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House of the Dragon episode 5 recap: Rhaenyra marries in wedding chaos

Nice day for a Targaryen wedding... **Spoiler alert**

Published: Monday, 19th September 2022 at 3:10 am
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House of the Dragon reaches the halfway point of its first season this week as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) prepares to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate).

Episode 4, King of the Narrow Sea, saw Rhaenyra's romantic life take centre stage as she pursued an affair with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and also had a scandalous night out with her uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith).

However, the aftermath saw King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) banish Daemon, fire Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) as Hand of the King, and finally settle the question of who his daughter will marry.

Finally, Queen Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) trusted her friend Rhaenyra over her father's sources, but unknowingly found her friend lying to her.

Will she discover the truth?

Here is what you need to know about House of the Dragon episode 5, We Light the Way, which viewers should note are the words of House Hightower.

**Spoiler warning for House of the Dragon episode 5**

House of the Dragon episode 5 recap: We Light the Way

Rachel Redford as Lady Rhea Royce in House of the Dragon
Rachel Redford as Lady Rhea Royce in House of the Dragon HBO

As the episode opens, Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford) rides in the Vale alone when she is approached by her hooded estranged husband Prince Daemon Targaryen. Scared of him she reaches for her arrow but he scares the horse and she is flung from it and crushed by it. Daemon treads on her broken arm before leaving her. "I knew you couldn’t finish. Craven," says Rhea. Daemon then approaches her with a large stone.

Aboard a ship, King Viserys Targaryen is seasick and tended to by his new Hand, Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes). Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen is also aboard with her sworn Knight of the Kingsguard and her lover, Ser Criston Cole. They are all heading to the Driftmark, the seat of House Velaryon.

At the Red Keep, Queen Alicent Hightower is sad at her father Ser Otto Hightower’s departure and he blames her for siding with Rhaenyra. Alicent says he was wrong and blames him for being relentless in his pushing for her son Prince Aegon Targaryen as the heir. Ser Otto tells Alicent that Rhaenyra will face war if she succeeds and will kill Alicent’s children to stop it. Ser Otto tells Alicent that she should either prepare Aegon to rule or cling to Rhaenyra and hope for mercy. Ser Otto departs King’s Landing, leaving a tearful Alicent in the courtyard.

Rhys Ifans and Emily Carey in House of the Dragon
Rhys Ifans and Emily Carey in House of the Dragon HBO

Approaching the Driftmark, Viserys and Rhaenyra arrive and find Ser Laenor Velaryon practising his swordplay with Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod). The royal family is welcomed by Ser Laenor's sister Lady Laena Velaryon (Savannah Steyn) but Lyonel is angered at Lord Corlys’ lack of welcome at their arrival.

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In the Red Keep, Alicent visits the Godswood and is greeted by Lyonel's younger son Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) who apologises for the injustice of Ser Otto’s departure. Larys offers himself as an ally to Alicent, but she is suspicious of him. Larys notes that Rhaenyra was delivered a tea by the Grand Maester at the direction of the king and he insincerely notes that he hopes that she is not unwell. Alicent feels betrayed, convinced that Rhaenyra was potentially with child and had lied to her, but the manipulative Larys feigns ignorance of the manipulation he just acted out.

Inside the Driftmark castle High Tide, Rhaenyra spends time with Laena as they are barred from decision-making. Viserys and Lyonel meet with Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) who ultimately bends the knee to Viserys and welcomes him. Corlys' wife Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) welcomes Viserys and fears for his health. Corlys congratulates Lyonel on his new position as Hand of the King and then reveals the slow death of Lady Rhea Royce to Viserys and Rhaenys quickly turns to the lack of heir that Daemon now possesses.

Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon in House of the Dragon
Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon in House of the Dragon HBO

Viserys himself then suggests a marriage between Rhaenyra and Laenor, pleasing Corlys and Rhaenys but they want details clarified - the matter of the succession. Viserys reaffirms that Rhaenyra is his heir and that Rhaenyra and Laenor’s heirs will also inherit the Iron Throne, but Corlys is firm that these offspring will inherit the Velaryon name. Viserys is clearly unwell but makes clear that children will take the Velaryon name but when any ascend the throne they will take the name Targaryen. Corlys and Rhaenys agree to these terms. Viserys and Lyonel then leave the room.

On the beach of the Driftmark, Rhaenyra walks with Laenor and they discuss how the marriage is not what they both chose but discuss how this is separate from the matter of personal taste. Rhaenyra hints that she knows Laenor is gay but she is keen for them to perform their duties. However, she agrees that in private they can each pursue their own desires, which pleases Laenor.

Inside the castle, Rhaenys notes that Viserys is resting in bed and Corlys fears that he pushed the King too far but Rhaenys calls the King’s behaviour "undignified". Rhaenys notes that Rhaenyra and Laenor are familiar with each other but Laenor is gay. However, Corlys hopes Laenor will outgrow his homosexuality. Rhaenys fears that Laenor is in danger from the threat of Viserys' male heirs who will inevitably challenge Rhaenyra. Corlys himself remains bitter that Rhaenys is not the queen herself but she is at peace with it.

Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Theo Nate as Ser Laenor Velaryon in House of the Dragon
Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Theo Nate as Ser Laenor Velaryon in House of the Dragon HBO

Laenor sits on the beach and discusses his marital plans with - and then gets intimate with - his lover, Ser Joffrey, who notes that Rhaenyra has a paramour of her own.

On the ship home, Rhaenyra speaks with Ser Criston on the boat of her situation and he then suggests that they run away together and forge a new life of freedom away from everything. Criston suggests they could marry in Essos and for love, not for the Crown. Rhaenyra, however, affirms her commitment to the Crown and that it is her duty to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon. Rhaenyra adds that she will have an open marriage with Laenor and hopes that she and Criston can continue to love each other but Criston is angered to be considered a "whore" and is furious he broke his Kingsguard vows for her. Rhaenyra is sure of the importance of her position, but Criston is scorned.

The royal party returns to the Red Keep. Criston is summoned by Alicent who questions him on the matter of Rhaenyra’s chastity and the nature of the Princess’ relations with Daemon. Criston confesses to Alicent that he himself made love to Rhaenyra and broke his Kingsguard oath of chastity but he asks for Alicent’s pity and to sentence him to death instead of having him gelded. Alicent thanks Criston for his honesty and bids him to leave.

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon
Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon HBO

In Viserys’ rooms, the ailing King is treated by Grand Maester Mellos (David Horovitch) and Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan) with Lyonel present before the maesters leave. Viserys asks after Alicent but is told that she is busy. Viserys asks Lyonel if he will be remembered as a good king and is told by the Hand that he has carried on King Jaehaerys’ legacy of peace instead of being a "glorious" ruler. Viserys says he sometimes wishes he had been tested more but Lyonel notes that another who found this would have wished for the other fate.

Next, we see a Velaryon fleet approach King’s Landing for the royal wedding of Rhaenyra to Laenor. All of the noble families of the Seven Kingdoms visit, with Lord Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall) bitterly congratulating Rhaenyra and Viserys. The absence of Alicent at the welcome feast is noted. Ser Gerold Royce of the Vale approaches and condolences are given for Lady Rhea’s death. The discussion is interrupted by the arrival of House Velaryon who are welcomed with great fanfare. Criston watches with sadness as Laenor and his family take their seats beside House Targaryen.

Emily Carey as Queen Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon
Emily Carey as Queen Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon HBO

Prince Daemon then soon arrives and causes a stir by his presence but Viserys continues with his speech regardless. The King’s speech is more notably interrupted by the late arrival of Queen Alicent, dressed in all green - the colours of war for House Hightower. Viserys finishes his speech and Rhaenyra then dances with her betrothed Laenor, to Criston’s upset.

Alicent speaks with her uncle Lord Hobert Hightower (Steffan Rhodri), who notes that she is standing tall in the absence of her father and that Oldtown stands with her.

Ser Gerold Royce approaches Daemon and blames him for the death of Lady Rhea Royce. Daemon feigns sadness but he stands accused of murder, prompting Daemon to ask for the inheritance of Runestone from his late wife and plans to fly to the Eyrie and petition Lady Jeyne Arryn for it. Viserys is not impressed by his brother's attitude.

Lady Laena Velaryon soon locks eyes with Daemon who later approaches her for a dance and the pair dance and flirt.

Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Theo Nate as Ser Laenor Velaryon in House of the Dragon
Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Theo Nate as Ser Laenor Velaryon in House of the Dragon HBO

Ser Joffrey notes to Laenor that Criston is the paramour of Princess Rhaenyra and that their secrets can connect them both. Joffrey - "The Knight of Kisses" - approaches Criston and comments on what a good match Rhaenyra and Laenor are, adding what a good arrangement the four of them can have, keeping them all safe.

Rhaenyra dances with Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr) and then with her uncle Prince Daemon, who notes that she will be bored with Laenor. Rhaenyra dares Daemon to kill the Kingsguard and take her as his wife. Daemon goes to embrace Rhaenyra.

An unseen scuffle then breaks out on the dancefloor between Criston, Laenor, and Joffrey. Lyonel orders his son Harwin to intervene and break the crowd apart and rescue Rhaenyra. Viserys then experiences a nosebleed. Criston beats open the skull of Joffrey, horrifying the spectators and breaking the heart of Laenor who crawls over to the corpse of his dead lover.

Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon HBO

Afterwards, as the saddened Rhaenyra and Laenor go on to marry in the presence of their families, a despairing Criston visits the Godswood and prepares to stab himself in the abdomen following his actions. However, he is interrupted by Alicent.

At the wedding, Viserys collapses, shocking those present.

What book changes are in House of the Dragon episode 5?

Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen,Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen, Theo Nate as Laenor Velaryon
Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen, Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, and Theo Nate as Ser Laenor Velaryon HBO

There are a number of adaptational changes when comparing House of the Dragon to the book Fire and Blood.

  • In the book, there is no suggestion that Daemon was responsible for Lady Rhea’s death but it is made clear that he would have benefited from this. Rhea’s fall also sees her linger in agony after trying to stand and she eventually dies in great pain. Daemon's attempts to claim her inheritance are swiftly shut down in the book by Lady Jeyne Arryn, however, and he is told he is not welcome in the Vale. Rhea’s death also occurs after Rhaenyra marries Laenor in the book.
  • The series fleshes out the marriage negotiations for Rhaenyra and Laenor and notes that there are some reservations about Laenor’s sexuality but also that these are dealt with pragmatically by all involved.
  • We are shown here that it is Alicent discovering the truth about Rhaenyra’s secret sexual liaisons that prompts her to turn against her old friend and take on the Hightower colour of green in her dresses. Once again she had fallen out with Rhaenyra much earlier in the book and had also herself pushed for her son Aegon to marry Rhaenyra instead of Laenor but was shut down by Viserys due to her ambition. Much of the scheming and ambition here rests with Otto but by the end of the episode, Alicent appears closer to her book counterpart as she has steeled herself against Rhaenyra and her inheriting the throne.
  • The end of Criston and Rhaenyra’s romance is accurate to one of the accounts of the book on why he eventually hated her. In one account he suggested they run away together but she neglected him out of duty, earning his scorn. The other account saw them never consummate their romance despite Rhaenyra’s attempts to seduce him but Criston rejected her due to his vows, prompting her to seek solace with - and lose her virginity to - Ser Harwin Strong. The series also fleshes out how Criston went on to switch sides from being loyal to Rhaenyra to loyal to Alicent.
  • In the book, Viserys is much younger and his health is much better at this point; in the series he is middle-aged and ailing quite badly. There is no nosebleed and collapse at the wedding in the book.
  • In the book, the death of Ser Joffrey occurs in the tourney after the wedding and he had worn the favour of Laenor, while Ser Harwin had worn Rhaenyra’s favour. This rejection of Criston by Rhaenyra saw him wear Alicent’s favour and go on to beat the Queen’s brothers, Ser Harwin and then kill Ser Joffrey. The event certainly displeased Viserys in the book but Alicent took Criston as her personal guard thereafter. There was no Alicent interrupting a suicide attempt by Criston in the book.

So, next week's instalment sees the long-awaited time-jump that sees Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke take over the roles of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower, respectively, in the sixth episode, The Princess and the Queen.

Has time only served to widen the gulf between Rhaenyra and Alicent?

Plus, how have either of their marriages fared? And what will their children be like?

Read more:

House of the Dragon airs on Sky Atlantic and is available on NOW – find out more about how to sign up for Sky TV. Check out more of our Fantasy coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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