House of the Dragon Ep 4
HBO

‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 4: Drama Unfolds in King’s Landing

The drama returns to the palace this week on 'House of the Dragon'. Daemon's back, and now he and Rhaenyra are finding new ways to make life difficult for the king.
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The drama is close to home this week on House of the Dragon. Daemon, the wild child brother of the king, is back in King’s Landing and ready to celebrate his recent victories in the Stepstones. Rhaenyra returns from an exhausting tour meeting new suitors, ready to contemplate a solitary life without worrying about who she’ll marry.

Meanwhile, King Viserys is getting fed up with his daughter’s refusal to play her role as a princess and marry to further the interests of the crown. The show’s main theme, of love conflicting with duty, continues to underpin all the drama in the palace. Here’s what the wild Targaryens are up to this week.

Returning Home

Both Daemon and Rhaenyra return home to King’s Landing after extended tours abroad. Daemon used his mastery of tactics and dragon-riding skills to subdue the Stepstones and eliminate the Crabfeeder, riding alongside his cousin and ally Laenor Velaryon and Laenor’s father, Corlys. He returns to King’s Landing and offers up his crown as the newly-ascendant “King of the Narrow Sea” to his brother, bending the knee before the Iron Throne once more.

Rhaenyra, meanwhile, has gone on a lengthy tour of Westeros, meeting suitors that routinely fail to measure up to her exacting standards. Tired of the petty squabbling of various lords and knights, she returns to King’s Landing in time to see her uncle, replete with a fresh haircut and a newfound sense of maturity, enjoying a victory celebration.

Daemon and Rhaenyra muse on the topic of marriage and royal privilege, with Daemon insisting that Rhaenyra can get married to fulfill her political duties without giving up the fun things she really wants to do. She counters that, as a woman, if she’s married off to some distant lord, her life will suddenly consist of birthing heirs and little else. Rhaenyra’s complete incompatibility with the patriarchal society in which she’s been raised comes into sharper focus than ever this week.

A Night on the Town

After receiving a surreptitious invitation from her uncle, Rhaenyra dons a disguise and slips out of the castle under cover of night. Hand-in-hand with Daemon, she sees the wonders of life for the common folk of King’s Landing, complete with satirical plays poking fun at her own family. 

The duo drinks at nearly every bar in town until Daemon decides to show his niece the place where he spends the majority of his time in King’s Landing: the brothel. There, the two watch as various patrons and employees engage in all manner of distractions, eventually turning to each other in a gross-out scene that will have even the most die-hard Thrones fan second-guessing why they root for any of these people.

Daemon loses his nerve to mess around with his niece, though, and steals away–but not before being spied by Mysaria’s urchin attendants. Mysaria, Daemon’s once-girlfriend, is apparently a spymaster called the White Worm and has begun selling information to the upper crust of society. Otto, the Hand of the King, learns of Daemon and Rhaenyra’s midnight rendezvous and grimly shares this information with Viserys. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra returns to her chambers and entices her bodyguard, Ser Cole, to join her.

Rumors and Accusations

Viserys is furious at Otto for spreading “rumors,” but he clearly thinks that the accusations are worth investigating. He has Daemon dragged before him in the throne room where he berates him for laying a finger on his daughter. Daemon suggests that Viserys marry Rhaenyra off to him, as the Targaryens of old once married within their own family for the sake of keeping their bloodline “pure.” Viserys laughs off this assertion–not because it’s disgusting for a man to want to marry his own niece, but because Daemon is already married.

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra meets with Alicent–the queen and her former best friend. She swears that nothing happened between her and her uncle, but Daemon confesses to the act he’s being accused of. To make matters more confusing, audiences (thankfully) didn’t get a good look at that brothel scene, so it’s hard to say who’s lying here. Alicent and Viserys are also unsure of who to believe, but one thing is certain: Rhaenyra’s days of being single are over.

Viserys demands his daughter must marry Laenor Velaryon to bring Westeros’s two greatest houses together. This will cure several of the crown’s most pressing political issues, and Rhaenyra promises to play her part under one condition. She implores her father to be more critical of Otto Hightower and to see the ways Otto has angled to get his own descendants on the Iron Throne.

Otto Is Out

Viserys agrees with his daughter’s assessment, remembering that it was Alicent who comforted him when he was inconsolable over his first wife’s death. Moreover, Otto has always gently nudged Viserys away from thinking of either Daemon or Rhanyra as the rightful heir to the throne. Now, with Otto bringing news of Rhaenyra’s trip into King’s Landing to the king’s attention, Viserys sees the plot.

Alicent, Otto’s daughter, bore Viserys a son at long last. That boy, Aegon, would normally take the throne after his father’s passing. However, Viserys has already named his firstborn, Rhaenyra, as his successor. Otto clearly wants his own grandson to take the throne, and several lords of Westeros agree with him. After all, none of them want to swear fealty to a woman.

Viserys tells Otto that the crown and country will always owe him a debt but says that his judgment has been impaired by his own grandson having a claim on the throne. He relives the Hand of his duties. Meanwhile, the Maesters bring Rhaenyra an herbal concoction that will help her to remove any “unwanted consequences” from her night on the town. Rhaenyra eyes the tea uneasily before the screen cuts to black.