‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 5 Shows Why Weddings Should Be Banned in Westeros
19th September 2022

In 2022, many Americans are getting married later, or not at all, and never do we find ourselves as grateful for this cultural evolution than while watching “Game of Thrones” and “House of the Dragon.”

Sunday’s “Dragon” episode, “We Light the Day” celebrated the wedding of heir to the Iron Throne Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) to the powerful heir to Driftmark Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate). The young and decidedly not in love couple are barely even related, a victory in all seven kingdoms, but their nuptials were far from uneventful, and not in a good way.

Back in “Game of Thrones” Season 1, it was observed that “A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair.” This was uttered at Daenerys’ wedding to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), in a scene that very much depicted the nonwhite Dothraki as wild and barbaric. But the citizens of Westeros are no better; over the course of “Thrones” and now “Dragon,” it looks like weddings are the top chosen occasion for violent, vengeful murder.

The murder in question: An innocent — if petty — Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), Laenor’s secret lover. For reasons known only to the departed, he decides to needle Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) over their shared position as classified royal consorts, which results in Criston beating Joffrey to an actual pulp on the banquet hall floor.

(It’s worth nothing that there are actually a lot of happy and successful marriages in George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” but almost all of them are between direct siblings. Point one to incest, I guess.)


A man with long blonde hair, wearing a crown and medieval formalwear, sitting next to a young woman (his daughter) with an elaborate blonde updo and a white medieval wedding dress, both of them sitting at a banquet table; still from "House of the Dragon."

It’s all downhill from here.

HBO

“Thrones” is known mainly for two doomed marriage celebrations: the Red Wedding, where houses Frey and Bolton brutally massacred the Stark family and their banners, and the Purple Wedding, when Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) was poisoned at his own feast. The only wedding where no one was murdered was Sansa’s (Sophie Turner), which cannot be considered successful or joyous by any metric. The events in “House of the Dragon” took place long before any of this, evidencing Westeros’ long history of savage marriage festivities. Indeed, one could argue that “House of the Dragon” shows its more primitive society’s values in this scene; Joffrey is barely wiped off the floor before the marriage proceeds and everyone acts like a knight didn’t commit murder while people were barely done with dinner.

Criston’s attack on Joffrey kills the vibe in a number of ways. Up until that point, the wedding is at zero deaths, which is the ideal number of deaths to have at any event! In his defense, young Joff can’t have known that Criston was not as cool with the matrimonial arrangement as he was, that it was actually destroying him to watch Rhaenyra marry someone else, even if said groom is spoken for. It’s a shame because Laenor and Rhaenyra’s arrangement was as promising and progressive as things get in Westeros, even centuries later; she accepts his sexuality and he accepts her colorful history, and they agree to live and let live while performing the requisite duties of the crown and their houses. But relationships like that are tricky; Joffrey may have been content with it, but Criston’s disappointment is understandable. He doesn’t even have the option of not attending the wedding because he works for the crown! It’s a situation in which most people might struggle to keep it together — but might we suggest he redirect that anger next time? Pound a few shots at the back of the room like a normal person, Criston!

But being petty was certainly the look of the day at Princess Rhaenyra’s wedding to Laenor Velaryon. Before Criston spattered the floor with bits of Joffrey, the most scandalous event of the evening was Queen Alicent (Emily Carey) entering the event clad in a dazzling green dress. This would be gasp-worthy enough without additional context — homegirl is wearing that dress, on a mission to outshine a bride on her wedding day — but the significance of House Hightower’s emerald hue matters deeply. Up until now, Alicent supported Rhaenyra, even as their relationship was tested. By forsaking Rhaenyra and asserting her Hightower roots, Alicent is sending a message. She takes it even further after the wedding by enlisting Criston’s sword, forgiving him on the spot for ruining Rhaenyra’s day and Laenor’s life because Alicent might just be enjoying watching her old friend suffer. There’s no more denying the fissure between these women, a crack that could destroy Westeros and countless houses when it breaks open.

“House of the Dragon” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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