It is quite impressive that, with just three episodes, House of the Dragon has managed to do what seemed impossible. To make people excited about the A Song of Ice and Fire Universe once again. The end of the eighth season of Game of Thrones was truly one of the worst moments in TV history. Everything felt so off that audiences around the world could feel just how low the quality of the show had fallen. Let’s review episode 4 of House of the Dragon, as the series keeps showing they have a lot to bring to the table.
In this week’s episode, the series follows the consequences of Daemon’s victory at the Stepstones over the Crab Feeder and his rebellion. We also focus a lot more on Rhaenyra and her search for an identity. The young princess has been living protected inside the Red Keep all of her life, and in this episode, a reality check has come for her. One that will show her just how weak her position is, and just how weak her own understanding of the situation is as well.
This episode is directed by Clare Kilner, a director who has basically made a career out of making film and television that is focused on characters and their relationships. In this episode, there is nothing as flashy as the Battle at the Stepstones that we saw in the previous episodes. Instead, we see a lot of conversations and characters making decisions that are just as equally dangerous as it is, jumping into battle surrounded by enemies. Decisions made in this episode will create waves that will reach far beyond the scope of this show.
Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen comes back in more of a speaking role, and yet the mystique of the characters is anything but lost. The moment from the last episode, where he reads the letter from Viserys saying that he will send troops to help him, has become a meme. Showing that Smith’s acting is quite effective, he only needs to use his hands and his eyes to convey absolute deference and anger of the highest level.
Daemon’s character is interesting mainly because he doesn’t make his aspirations as clear as everybody else looking after the Iron Thrones. In this episode, the character makes a bold move in order to achieve his goal. It is a twisted and dangerous move, and he puts the lives of many people in danger, but now his aspirations are clear. We have to wait and see if audiences keep liking him now that we all know what he wants.
On the other hand, Rhaenyra faces a different situation, one that is equally dangerous as her role as heir to the throne becomes more well-known than everybody in the realm. Yet, it seems that Rhaenyra hasn’t learned a lot from what her father said to her in the previous episode. It seems she has no interest in prolonging the Targaryen line or finding allies to make her claim stronger. If Rhaenyra is destined to self-destruct, then she is doing an amazing job.
Paddy Considine’s performance as Viserys keeps being the highlight of the show. The actor has really managed to create one of the most complex characters on television at the moment. The king is a sad figure. Far from the pathetic figurehead, we thought he was going to be at the start of the show. He might not be super intelligent, but he is smart enough to know what is happening around him, and to take decisions accordingly. Visery is a dreamer that is slowly being squashed by the weight of reality.
The production values just keep being incredible. Even if this episode doesn’t really go for a spectacle that much, the settings, the costumes, and the many extras that run around the sets really make the world come alive. Which is something that Rings of Powers is struggling with. While beautiful, some scenarios in that show feel a bit artificial, too clean, which is something that doesn’t really happen with House of the Dragon.
We are on collision course with episode six, which is based on one of the most popular novellas written in the world of Westeros by author George R.R. Martin. That shake-up will not only come on a narrative level but also on a production level, as some actors will never be seen again after this one and the future episode 5. So, be ready to say your goodbyes to characters that have already become fan favorites.
This next development will be a huge change for the show. Not many series have managed to do this successfully, so if House of the Dragon manages to do it, it will be quite amazing indeed. The pacing of this show is quite insane. I don’t think there is a show in recent memory that is willing to make such huge time jumps in order to tell just the most important moments in the characters’ lives. The show should really be applauded for its braveness.
Episode 4 might not go for spectacle, but once again, each conversation and decision made will have huge repercussions in the future. What is really stunning is that the really cool and crazy stuff is yet to come.