It turns out it just takes an incest plotline to boost HBO’s House Of The Dragon ratings, as the series saw a bump of 5 percent in viewership between the season’s third and fourth episodes.
The show’s really beginning to ramp up as it approaches the midseason mark, and nothing screams Game Of Thrones property like having an uncle and niece do the deed. In the newest episode’s climax, Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen whisks young Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) away to a brothel where they engage in familial intercourse. You got what you wanted, you sick little freaks.
In our review of “King of the Narrow Sea,” Jenna Scherer writes:
Then the episode takes us to the place where it was always headed: two Targaryens doing incest together. Game Of Thrones viewers have already been primed to enjoy seeing this particular taboo on display while also being disturbed by their enjoyment, and “King of the Narrow Sea” walks that line expertly.
Kilner juxtaposes Rhaenyra taking obvious (if unsettling) pleasure in Daemon with Alicent staring dead-eyed at the ceiling while Viserys has his way with her, his bare back covered in throne-inflicted wounds. The sequence draws a sharp line between their experiences—one of a woman as the subject of her own sexual desire, and another of a woman as the object of someone else’s.
It’s the kind of scene you almost never would have seen on Thrones, which mostly used sex as a device to spice up expository scenes or enact brutality; in almost all cases, women were objects for men’s lust, subjugation, or both.
When it comes to those who tuned in to the episode live on HBO, House Of The Dragon numbers stayed around the same between Labor Day weekend and Sunday’s episode. However, per Variety, the ratings boost comes into effect when taking into account HBO Max’s next-day viewership. Woot woot, incest discourse stays winning.