Chris Connor reviews the fifth episode of House of the Dragon…
House of the Dragon’s fourth episode propelled the narrative forward and we began to see many signs of movement in the ultimate long game being played and the various chess pieces being shuffled on the board of the Iron Throne.
The fifth episode ‘We Light The Way’ acts not only as the midpoint for the show’s first season but the final episode to feature the show’s stellar young actors Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who have been such an intrinsic part of the shows success to date. It is perhaps surprising that they have featured for half the series but this is also to their credit that they have been afforded the opportunity to flesh out the younger versions of the characters which will of course help us understand their motives and conflicts in the seasons to come.
This halfway mark sees Alcock’s Princess Rhaenyra to be wed. Of course weddings in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire never quite go without some form of drama and that is the case here with a slow build up to a denouement while if not quite as impactful as the infamous Red Wedding or Purple Wedding, is still filled with drama and surprises that will impact the future of the series.
The King’s health is a prominent focus here and Paddy Considine does some of his best work to date as Viserys struggles with his frailties but is determined to do what is best in his eyes for the realm, his family and the line of succession. Viserys coming to terms with his mortality and legacy provide some of the strongest moments of the episode and really showcase Considine’s depth as an actor and what he’s brought to this series.
Matt Smith is once again a delight as Prince Daemon, scheming like never before and the opening segment involving an accident with his wife is perhaps testament to his conniving mind and willingness to succeed at the expense of others. He has found a way to make even the more limited appearances stand out among a large ensemble cast.
Ultimately the main purpose of this episode is to round off the initial journey of Queen Allicent and Princess Rhaenyra and sow seeds for what is to come in the second half of this series and beyond. Based on the Dance of the Dragons and events depicted in Fire & Blood safe to say this will be an explosive and drama filled story and Emma D’arcy and Olivia Cooke will be at its forefront. The subtle details depicted in this episode like the colour of Allicent’s dress show the attention to detail put into the show and it feels like House of the Dragon has now firmly stepped out of the shadow of its forebearer.
‘We Light The Way’ does a fine job of rounding off some of the story threads to date, building on the political maneuvering of the previous few episodes while setting up new threads and new players in the battle for the crown. It is a more sprawling affair than we’ve seen on the show to date but this doesn’t take away from the main focus and it is always welcome to see more of Westeros beyond King’s Landing.
If the second half of this first season of House of Dragon builds on the ambition and qualities of its first, then fans will surely be in for a treat.