The debut time of “Place of the Winged serpent” is mostly finished, and the fifth episode, “We Light the Way,” takes a ton of colossal actions in only a solitary hour. With the show’s biggest time bounce yet expected to occur in the exceptionally next episode — which will expel Milly Alcock and Emily Carey as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Sovereign Alicent Hightower and supplanted them with Emma D’arcy and Olivia Cooke, separately — this episode had a ton to set up, and it sure conveyed, giving us a portion that may simply be the series’ best episode to date.
“We Light the Way” provides the clearest setup for the eventual Dance of the Dragons — the civil war fought between Targaryens for the Iron Throne — yet, giving nearly every major player in this game (of thrones) time to plot and strategize as more of them inch closer to the ultimate seat of power. Let’s break down every important thing that happens in the fifth episode of “House of the Dragon.”
Daemon’s dirty deeds, round two
Last week, Daemon’s (Matt Smith) wildly chaotic nature led him into the underbelly of King’s Landing, into a very awkwardly intimate entanglement with his niece Rhaenyra, and into a situation where he experienced, uh, some performance issues that stopped that tryst dead in its tracks. After all of that, he finds himself banished back to the Vale to his wife’s side by his angry brother King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), and at the start of the episode, he certainly does head back to the Vale… only to do something completely despicable.
“We Light the Way” opens in the Vale with Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford), head of her House and Lady of Runestone, spurning her cousin to ride alone on her horse near the Eyrie, only to come face to face with her disloyal husband. Clearly, there’s exactly zero love lost between Rhea and Daemon, with the former mocking the latter over being replaced in the line of succession by Rhaenyra. Daemon, however, quickly physically overpowers Rhea, knocking her off her horse and seemingly paralyzing her before killing her with a rock offscreen; later, it seems that most of the Realm has accepted the obvious lie that Rhea, a skilled rider, died in a “hunting accident.”
Daemon returns to court, apparently uninvited, for Rhaenyra’s wedding, and continues his rotten behavior, making a scene with his betrothed niece right in front of Viserys. Daemon may not directly contribute to the wedding’s tragic turn, but he’ll almost certainly get in more trouble next week.
Alicent comes into her own
For four episodes, Alicent Hightower has been nothing more than a pawn, caught between her loyalty to her father Otto (Rhys Ifans), her love for her former best friend Rhaenyra, and her strategic marriage to Viserys. However, in this episode, spurred by her father’s banishment from court, she ends up charting her own course — and making some pretty big statements about her loyalty in the process.
Though she initially believes Rhaenyra that nothing happened with Daemon, Alicent is caught off guard when Ser Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) mentions that Rhaenyra received some contraceptive tea on the orders of her father Viserys. After seeking information from Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel), who immediately confesses to his affair with Rhaenyra, Alicent clearly takes a new approach to the situation, perhaps driven to unseat Rhaenyra and put her son with Viserys, Aegon II, on the Throne. Notably, at Rhaenyra’s wedding, she arrives strategically late clad in green; as Larys notes to his brother in the on screen audience, that’s a color of war for House Hightower. Alicent also chats with her uncle at the wedding, who tells her that “Oldtown,” her father’s home, “stands behind her,” making it clear that she’s fully ready for whatever battle comes next.