Episode 2 of “House of the Dragon” jumped 6 months ahead from where we were left off in Episode 1. Since the death of Queen Aemma, King Viserys has been told numerous times to get married once again. But there were a couple of things that bothered him about making such a decision. One reason was that he was still in mourning, and the other was that he doubted how Rhaenyra would react if he married a woman this soon. But the political agenda never stopped playing its malicious games at the Red Keep. The crisis was getting on the nerves of the Targaryens, and everyone, including those closest to the King, were looking for an opportunity. Now, when there is a civil war involved, politics must play a crucial role in determining the course of events. We have seen in many series, including “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” and “Succession,” how politics has been the central driving force that played a crucial role in attracting the audience’s attention. We will look into some of those high political grounds today.
Otto Hightower’s Unwillingness To Select Ser Criston Cole
In the Seven Kingdoms, whoever sits on the Iron Throne requires full-fledged support from wherever possible. Otto Hightower was a cunning man who had everything under his control. Even the selection of the King’s Guards was conducted under his supervision. Princess Rhaenyra was told to pick the seventh king’s guard as Lord Commander Ser Ryam recently died. The Princess was introduced to the knights, who had never had any battle experience. Some of them were good at sports or had caught poachers. They were all incapable of guarding the person who sat on the Iron Throne. So, Rhaenyra asked Ser Harrold if there was anyone with actual combat experience. Ser Harrold exchanged a glance with Otto Hightower right at that moment. He then introduced her to Ser Criston Cole, son of the steward of the Lord of Blackhaven. Rhaenyra picked him as the seventh king’s guard. Otto Hightower interfered in between. He told her not to be hasty with her decision. He added that even if Ser Criston Cole was a great warrior, houses such as Crakehall and Mallister were important allies to the crown. His main intention was to benefit the Red Keep by keeping the established houses close to the Throne. The political idea behind this was merely based on favoritism. As the son of a steward, he was denied the chance to join the King’s guard because knights from established houses were preferred picks for the King’s hand. But, Rhaenyra was very clear about choosing the King’s guard. She wanted someone with combat experience, and it was Ser Criston Cole. She chose the man for his merit, not for his lineage.
Corlys Velaryon’s Marriage Proposal to King Viserys
The Stepstones were attacked by the Crabfeeder, and he captured one of Corlys Velaryon’s ships. Corlys Velaryon was the strongest ally of the Iron Throne and was married to King Viserys’ cousin Rhaenys. Rhaenys was denied the chance to sit on the Iron Throne as the lords prioritized Viserys over her. Corlys has been envious of the King since then. But, since he is a member of the small council, he must abide by the rules of the King. He requested to attack the Crabfeeder at the Stepstones, but since it was against the realm’s policies to put up a war against Free Cities. He was offered compensation for his lost ship, but he was rigid about redemption. There was a moment of rigorous argument, but later, King Viserys personally went to meet with Corlys and Rhaenys. He told them that he did not want the meeting to go in such a way, and Corlys also apologized for his behavior at the small council. Soon after that, he told King Viserys that he feared that the eyes of the enemies were fixed on the Red Keep, as there had been several events that made the Red Keep more vulnerable than ever. He even mentioned how Daemon Targaryen, the King’s brother, possessed the seats of the Dragonstone without even a challenge. On top of that, a foreign power, the Crabfeeder, has established a colony at the Stepstones, one of the most crucial shipping lanes. He also offered a solution to such a grave situation. He proposed to the King to join their families by marrying their daughter, Laena Velaryon. His political intentions were greater than to unite the two great surviving Valyrian houses. The daughter of “the queen who never was” (Laena), giving birth to the heir to the Iron Throne, is, however distant, a pretty strong metaphor for the realm. The main intention behind Corlys’ vicious plan was to make his family the strongest in the whole realm, even if that meant marrying off his 12-year-old daughter.
Otto Hightower’s Game of Throne
As we have seen earlier, soon after Aemma’s death, Otto Hightower planned to use her daughter, Alicent Hightower, and intentionally make her get close to the king. He asked his daughter to visit the King wearing her mother’s old dress. Alicent obeyed her father and started spending a good amount of time with the King. Soon, when King Viserys told Otto about Corlys’ proposal to get her daughter married to the King, he was shaken. His intentions could have fallen apart if Viserys married Corlys’ daughter instead of his. Also, right at that moment, Grand Master Mellos told the King to spread unity around the realm. This marriage could be the key to success. Otto Hightower knew that marrying Laena Velaryon would only strengthen the kingdom, and he found no proper reason to deny the fact. But, being a cunning man himself, he played the last trick. He tried to make King Viserys feel guilty. He told him that the pain of his wife’s death still haunted him. He also told the King that replacing her for duty’s sake was something he would never have done. But, as Viserys was the King, he did not envy him for such a decision. This guilt game, orchestrated by Otto Hightower, benefited him and led to a bigger tragedy for the whole kingdom.
Daemon’s Foolish Political Approach
Daemon was a political fool but a strong leader. He would not tolerate the disrespect, so he stole the egg of Dreamfyre, whom Rhaenyra chose for Baelon, the dead child of King Viserys. It was just to put a statement out there that he wouldn’t back down and reclaim what was lawfully his. However, he returned the egg when Rhaenyra interfered between two parties (Daemon and Otto Hightower). It was purely out of affection, and, as it seemed, no politics was involved in returning the egg. But, stealing it was definitely a foolish yet political move by Daemon. He wanted to deliver a strong message to his brother, the King, about what he was capable of. He even wanted to marry Mysaria, and planned to have a child who would be given the possession of a dragon egg. But Rhaenyra saw through him, and it was clear that he had no intention of becoming a father anytime soon. So, even if politics were involved, Daemon failed to set up the threat he was supposed to because he wasn’t smart enough.
The Seeds of the Targaryen Civil War:
After rejecting Corlys’s marriage proposal, King Viserys decided to marry Otto Hightower’s daughter, Alicent Hightower. Corlys had felt neglected on numerous occasions before, but he had been loyal to the Throne. However, when his grand plan didn’t lead him anywhere, he decided that it was about time he changed sides. He then summoned Daemon to Driftmark and informed him of the events of the Stepstones. If Crabfeeder was not stopped, then Lord Corlys’ Driftmark would be shattered due to losing control over the Stepstones. It was one of the most important shipping lanes that kept the Valyrian house strong for centuries. When Corlys asked to attack the Crabfeeder and get hold of the Stepstones, Viserys denied the suggestion, as it was the kingdom’s policy that they could not declare war against the Free Cities. If the Crabfeeder wouldn’t be stopped, Corlys alone had to face the consequences along with his men. On the other hand, Daemon needed to show his worth as a suitable candidate for the Iron Throne. So, the political intention behind this pact was to establish his reign in Stepstones by defeating the Crabfeeder. This could trigger a war against the Iron Throne, and this was what both of them wanted. The civil war was just a wrong step ahead.
If George R. R. Martin is writing something, you can expect it to be viciously political. Characters from “House of the Dragon” and “Game of Thrones” share many similarities, including Otto Hightower and Little Finger, Rhaenys and Olenna Tyrell. However manipulative they can get, we can expect that all the characters will have a bitter ending at last. Just like in “Game of Thrones,” the advice they give might backfire on them. But that’s for the later episodes. Let’s enjoy the maliciousness of these characters until then.
See More: ‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 1: Recap & Ending, Explained: What Dangers Lie Ahead For Rhaenyra Targaryen?