This week’s House of the Dragon is a real reminder that the Game of Thrones franchise is far more adjacent to daytime soaps than it is to the likes of Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons. When you cut out the graphic viscera and battles, it’s just this horny thing where people are constantly spouting melodramatic dialogue about all their plotting and marriages and disputes and infidelities. That’s largely why the original Game of Thrones proper fell apart in its final couple seasons. Soap operas aren’t meant to have finales; they just keep introducing new characters and betrayals and demon possessions until they’re abruptly canceled because there aren’t enough olds watching them.
So, after Daenerys “broke the wheel” of the format itself by the GoT series finale, it’s a relatively pleasant surprise to see the franchise back in its sudsy bath of pure soap. Outside of a brief near-altercation, episode two is just an hour where a bunch of mostly-attractive jerks talk about all their plotting and marriages and disputes and infidelities.
Opening with a shot of some crabs picking at some corpses on a beach, the episode teases that it may jump to another realm of Westeros to introduce the CRABFEEDER we were teased about in last week’s show.
Not the case! This is just setting up a conflict involving Westeros’s main boat owner: Dreadlocks Guy, aka Sea Snake.
Sea Snake wants King Paddy Considine to do something about how Crabfeeder keeps feeding sailors to crabs (and, in the process earning himself a cooler maritime name than Sea Snake. Sorry, but Crabfeeder is definitely cooler. If these are the choices for my band name, that is no choice at all. I’m on stage at a DIY in Crabfeeder at 10pm; 21+).
Anyway, so Sea Snake is asking for intervention on all the crab-feeding, and King Paddy is all iffy about it, but Rhaenyra is like, “Hey, what about using dragons? You know how I can ride a dragon, and our whole house’s thing is dragons? It’s literally in the title of the show. We could just do a dragon thing, and precede Daenerys Targaryen in very easily burning the shit out of an amassing boat fleet.”
King Paddy isn’t at all interested in that obvious idea, and is instead like, “Alright, since you’re looking for something to do, do you want to play The Bachelorette with some handsome, accomplished young men all vying for the position of leading the King’s Guard?”
She does, and she does, and she selects the dreamiest, most accomplished boy of all of them: that guy who beat Doctor Who jousting.
Meanwhile, we see that King Paddy has been continuing his little private meetups with Rhys Ifans’ daughter, Alicent. This guy is such a huge dork that, after turning down her presumed advances last episode to instead go on about his fucking model town, he is still just doing that months later. He’s like, “Check out this badass dragon!” And this loser BREAKS IT.
The pair aren’t yet to be together, and they split off to do a couple other talky scenes. Alicent goes to a tomb or something with Rhaenyra and tries to recruit her into her candle business LML, while King Paddy is off to an even more fucked up recruitment scheme.
He meets up with Sea Snake (and Mrs. Sea Snake, Paddy’s cousin/the NeverQueen), and this guy is still on about his same shit. “We have to get Crabfeeder, the guy with the cool name! He is endangering my name, which is objectively less cool!”
But then he adds a new twist to his argument: “Hey, what if we lock this down by marrying my tween who is also maybe your second cousin once removed or something?”
The pitch is for King Paddy to marry the Snake-daughter, marry their houses, and marry Game of Thrones’ love of shrewd political moves, casual misogyny, and some level of incest.
So ol’ K.P. has a chat with Rhys Ifans, who is like, “Look, I was clearly angling for you to marry my daughter—known for her COMELINESS—but I can’t deny that’s a great pitch. You may as well at least have a walk-and-talk with the girl.”
King Paddy agrees, and holy shit, she sure is a girl. She even says she was promised “that I wouldn’t have to bed you until I turned 14.” And Chris Hansen has the chat logs to prove it.
The king flees the scene in a pickup later found to contain condoms and a six-pack of spiked seltzer, and ends up heading back to the also-too-young-but-not-so-grossly-so gal who is quickly becoming his obvious love interest.
Yes, it’s Alicent, the Barbara Maitland to his Adam Maitland—in being the only one who cares about his stupid little town model. So much so that she’s brought him his repaired dragon model!
Prior to this, I was thinking, “Do glues not exist in this world? This broken dragon seems like an easy fix.” And it seems the king himself was likewise unaware, because he cannot stop marveling at how the stonemasons glued this wing back on. This guy has seen actual dragons and he’s somehow more bewildered at how one could slap a little cement on a wing and slap it back on a chunk of rock.
Before he can inquire about the wonders of adhesion, though, there’s an interruption. It’s Rhys Ifans.
“I’ve called a small council to an emergency session,” he says.
“It’s an emergency.”
That’s not actually his response, but I hoped so much it would be. In writing for the white-haired, these writers could learn a lot from the comedies of Leslie Nielsen. That is of course the proper response. WHY ELSE WOULD YOU CALL AN EMERGENCY SESSION?
(We also learn that Alicent picks at her cuticles, which seems completely irrelevant but comes up again later, so apparently that’s something.)
The emergency council convenes, and here’s the multi-part emergency: Doctor Who is becoming a bigamist, he’s already got his new bride pregnant, and he’s stolen a dragon egg.
“Which egg, though!?” Rhaenyra asks.
Bad news(?): the egg was, of all the eggs, that of Dreamfyre! These dorky assholes are naming these dragons like they’re My Little Ponies. Can you imagine a lamer name for a dragon than Dreamfyre?
King Paddy suggests he will accept the unvitation for his brother’s wedding and get DRAGONFYRE™’s egg back, but Rhys Ifans convinces him to stay behind. The Lizard will instead retrieve the dragon.
Before he departs with his adventuring party, Ifans checks in with his daughter. Weirdly, he checks out her picked-at nails, and then is like, “When you see the king tonight…”
His meaning is implicit. It’s time to use these gnawed claws to give Paddy his handy.
We’re somehow already at late-season Game of Thrones pacing one episode in, and in the very next scene, Rhys and friends are already at Dragonkeep or whatever the fuck this place is that Doctor Who has claimed as his own with his gang of loyal Goldcops.
The whole place looks pulled from an Elden Ring boss cutscene, and the pregnant fiancée looks like she’s in cosplay as X-Men’s White Queen. How does this show keep getting dorkier and cheaper looking?
Doctor Who and Dr. Curt Connors have a standoff that very quickly becomes one-sided when the prior Doctor reminds everyone that, beyond the egg, he also has this full-grown dragon he can just roast them with.
That conflict remains just as brief, because look who’s here to even the battle—Rhaenyra, who if you’ve missed the constant assertions, is a real plucky kid who also can ride dragons.
This latest conflict is likewise not long to last. She’s like, “Kill me or give me the egg,” and Doctor Who is like, “Alright, fuck it,” tossing her the egg.
While his whole reason for stealing the egg was supposed to be his upcoming child with his upcoming wife, it turns out he isn’t even engaged and the White Queen isn’t even pregnant. This odd-looking man just talks a lot of shit to get attention about how maybe he’s marrying this hot woman. He would love Instagram.
The next day (I guess?), King Paddy gets his own The Bachelor as he brings in the crew to announce who he’s giving his final rose to. The reveal is chopped together like The Bachelor, too, with all these pregnant pauses of bloated reaction shots of everyone anticipating and, soon after, upset about the decision.
Again, it’s soapy trash. Good on it for treating it as such.
But Sea Snake is not so happy about this Most Dramatic Twist in Bachelor History. He has a secret little meetup with Doctor Who, and the two begin their inevitable conspiring.
Finally, after that early teaser, the closing moments give us a glimpse of the Crabfeeder. Guess he’s some sort of Slipknot guy?