House of the Dragon episode 5 review: A classic Westeros wedding, two brutal goodbyes and a green dress

We review the events of House of the Dragon episode 5. What did Alicent’s dress mean? What is Larys Strong doing? And how long has King Viserys got left?

By Alex Fletcher Published: 22 September 2022 - 1.16pm
Ser Criston Cole and The Knight of Kisses in House of the Dragon episode 5

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After the events of Game of Thrones, we all know what a wedding means in Westeros. It wouldn’t be someone’s special day without murder, mutilation or monstrosity.

And House of the Dragon delivered a splendidly grisly affair as Princess Rhaenyra and Ser Laenor agreed to bring House Targaryen and House Velaryon together in ‘happy’ union.

It's never the best start to a married life when both parties agree beforehand they’ll just keep sleeping around with whatever knights they fancy, but they probably didn’t expect things to turn sour quite so quickly.

As ever with House of the Dragon, there were plenty of other shifting chess pieces beyond the wedding day as King Viserys' deteriorating health appeared to embolden the show's many plotters.

Here are all the burning questions after episode 5, We Light The Way – which is available to stream on Sky Atlantic with NOW.

1. What does the end of Ser Joffrey Lonmouth mean for Ser Criston Cole?

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon

We shouldn’t have been so easily swayed by his lovely hair. It turns out all it takes is a bit of heartbreak to turn Ser Criston from dashing knight to brutal face-masher.

After having his offer to run away to Essos with Princess Rhaenyra spurned, Ser Criston cut a forlorn figure at her wedding. Despite her offer of regular hanky-panky, Ser Criston felt like his breach of oath deserved more than just becoming the future Queen’s bit-on-the-side.

Ser Laenor Velaryon had a secret lover of his own, the Knight of Kisses Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod). We say secret, but everyone seemed to know about Ser Laenor’s true feelings and just opted to keep their mouths shut. Presumably to avoid the wrath of his father, The Sea Snake, who insists it's just a phase.

Unfortunately, Ser Joffrey’s lack of subtlety eventually cost him dear, as he tried to make a cheeky arrangement with Ser Criston. All they needed to do was have each other’s backs and they could keep on sleeping with the royal couple. Unluckily for Joff, Criston decided he would rather turn the Knight of Kisses face into a bloody pulp than join in this charade.

Ser Criston ended the episode being saved from killing himself by Queen Alicent, who presumably wants to form a new We-Hate-Rhaenyra gang with the Dornish warrior.

Elsewhere, Ser Laenor was left screaming in anguish at his lover's bloodied corpse, and we got a first glimpse of Ser Harwin ‘Breakbones’ Strong, erm, breaking some bones, as he stepped in to halt the brawl. Oh, and King Viserys was gushing blood from his nose and collapsed as this chaos was happening.

We do love a good wedding.

2. Has Queen Alicent Hightower declared war with a dress?

Emily Carey as young Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon episode 5 wearing a green dress

We mentioned last week how Emily Carey had been a low-key MVP of House of the Dragon, striking the right balance for a character who has so far been a peacemaker.

However, as the truth was at last revealed to her about her old mate Rhaenyra’s bedroom antics, Alicent appeared to finally take a side in the battle for the Iron Throne.

With her father’s parting words no doubt swirling around her head, Alicent strutted into her step-daughter’s wedding midway through the father-of-the-bride’s speech in a stunning green dress. The significance of the colour is that green is used by House Hightower in smoke signals when declaring war.

Otto warned Alicent that the fate of her two sons was at risk if Rhaenyra became Queen, because she would need to kill them to quash doubts about her authority. Alicent clinged to the belief her friendship with Rhaenyra might save her boys, but after discovering her friend’s secret liaisons, she no longer trusts the future Queen. A childhood friendship has been smashed into pieces and that can only be bad news for a peaceful succession.

3. Who is Larys Strong and what is he plotting?

Matthew Needham as Lary Strong in House of the Dragon

The character who appeared to gain the most from this week’s episode was the increasingly sneaky Larys Strong.

Played by Matthew Needham, he’s limped his way into the ear of Queen Alicent and dropped a few little nuggets about Rhaenyra’s special Plan B tea brewed by the Grand Maester.

Larys’s whispers worked out even better than he hoped as Ser Criston quickly confessed to doing the dirty deed, sending Alicent straight into the wardrobe for her finest green couture.

Otto Hightower may have departed King’s Landing, but Larys already looks prepared to step up as the schemer, whisperer and chief informant to Alicent.

What his ultimate goals are, and whether he is working alone, remains to be seen.

4. Why did Prince Daemon kill his wife Lady Rhea Royce?

Rachel Redford as Lady Rhea Royce

We finally got meet Prince Daemon’s wife, or as he so affectionately called her, his “bronze b***h”, this week.

Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford) wasn’t what anyone would have expected from Daemon’s snide asides as she galloped onto screen and cut her husband down to size with withering disdain. She packed some serious swagger and it turned out Daemon’s disdain for their marriage stemmed from his own inadequacy more than anything else.

Perhaps her remarks about Daemon’s bedroom skills pushed him over the edge, as he spooked her horse and brutally killed her with a rock. Or more likely, Dameon just wanted to kill her so he could get his hands on their inheritance – the home of Runestone in The Vale.

Either way, it was only a fleeting cameo for Lady Rhea. However, her comments about him being a flop in the bedroom, may continue to haunt the increasingly unhinged Prince for a while to come.

5. How long can King Viserys stay alive?

Paddy Considine as King Viserys in House of the Dragon episode 5

We’re going to miss Paddy Considine as King Viserys when he eventually departs the show, but the question right now is how much longer can he possibly stay alive.

No amount of leeches is going to help him as he bleeds from his nose, frequently collapses and his fingers crumble one by one.

His speech with new Hand of the King, Lord Strong, about his regrets as a ruler was a low-key moment, but felt like one of the most significant in House of the Dragon so far.

As a King through a period of peace, Viserys voiced disappointment that he had never been put to the test. The irony is that we have seen Viserys challenged over the last five episodes, just not in the traditional way using armies and violence from outsiders.

With their dragons and fleets, the Targaryens needn’t fear forces beyond King's Landing. However, Viserys has failed with his biggest challenge – the question of succession.

The Hightowers, Velaryons, Daemon, Rhaenyra and everyone else in King’s Landing have been plotting, but the King has failed to keep the peace and his cries that there will be a new era of Targaryen rule after he’s gone are tragically misguided.

Viserys desperately wanted to be a good King, but his legacy will be of a man who left behind a family in tatters.

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