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In HBO's awkward episode 4 of House of the Dragon, "King of the Narrow Sea," Rhaenyra’s secret night out on the town with Uncle Daemon puts her and her family in a few interesting positions.

Now that Rhaenyra has her father’s blessing to marry who she pleases and his reassurance that she will be his heir, she won’t be spending much of her time sulking. In episode 3, we saw her hanging out under a tree with a commissioned guitar player playing her favorite song on repeat.

In episode 4, we start with her holding court in a room full of eligible suitors. Rhaenyra has gone on tour – or the bachelorette - to find the man she will choose to marry.

The smoke-filled room has men from the Houses of the Riverlands (Frey, Mudd, and Blackwood) lined up to make their pitch to be the next prince of the realm. Lord Dondarrion, who is considerably older, babbles about his castle before Rhaenyra finds a way to humiliate him. Remember Baric Dondarrion, the guy with the flaming sword, from Game of Thrones

Trust me when I say the age difference here is the least uncomfortable scene in this episode. Then comes a mousey teenager of House Blackwood, who immediately takes some mocking from the peanut gallery (House Bracken).

This gets a bit heated and Rhaenyra storms off having heard enough nonsense. But not before that squeaky teenager disembowels the shit-talker.

On her way back to King’s Landing, her ship gets a little love tap – it gets worse - from her dear Uncle Daemon flying by on his dragon Caraxes. Daemon is on his way to King’s Landing as well after his big win in the Stepstones. This is the only dragon we get to see in this episode. Boo!

Daemon Returns

At the Iron Throne, many gather for Daemon’s return. Now that he has conquered the Stepstones, he garners the title of King of the Narrow Sea. Daemon kneels before his brother, King Viserys, and gives up his crown. Pretty lame-looking crown if you ask me.

The prince brought the king the vanquished Crabfeeder’s hammer – “Add it to the chair,” he said, tossing the weapon onto the floor – and he pledged loyalty on bended knee. “The realm owes you a great debt, brother,” Viserys says. But Daemon’s humility was a Trojan Horse. (Remember Daemon’s false flag of surrender at the Stepstones?)

Everyone convenes in the Red Keep’s courtyard to gas up Daemon (pun intended). The King seems happily drunk this time, a much happier drunk than he was at Aegon’s birthday. He embarrasses his queen – did he fart? – and then laughs when she suggests showing Daemon their new tapestries.

Alicent and Rhaenyra get a moment to catch up and admit they’ve missed each other. But the queen takes another hit when Rhaenyra mentions that a queen’s life of “squeezing out heirs” doesn’t interest her. A tough scene for her former best friend and step-mom.

At the King’s council meeting, Corlys Velaryon’s absence becomes the topic. “It seems we have traded a Crabfeeder for a Sea Snake,” Lord Strong jests. Corlys plans to wed his daughter Laena to the son of the Sea Lord of Braavos, in Essos. 

Braavos, as Game of Thrones viewers may remember, is a neutral city and home to the massively wealthy Iron Bank. “If House Velaryon entered into an alliance with the Free Cities, then we would have to seek out our own marriage pact,” Otto Hightower warns.

Daemon’s Scheme

“There is surely more to your return than simply taunting my father,” Rhaenyra observed to Daemon in High Valyrian in the next scene. And boy was she right.

Daemon implores his niece to view marriage as a political arrangement that leaves one to seek out whatever pleasures they like. “For men, marriage might be a political arrangement. For women, it is like a death sentence.” He notices that his niece is still wearing the necklace he gave her in episode 1.

In the princess’s chambers, she finds a change of clothes and a map of her room that leads to a secret passageway. She follows the map and meets up with a hooded Daemon, who takes her through the narrows of King’s Landing. It’s a grimy cirque du Soleil of sorts. People having sex in the alley, while others tightrope walk across the roofs, and some are blowing fire.

A woman with no eyes asks if she wants to know how she dies. Daemon takes her to a play where the people of King’s Landing mock Rhaenyra’s succession. Daemon attempts to throw fuel on the fire by adding that they will never respect a woman on the Iron Throne and suggests she let her new step-brother Aegon take the line of succession instead of her.

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This is a key piece of character development to point out. Rhaenyra doesn’t sulk over any of this; she simply rolls her eyes and shrugs her shoulders. It seems as though she has the temperament of a ruler. Meanwhile, Alicent tends to the growing number of Iron Throne wounds that the king's steadily accruing, none of which seem to be healing well.

Nevertheless, this is Daemon’s weird show that culminates in him bringing his niece to a brothel to teach her to “take what she wants.” The two proceed to make out, but Daemon leaves before anything continues. To make matters worse, this scene is juxtaposed with a joyless sex scene involving King Viserys and Alicent Hightower. I was thankful that HBO spared us this in the first three episodes. It was unfortunate, to say the least.

On Rhaenyra’s way back to the Red Keep she is spotted by a street urchin, who goes off to report this…

A horned-up Rhaenyra invites Ser Criston Cole (who has no clue she made out with her uncle) into her bed-chamber, and there's a lot of nonsense involving the removal of his armor. This scene was a bit more playful and tender than the nasty stuff we saw with Daemon.

Perception is Reality

Later that night, a boy tells the Grand Maester and Otto Hightower that he saw Rhaenyra and Daemon at the brothel. It’s implied that Mysaria was behind it when the boy returns to her place and gives her the coins he was paid. Mysaria is wearing white in the scene and Otto Hightower’s informant is referred to as the “White Worm”. Get it?

In the morning, Otto stammers out the best way to tell his friend, the king, that his daughter may have slept with his brother. Viserys scoffs at the rumors as blasphemy. Queen Alicent, who overheard the conversation, confronts Rhaenyra herself. She tells her best friend-turned-stepmother that she would “never” have sex with Daemon.

"To question my virtue is an act of treason," the princess states. "Daemon never touched me, I swear this to you on the memory of my mother." We are used to some strange customs, as you may recall the relationship between Jamie and Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones.

Daemon stumbles back to the Red Keep and is arrested before being brought before the King. The King demands to know the truth. ”Better her first experience be with me than some whore,” he tells his brother.

Daemon is simply a lying creep and wants Viserys to believe it. In an effort to make the King more receptive to his suggestion, Daemon suggests at knifepoint that Viserys wed Rhaenyra to him (as his second wife). Daemon’s power-seeking endgame is revealed. “Wed her to me,” he says to the king. “I’ll take her as she is and wed her in the tradition of our house.”

But Viserys doesn’t go for it. He kicks his brother in the kidney and calls him a plague. He exiles Daemon to the Vale, to rejoin his lawfully wedded wife.

A Deal is Made

Rhaenyra told Daemon at Dragonstone in episode 2 that he’d have to kill her to ascend the Iron Throne. In a way, Daemon figured out another potential angle to destroy Rhaenyra’s succession. "The truth does not matter, only perception," Viserys tells her.

The two make a deal. The King orders her to be wed to Laenor Velaryon, the guy that rode Sea Smoke at the Stepstones. This would join the Targaryen dragons to the Velaryons’ naval power and secure the Seven Kingdoms against attack. But it also secures the knowledge Viserys has entrusted to Rhaenyra, in the inscription given up by his ancient Valyrian steel dagger.

“From my blood comes the prince that was promised, and his will be the song of ice and fire.” The prophecy of Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen king, will be Rhaenyra’s to watch over.

Rhaenyra agrees on the condition that the king dismisses Otto Hightower as his Hand. She convinces him that Otto is constantly scheming – he is – and that getting Viserys to marry Alicent was part of his master plan to put the Hightowers in power.

As Rhaenyra is in her bedroom – alone this time – Grand Maester Mellos rolls up with a special delivery. “A tea, princess. From the king. It will rid you of any…unwanted consequences.” The credits roll before we know if she takes it or not.

The marriage arrangement, if Rhaenyra keeps her word, should squash any asks Daemon has of House Velaryon. However, Daemon has a powerful lie to ruin her reputation. How will that be received by Corlys?

They owe him a great deal of gratitude for his enormous efforts at the Stepstones. However, a marriage with the princess of the seven kingdoms should far outweigh anything. It will be interesting to see how the Sea Snake weathers this predicament, but it’s no mystery that a civil war is brewing.

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