How ‘House of the Dragon’ fixes ‘Game of Thrones’ errors

Warning: The next comprises spoilers from Episode 4 of “House of the Dragon,” “King of the Narrow Sea.”

“House of the Dragon’s” younger Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen is a fortunate lady. She has freedom, safety and guile, luxuries the ladies of “Game of Thrones” weren’t allowed till they suffered all method of violence and indignity over a number of seasons.

We’re solely on the fourth episode of the HBO prequel collection, and already there are hints that Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) possesses Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon-riding prowess and warrior coronary heart, Cersei Lannister’s scheming abilities and Arya Stark’s rebellious spirit, notably when commanded to “act like a lady.”

The younger royal is the product of errors realized within the authentic collection, notably by Dany’s demise. Like most of the girls of “Game of Thrones,” who have been repeatedly raped, abused, imprisoned, starved or married off to sadistic pigs, she was made to undergo earlier than she was allowed a shred of sovereignty. And when Dany was lastly poised to win the throne, the Breaker of Chains and Mom of Dragons was killed off mere ft from the seat of energy. She was denied the prize as a result of she misused her authority, burning innocents alive on her technique to conquering King’s Touchdown. However was it worse than the blood on the fingers of the boys who dominated Westeros earlier than her, or those that would possibly come after? Was she allowed to redeem herself, like Tyrion and Jamie Lannister? For feminine followers who watched the present, her finish echoed a well-known workplace dynamic: Males fail upward, and profit from probability after probability. Girls’s failures are deadly, as a result of they get just one shot.

Issues are completely different within the Westeros of “House of the Dragon,” set practically 200 years earlier than Dany’s delivery. Rhaenyra does the unthinkable on this week’s episode, and he or she’s not disowned or useless — but. Her discretion is all of the extra beautiful since King Viserys (Paddy Considine) has lastly allowed her to decide on a husband relatively than arranging her marriage. However matrimony is the very last thing the 17-year-old desires. Rhaenyra turns down a procession of suitors, from frail previous males to fragile younger boys, rolling her eyes at “the ridiculous pageant.”

She later complains to her childhood buddy, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), concerning the exhaustive tour of would-be husbands.

Alicent, who’s now the queen, says, “Tis rare for girls in this realm to get a choice between two suitors, no less two score of them.”

“They only want my name and my Valyrian blood for their offspring,” complains the princess, to which the queen replies, “I think it’s rather romantic.”

“How romantic it must be to get imprisoned in a castle and made to squeeze out heirs.” Poor, perpetually pregnant Alicent. It’s the story of her teen life.

Turning Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) right into a crazed assassin was a betrayal of her collection’ arc — and one of many selections that alienated “Game of Thrones” viewers.


Although rebellious, Rhaenyra continues to be naïve in some ways, and her dastardly uncle, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), sees a possibility in that innocence. He urges her to sneak out of the fortress with him at evening, and disguised in boy’s clothes, she witnesses the spectacle and debauchery of The Maintain. He takes her to a brothel, the place there are notably extra males on the payroll than in Littlefinger’s whorehouse (one other notable change on this model of Westeros). The orgy stirs her passions and Daemon begins to seduce her publicly — then actually leaves her there along with her pants down. She returns to King’s Touchdown and in flip woos her knight and protector, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel).

The princess removes his armor and clothes. She initiates their roll on the royal mattress sheets, selecting with whom and when she loses her virginity. It was a stunning flip of occasions in a gripping however brutal saga the place barbarism over women and girls has been an important a part of the sport.

However “House of the Dragon” isn’t a progressive reimagining of the Seven Kingdoms, for the entire protestations of “fans” who’ve criticized the prequel as too “woke” merely for together with Black characters and self-possessed girls. Even on its face, the modified social mores make sense: “House of the Dragon” takes place in a distinct time from “Game of Thrones,” and so much can evolve — and regress — over two centuries.

Alicent is a primary instance of the norm for royal women on this model of Westeros. Because the princess finds pleasure with the recent younger knight, the mom of two fulfills her obligation as a queen: Staring blankly on the ceiling, she lays on the mattress below the previous, rotting king as he grunts away on high of her. It’s the epitome of sacrificing for the realm.

There are different indicators that “House of the Dragon” has imbued Rhaenyra with greater than her predecessors (within the social order of the HBO collection, not less than). Her sturdy survival instincts kick in when a spy divulges she was in a brothel the place she seems to have “lost her honor” to her uncle, and it’s right here we witness her potential as a masterful tactician. Crafty in girls is commonly a unfavourable attribute reserved for evil queens and witches, however right here, it’s a possible superpower within the making.

It’s nonetheless to be seen if Rhaenyra shall be allowed to soar, or have her wings clipped if she will get too excessive, à la Dany. There are nonetheless six episodes to go, and it’s a franchise famend for obliterating followers’ expectations for his or her favourite characters. However for now, “House of the Dragon” has artfully set two wonderful collection aside by empowering a younger princess.