There are some things you can always count on. The Joker will always escape from Arkham Asylum. Marvel movies will (almost) always end with a post-credits scene. And a wedding in Westeros isn’t complete until someone dies.
HBO prequel series house of the dragon continues this tradition, and somehow even manages to improve on the beloved game of Thrones formula in a very surprising way.
Caveat! Spoilers ahead for house of the dragon Episode 5.
game of Thrones and the wedding episode
It started with the Red Wedding. In game of Thrones Season 3, episode 9, “The Rains of Castamere”, the Stark family is tricked when they attend a wedding hosted by Lord Walder Frey. You probably already know this tragic story, but the gist is that after Robb Stark (also known as the “King in the North”) breaks his promise to marry one of Frey’s daughters, Robb’s uncle agrees to do so instead. of the. This seems to appease Frey, until he has his men murder everyone at the wedding, including Rob, Rob’s wife Talisa, and his mother Catelyn. This effectively ends the Stark-led rebellion against the Lannister-controlled Iron Throne.
For fans of the books, the Red Wedding was a pivotal moment they had been waiting to see for years. For viewers who don’t read books, it was a punch to the stomach. Ultimately changed the course of game of Thrones and raised the bar for plot twists everywhere. (There’s a reason people still use the term “red wedding” to describe any sort of literal or figurative bloodbath.)
game of Thrones turned this unique event into a tradition with the Purple Wedding (King Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell that ended with the King of Westeros lying dead on the ground). This time the assassination was more subtle, poison instead of sword and arrow, but the result was the same: the death of a king.
So it’s no surprise that Princess Rhaenyra’s wedding to Laenor Velaryon in house of the dragon turns ugly, but HBO’s prequel series manages to accomplish something much more significant with this tradition than game of Thrones ever did
house of the dragon against game of Thrones
In house of the dragon Episode 5, we see various plotlines unfold during the festivities at Rhaenyra’s wedding. Daemon shows up uninvited and flirts with both his girlfriend and his new sister-in-law, Laena Velaryon. Meanwhile, Laenor and her secret gay boyfriend, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, discover that Ser Criston Cole is in love with Rhaenyra.
When Joffrey confronts Criston and suggests that secrets should be kept, it doesn’t go well. Criston is already on the brink of collapse after Rhaenyra rejects his absurd offer to relinquish her crown and run away with him. Suddenly, he snaps, attacks Joffrey, punching him in the face repeatedly until he’s a dead, bloody pulp.
Once again, a guy named Joffrey dies at a Westeros wedding, but the stakes here are different. This Joffrey is not a king, he is just a guy who got caught up in the wrong drama. (Sure, he’s also a knight from a noble house, but in the context of this episode, he’s kind of a nobody.)
The story at the heart of game of Thrones It has always been about how power struggles between kings and queens harm the people who serve them. The show used the metaphor of a giant wheel, spinning as the leaders at the top changed while the citizens of Westeros were crushed below. But when it came to the show’s bloody weddings, the leaders still mattered most.
house of the dragon Episode 5 shows us how even a royal wedding in Westeros can have a negative impact on innocent bystanders. And so, use game of Thrones‘ proudest tradition to finally meet the most important message of the program.
house of the dragon airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.