Film and TV

Five Short Rants About House of the Dragon Episode 6

Alicent, left, seen here being the worst.
Alicent, left, seen here being the worst. Screencap from House of the Dagon: "The Princess and the Queen"
Spoilers through Episode 6

I am heavily invested in House of the Dragon, as evidenced by the fact the show often sends me pacing around my living room loudly calling the characters awful names to my cats, who do not care. Here are five short rants based on Episode 6, “The Princess and the Queen.”

Because You’re the Worst, Alicent

Most of the episode is centered around Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) being in a snit because no one supports her irrational grudge against Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy). Previously, Alicent’s dad got fired from being Hand of the King over accusations he was using his position to put his own grandson on the throne instead of Rhaenyra, something he was absolutely doing. Also, she’s mad Rhaenyra was out having sex with people as a teenager while she had to stay home and have sex with her former best friend’s dad, a job she willingly signed up for.

So, Alicent whines to her only two conspirators that no one is on her side. These include a psychopath who beat another man to death at his ex-girlfriend’s wedding rehearsal and another guy who burns his own father and brother alive for some reason. At no point does Alicent ever stop and realize that maybe her stable being full of heels means she might not be the good guy here. The series that gave us Cersei Lannister has put all their hopes on discount Regina George for the villain now.

Why the Window?

We get a look at all the Targaryen kids this episode, including the oldest, Aegon (Ty Tennant). Maybe too much of a look since at least one shot introduces him ass-first wanking out of a tower window. Why a window? I’ve been a teenage boy with a troublesome erection before, and I can’t remember ever deciding to fap on a ledge above what is almost certainly a fatal drop. Aegon has way more faith in his stance than is probably warranted.

Then Alicent (the worst) barges in, sees him skinning the bishop, and rather than walking out decides this is a good time to sit on the bed with him and discuss him being king. It’s the most awkward scene in a series that includes at least one drawn out conversation about sex with a bear.

Laenor Doesn’t Do His Duty

Rhaenyra’s husband Laenor (John Macmillan) has one job: get his wife pregnant a few times. The episode makes it very clear that Laenor, who is very gay, has not done this, despite literally the entire fate of the world hanging on it. I think we’re supposed to empathize with him because he’s not physically attracted to Rhaenyra, but it makes him look like a doofus.

Like, buddy… do you have any idea how many gay guys have biological children, especially in the nobility? It’s a lot. You’re married to the heir to the throne, a beautiful woman who completely supports you having male lovers, and you can’t find the time to ejaculate into her once a fortnight to make sure your kid will be literally king of everything? It’s sad that your boyfriend died, but you don’t have real problems. And on that subject…

Come On, Rhaenyra

Why does Rhaenyra have three dark-haired bastards? We know for a fact that Westeros is aware of how babies are made. There’s this whole extended conversation in one of the books about Cersie Lannister not getting pregnant by Sir Boring of Blandwood because he pulls out and ejaculates on her stomach. Hell, we’ve even established that birth control exists in this universe.

I realize that every plot must eventually have the main character act like a complete yogurt head, but Rhaenyra seems to have got a particularly bad case of Dumb Protagonist Syndrome. Complex genetics might be beyond her, but I’m sure she can see how her family’s genes have mixed with other people in portraits and in her own family. One child could maybe be overlooked, but three? At that point Rhaenyra has to be doing it on purpose.

Okay, That’s Enough Birth Trauma

The showrunners have stated in multiple interviews that they wanted to portray birth as a battle, and in the first episode they kind of made that point well enough. But now, we’ve seen two women die incredibly violent deaths in childbirth and a third literally bleed her way across the floor to make a statement. One of them self-immolates so that she doesn’t die in bed of sepsis thanks to a stuck baby.

There’s introducing an interesting thematic concept and then there is just exploitative spectacle. House of the Dragon has definitely passed into the latter. Birth has been framed not as a struggle, but as a horror story. Constant trauma isn’t a cool writing trick. It’s just stomach-churning.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner