Warning: the following article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon season one, episode five, “We Light the Way.“
Since the beginning of House of the Dragon, there’s been uncertainty about Princess Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne and whom she will marry. Milly Alcock plays he rule-breaking Targaryen with her eye on Iron Throne, and it hasn’t been an easy road for her.
In episode one, “The Heirs of the Dragon,” we’re introduced to Rhaenyra, and she quickly proves herself to be a capable young woman and a fierce dragonrider. The problem is that she lives in the patriarchal world of Westeros, and she’s King Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) daughter, she’s still a girl and therefore isn’t seen as worthy to be named as heir. After her pregnant mother, Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke), is subjected to an unwilling C-section, she dies, and it breaks Rhaenyra’s heart. Viserys has a wake up call after this and names Rhaenyra as his heir.
After she’s named heir, not much changes for Rhaenyra. To add insult to injury, the princess’ best friend Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) is manipulated by her father, the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), and “consoles” King Viserys (Paddy Considine) so well that he announces he will be marrying her without Rhaenyra’s knowledge. Complicating things even further, Alicent has a child with Viserys, Aegon II, and it puts Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne even more in question. She fears that she will have to marry and will have her mother’s fate, forced to give birth to sons until her eventual death.
Rhaenyra, tired of playing it by the rules, sneaks out at and puts on a pageboy disguise to experience Kings Landing with her uncle, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith). He shows her around, they see a performance that mocks the royal family, and she’s taken to a brothel where they fool around (this is a Game of Thrones prequel after all). Word gets back to Otto Hightower ,who’s been trying to block Rhaenyra every step of the way. Otto tells Viserys, and the king isn’t happy with this news. He confronts Rhaenyra about it and doesn’t seem to care if the rumors are true, just that she put herself in a position for people to question her virtue.
King Viserys commands his daughter to marry Laenor Velaryons (Theo Nate), Corlys Velaryon’s (Steven Toussaint) son who helped defeat the Triarchy, and she doesn’t put up a fight. In episode five, “We Light the Way,” Rhaenyra and Viserys travel to Driftmark to confirm and set the rules for this arrangement. Rhaenyra secretly slept with her knight, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), and Laenor has his own paramour, Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), and the two agree to have their own romantic lives outside of their marriage.
This wouldn’t be a Game of Thrones show without some wedding drama. During the first celebration event for the Targaryen/Velaryon wedding, Criston loses his mind after being confronted by Joffrey, who tells him that he knows the knight and the princess have a romantic relationship. Criston attacks Joffrey, killing him with his bare hands, and Rhaenyra and Laenor are forced to marry that night to just get it over with. Laenor is overwhelmed with grief, and it’s not exactly the royal wedding they had all hoped for.