Here it comes, the big time jump we’ve all been anticipating. House Of The Dragon episode six takes us so far into the future that it required recasting some of the major roles, including Rhaenyra (played to this point by Milly Alcock) and Alicent (portrayed so far by Emily Carey). This episode will kick off the second half of the season (difficult to believe we’re halfway through already) with a major reset, so it’s hard to know what questions to even ask other than how far we’re going and what the characters will be up to when we get there. Those are pretty broad topics, so we’ve narrowed our questions down to specific things we’re wondering about following the end of episode five. There were a few hints dropped about what’s to come, so let’s follow those breadcrumbs and see where they lead.
1. Is King Viserys dead?
There wasn’t a single scene in “We Light The Way” where Viserys looked well. The Iron Throne has been literally poisoning him with each little cut and scrape. His fingers are falling off, his arm is covered in something very gross, and the maester’s preferred treatment of leeches doesn’t seem to be doing much to stop the decay. He stumbles around like a feeble old man, using a sword for a cane. Not exactly the visage of someone who demands fear or respect at court.
We get that it’s a metaphor—as his body withers away so does his power—the question is how long for this world is he? Will he stubbornly stay alive just to spite the circling vultures awaiting his demise? The show seems to enjoy torturing the audience just as much, with fake-outs that make it seem as though he’s finally done for, only to bring him back in the next scene, carrying out his kingly duties. His collapse at the end of episode five seemed like the culmination of his ongoing health crisis, but you never know with this guy. He’s still a Targaryen, and as stubborn as they come.
2. Did Larys Strong just quietly move up the power rankings?
In the grand Game Of Thrones tradition of “Cripples, Bastards, And Broken Things,” characters like Larys Strong are not to be underestimated. A club-footed gossip monger with ambitions beyond his station, he’s sort of like Tyrion Lannister, Lord Varys, and Littlefinger all rolled into one. Larys has already chosen his side in the inevitable fight over succession. In the book Fire And Blood, there is a reason for his animosity towards Rhaenyra, but it’s related to something that hasn’t happened yet on the show, so it would seem like he had no other calculation than picking whatever side his father wasn’t on.
If you feel like the show has been lacking a schemer, it looks like we’ve got one now. Think about what he put into motion in the garden with that revelation about Rhaenyra and the tea. If it weren’t for him, Alicent might not have questioned Ser Cole and discovered the princess’ duplicity. They might still be friends. Having proven a reliable source of intel for the queen, he’s made himself invaluable to her at court. Her rise could ensure his rise as well. What else has he got up his sleeve?
3. What’s the meaning of Alicent’s green dress?
As Larys helpfully exposited for us, the flame in the hightower (the lighthouse-like structure for which House Hightower is named) glows green when the lord calls his banners to war. Even if you didn’t know that particular bit of lore, the fact that the queen is wearing her own house colors rather than Targaryen red and black at such an official event is an attention-grabbing break in protocol. She made sure that everyone knew it, too, by arriving late to draw as many eyes to her as possible. She’s standing in her own power, no longer merely an accessory to the king. This is a pivotal moment, as Fire And Blood readers know (although it happens at a different event), and will definitely come up again as the battle lines between supporters of the potential successors become more overtly defined.
Is this officially the end of Alicent and Rhaenyra’s friendship? There were a couple of things that pushed Alicent to the breaking point in episode five, and they all point back to Rhaenyra. At every turn, she had to face the fact that their friendship had limits. Would Rhaenyra really go so far as to kill Alicent’s children to ensure the legitimacy of her claim, as Otto suggested? The truth doesn’t matter as much as what Alicent believes could be true. She might not have believed it if she hadn’t been doubly blindsided by Larys’ revelation about the tea and Ser Criston’s admission of guilt, back to back. And with her big entrance, Alicent seems to be signaling to Rhaenyra and the realm that there’s no coming back from this.
4. Is Daemon still after Rhaenyra or does he have a new prize in mind?
Daemon didn’t go all the way to the Vale to kill his wife only to leave King’s Landing without a new bride lined up. He’s always had his eye on Rhaenyra, but whenever she challenges him he backs off. She seems to be the only one to have that effect on him; no one else would have the nerve. It’s almost as if he likes her too much to make her a pawn in his political games. So he arrives at the welcome banquet full of swagger (Matt Smith does so much in this show without words), perhaps ready to carry the bride away on his dragon, until she dares him to do just that. There’s another potential wife candidate in attendance, though, and he doesn’t seem to have the same reservations about courting Laena Velaryon as his brother once did (now that she’s all grown up). If his niece won’t do, perhaps his cousin once removed will be a suitable alternative? And this is why the Targaryen family tree is so hard to follow.
5. Will there be consequences for Ser Criston Cole?
Ser Criston showed his true colors in episode five, and they weren’t pretty. After Rhaenyra turned down his offer to run away together—he might be hot, but he’s not give-up-a-chance-to-be-queen hot—he spent most of the rest of the episode brooding like an emo teenager. We would have felt sorry for him if he hadn’t turned that inner rage outward and taken his frustration out on poor Ser Joffrey Lonmouth.
But as brutal as that beating was, it’s not what could get him fired from the Kingsguard. Every knight who takes on the white cloak must swear an oath similar to the Night’s Watch, that they’ll hold no lands, take no wife, father no children. The penalty for breaking that vow, as Ser Criston pointed out to Alicent, is gelding and banishment. To him, being put to death would be preferable. Ser Joffrey didn’t mean to besmirch Ser Criston’s honor, he merely suggested they look out for each other as unofficial royal side pieces. But now he thinks the word is out, and it’s more likely he’ll meet one of those two fates. So off he storms to the Godswood to take matters into his own hands, until Alicent shows up and stops him. It’s significant that it was Alicent, and not Rhaenyra, who went after him. Seems like she’s as done with him as he is with her. And Alicent may have found another valuable ally for her side if he sticks around.