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House Of The Dragon Episode 4 Recap: Heir Affair

The first season of "House of the Dragon" is almost halfway over, and finally, it's bringing the heat. This week's episode, "King of the Narrow Sea," sets up a whole host of scandals for the series to address at its midpoint, especially keeping in mind that a major time jump, like winter, is coming. (It's worth noting, however, that by this point in the season, every single episode has featured a pretty big time jump; the really monumental one will come with a change of actors as well.)

On the heels of last week's episode, "Second of His Name," Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) is poised to make a magnificent comeback at court, having slain the mysterious Crabfeeder and his army at the Stepstones alongside Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Touissant). Meanwhile, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (still played by Milly Alcock) is feeling the pressure to marry and secure a strong alliance with another major house of the Seven Kingdoms thanks to her father King Viserys I's (Paddy Considine) major insecurities. So what happened in the fourth week of this super-successful "Game of Thrones" prequel? Let's get to it.

Rhaenyra's husband hunt is going poorly

As the episode opens, a clearly unhappy Rhaenyra is touring Westeros at her father's command looking for a new husband, and the prospects aren't exactly stellar, between a literal child, a boorish Baratheon, and a man old enough to be her father twice over. Without Viserys' permission, Rhaenyra orders Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) to bring her and her company back to King's Landing, where she arrives just in time for her uncle Daemon to announce his victory over the Crabfeeder.

Rhaenyra, still bearing the necklace Daemon gave her back in the first episode, follows her uncle on an illicit journey throughout the seedy underbelly of King's Landing, donning hoods and plain clothes and pretending to be nobodies. However, Rhaenyra's night with — cannot stress this enough — her uncle takes a seriously weird turn, and the fallout from their night cavorting through taverns, stage plays, and brothels ends up affecting Rhaenyra's reputation in the long run.

Daemon's dirty deeds

Daemon, who arrives in King's Landing with the Crabfeeder's hammer and newly shorn white-blonde hair, is on top of the world as this episode opens — after an extremely weird public hug, he's finally back in Viserys' good graces. However, he immediately jeopardizes all of that by bringing Rhaenyra into the most questionable places in King's Landing... and that's not all he does.

After leading her through a busy brothel, Daemon corners his niece — who, to be totally transparent, isn't exactly unwilling — and kisses her, with the situation only growing in intensity after just a few minutes. However, Daemon ends up demurring, and it's not clear whether he realized that he was in the wrong or was simply experiencing the same, uh, stage fright he did back in Episode 1. In any case, when a furious Viserys hears about Daemon's indiscretions — and after Daemon runs afoul of his apparent former lover Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) — he orders Daemon back to the Vale and his wife, even though Daemon begs him for Rhaenyra's hand. Viserys sees right through this ploy, however; Daemon might have some messy feelings for his niece, but what he wants more than anything is her proximity to the Iron Throne.

Alicent, the troubled queen

Like so many queens before her in the "Game of Thrones" universe, Queen Alicent Hightower (still played by Emily Carey) is little more than a pawn used by her powerful father Otto (Rhys Ifans) to potentially put an heir on the throne — and she doesn't exactly work hard to hide how miserable she is. Throughout this installment, Alicent usually just lurks around from scene to scene, looking unmoored and lonely — especially when she's near her much older husband, Viserys. Despite briefly reconnecting with Rhaenyra, Alicent is isolated beyond belief, which is thrown into sharp focus when Viserys comes to her bed one night and she simply stares at the ceiling, her face expressionless and desperate all at once.

When she hears rumors of Rhaenyra and Daemon's tryst, she's furious at and worried for her confidante and friend, and immediately confronts her... but Rhaenyra reassures her, saying she would never, ever pursue anything with her uncle. (She does lie, however, telling Alicent that Daemon "never touched" her). Alicent stands by Rhaenyra and even goes against her own father... but as her father's ambition grows, it remains to be seen where Alicent's allegiance will fall.

Otto is ousted

Speaking of Otto, he's pulling some major strings in this episode despite barely appearing in it at all. When he does appear, though, he's working pretty hard to turn Viserys against his named heir Rhaenyra.

After getting word from a source only referred to as "the White Worm" — a source that remains mysterious to audiences — that Rhaenyra and Daemon were spotted doing some incest-adjacent activities in the brothel, Otto brings this information to Viserys... who's furious. Despite what Viserys says to Rhaenyra and Daemon later, he bluntly tells Otto that this is an obvious attempt to supplant his daughter and place Viserys and Alicent's son Aegon II (Otto's grandson) onto the Iron Throne. As a result, Otto is released from his duties as Hand of the King, left to slink away into the shadows once again. The real question is, however: will Otto have even more power with some distance from the Throne, thanks to his daughter and grandson?

Rhaenyra unchained

Rhaenyra has shown off a pretty spirited streak in previous episodes of "House of the Dragon," but in "King of the Narrow Sea," she takes this to an entirely new level. After her night with Daemon, she arrives home in... quite a state, and lures Ser Criston into her bedchamber with some pretty obvious intentions. The two spend the night together — though Ser Criston is hesitant at first, as he's sworn to protect the Princess — and it's pretty clear by the end that Rhaenyra has shed her status as a maiden.

That's definitely going to make things complicated as the first season progresses, however; at the episode's end, Viserys informs Rhaenyra that she will marry Corlys' son Laenor Velaryon (played in the previous episode by Theo Nate) whether she likes it or not. What this means for Rhaenyra and Ser Criston remains to be seen, and though Viserys doesn't know about that, he definitely has some suspicions about her evening with Daemon — considering that he sends her a potion meant to get rid of any "unwanted consequences" the day after.

When does House of the Dragon Episode 5 air?

The fifth episode, which marks the middle of the show's first season, will air on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday, September 18 at 9 PM EST. Audiences know that a ten-year time jump will arrive somewhere around the season's midpoint, replacing Alcock and Carey with Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke, respectively — but the timing of that time jump is still a huge question.

With that aside, there's still a lot that this season has to wrap up in the back half of its inaugural season. Presumably, we'll see Rhaenyra wed Laenor next week, as well as the fallout from that, and now that Daemon has been ordered to return to his wife in the Vale, it's possible we'll end up meeting her as well. Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), wife to Corlys and mother to Laenor, has been conspicuously absent for two entire episodes now (a shame, considering that Best is thrilling to watch on screen), but one can safely assume she'll attend her son's royal wedding. "House of the Dragon" still has a lot of legwork to do before it reaches the Dance of the Dragons, and Episode 5 will, at the very least, provide the next step on the ladder.