A funeral can be many things. It is usually a sad occasion, an event filled with tears and the sounds of parents, children, relatives, friends sobbing. However, a funeral can also be festive if the deceased lived a long and happy life and died at the right time – namely at an advanced age. When the dead is someone no one has really cared for, a funeral can feel like nothing more than paperwork, a mere bureaucratic rite that the living must go through before they can move on with their lives. Finally, there are those funerals that resemble failed peace negotiations between the leaders of warring countries; those funerals so tense that there’s barely room for the mourners. The heavy atmosphere can result from financial disputes, bad blood between different branches of the same family tree, or even petty rivalries between children. Either way, unless the family at issue is your own or you’re deeply involved in other people’s drama, this is the type of funeral you want to avoid at all costs.
If Lady Laena finds a silver lining (Nanna Blondel) in her untimely death by dragon/birth, it’s because she didn’t have to go through the ordeal of her own funeral that week house of the dragon. At least not in spirit. Laena’s funeral, which took place in Driftmark, was possibly the most awkward event in Westeros history so far, and that includes Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Laenors (John Macmillan) wedding dinner. At least no one was killed when the Velaryons finished mourning. Well, nobody of importance, I mean.
“Driftmark” begins peacefully enough, if a little sadly. King Viserys (Paddy Considine), Princess Rhaenyra, and their respective entourage have traveled to the seat of House Velaryon to mourn the death of Lady Laena and offer Targaryen-style support to her family. But not even a tragedy of this magnitude can compel the members of Westeros’ upper houses to keep their beefs to themselves. While conducting the ceremony, Ser Vaemond (Will Johnson) squeezes in an awkward comment about the strength of Velaryon blood, clearly aimed at Rhaenyra and her two older cubs. This prompts daemon (MattSmith) to laugh right in front of his dead wife’s coffin, and it’s all downhill from there. Even those who manage to keep up appearances don’t feel comfortable at the front desk, and not just because we’re all a little uncomfortable with death. Children and adults alike find it difficult to behave in this moment of grief.
At the grown-up table, so to speak, Viserys’ ailing health makes itself felt both mentally and physically. As he leaves reception to go to bed, he calls Queen Alicent (Olivia Cook) on behalf of his late first wife, Aemma (Sian Brooke). This Freudian slip is most likely due to his younger brother becoming a widower. The king tries to seize the opportunity to make amends with Daemon and offers him a place at court, but the prince would rather stay on Pentos as a dragon than accept his help. Meanwhile, Alicent and Rhaenyra exchange pointed looks, and Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint) distraught over his son’s self-pity and grandson’s refusal to become Lord of Driftmark. Later he and Rhaenys (Eva Best) discuss the possibility of giving the seat of House Velaryon to Laena’s eldest daughter, Baela (Shani Smithturst). Finally, as Rhaenys is quick to point out, it’s pretty obvious to anyone who cares to see that Lucerys (Harvey Sadler) and Jacaerys (Leo Hart) are not of Velaryon blood. Rhaenys sees through her husband’s insistence that he is only trying to give back what was taken from her by fixing his gaze on the Iron Throne, and accuses him of using his children to effectively become king by proxy. But the sea serpent hasn’t, and his ambition is made even clearer when he tells his wife that history doesn’t remember blood — she remembers names.
However, the real stars of “Driftmark” are not the adults, but the children. Even the reclusive Princess Helaena (Evie Allen) has her chance to shine by singing eerily to a spider in the middle of Laena’s post-funeral reception. Stunned, Aegon (Ty Tennant) complains to his younger brother about having to marry such a weird girl and sets off to find a drink and, if lucky, a woman for bed. He’s picked up later that evening by a very pissed off Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), who resigned his position as Hand after the death of Lord Lyonel (Gavin Spokes). Lord Otto drags his drunken grandson back to the castle and the party is over for all but a handful of Targaryens who are still looking for happiness.
The luckiest of them all, at least for a split second, is Prince Aemond (Leo Ashton). Taking advantage of the fact that nobody really seems to care about him, he ventures onto the beach to find a sleeping dragon with no master. In last week’s episode, we learned that Aemond’s dragon egg never hatched and therefore the young prince never bonded with a scaled pet. This makes him a constant target of bullying from both his older brother and nephews. It is therefore no wonder that when the prince finds an abandoned dragon on the beach, he tries to command and ride it. Surprisingly, he succeeds.
But Aemond’s small victory is bittersweet, because the dragon he managed to tame wasn’t a stray, it was Laena’s Vhagar. The prince is received at the castle not by a cheering crowd impressed by his achievement, but by Lucerys, Jacaerys, and the two daughters of Laena, who are angry at him for stealing their mother’s dragon. Rhena (Eva Ossei Gerning), sees red, and not without reason: having grown up without dragons, like Aemond, she planned to claim Vhagar as her own. The children exchange insults and things get physical when Aemond suggests Rhaena ride a pig with wings like the ones Aegon, Jacaerys, and Lucerys gave him in Episode 6. The four cousins team up to give the prince a beating, and he fights them off with a level of strength and skill only a boy bullied by his older brother can display. But then Jacaerys pulls out a knife and there’s little Aemond can do to keep the blade from getting in his way. After being called a bastard by his uncle, Lucerys takes his brother’s knife and stabs Aemond square in the eye, leaving him permanently scarred and partially blind.
Well, if you’ve ever seen a group of rich, spoiled kids engage in a particularly nasty fight, you know it’s not over until the parents lick blood. In the castle everyone is yelling at everyone while poor maester tries to work on Aemond’s face. King Viserys is angry with his men for leaving the children unguarded and allowing this to happen. Alicent is mad at Aegon for being too drunk to babysit his little brother. But when Rhaenyra walks in, the shit really hits the fan. King Viserys wants to know what happened and learns that Aemond questioned his grandchildren’s lineage. He asks Aemond who told him such a terrible thing (Hm) lies, and Aegon takes the fall for his mother, claiming that everyone in the court knows the boys are bastards. This leads to Viserys declaring that from now on anyone who dares question the parentage of his grandchildren shall have his tongue cut off. He then tells the children to stop their petty arguments and apologize to each other.
Everyone seems ready to do as they’re told and call it quits, but for Queen Alicent, apologizing isn’t enough. Justifiably enraged by the fact that her son has just lost an eye, she demands that her husband do so some about that. When he refuses, she decides to take matters into her own hands – and by “affairs” I mean the Catspaw dagger. Alicent pulls the blade straight from her husband’s belt and lunges at Lucerys, ready to take out one of the boy’s eyes in revenge. Rhaenyra stands in front of her son and tries to fight off her former friend, but Alicent seems to have lost her ability to think straight. Even Ser Criston (Fabian Frankel) sounds reasonable in comparison, as he refuses to obey Alicent’s orders to severely mutilate one of Rhaenyra’s children. The queen only comes to her senses after drawing some blood from Rhaenyra, leaving the princess with an ugly scar on her arm. She steps back in shock and Aemond tries to comfort her by saying that at least he got a dragon out of the whole thing. Still, the fight seems to have stirred something in Alicent, who is now ready to gather a group of allies not only to screw Rhaenyra, but also to strengthen her son’s claim to the throne.
What Alicent doesn’t know is that Rhaenyra also has something up her sleeve. Remember there was more than one Targaryen lucky after Laena’s funeral? Well, Rhaenyra and Daemon finally had their moment together after that ill-fated trip to the red light district of King’s Landing. It was a tender, beautifully shot sex scene that is very different from the violence game of Thrones became well known during his time on the air. But this romantic escapade first seems to lead to something much uglier when Rhaenyra asks Daemon to marry her and give her legitimate children so her claim to the throne won’t be challenged so easily. Of course, that can only happen if Laenor dies. And for a while it looks like Daemon will pay Laenor’s lover Qarl (Arty Froushan) to stage a duel with the Velaryon Heir and get rid of him. But – surprise, surprise – it’s not Laenor’s body that Corlys and Rhaenys are burning in their fireplace, it’s that of another poor boy. With his parents mourning his passing and his wife marrying her uncle, Laenor finds himself on a boat with Qarl and traveling far beyond the Straits, where he hopes to live a long and happy life far away from all that Targaryen nonsense.
house of the dragon airs Sundays on HBO. Episodes can also be streamed on HBO Max.
https://collider.com/house-of-the-dragon-season-1-episode-7-recap-driftmark/ An Eye for a Dragon