Welcome to episode five of House of the Dragon: the one that’s all about catty gossiping, taunting, and fucking around and finding out.
The episode opens by firmly setting the tone of the latter categories. Doctor Who’s wife is on a hunting horse ride when Matt Smith approaches, finally cosplaying the deliberately brooding Sith role he was long-ago rumored for. As we already know he is the antithesis of a “wife guy”; he did not want to marry this lady, and he’s not happy about it. So, he riles up her horse, knocking her off, and seemingly contemplates murdering her—but then walks away.
This is where the taunting and subsequent fucking around and finding out comes into play.
Wifey, left on the ground but very much alive, mocks his most recent inability to “finish,” and the Doctor decides to bash her head in with a rock after all. Sometimes the joke just isn’t worth it, y’know?
Back at King’s Landing, Queen Whatever is bidding a heartfelt goodbye to her father, Rhys Ifans—who, you may recall, was fired as Hand of the King last episode. She’s all sad about it, and honestly, it’s sort of, like, grow up. Sorry that you, an adult woman married into royalty, don’t live with your dad anymore. Who cares?
Ifans is not so sentimental. He’s mainly there to provide more than ample foreshadowing for how the king is eventually going to die and there’s going to be a big power struggle when Rhaenyra tries to take the throne. Consider us foreshadowed.
Speaking of the king dying, though, it’s great how unsubtly they keep escalating how clearly Paddy Considine will not be getting work in season two. Covered in more and more sores, puking, coughing, dripping in sweat. Gravediggers have one foot in the grave fewer times in a day than this guy.
Suffering all those maladies, King Paddy arrives alongside his daughter to the castle of the Sea Snake to offer her hand in marriage to Snake Jr. And guess what—it’s time for more taunting!
When Paddy shows up, Sea Snake is nowhere to be found. He not only couldn’t be bothered to greet the king, he couldn’t be bothered to get off his chair. He’s literally just sitting around in an empty throne room. Serious disrespect. He big-leagued the king himself, and he got away with it.
Meanwhile, back at the Red Keep, we get to the catty gossip. There’s this ‘90s goth guy with a little cane skulking around the queen, and it is so funny how affected he is at being this goth drama queen.
“Nature… such mystery,” he bafflingly ponders.
“The weather has been lovely,” the queen offers back.
“Yet it is a dark day for the realm.”
This fucking guy. Then he starts in with this passive-aggressive shit-talking for no reason at all. All this to say, he is the best character on the show. The whole thing should just be this guy and Matt Smith riding town to town stirring up bullshit.
Back on Sea Snake Island, Sea Snake and King Paddy (through his hacking fits) have the most boring conversation about how the surname logistics would work if their children should marry. It sounds like Civilization video game dialogue, even closing with a staid, “That is an equitable compromise.” Ridiculous.
At the same time, off on the beach, the marryin’ cousins are having their own stilted conversation.
She’s basically like, “So you’re gay, right? We can get that out of the way? We can just get married for show and continue on fucking whoever we want?” But instead of saying that outright, it’s done as this confused metaphor about how she likes one meat and he likes this other meat—when the real issue is that they’re both looking to gobble up the same meat, right?
It’s fine if you didn’t get this bumbled analogy, though, because here come two more scenes clarifying it.
First, we get Sea Snake and his Queen Who Never Was talking about the situation. She’s like, “Hope this works out, since, well, you know…” And he’s hilariously like, “It’s fine! He’ll grow into it! Ain’t nothing like pussy!” It’s nice because it comes across as not necessarily homophobia but merely the perspective of a man who can’t imagine a man not lovin’ some pussy.
Then we get Sea Snake Jr. himself with his boyfriend. The two discuss the arrangement-to-come until their wrastlin’ around on the beach leads to intimacy, and it’s like a bad stage play. Plus, the roughhousing-to-affection thing is supposed to be the introduction to some guys discovering their sexuality! These guys are established as longtime lovers and they’re still acting like this? That’s just deranged.
The bad play continues on to Rhaenyra’s departing boat, where Ben Barnesn’t is like, “Let’s just run away together! We’ll leave it all behind, baby—just me and you, my ride or die!” She isn’t having it. The guard-with-benefits scenario works fine for her, and that’s that.
When the ship arrives back at King’s Landing, we also arrive back at the Shakespearean comedy of errors crap from last episode.
Queen Whatever keeps asking Barnesn’t vague questions about whether Rhaenyra fucked her uncle, and he keeps thinking it’s about how he’s actually the dude she fucked. When the confusion finally gets sorted, the queen is clearly upset, but you can tell she’s also thinking, “Damn, girl.”
We already knew the Snake Jr./Rhaenyra honeymoon wouldn’t be long, and it turns out the engagement isn’t either: it’s already wedding day, apparently!
The taunting of King Paddy continues here. The brother he exiled shows up, and the guy just shuts up and takes it. Then Queen Whatever shows up late to interrupt his speech, and again, he just shuts up and takes it. If the guy weren’t already dying—here clinched with the classic arbitrary bloody nose—someone would just walk up and stab him, and he’d be like, “That’s fine,” as he collapsed in a heap.
That’s not the end of the evening’s taunting, though. Even if it sure is the last time someone will fuck around without finding out.
The wedding reception continues with some terrible music that’s basically all bass drums (the goth guy is definitely whispering his opinion about how derivative it is), and as the couple-to-be do an equally terrible dance, Sea Snake Jr.’s boyfriend notices that he’s not the only one put off by the proceedings.
Seeing that Ben Barnesn’t is also quite huffy, he dives straight into the catty gossip, telling his soon-to-be king consort boyfriend how he suspects that’s the dude Rhaenyra will be fucking on the side.
That largely baseless if completely correct gossip would have been fine enough to whisper to his intimate partner. But then he decides to fuck around and find out.
Like, immediately after this, he strolls over to Prince Caspiain’t going, “Psst. So you’re fucking her, yeah? Well, get this: I’m fucking the dude! Pretty cool, right? Maybe we sort of make a deal to keep it all hush-hush?”
Well, that doesn’t sit well with Barnsen’t at all. He flips out and flat-out flattens this guy’s face. Really mushes him up. You thought Doctor Who bashing his wife’s noggin with a rock was bad, but this guy really found out ten-fold. There are a lot of violent, unstable dudes in Westeros, and seriously, you should not fuck around if you do not want to find out.
It’s an astonishingly gruesome scene—and a particularly tragic one for Sea Snake Jr. But King Paddy has already paid for the officiant and catering and everything, so it’s on to the wedding.
First, though, Barnesn’t goes off to Elliott Smith himself beneath that tree with a face. Wait, though! The queen is here to stop him at the last second! Everyone and everything is so goddamn melodramatic in this thing. It’s a soap drowning in its suds. Yet that’s sort of the only reason it works at all.
ANYWAY. The not-at-all-happy couple marry, and shortly thereafter, King Paddy seemingly, finally keels over.
OR DOES HE???
Afraid not. In the “next episode…” teaser, we see that he, like the bludgeoning victim we saw just minutes before, has just been made sort of mush-brained. We’re merely headed into the decade-long time-jump and so, so much more expository melodrama.
Why can’t everyone just settle down and make this House of the Dragon a Home of the Dragon?