House Of The Dragon Weaponizes What We Can’t See

This article contains spoilers for all released episodes of House of the Dragon.

In House of the Dragon’s fifth episode, “We Light the Way,” the series weaponizes what we can’t see against us.

Throughout the wedding banquet that serves as House of the Dragon episode five’s climax, tensions are running high. Multiple romantic relationships are under intense strain as Rhaenyra prepares to marry Laenor. Rhaenyra is at odds with Criston because she refused his request to elope, and is marrying Laenor instead, while also dancing and flirting with Daemon. Ser Joffrey attempts to neg/blackmail Criston by revealing that he and Laenor are lovers and that he knows about Criston’s relationship with Rhaenyra. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra and Alicent are at odds because Rhaenyra is sneaking around behind her back. Daemon’s presence only adds to the tension because it was a story about him and Rhaenyra which caused the dismissal of Otto Hightower and the beginnings of the rift between Alicent and Rhaenyra. And Viserys is attempting to keep everything under control until the wedding ceremony can be held, while suffering from an unknown terminal illness which will (appear to) kill him before the credits roll.

As a result, when violence breaks out, there are multiple sources who could be responsible. In a rare move for House of the Dragons (and Game of Thrones as a whole), the show denies us a view of what, exactly, is happening. Though plenty of important events happen offscreen in both series, it’s extremely unusual for HotD/GoT to not allow us to see something important that a POV character is present to see. Daemon, Rhaenyra, and Criston are all close enough to have eyes on the fight as it breaks out. But, instead, we see the beginning of the chaos from Viserys’ perspective, which is completely obscured by a cluster of dancers.

It’s an odd decision. But, it functions as a way to allow viewers to, momentarily, fill in the gaps. The moment of confusion is a Rorschach test that reveals which of the show’s many conflicts are at the forefront of our minds. If we were fans of the original series, we may bring some baggage to a Westeros royal wedding. Is this banquet, we may wonder, going off the rails in the way the Red Wedding did? Did one of the political strivers in the room decide to poison the rest of the partygoers, a la Arya Stark? In addition to precedent, our minds may gravitate to the conflict we find most arresting or significant. Are we worried that Daemon and Rhaenyra’s relationship will destroy her friendship with Alicent, or blow up her marriage with Laenor if discovered? Are we concerned that Alicent’s decision to wear green (a Hightower symbol of conflict) is more than just a symbolic gesture? Do we fear that Daemon, the show’s most obviously villainous character, might make a grab for power? Or could it be that supporters of Aegon’s claim to the throne might attack the wedding?

While some of these are unlikely, the reality — that Criston snapped and beat Ser Joffrey to death — seems just as strange. But, Game of Thrones was, until the last two seasons, a sociological story, interested equally in as many sides of Westeros’ narrative as it could convey. It gave equal weight to stories of the Targaryens, Starks, and Lannisters. Still, kings and queens and lords and ladies are the people with the power to make major change, and Game of Thrones largely focused on their perspectives. Criston’s attack on Joffrey showed that a (relatively) lowly knight still has a complex interior life and the power, through his actions, to change the course of Westeros’ history.

This episode drew meaning from what Viserys could not see. But, for both the king, and us as viewers, what we failed to see turned out to matter as much as the opulent royalty in front of our eyes.

Source: Read Full Article