House of the Dragon, episode 7, review: Westeros finds another way to make us feel queasy

That minor impediment was swiftly dealt with, as Daemon (Matt Smith) hired someone to bump the existing husband off. In a neat twist, however, it turned out that the husband, Laenor Velaryon (John MacMillan), was in on the plot all along, and with the help of the supposed hitman was able to fake his own death and escape to a new life elsewhere. An outcome which I imagine will suit him rather nicely, given that he never seemed entirely happy in his marriage to Rhaenyra, what with being gay and all. So at least the incest ended up doing someone some good.

Anyway, grim though it may have been, this was another strong episode, crackling with tension and conflict: in particular, the brawl between the royal brats that resulted in one of Queen Alicent’s (Olivia Cooke) sons losing an eye to one of Rhaenyra’s. This was followed by Alicent – in the latest step of her journey from meek ingénue to vengeful gorgon – bellowing at her husband: “I shall have one of HER sons’ eyes in return!”

Funnily enough, King Viserys (Paddy Considine) wasn’t altogether keen on this suggestion, given that Rhaenyra’s sons also happen to be his own grandsons. Which is a point worth dwelling on. Because in House of the Dragon, it isn’t just Rhaenyra and her uncle who have an unhealthily close relationship. Now that Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) is back, the King’s chief adviser is the father of the King’s wife, which means he’s also the grandfather of (some of) the King’s children. Meanwhile, the King’s wife is the former childhood confidante of the King’s daughter – but now in adulthood the two are bitter rivals, because the King’s adviser wants his own eldest grandson, the King’s son, to take the throne instead of the King’s daughter. No, not easy to keep track, is it. At any rate: all these characters are far too closely linked for their own good, or for that matter anyone else’s. In fact, it’s their closeness that’s driving them apart.

Still, great drama. I can’t go, however, without mentioning the episode’s one serious flaw: Lord Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), the simpering psychopath, was barely in it. Despite what he did in last week’s shocking climax, the writers allotted him just a single paltry minute of screen time. 

Honestly. God knows what they think they’re playing at. Larys is by miles the show’s best character. I felt as if I’d gone to watch a new Bond film, only to find that 007 had nothing more than a brief cameo 50 minutes in, sipping an espresso while browsing the FT.

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