the unwell king. One suggests a herbal remedy, but Arch Maester Mellos reprimands that leeches are the answer. Viserys takes a potion to help him sleep and, when it’s just him and Hand of the King Lyonel Strong in the room, he gets reflective.
It’s Ser Criston Cole and Laenor’s lover. They start brawling, which starts a wider melee. A distressed King Viserys starts coughing blood.