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House Of The Dragon’ Season 1 Episode 5 Recap – We Light The Way

Those were some exciting 20 minutes! Yes, you read that correctly. “We Light the Way,” the fifth episode of House of the Dragon, spends the majority of its nearly hour running time dealing with fairly standard Westerosi drama. But when the drums of House Velaryon announce the arrival of Lord Corlys (Steven Toussaint) to Rhaenyra’s (Milly Alcock) and Laenor’s (Theo Nate) pre-wedding feast, everyone knows something bad is about to happen.

And so it goes at a party where Targaryens, Velaryons, Coles, Hightowers, and others are throwing fists and accusations, murdering, declaring war, and even dancing a little. King Viserys (Paddy Considine) did, in fact, give his daughter a wedding to remember. It’s a fitting and exciting conclusion to the first half of the series’ first season, which follows Rhaenyra as a young princess.

Next week, Emma D’Arcy will take over as the woman who will be queen, and her best friend-turned-queen Alicent Hightower will be played by Olivia Cooke instead of Emilia Carey. Alcock and Carey’s incredible performances will be missed, but at least the two actresses got to leave the show in style.

But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves. There was a lot of build-up going on before all of that action and impending change, even if the story erred more on the side of relationship drama and palatial politics. To be fair, “We Light the Way” begins with a shocking, if not entirely unexpected, scene: the murder of Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford).

Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) never showed affection for his wife, and it was clear that the thought of murdering her crossed his mind when Viserys refused him Rhaenyra’s hand because he was already married. Nonetheless, viewers were not expecting him to show up in the Vale right away to throw his wife off her horse and bash her head in with a rock, framing the entire incident as a gruesome hunting accident. Lady Rhea didn’t even get a chance to defend herself.

Lady Rhea also died in vain. Because, while Daemon was on his way to divorce, his beloved niece was boarding a boat with her father and royal entourage to find herself a husband. As agreed by Rhaenyra and Viserys at the end of Episode 4, the princess will marry Lord Corlys’ eldest son, Laenor, to ensure the realm’s stability. In addition, according to King Viserys, the marriage will unite two houses from Old Valyria, ushering in a new Age of Dragons.
Rhaenyra and Laenor appear to be compatible. Of course, the in-laws have some reservations, but they are easily dispelled. Lady Rhaenys (Eve Best) is concerned that Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne will be challenged, resulting in war for both families and the entire realm. Her husband quickly calms her fears by reminding her of House Velaryon’s military prowess. Lord Corlys, on the other hand, desires that his grandchildren bear his surname, which the king agrees to as long as they change their surname to Targaryen once they ascend to the throne. But, aside from these minor concerns, the princess and her future husband have a good understanding of each other: fully aware that her cousin and betrothed prefers the company of other men — or, ahem, roast duck — Rhaenyra proposes that they fulfill their obligations to their families and then “dine” as they see fit. It’s a win-win situation for the young couple, their parents, and their respective love interests. Well, sort of. Joffrey (Solly McLeod), Laenor’s lover, is fine with the plan, but Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) isn’t thrilled about being Rhaenyra’s lover. In fact, the knight is heartbroken when the princess refuses to accompany him to Essos. And hell hath no fury like the scorn of a king’s guard…
Alicent sees part of her father’s prophecy coming true as the king’s health deteriorates even further, now convinced that Rhaenyra has already lied to her and may do so again. His Majesty appeared to be suffering from severe seasickness early in the episode, but it soon became clear that being on dry land did nothing to make him feel better. The sores that have been popping up all over Viserys’ body since Episode 1 appear to have worsened, and the Maesters can only do so much to relieve his pain. King Viserys, on the other hand, is still in good enough shape to host a welcome feast for all of his daughter’s wedding guests and plan a seven-day celebration for the royal union. Unfortunately for him, things do not go as planned.
Ser Criston’s attempted suicide is intercut with scenes from Rhaenyra and Laenor’s small, solemn wedding ceremony. The teary-eyed bride and groom exchange vows just seconds before King Viserys collapses to the ground. So far, no one knows whether he’s dead or just passed out. But, with Alicent assembling her army and Rhaenyra and Daemon getting closer by the day, it’s safe to say that the king will not rest in peace in the years between this week’s episode and the next, whether he’s above or below ground.

House of the Dragon airs on HBO on Sundays. Episodes can also be watched on HBO Max.