UP UP until the very end of the fifth episode of House of the Dragon, things were looking up for Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate).
Even though Rhaenyra and Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and Laenor and Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod) couldn’t marry for love, they were able to do so out of duty and remain close friends and confidantes throughout their marriages. Rhaenyra and Laenor have an understanding that they can sleep with whoever they want, so long as they don’t talk about it and keep a united front at court.
However, Rhaenyra and Laenor’s future plans quickly fall apart due to resentment. The on-screen death and possible off-screen death caused by the wedding banquet’s chaos make the marriage between the cousins one not only formed out of obligation but also tied together by tragedy.
Is Viserys really dead?
In the fifth episode, “We Light the Day,” Rhaenyra fulfils her father’s wish by marrying Laenor Velaryon in an effort to mend fences between their two noble families. The day of the wedding arrives, but Viserys is not in good health. He’s been sick over the side of boats, passing out, and coughing into rags. That’s a surefire formula for cancellation in the world of TV cliches.
Then, during the private vow exchange between Rhaenyra and Laenor, Viserys again faints. And hopefully, this time, it will stay that way for good. A rat can be seen in the hall scavenging for some spilled blood, a foreshadowing of the many heirs who will soon descend like vultures to pick over the king’s remains and attempt to take his crown for themselves.
Considering a time jump in an upcoming episode will cause all of the characters to be played by new actors their current ages, this is likely our last look at Viserys and Paddy Considine.
The odds of Viserys surviving to rule another day are slim, but it’s not impossible.
House of the Dragon episode 5 ending explained
This week’s episode of House of the Dragon begins in the Vale, where Daemon Targaryen first sets eyes on his future wife, Rhea Royce. Daemon, hurt by his wife’s insult, makes Rhea’s horse go crazy, causing her to fall hard. Taking a jagged rock, he presumably murders his wife just before the scene cuts.
Viserys and Rhaenyra are out at sea, heading for the Driftmark, the seat of House Velaryon. Alicent Hightower, queen of Rhaenyra, confronts the king’s father while he is away for the weekend for an attempt to tarnish the country’s pristine reputation. Otto warns his daughter that war is inevitable if Rhaenyra is crowned queen and instructs Alicent to groom Aegon for the throne.
Once Viserys and Rhaenyra arrive, they are greeted by Laena Velaryon. When Ser Lyonel Strong learns that Corlys Velaryon won’t be there to greet the king, he becomes enraged. Speaking to Alicent in King’s Landing, Lord Larys Strong mentioned the king’s order to drink moon tea. He continues by saying the princess may be sick because she drank the tea to induce an abortion.
Corlys and Rhaenys report back to the Driftmark crew that Rhea Royce has tragically passed away in a hunting accident. Viserys then makes his own proposal to marry Laenor and Rhaenyra in order to bring their families together. The Sea Snak has some reservations about this arrangement because he wants to know more about the line of succession and the proposed name for their offspring.
In response, the monarch states that his wife Rhaenyra will take his place as ruler, and that their offspring will continue to use the surname Velaryon until one of them takes the throne. If and when that happens, the child will be given the surname Targaryen.
Rhaenyra and Laenor go for a stroll on the beach and talk about their upcoming wedding. She suggests they fulfil their obligations to the kingdom and then do as they please. This exchange between the two women seems to indicate that both Rhaenyra and Laenor will continue dating the people they prefer. But Corlys and Rhaenys have noticed that Laenor is more interested in men than women. The succession and the threat to Rhaenyra are also discussed.
Laenor discusses his future as king consort with his male lover, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, in the open fields. They also speculate about who Rhaenyra’s lover might be. When they returned to the ship, Ser Criston Cole spoke with the princess and pondered whether or not Rhaenyra would be interested in escaping with him to Essos.
When pressed by Criston, Rhaenyra reluctantly brushes him off, opting to prioritise her duties over her feelings. The princess continues by saying that she and Laenor have an agreement to continue having lovers despite their marital status. When Criston learns that the princess he was sleeping with is a member of the Kingsguard, he becomes enraged. He hopes that if he marries Rhaenyra he will be able to redeem himself.
Viserys returns to King’s Landing looking noticeably sick. Several maesters tend to him, hopefully easing his suffering. While the new Hand reassures him that he has done well in his role as king, he inquires about Lyonel’s thoughts on his legacy. And then the queen calls Ser Criston in to have a chat with him about Daemon and Rhaenyra. The knight then comes clean, saying that the immoral act occurred during his time with the princess.
At some point after that, the royal wedding party begins with representatives from every family in Westeros. Daemon then appears, and soon after that, the entire army of House Velaryon arrives. As the prince approaches the king, tensions rise quickly. As Viserys begins his address to the court, he pauses when he notices Alicent walking in by herself.
At the same time that she offers her congratulations to the princess, the king resumes his speech about the upcoming wedding and the festivities that will follow. The death of Daemon’s cousin Rhea has prompted Ser Gerold Royce to confront him. Since Daemon and Rhea don’t have any children, he naturally inquires about his inheritance.
Laenor is talking to his lover in another part of the court and learns that Rhaenyra’s lover is Criston. Ser Joffrey, for his part, has a conversation with Ser Criston in which they reach an understanding regarding their clandestine dealings with the king consort and the future queen.
In the meantime, Daemon has spoken with the princess and convinced her to choose him as her husband. Joffrey and Criston get into it, and eventually Laenor joins in as well, causing quite a commotion. When the knight accidentally kills Joffrey in a fit of rage, Laenor breaks down in front of everyone.
In the end, Laenor and Rhaenyra tie the knot, and Criston lays down his white cloak and sword in front of a Weirwood tree. Alicent prevents the knight from committing suicide after he makes preparations to do so. Viserys passes out during the wedding ceremony, ending the episode.
What Is Going On With Alicent And Ser Criston In The Godswood At The End Of House Of The Dragon Episode 5?
In the final moments of Season 5, Episode 5 of House of the Dragon, we see flashes of Rhaenyra and Laenor’s funeral service and Ser Criston Cole preparing to commit suicide in the Godswood. Ser Criston puts the dagger to his belly as Rhaenyra swears allegiance to Laenor. Then, just as he’s about to enter the building, Alicent arrives, still dressed in Hightower green and calling out his name.
What was said after that is lost to history, but Ser Criston Cole has clearly changed his allegiance. Alicent, the queen who showed him mercy by keeping his secret and saving his life, has won his allegiance over Rhaenyra, the princess who made him a Kingsguard only to have him dishonor that position. We now know the answer to a mystery from Fire & Blood, namely, why Ser Criston changed sides.
You can count on Ser Criston, Alicent’s personal guard and a key member of Team Green, to make frequent appearances in the coming weeks.