'House of the Dragon' Recap: Alicent's Succession Allegiance Shifts as Rhaenyra's Secret Slips

Most Game of Thrones fans know never to trust a wedding feast

Emily Carey, HBO, House of the Dragon, Season 1 - Episode 5
Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

Warning: This post contains spoilers for season 1, episode 5 of House of the Dragon.

In an unsettling opening to the House of the Dragon episode "We Light the Way," a cloaked Daemon (Matt Smith) actually returned to the Vale, as was ordered by King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), where with great calculation he paralyzed and then murdered his wife, Lady Rhea Royce, while she was out for a horse ride. Since there were no witnesses, her death is assumed an accident, and Daemon is pitied by most for the loss — but, not Lady Royce's cousin, who suspected something more sinister and later accused Daemon of murder.

Viserys, whose health was quickly deteriorating from his growing hand infection, traveled with a fleet to Castle Driftmark where he officially proposed that Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Lord Corlys Velaryon's (Steve Toussaint) son, Laenor (Theo Nate) get married. After some haggling over succession titles, the marriage was agreed upon. Corlys' wife, Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) — who is cousins with Viserys — warned her husband that war was on the horizon should Rhaenys actually become queen. Corlys vowed he would crush anyone who got between the soon-to-be fortified families and the throne.

While their parents arraigned their lives and futures inside the castle, Rhaenyra and Laenor (also cousins) walked the beach, where they agreed to have a secret open marriage, so they could each pursue who they were actually attracted to. In Rhaenyra's case, she was clearly thinking of Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel). And in Laenor's case, it was his lover, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod).

HBO, House of the Dragon, Season 1 - Episode 5
Ollie Upton/HBO

An unemployed Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) was about to leave King's Landing, but not before he had some real talk with his daughter, Queen Alicent (Emily Carey). It turned out Otto was not scheming and plotting with all his attempted succession puppeteering so much as he just clearly saw the situation for what it was and how dangerous it would become. Otto confided in his daughter that Viserys would soon die from his illness. And war would assuredly break out if Rhaenyra were actually queen while a (legitimate to most) male heir was in line. Otto surmised that to both avoid war and cement her power, Rhaenyra would order Alicent and Viserys' children executed.

Otto was replaced as Hand by Lord of Harrenhal, Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes), who is far wiser than he appeared to be in earlier episodes on the king's small council. Lyonel's youngest son, Larys, informed the queen in private about the "tea" that Grand Maester Mellos (David Horovitch) brought Rhaenyra — as allegedly ordered by the king — to "rid any unwanted consequences" after her alleged interaction with Daemon. Rhaenyra had sworn to her one-time close friend, now stepmother, that nothing happened, and she had kept her virtue.

Between the "tea" info and Otto's insight, it became obvious Alicent no longer trusted Rhaenyra, a feeling that was vastly magnified when Criston accidentally let slip to the queen that he and Rhaenyra had been intimate while Alicent was merely trying to confirm the Daemon rumor. From that moment, the queen had daggers for Rhaenyra, and it seemed clear she would be among those who fought against Rhaenyra taking the Iron Throne over her son.

Paddy Considine, Milly Alcock, HBO, House of the Dragon, Season 1 - Episode 5
Ollie Upton/HBO

A massive feast was held at King's Landing to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Rhaenyra and Laenor before a week of games that would conclude with the actual wedding. (Naturally, most Game of Thrones fans know never to trust a wedding feast.) The massive celebration — of course — ended in bloodshed and death. Essentially, Laenor's lover Joffrey confided in Criston that he and Laenor figured out there was something going on with him and Rhaenyra. So, Joffrey suggested the four look after one another to keep their secrets and lives safe. Needless to say, that did not go well with Criston, who had just had his heart broken when Rhaenyra responded that he was just her F-boy after he asked that she renounce her title and run away with him.

An enraged Criston smashed in Joffrey's face, which was only missing Daniel Plainview's "I'm finished!" at the end. Chaos ensued in the hall; all the while the king began bleeding badly from his nose. Alone outside, Criston was going to kill himself, but was stopped by Alicent. After the hall was cleared out, a swift wedding between Rhaenyra and Laenor occurred right before Viserys collapsed.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

Related Articles