REVIEW: House of the Dragon – Episode 4 ‘King of the Narrow Sea’

Last Updated on September 19, 2022

House of the Dragon E4 continues its excellent run as cracks continue to grow between King Viserys and those around him. His brother Daemon is back following the brutal defeat of the Crab King and with one problem out of the way, more seem to appear for the weary Viserys, much like the disease spreading across the king’s skin…

Those on dragon watch may be disappointed by the lack of winged creatures in House of the Dragon E4 but the show more than makes up for it with more Prince Daemon, more Princess Rhaenyra, and definitely more sex and nudity – dispelling claims that House of the Dragon was going to be a watered-down Game of Thrones spin-off. Last week saw Daemon drag half a body across a battlefield, guts spilling out for all to see: this week saw the rogue prince drag his niece on a tour of King’s Landing’s more interesting areas – including a brothel, much to the delight of the forever scheming Hand of the King, Otto Hightower. There is less blood and guts in House of the Dragon E4 but it still delivers another episode full of tension as the key players of the inevitable conflict are pulled into place. Viserys looks weaker every time we lay eyes on him and the folk of Flea Bottom are laughing at his decision to name a woman as heir just as he begins to realise just how ambitious his Hand has been since Viserys lost his wife in childbirth.

House of the Dragon E4 is all about relationships: those that are breaking down and those being strengthened. Viserys pushes both Otto and Daemon away just as his brother draws closer to Rhaenyra. Rhaenyra grows closer to Ser Cristan Cole as her friendship with Alicent (her friend, queen, stepmother, etc…) hangs together by a thread. We begin to see that perhaps the young Targaryen is freer than Alicent, who stands beside barred windows with her crying child before being called to the bedroom by her ill, and much older, husband. Life really can suck for the people of Westeros and Game of Thrones has always excelled when focusing on the way people can be trapped by the expectations of their position. It is always interesting to watch those who seemingly have power be weighed down by the crown on their head. Robert Baratheon. Ned Stark. Viserys. Alicent. Rhaenyra. All seem to have everything but it does not make them happier. The poor people of Flea Bottom appear happier even as one man is casually murdered in the streets with fire blasted out everywhere you look.

Less swords and bloody guts than last week; more flesh and awkward sex. House of the Dragon E4 places all the big players in positions where they can seethe and whisper an urge for vengeance. No one comes out of this episode well and it allows the audience a chance to breathe before the Fire and Blood comes flying in. Four episodes in, any doubts about whether this Game of Thrones prequel could deliver have surely been burnt to a crisp.

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Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones

Aaron S. Jones is the author of Memories of Blood and Shadow, and The Broken Gods trilogy. He is Head of School at a school in Kent, UK and when he is not tearing his hair out at students struggling with their, they're and there, he is tearing his hair out as he dies for the thousandth time on Elden Ring. You can find him on Twitter @HereticASjones where he is most likely procrastinating for hours at a time instead of focusing on his Orc murder mystery.