New cast members, a time jump, royal plotting. Let's break it down as Sunday night approaches.
HBO's House of the Dragondelivered a bloody episode 5. But if you stayed past the credits to catch a preview of episode 6, you might have felt a bit confused. Suddenly, we see new actors in major roles and the plot has leapfrogged years into the future, where we spot... King Viserys? What in the Westeros is going on here?
Spoilers ahead, naturally.
The preview starts with a dragon flying, and then a member of the king's Small Council saying, "We should address the latest development in the Stepstones." Wait, didn't Prince Daemon already handily do that by cutting the Crabfeeder in half? Ohhh, wait, this isn't a rerun. The Stepstones are giving Viserys ulcers once again.
Queen Alicent, now played by Olivia Cooke, age 28, instead of Emily Carey, 19, helpfully tells us it's been a decade since Daemon fought that battle, and he's since left the region undefended. Was this ... supposed to be his permanent job going forward? Doesn't leave a lot of time for murdering wives and fooling around with nieces. But what we take from this: It's about 10 years in the future, so get ready to see your favorite and least favorite characters aged, and in some cases, recast.
The camera then cuts to Princess Rhaenyra, formerly played by Milly Alcock, 22, and now played by Emma D'Arcy, 30. From the way Rhaenyra corrects her queen and former BFF, and the way Alicent cocks her head and gives Rhaenyra the death stare, it seems like they haven't mended their friendship over the past 10 years.
Hey! That's King Viserys at the table, right? Still played by Paddy Considine. And while he appears in need of some creme rinse, and is looking pretty feeble, at least he's not dead, which is surprising considering how scarred up he was getting. How many fingers am I holding up, Your Highness? Those leeches must know their business.
Then, Larys Strong, the man with the clubfoot who spilled the tea about the pregnancy-preventing moon tea in episode 5, is heard asking, "What are children but a weakness?" I already hate this guy, Littlefinger-style.
Still, his line is the perfect lead-in to our introduction to the next generation of Targaryens. We see a younger Targaryen, probably Alicent's second son, Aemond, encountering a dragon. Then we see now-teenaged Aegon, first son of Viserys and Alicent, and the royal family member much of the kingdom wants to serve as Viserys' heir -- simply because he's a male and Rhaenyra is not. (Aegon is now played by Tom Glynn-Carney, which shouldn't be a huge adjustment since we barely got to see the child actor playing him before this.) He's being trained to fight (his opponent might be Rhaenyra's son?) and Aegon looks pretty cocky.
He's also wearing green, the color of his mother's house, as we hear her say, "You will be our king." Seems like she's taken a cue from her father, Otto, and is now pushing her son to the throne, not her old friend Rhaenyra.
Rhaenyra wed Laenor Velaryon in episode 5, shortly after the the princess' protector, Ser Criston Cole, beat the man Laenor truly loved to death at a pre-marriage celebration gone bloody. The couple agreed they'd find sex elsewhere, and it does seem from the preview that many people in the kingdom believe Rhaenyra's babies are not her husband's biological offspring.
What's more, she's seen holding a baby next to a young boy. Her children don't have the shocking Targaryen blond hair she and Laenor both have; they have brown hair instead. Seems like that's what Queen Alicent is sputtering about when she says, "To have one child like that is a mistake, to have three is an insult."
So when you see a dark-haired kid, it's probably Rhaenyra's, and the young blonds are Alicent's. One of Rhaenyra's sons utters the famed "Dracarys!" command and his dragon lights someone up. I think it's a goat, not a person, but either way ... ouch!
We also see a mother and daughter who appear to be a pregnant Laena Velaryon and her child. Laena has been recast and aged too, and is now played by Nanna Blondell. And who's her husband, seen riding dragons with her? It sure looks to be Prince Daemon (Matt Smith). Yes, they're related. Yes, they wed and had children anyway, like almost everyone else on this show. V.C. Andrews has nothing on George R.R. Martin. Also, don't get in their way, because this is one couple that'll stop at nothing to get whatever they want.
Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) began as Rhaenyra's protector, then killed her husband's lover at her wedding, and now he may be on the side of Queen Alicent, who talked him out of killing himself in the Godswood at the end of episode 5. He's seen fighting Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), aka Harwin Breakbones, noted for his strength. If Ser Harwin is now Rhaenyra's protector, this could be essentially an Alicent-Rhaenyra proxy fight right here. Stay tuned.
Episode 6 of House of the Dragon will air on Sept. 25 on HBO Max.