Well, the dramas for the divided House Targaryen just got more complicated.
Last week saw Rhaenyra persuaded to find a husband of her own by her father King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), after he himself had married her friend, Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) and sired a son, Prince Aegon.
As the debate around the succession continued, Viserys' roguish younger brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) pursued a bloody war in the Stepstones against the Crabfeeder alongside Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and his son Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate).
In the end, Daemon and his allies were victorious, but how will the Seven Kingdoms react to the Prince's victory?
Here's everything you need to know about House of the Dragon episode 4.
**Spoiler warning for House of the Dragon episode 4**
House of the Dragon episode 4 recap: King of the Narrow Sea
Beginning the episode in the Baratheon stronghold of Storm’s End, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen receives visits from potential suitors including an old Dondarrion lord and a child from House Blackwood, both of whom are rejected. The Blackwood child ends up winning a brutal duel with a Dondarrion (you go, little kid!). Rhaenyra announces her departure to Lord Boremund Baratheon (Julian Jones).
Rhaenyra then sails back to King’s Landing with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) at her side before Prince Daemon’s return on his dragon Caraxes shakes the boat and she falls. What an entrance.
In the Red Keep, the court gathers in the throne room including Rhaenyra and the Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans). Daemon enters with a makeshift crown of his own and a much shorter haircut. He approaches the Iron Throne, prompting Ser Harrold Westerling (Graham McTavish) to draw his sword, and then Daemon drops a sword down to be added to the throne. Daemon says he has been named "King of the Narrow Sea" but then swears fealty to King Viserys and offers him his new crown. It is revealed that Lord Corlys Velaryon has returned to the Driftmark, while the Stepstones have been left barren and unguarded. Viserys bids Daemon rise and embraces his brother to the cheers of the crowd and the pleasure of Rhaenyra. Could they be a happy family?
At a garden party, King Viserys speaks of how Prince Daemon was his mother’s favourite to other guests. The Princess approaches and congratulates Prince Daemon on his victories but her own relations with her father are frosty. Queen Alicent Hightower later goes to Rhaenyra to discuss the latter’s tour and they disagree about the suitors. Alicent reveals that the King is frustrated but she is glad that Rhaenyra is home as she has few friends. Rhaenyra notes that she missed her too. We're glad these two are making up (for now).
Later, Rhaenyra approaches her uncle Daemon and asks why he has returned and he responds that he wants the comforts of home. The pair note how they have each matured and she complains about the marriage hunt she is enduring. Rhaenyra does not want to have children for fear of dying like her mother Queen Aemma, but Daemon encourages her to not let her fears drive her.
At the Small Council meeting, they debate the actions of Lord Corlys and the issues of the Stepstones, while Ser Otto notes that House Velaryon is seeking a marriage pact with the Sea Lord of Braavos, meaning they may need their own marriage pact.
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As Alicent cares for her crying baby, Rhaenyra returns to her room to sleep and is guarded by Ser Criston. In her room, Rhaenyra finds a bag of rags and a note with a map leading her to a secret passageway. Dressed as a peasant boy, Princess Rhaenyra reaches the end of the passageway and finds her uncle Daemon clad in a hooded cloak. Daemon takes her through the streets of King’s Landing with all its revels before he gives her wine. This is sure to end well.
In the Red Keep, a pained Viserys is bathed by servants until left with Alicent alone. He notes his wife’s kind touch.
On the streets, Rhaenyra watches a play about the Iron Throne succession and sees that the people do not want her to succeed due to Prince Aegon’s sex. Leaving the play, Rhaenyra steals food before fleeing and Daemon pursues her.
In the Red Keep, a miserable Alicent leads a lonely existence, the poor thing.
Back on the streets, a fleeing Rhaenyra comes across Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), the eldest son of Lord Harwin Strong (Gavin Spokes), who lets her go to continue her antics with Daemon.
Meanwhile, in the palace, Alicent is disturbed by a servant as the King requests her presence. Grim.
In King's Landing, Daemon takes Rhaenyra to a brothel where she sees naked dancers. Where is this going?
In the King's chambers, Alicent lies motionless as Viserys has sex with her. Extra grim.
Back in the brothel, Daemon shows Rhaenyra various sexual situations in the brothel and she sees all sorts of arrangements and groups. Daemon tells her that sex is pleasure before they kiss (INCEST!). He tells her that marriage is for duty but they can pursue other desires. As they go on to kiss further and become passionate, Daemon pulls away before they can fully consummate their incestuous union. Daemon leaves and Rhaenyra tries to follow after him. A small child who is sitting nearby gets up and follows after them.
In the Red Keep, Ser Criston notes Rhaenyra's return and he questions her safety and says he will alert the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Rhaenyra takes Ser Criston’s helmet and teases him before kissing him. Rhaenyra begins undressing and Ser Criston tells her to stop but she leads him to her bed, undresses him and herself and despite his initial concern, the pair make love. We can root for this romance!
Elsewhere, Ser Otto is awoken as the young boy who followed Daemon and Rhaenyra brings a message from the “White Worm”.
Across King's Landing, Daemon awakens in a cellar and is cared for by his old lover, Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno). She reveals that she is no longer a prostitute. We see Mysaria receive payment – it would seem that Mysaria is the White Worm...
Ser Otto himself pays a visit to the King early in the morning to share discomforting news with his master: Rhaenyra was seen in a brothel in King’s Landing with Daemon and the pair had engaged in sexual activity. Alicent overhears the story. Viserys does not believe the truth, dismisses it as gossip and says he will kill the gossiper. Servants corroborated the story to Ser Otto, while Viserys berates the Hand of the King for spying on Rhaenyra and calls out Ser Otto’s own ambitions to place his own bloodline on the Iron Throne (finally). Viserys orders Ser Otto to leave and reacts with silence to Alicent’s presence.
Ser Criston enters Rhaenyra’s chambers with a message from the Queen and the two ladies meet at the Godswood. Alicent questions Rhaenyra about the allegations against her, accusing her of having sex with Daemon. Rhaenyra denies this but confesses to Alicent that they drank in taverns and Daemon wished to continue the evening but Rhaenyra claims that she was merely a spectator and that Daemon abandoned her for a prostitute. Alicent asks Rhaenyra outright to refute the claims and the Princess swears it on the memory of her mother, Queen Aemma. Alicent chastises Rhaenyra for her behaviour and talks about the importance of a good marriage match. Rhaenyra regrets her behaviour. Uh-oh, Rhaenyra is a liar.
Later, a dishevelled Daemon returns to the Red Keep and is seized by the Kingsguard and brought to the throne room and thrown on the floor. Viserys enters and kicks his brother while he is on the floor and accuses Daemon of defiling Rhaenyra. Daemon does not deny his actions and is proud of it. Viserys is furious and regrets ever defending his younger brother, suggesting he should also disinherit Rhaenyra. Daemon proposes marrying Rhaenyra and restoring House Targaryen to its former glory. Viserys orders Daemon to leave and return to his wife, Lady Rhea Royce, in the Vale. See ya, Daemon!
In his rooms, Viserys is asked by Alicent if he has approached Rhaenyra. Alicent reveals that she does not believe Daemon’s words but does believe Rhaenyra. Alicent defends her step-daughter and believes she is still a maiden, but Viserys believes she is not innocent and shares the same restless 'Blood of the Dragon' with her uncle Daemon. Viserys is not so gullible.
Later, Rhaenyra visits Viserys’ room and he shows her the blade of Aegon the Conquerer with the Song of Ice and Fire engraved on it. Viserys chastises Rhaenyra for creating poor perceptions of herself and she questions the double standards against her due to her sex. Instead of stripping Rhaenyra of her titles, Viserys decides that she will marry Ser Laenor Velaryon, the son of Lord Corlys Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen. Rhaenyra questions the loyalty of Ser Otto in the scandal and suggests he will not rest until he destroys her and Aegon sits on the Iron Throne instead. Rhaenyra tells Viserys he must also do his duty too.
Inviting Ser Otto to the Small Council chamber, Viserys recalls the death of his father Prince Baelon Targaryen and notes how it was a good day for Ser Otto as he became Hand of the King as a result. Viserys notes Otto taught him how to be King but that he would choose himself over the Crown. Viserys notes that Alicent was pushed towards him by Ser Otto as part of a calculated move and blasts Ser Otto for delivering the harsh news to him about Rhaenyra. Saying he can no longer trust him to serve his interests, Viserys removes a shocked Ser Otto as the Hand of the King. A power move.
Finally, Grand Maester Mellos visits Rhaenyra in her chambers with a tea from the king to rid her of any unwanted pregnancy. Rhaenyra realises her father knows she is no longer a virgin. Awkward.
What book changes are in House of the Dragon episode 4?
There were a number of changes from the book Fire & Blood when adapted for House of the Dragon.
- By this point in the book, Alicent had already begun pushing Viserys to name Aegon as his heir and Ser Otto joined her, prompting his dismissal as Hand as Viserys would not change his mind. This occurred before the Daemon-Rhaenyra scandal.
- Alicent and Rhaenyra had already fallen out and factions begun to form around them.
- The series gives a definitive version of events surrounding Rhaenyra’s virginity as the fictional history of Fire & Blood gives multiple accounts to explain what happened between Daemon and Rhaenyra and why Viserys fell out with his brother once again. In one version, Rhaenyra and Daemon were caught in bed together and she wanted to marry him but Viserys refused. Another, which is closer to the series, saw Daemon smuggle Rhaenyra out of the city to show her how to pleasure a man, watching prostitutes and also practising for a time with him. This was all done so she could seduce Ser Criston but, in this version, she approaches Criston and he is horrified by her attempts to seduce him with what she has learned.
- Daemon is also exiled from the Seven Kingdoms entirely and not sent to the Vale in the book, so he returns to continue battling in the Stepstones.
- It is after the scandal in the book that Rhaenyra’s betrothal becomes a hot topic and it is Alicent that pushes for her to be married to Aegon but Viserys puts this down to her ambitions. Rhaenyra also has taken up her seat at Dragonstone before it is settled. The King and the Small Council also agree that the best strategic marriage would be for Rhaenyra to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon, the son of Lord Corlys Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen.
So, next week sees Princess Rhaenyra prepare to wed Ser Laenor in the fifth episode titled We Light the Way.
Will the royal wedding go off without a hitch? What will the reactions be from Ser Criston and Prince Daemon?
Finally, what will this mean for the succession debate?
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