All Your Questions About Rhaenyra's Disastrous Wedding on “House of the Dragon,” Answered
It wouldn’t be a wedding in Westeros without some high drama and a little violence, and “House of the Dragon” follows in that tradition in its fifth episode. The pre-wedding feast celebrating the marriage of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon ends not with a happy couple, but with someone dead, another dishonoured, and a lot of chaos. Let’s break down exactly what we know so far about the fight that struck down another royal wedding.
How Did the Fight at Rhaenyra’s Wedding Start?
The fight starts, as with so many things in the “Game of Thrones” universe, over slighted honour and romantic missteps. During the engagement negotiations between Rhaenyra’s and Laenor’s families, the would-be bride and groom get a little time alone to talk. Rhaenyra lets Laenor know that she’s aware he’s gay, and she assures him that theirs can be an open marriage: do their duty and have heirs, but otherwise carry on relationships with who they really want. In Laenor’s case, that would be Joffrey Lonmouth, his secret lover.
At the pre-wedding banquet, Joffrey figures out pretty quickly that Ser Criston Cole is the “other man” that Rhaenyra is interested in. He approaches Criston, acknowledges the situation they all find themselves in, and quietly suggests that he and Criston make their own pact to protect their respective lovers and their secrets. What Joffrey doesn’t know, however, is that Criston recently tried to convince Rhaenyra to run away and marry him and that she turned him down in order to remain heir to the throne. Criston, furious over the slight and what he perceives as his own broken honour for no good reason, is less than thrilled at Joffrey’s suggestion.
It’s not completely clear who started the fight (that is, who threw the first punch), but the setup certainly makes it seem like Criston simply snaps.
Why Did Criston Kill Joffrey?
The outcome of the brawl is tragic and horrifying. Criston, seemingly out of control with rage, pummels Joffrey’s face until he’s dead, his face a bloody, unrecognizable mess, before Laenor sobs over his body. The implication is that Criston killed Joffrey not out of fear that Joffrey would reveal his affair with Rhaenyra, but simply because Joffrey reminded him of what state he was in: vows broken and rejected. It’s a major shift for a character who has been presented as heroic and likeable in the past, and it signals a shift in his motivations.
Why Did Queen Alicent Stop Criston From Killing Himself?
After the fight, Criston seems to realize, in horror, what he’s done. He flees the banquet and runs to the godwood, where he is about to use his sword to die by suicide. Queen Alicent, however, finds him and stops him just in time. Earlier in the episode, Alicent and Criston shared a scene in which she asked him about Rhaenyra and Daemon, but he, misunderstanding, confessed to his own tryst with Rhaenyra and begged for mercy. While she doesn’t outright state her purpose, it seems clear Alicent is hoping he can be an ally to her as she slowly comes around to the idea of fighting for her children to take the throne over Rhaenyra.
Where Was Daemon During the Fight?
During the whole fiasco, Daemon seems to have completely disappeared. He’s last seen dancing with Rhaenyra and having a tense conversation in High Valyrian about her upcoming wedding and the tension between them. When the focus shifts to the brawl, Daemon simply seems to vanish from the scene. Between his sudden disappearance and his earlier flirting with Laenor’s sister, Laena, it’s clear that Daemon is still trying to walk a fine line and find the best ways to maintain his own power, even as his family falls deeper into division and violence.