Chris Connor reviews the fourth episode of House of the Dragon…
After what has been a slow build up over its first three episodes with pockets of action amid constant intrigue and behind-closed-doors political manoeuvring, House of The Dragon well and truly comes alive in its fourth episode with ‘King of The Narrow Sea’ delivering on the promise of what made Game of Thrones such a smash. Alliances are forged and tested and there is no shortage of scheming and added layers to an already rich tapestry.
If still not quite on the expansive scale of its predecessor, House of the Dragon is forging its own path and clearly benefiting from the added involvement of George R.R. Martin, feeling more unpredictable and compelling, akin to earlier Thrones seasons.
The episode begins with Princess Rhaenyra being presented suitors for her hand and being decidedly unimpressed by each – something sure to test the patience of the King and his Queen, Rhaenyra’s childhood friend Alicent.
The relationship between Rhaenyra and Alicent is once again a focal point here with as we’ve come to expect in this series there’s some remarkable work from Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who more than hold their own against established stars like Rhys Ifans, Matt Smith and Paddy Considine. One can only hope that Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke further flesh out the strenuous friendship between the pair as the series moves ahead.
Another major thread in the episode is the return to King’s Landing of Daemon (Smith) who is both charming and troublesome always seemingly concocting a new scheme to land himself and his brother in hot water.
The second half of the episode sees the show taking a dramatic leap forward with Daemon and the Princess visiting the local community and being seemingly spied upon with a series of spurious allegations following which may or may not be true. These allegations come to test the foundations of several already rocky relationships – King Viserys’ with both his brother and daughter and his hand Ser Otto and the already strained relationship between Lady Alicent and Rhaenyra.
This episode has no shortage of twists and turns to rival the many U-turns and back stabbings seen in Game of Thrones and while short on action on the battlefield it is a thrilling hour of political deception and Machiavellian exploits as those hungry for power make their moves. Matt Smith is really afforded his strongest opportunity yet in this episode, once again proving that this series was a perfect launchpad to prove his acting ability following some disappointing projects and he shares some strong scenes with both Considine and Alcock here.
‘King of The Narrow Sea’ propels House of The Dragon forward more than previous episodes, offering some genuine twists throughout and proving the show is capable of matching the lofty heights of its predecessor and knows how to treat its audience to what they expect whilst delivering no shortage of surprises.
The focus on political intrigue and the line of succession continues to compel and not outstay its welcome and with the show due to undertake a significant time jump for its second half, lets hope House of the Dragon manages to maintain this level of quality, or even surpass it, as the action no doubt increases.