House of the Dragon episode 7, ‘Driftmark’, focuses on the Targaryens as the family gathers for a funeral. Like any family gathering, though, there’s a nasty fight, someone stealing a dragon, and at least one person gets murdered. Sounds like a typical family get-together to me.
We open with Laena (Nanna Blondell) being buried at sea, which is a rather sombre affair, or it would be if Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) could stop giggling. The Rogue Prince seems wholly uninterested in burying (or sinking?) his late wife and instead spends most of the burial-making eyes at his niece, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy).
If incest makes you squeamish, I’ve got bad news for you; it’s one of those episodes. But we’ll get to the squick later because, after the burial, we get to see a Targaryen wake, which mainly involves drinking a lot of wine and avoiding people you hate. Again, it sounds a lot less like a fantasy series and more like real life.
During the wake, we learn that Lionel and Harwin Strong died in the fire at the end of episode 7. Jacaerys (Leo Hart), who’s aware of his status as a bastard, seems particularly upset by this crying to his mother that he cannot mourn his father without letting slip her treasonous affair.
Not that Harwin and Rhaenyra’s relationship is a secret. Alicent (Olivia Cooke) has seen to that, and the Velaryons know their grandchildren’s status well. Corlys (Steve Toussaint) just doesn’t care. He considers the fact that the future kings of Westeros carry his name as more important than their blood, something that devastates Rhaenys (Eve Best).
Viserys (Paddy Considine), bless him, tries to reconcile with Daemon, but the prince is having none of it. He tells his brother he does not wish to return to King’s Landing and that his home is in Pentos now.
The Viserys and Daemon scenes are always great value, and I wish we’d got a bit more of it in this episode, mainly because Viserys looks more like the Cryptkeeper than a king these days and can’t be long for this world.
With the festivities (is that the right word for a funeral?) pretty much over, everyone goes off to bed. Well, everyone except Daemon and Rhaenyra who o for an evening stroll. The pair talk about what could have been, and the princess blames her uncle for abandoning her.
Daemon refutes this, and before long, they get to make the dragon with two backs. I’ll be honest it’s grim, and the weirdos online who are into Rhaenyra and Daemon’s relationship are weird. They’re uncle and niece. It doesn’t matter who you shoot it, what music you put over it, or if you recast Rhaenyra. It’s horrible.
Getting away from whatever the hell is happening with those two, we cut to Prince Aemond, who – after a rocky start – manages to bond with Vhagar, Laena’s old dragon. This upsets Baela and Rhaena, who had hoped to claim the beast.
Aemond arrogantly tells them that Vaghar has a new master now and Jacaerys and Lucerys jump in to defend the girls. Things quickly heat up when Aemond calls Rhaenyra’s sons bastards, and Jacaerys draws a knife. As the boy’s scuffle, Lucerys gets the knife and cuts out Aemond’s eye.
This goes down like a particularly heavy lead balloon thrown off the back of a dragon, and Alicent demands justice. Viserys tries to keep the peace, but Alicent grows more hysterical, and she demands Ser Criston Cole cut out Lucerys eye.
As Cole goes to grab the boy, Daemon jumps in, forcing Alicent to take action. She seizes Viserys’ knife and attacks Rhaenyra with it. The fight’s quickly broken up, but the damage is done to Alicent’s reputation, who now seems like a crazy woman.
The next day the family goes its separate ways, with Otto Hightower telling his daughter not to listen to the whispers in court; she’s proven that she’s the backbone to win this fight. As the royal family sail away, Daemon and Rhaenyra watch from afar.
Rhaenyra tells her uncle she needs him and wants to take him as her husband. When Daemon says he cannot because of Laenor – who’d just recommitted himself to Rhaenyra and her cause – Rhaenyra gives her uncle a knowing look.
Daemon then arranges with Ser Qarl (Laenor’s lover) that the Velaryon prince meets an unfortunate end, and before the credits roll, Laenor is dead. It’s not all bad news, though. Daemon and Rhaenyra get married, which is something I guess.
Except for wait, LAenor’s not dead Qarl couldn’t bring himself to do it and they escaped across the Narrow Sea presumably to Pentos to live out their days.
Driftmark’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to a bottle episode on House of the Dragon, but it’s an important one. The sides have been drawn now for the Dance of the Dragons. We’re just waiting for Viserys to die. I will say I’m not sure if the TV series is trying to choose a side, but the Greens (Alicent’s side) seem really unlikeable, which means, gods forgive me, I’m rooting for team incest.
House of the Dragon episode 7 may not show any battles but this was probably the most important chapter in the story of Fire and Blood so far.