House of the Dragon Episode 4 Review: King of the Narrow Sea
Daemon returns to Westeros as a triumphant conqueror. He makes amends with Viserys. But he sneaks Rhaenyra out of the castle for a night on the town. Then it all hits the fan.
Daemon trifles with the apple of Viserys’ eye. He squanders whatever goodwill he gains from three years of blood and toil. In a single night, he throws it away. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra takes the brunt of Daemon’s decision. It nearly costs her everything. Finally, Viserys cuts off his rotting Hand.
This episode seems like the hangover from the high of last week’s triumphant victory for Daemon and Westeros. It's the crash from Rhaenyra's blessing from the gods. How could things go so wrong for these characters?
The pacing slows for this episode. It's jarring after moving so quickly in the first three. This viewer feels like he's sitting still. At least the writers take the time to stoke the flames of the conflict and reveal a bit more about character.
There is nothing special about Otto. He has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. To anyone with the slightest bit of sense, his intentions are obvious. They always have been. But Otto is nothing if not an opportunist. And he is not above murdering a member of the Targaryen bloodline to get his progeny closer to the Iron Throne. He has had the luxury of a too trusting king with a penchant for showing mercy to the wrong people.
Curse you Viserys. He knew all along that Otto was a viper. Yet he let the snake into the garden. Why doesn't he understand that serpents bite? He may come to understand it soon enough. But this viewer hopes Rhaenyra doesn't fall to the viper's strike.
And Rhaenyra, for heaven's sake, has been chosen by the gods--blessed by the gods. She could've easily lost it all because she wasn't thinking. And thinking is her strongsuit. It's so uncharacteristic of her not to think. Daemon is her Kryptonite. This viewer hope's she comes to recognize this weakness and purges herself of it. It will be necessary for her ascension. The bright spot is that Rhaenyra is still learning the Game. At least she has the wherewithal to bargain against the one that plots against her.
Daemon quickly becomes the character who can’t seem to get out of his own way. After just one week of sitting on top of the world, he finds himself in the same position that he’s in before he joins forces with the Sea Snake.
How can one reach such heights and fall back to earth so quickly? Daemon berates his brother for being so trusting. But he misplaces his own trust as well. That mistake gives Otto the ammunition he needs to clear the deck for Aegon.
Because Daemon is petty. His brother offers him whatever he wants. He could’ve used that goodwill to take Otto’s seat. There is very little in that world that Viserys would withhold from his beloved brother. But one thing Viserys would never give Daemon would be the only thing Viserys loves more than he loves Daemon: Rhaeynra.
This viewer has been deceived. To think that Daemon’s trial by fire against the Crabfeeder didn't change him. Then what was it's purpose? To show us that Daemon isn't a serious contender to the crown? Is Daemon a paper tiger? We'll see.
Final Thoughts This viewer fears for the House of the Dragon. Viserys should’ve put Otto down. The weak and impotent Otto has always been an opportunist. The fangs of a fallen viper still have venom. Can they kill a dragon or three?