Light Spoilers Ahead
We have another time jump. Alicent has made herself comfortable in the seat of power. Viserys is king in name only. There is an uncivil war between Rhaenyra and Alicent. And Daemon has grown tired of the game. He has taken his pieces off the board, content to live off the Targaryen name in one of the Free Cities.
The writers are relentless. The pacing for this show moves along at an incredible speed. And they don't let up. They continue to push the plot and run the characters and the audience through the wringer without a moment's respite. Good on them.
The writers and actors have done an excellent job with the characters in the series so far. That's why this viewer thought that the time jump would be more jarring—that we wouldn't have as much of a connection to the characters because of the new actors. On the contrary, the transfer is seamless. The characters are written in such a way that they make us fall in love with them. The brevity of the time we have with them is irrelevant. It still stings when they are gone.
Lady Laena will be sorely missed. My wish is that the audience could have an entire season with her. Neither of the three actresses that portray her have much screen time. Though her character interactions are brief, they are memorable. And the last is as epic and powerful as it is sad.
Daemon has changed and grown. He seems content and mature—no longer restless and hungry. It’s obvious that he has found someone he loves more than himself or his ambition. And this viewer loves their family. Lady Laena and Daemon are quite good together. It’s clear she has made a better man of him. But will the happenings of this episode be enough to set him back on the Game's path?
Ser Laenor Velaryon has changed too. He’s a lot different than his younger self. There was a certain sobriety that alluded to his capabilities during the war of the Crabfeeder. But from what this viewer sees, he has become a drunkard. He seems more about frivolity than the business of the Game. It makes him look weak and less than capable. He doesn't seem like the type of person that Rhaenyra can rely on. Because he won't fulfill his duties and fully honor their agreement, Rhaenyra has to turn elsewhere. Her actions reflect poorly on both of them. In short, Ser Laenor isn't the person Rhaenyra needs in her corner as she tries to win the Game.
This is another excellent episode from the writing to the acting. The time jump in other series can be a death nail. But in this series, it's handled so deftly that it appears seamless. Long live the House of the Dragon!