With its sixth episode, the first season of house of the dragon It supposes a radical change, carried out by two protagonists and some barbecues. SPOILER WARNING.
Hot in front!
THE WORLD OF TOMORROW
Since its first episode, house of the dragon faces a major narrative hurdle. To announce the civil war that was coming, the one that will end the Targaryen clan and leave Westeros without blood, it was essential to tell the beginnings. Bitter, bloody, complex roots spread over almost twenty years. That’s it a context impossible to summarize in an unfortunate explanatory cardboard and forced to extend into more than a single introductory episode. After five chapters full of ellipses, shocks and betrayals, the time has come to settle into a new temporality, synonymous with an additional challenge, perhaps the most delicate to date for the series.
In fact, this new arc opens with a childbirth scene… ten years after the conclusion of the previous episode. Almost the entire cast has thus been renewed, while this time jump is synonymous with the massive arrival of new characters. And that chapter of sometimes having to characterize its protagonists in a handful of shots, while allowing us to instantly restore the balance of power between the different actors, without forgetting to move the story forward.
The little family is delighted!
And as miraculous as it may seem, house of the dragon manages once again, by dint of narrative rigor and meticulous care in terms of staging, achieve the goal. However, it is at the maximum speed that is presented to us. Aegon, now an arrogant and overbearing teenager and an expert at pulling the rush off the balcony, but also the rest of a brother that we already guess under the intense stress of a potentially catastrophic succession. And things aren’t much better for Rhaenyra, whose children are only just beginning to realize that since her father would rather play the trombone than throw up mussels, they are probably some knight’s bastard.
While the one who will soon reign gives birth to a little Joffrey (don’t laugh), all the pieces are already in place so that the belly dancer disemboweled by the possession of the Iron Throne moves to the spinning wheels.
What good news!
RHAENYRA BLOOD FAMILY
A dynasty so eaten up with ambition that each new generation becomes the curse of the previous one. A luxurious throne, but whose corruption is such that it rots before the eyes of its courtiers. Power struggles that can only lead to a real massacre, long in the making, decades overdue, ripe for pouncing on the kingdom like an overripe fruit that leaves its branch. These are the main ingredients that I have rehashed since its presentation in the prequel to game of Thrones. And it is with some joy that we witness this week the beginning of its explosion, announced from the very first sequence.
As Rhaenyra gives birth to a future Joffrey (a first name that guarantees longevity, of course), she must, while her legs still drip with blood, seize the newborn to present to her former friend, Alicent. Immediately, the new interpreters of all these characters have the opportunity to take advantage of their rolethanks to an exhausting sequence shot, which reveals how the years have put each of them to the test, but above all, how the bonds of power have evolved.
We are twin sisters…
Were it not for his wife, Viserys, a ghastly and rotten old man, would be unable to maintain his rank. A situation that gives his wife a power far superior to her official rank. Consequently, he took a powerful ascendancy over Port-Réal, the Council and, by extension, the members of the court. This is what decoupage is interested in establishing throughout this chapter., until its epilogue, of remarkable blackness and irony. Because if the two women at the center of the narrative device prepare for a war of all against all, it is, first of all, because they know very well that, like sharks, stopping short would be synonymous with death.
And Rhaenyra sees it, when she tries the desperate gesture of proposing to her former adoptive sister to unite their two families in a proper marriage. But it’s too late. Alicent has struggled with her womanhood for years., and is very happy to send his competitor back to nurse status. The precision of the montage is remarkable, constantly working to establish how this regime besieged from all sides is sustained, without forgetting the diffusion of a series of shots that reveal the loneliness of each character, ambitious on borrowed time or aspiring to sovereign.
aegon with the wind
But again, house of the dragon One of those accelerations that they reserve for us, of which the series has the secret. Closer to the wipe forgotten in a turbine of meat than to the figure of the old king, Viserys can no longer retain the claimants to the Throne, who have understood that the only dam that curbed their appetites was the carnal bond uniting the heiress of the kingdom to the head of the Port-Réal Guard. A powerful man on paper, son of the Hand of the King, whose setting will establish the flaws and vulnerabilities in a handful of scenes of effective cruelty.
And while our two powerful women are forced to externalize their enmity, without allowing themselves to be reached by their respective allies, we are witnessing the birth of some other tragedies, which should allow the saga to rapidly gain in intensity, varying its devices, its narrative arcs and its settings. Evidenced by Daemon’s broken family, which we believe he is on the verge of appeasement, having found a wife at the height of his torments.
A workout gone wrong
But, once again, it is precisely the feminine condition that constantly takes over a universe designed by and for men. Always giving birth from her womb a fruit destined to supplant them, kill them or make them sink into oblivion, the stage watches them with a mixture of doom and empathywhich highlights the extent to which their only chance to exist is through a form of transgression and brutality that condemns them to the disgust of their peers, when it does not condemn them to confrontation.
This is brilliantly established by the conclusion of this episode, which runs parallel to Alicent, with the understanding that her weak adviser provoked a mock act of war both to serve her Queen’s interests and to advance her pawns within her own clan, and Rhaenyra, to join Daemon and his misty lands hope to survive, reign one day and protect their descendants. All this at the risk of awakening the thirst for chaos that almost took them ten years before. The dragons have put on their pretty shoes, which are not blue suede, and it’s time to dance.