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‘House of the Dragon’ Burning Question, Episode 4: Are Rhaenyra and Alicent officially learning the Game of Thrones?

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Sunday nights are still for deciphering new clues and discussing new topics on House of the Dragon that will surely spark debate – and our utmost curiosity – about its Game of Thrones foreshadowing. This week was no different, as we saw one of the principal themes of the original show rear its oft-ugly head. 

Each week, we’ll be answering your burning questions on the connection between Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon.  

The topic we’ll be tackling for House of the Dragon, episode four? How is lust depicted in House of the Dragon? Are Rhaenyra and Alicent officially learning the Game of Thrones? 

There are many forms of lust witnessed in the episode—lust for power, lust for sex, lust for more… 

What does Daemon lust for? 

Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) opens the episode with a triumphant return to his King and brother, Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) following his victory over the Crabfeeder that resulted in Daemon being named King of the Narrow Sea. While the episode showcases his ever flirty (and extremely uncomfortable) banter with his niece, Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), one mustn’t be confused into thinking that Daemon’s lust is purely about her. 

Daemon lusts for one thing above all else—the Iron Throne! 

It becomes readily evident that even he finds the thought of sex with his niece even too low for his standards. But the idea of power and all that comes with it? That is what Daemon truly desires. One of the more iconic scenes of Episode 4 sees King Viserys looming over a hungover Daemon in the Throne Room, a blade pressed to his brother’s neck as he proclaims what the audience is aware of: “It’s not my daughter you lust for. It’s my throne.”

What does Rhaenyra lust for? 

Put simply, we know she wants to be heard, to be respected, to be feared. But deep down, Rhaenyra likely misses the feeling of being loved—and she hasn’t received love since the death of her mother and the marriage of her former best friend Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) to her father (drama!). Rhaenyra isn’t put off by the idea of potentially losing her virginity to her uncle Daemon. In fact, it’s her desire/eagerness that likely turned Daemon off to the act itself. 

Instead, her excitement grows, and she takes out her lustful ambitions on her father’s Kingsguard, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), in one of the more delicately handled sex scenes. I’m sure many an audience member was relieved that Rhaenyra engaged in sexual acts with the dreamy Ser Criston and not Uncle Daemon! 

What Does Otto Hightower lust for? 

One of the biggest shocking moments of episode 4 was the removal of service for the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ilfans). The great manipulator of much of the show so far, Hightower overplayed his hand when he tried to create dissent and chaos between King Viserys and Princess Rhaenyra, after having had his spies bring word to him of Rhaenyra and Daemon’s trip to a brothel. 

Otto Hightower’s lust is plain to see—to attain as much power as he can possibly accumulate. Viserys notes that Otto “is so sick with ambition” that he would bring news (partially true, partially untrue) of Rhaenyra’s potential gallivanting with Daemon just because he knew there was a chance it would ruin Rhaenyra’s candidacy as heir to the Iron Throne. 

This lust for the Iron Throne backfires on Otto spectacularly, as he is removed from his position as Hand of the King. His daughter remains the Queen, however, and we know she’s keen for her father’s advice—so we don’t expect to have seen the last of Otto Hightower. 

What do the “offscreen” characters of Episode 4 lust for? 

We do not see Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) make an appearance in this episode, but we now know that Rhaenyra is to marry his son Laenor Velaryon (John MacMillan), likely in Episode 5. This marriage, a political union above all else, will unite the two most powerful houses in Westeros, and the only two houses with capable dragon riders. While Alicent Hightower may have the firstborn son of King Viserys in Aegon Targaryen, there will likely be a fervent group of followers behind the marriage of Rhaenyra and Laenor, given their offspring will be of pure Valyrian blood. 

This is what Corlys has desired all along, and now we’re reaching the point of imminent excitement in the story. This may be House of the Dragon, but now we’ll get to see some of the younger characters engage in what is truly the “Game of Thrones”

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Looking for answers to more House of the Dragon burning questions?

- 'House of the Dragon' Burning Question: Does Anybody Exist Above Tradition and Duty in Westeros?

- 'House of the Dragon' Burning Question: Why Are Women Treated Unworthy of the Iron Throne?

- 'House of the Dragon' Burning Question: Will We See the White Walkers from 'Game of Thrones'?