The Game of Thrones universe is well-known for its love of taboo onscreen material — with the original HBO show leading the way for plots filled with scandalous sex, wanton violence, and everything in between. It stands to reason then, that its House of the Dragon prequel would either match up or take things up a few notches.
The second episode of HOTD — set over two centuries before the events of the original series, shows fan-favorite exiled Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) playing power moves from behind the shadows of his brother King Viserys I’s court.
After finding himself kicked out of the royal line of succession by Viserys, Daemon plays a power-grab move by stealing a dragon egg and making his way to Dragonstone — which rightfully belongs to his niece, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), who now finds herself heir-apparent to the Iron Throne. Viserys sends Hand of King Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) along with some soldiers to go deal with Daemon — although Viserys’ distaste for violence and family bloodshed makes this more of a warning than anything else.
Daemon, however, seemed ready to let heads roll — until Rhaenyra herself appears on the dragon back to put her uncle in his place. So far, we’ve been detecting the hints of a fleeting romantic interest between the two characters — which is most certainly a big part of the Blood and Fire novel the series is based on. With only light teasing going on in the series’ first two episodes, there’s plenty to come — trust me.
As Archmaester Gyldayn, the in-universe author of Fire & Blood, wrote:
“The tradition amongst the Targaryens had always been to marry kin to kin. Wedding brother to sister was thought to be ideal. Failing that, a girl might wed an uncle, a cousin, or a nephew, a boy a cousin, aunt, or niece. This practice went back to Old Valyria, where it was common among many of the ancient families, particularly those who bred and rode dragons. The blood of the dragon must remain pure, the wisdom went.”
While the original series was largely based on its incestuous relationships between siblings or half-siblings — think Jon Snow x Daneyrys Targaryen, or the infamous Jamie and Cersei Lannister pairing — this uncle-niece lineup is one of the most extreme seen so far on screen, and elicited quite a few reactions online:
Another taboo topic concerned a revelation within the episode teased in the series’ pilot, concerning child marriages — another common occurrence in Westeros and the High Middle Ages. Skipping six months ahead of the last episode’s tragic death (or murder, depending on how you look at it) of Viserys’ wife Aemma, the court now looks to forge new marital alliances with the king — with the two frontrunners being shockingly young.
Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is eager to curry favor with the ruling Targaryens, and puts forward his 12-year-old daughter Laena (Nova Foueillis-Mosé) as a potential spouse for the King, who at the time is likely to be around four times his age. While Viserys finds this unsettling (like most of us would), he wastes no time at all in naming his daughter’s 15-year-old best friend Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) as his new wife.
Very noble, Viserys — and definitely sure to stoke gossip in the court, as well on Twitter:
The House of the Dragon will follow up with its much-anticipated third episode next Monday, at 6:30 AM IST on Disney+ Hotstar.
Lead Image: HBO