No one expected Daemon Targaryen’s wife to look like that, right? We all believed she was a terrible person, right? For whatever reason, I believed him. Lady Rhea Royce, his now late wife, was sadly a two-bit player in House of the Dragon. This week’s episode, We Light the Way, gave her very little screen time. We all know Daemon likes strong women, and Rhea Royce seems to be one of the stronger ones.

This week’s opening scene gave me goosebumps. I expected the married couple to have some type of spicy conversation that may lead to something more, but I did not predict that outcome. At first, I thought Daemon might have spooked the horse on accident. But when Rhea challenged him to finish the job, seeing him grab that boulder, ouch. So it was a good call that we didn’t see the final result; more to the imagination.

It also came back to bite him in the butt. As it currently stands, he walked away without a wife and the lands he was seeking. But, at least for now, I doubt this is the end of the discussion.

Couple Rhea Royce and Daemon Targaryen meet one last time.
Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

Too many moving parts

We Light the Way was a good episode, don’t get me wrong, but a lot happens. We get an introduction to Daemon’s “terrible” wife, and then she’s instantly gone, never to be seen again. We get marriage proposals, pre-wedding dinners, and a wedding, back to back to back. We have a declaration of love coming from Ser Criston Cole, who tries to off himself out of shame by the end and seemingly switches sides. Alicent goes from believing her childhood best friend to deciding she is out for blood. Larys Strong finally becomes a player in the game of thrones. So much takes place in a single episode.

Once the season has wrapped, we’ll look back at We Light the Way and see if this was the turning point. Events will finally kick into gear and start moving with some real energy behind them. But I wish we would have strolled a little slower. I felt the second and third episodes, The Rogue Prince and Second of His Name was a bit slow. I understand that not much was happening in the lives of these people at that time. But now, it is jam-packed. 

I want a little more time with Rhaenyra and Cole. Maybe she does have some feelings or second thoughts. I want to see Alicent truly feel like she has been betrayed; it was not good enough that we get one scene with her and a man she hardly knows, and that’s all it takes for her to decide her son should become king. I need more between Rhaenyra and Laenor before they wed. I want more development. Please give me more. I think this could have easily been two episodes’ worth of buildup. I think in the long run, if the show runs for a couple more seasons, this would have been a better idea.

Rhaenyra and Laenor meet formally.
Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

Bon Voyage

Finally, We Light the Way has us saying goodbye to what has been a highlight of the first half of the season. Milly Alcock and Emily Carey play younger versions of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower. Although saying finally makes it sound like I am ready to be rid of these two. The only way to describe Alcock is phenomenal. Carey has been tremendous as well. I don’t know if Matt Smith could have carried the first half of the season on his back alone; these two certainly stepped up to the plate and delivered. I hope we get some flashback scenes next season with these two, fingers crossed.

Saying goodbye to these two actresses does make me a bit worried. Will the older replacements be up to the challenge? Will it feel like I’m watching the same person, only ten years older? I’m unsure but hopeful, House of the Dragon has not failed me yet.

Rhaenyra and Alicent have different viewpoints.
Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO