'House of the Dragon' Episode 7 Recap and Review: "Driftmark"

houseofthedragonepisode7recap mobile

Families, am I right? Whether in the real world or the fictional realm of Westeros in House of the Dragon, families always have a way of driving us crazy. Hopefully not to the point of murder and betrayal, but you get the idea.

After making the long-awaited time jump last week, with the onset of new actors making their first appearances, House of the Dragon wasted no time and upping the drama. Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke take center stage as Rhaenyra and Alicent, and it feels like a decade ago that these two were actually best friends.

Oh wait, that's because it has been that long.

As the newest episode, "Driftmark," begins, we see that their children have also been dragged into the muck. As only House of the Dragon does, they will likely play a part in the war that is to come.

Spoilers for House of the Dragon ahead.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

harvey sadler emma d arcy leo hart

"Driftmark" begins, well, on Driftmark, the seat of House Velaryon, as the family, along with the Targaryens, have gathered for the funeral of Laena, who perished in the previous episode. As the funeral rites are read, the camera circles around those who have gathered, and we get a sense of who is there to mourn, who is ambivalent, and whose motives we still can't figure out.

Curiously, Daemon, her widower, stands next to her casket and begins to laugh as she is lowered into the water. Though her time on the show was brief, it was clear that Laena was one of the few people who wanted the best for her family and had no other motives besides that.

There's a clear tension at the gathering afterward, with the two sides of the coming Civil War (the Greens and the Blacks) practically almost congregating together already. Picture an awkward work or school get-together where the organizers want everyone to intermingle, but you want to hang out with your friends, and you can picture what this all looks like.

Aegon and Aemond are watching their sister Helaena play with bugs again as she mutters another weird, prophetic poem of what is to come:

Hand turns loom

Spool of green, spool of black

Dragons of flesh weaving dragons of thread.

We learn now that Aegon has been betrothed to his sister, a fact that he is not too happy about because he thinks she's weird and not a good match for him. He continues to drink, getting deep in his cups and berating the "wenches" for more wine.

A real stand-up guy that Aegon.

Jace comforts his cousins, Baela and Rhaena, over the loss of their mother, and unlike the Targaryen kids, he shows genuine compassion for the twins, who just lost their mother. Corlys approaches young Luke, telling him that he is now the heir to Driftmark, who tells Corlys that he doesn't want the seat. If he is the heir, it means everyone else is dead.

I'm starting to sense that Rhaenyra's kids care about other people, unlike those pesky Targaryens.

Daemon admires the dragons as they fly by, while Laenor departs to the sea and stands solo in the waves, mourning the loss of his sister. Corlys, worried over how that display of "weakness" might look, tells Ser Qarl, Laenor's latest paramour, to "retrieve your patron."

After not seeing one another for many years, Viserys approaches Daemon, hoping to make amends and welcome him back to King's Landing. Daemon says that Pentos is now his home, along with his children, and angrily rebuffs Viserys' offer of a spot in his court. As Daemon storms off, Otto Hightower offers his sympathies which Daemon also rejects. We also see that Otto has been renamed Hand of the King in the wake of Lyonel Strong's death.

Viserys leaves the crowd of people, using a cane to walk as he continues to grow weaker by the episode. As he leaves, he says, "I'm going to bed, Aemma," to Alicent, another sign that he's no longer in full possession of his faculties. Ser Harrold tells Ser Criston to see to the watch of the Queen, and they leave.

Otto discovers a drunken Aegon passed out on the stairs and tells him to get to bed as Aemond watches, with Ser Qarl dragging Laenor to bed. Aemond uses this opportunity to sneak down to the beach, but more on that later.

A Match Made in Heaven

emma d arcy matt smith 1

Corlys and Rhaenys meet in the great hall of Driftmark, where they lay some truths bare. Rhaenys grieves and says that if Daemon had brought Laena back to Driftmark, she might have survived, but Corlys brushes it off and brings up how she was robbed of the crown. Rhaenya cuts him off, saying she has long moved past this "injustice" and that he only cares because his pride was wounded, not her. At this point, she wants her kids to be safe and doesn't care about power or wealth anymore.

She delivers a hard truth that Corlys still isn't ready to admit: Rhaenyra's children are not his by blood; they are bastards. However, Corlys doesn't care, "History does not remember blood. It remembers names."

Meanwhile, Daemon and Rhaenyra take a little stroll on the beach, where they talk about her marriage to Laenor. She says that she knows it's fake but at least tries to keep up appearances. Rhaenyra found joy elsewhere that it felt good to be desired. Daemon sympathizes with her over the death of Ser Harwin. Despite his demise and the rumors of Alicent's potential involvement, Rhaenyra says it's impossible and that she'd never resort to murder.

Rhaenyra felt abandoned by Daemon once he left, to which he says he was trying to protect her. After bonding over their shared losses, it finally happens: Rhaenyra and Daemon, niece and uncle, have sex on the beach.

Meanwhile, Aemond, who has yet to bond with a dragon of his own, finds Vhagar sleeping on the beach. In the wake of Laena's death, Vhagar no longer has a rider. After a little back and forth, Aemond manages to climb aboard the great dragon's back and goes for a ride. He's never actually ridden a dragon before, and it's not easy for him at first, but he manages to gain control and land it on the balcony where everyone had gathered earlier, as Daemon and Rhaenyra watch from a distance.

As Aemond walks back into the castle, he is met by his cousins—Jace and Luke—as well as the twins Baela and Rhaena. Rhaena's furious because Vhagar was her mother's dragon and feels as if she should be the next owner of the beast. Aemond, suddenly becoming a little shit, tells her that she should have claimed Vhagar when she had the chance. After a rather rude exchange of remarks, the Twins attack Aemond resulting in him knocking them both to the ground.

Jace and Luke join in the fray, with all four kids beating on Aemond until he manages to knock them off. He then grabs Luke by the throat, and just as he is about to bash his head in, Aemond dishes a rather rude insult: "You'll die screaming in flames just as your father did," implying that Aemond, along with many others, knows that Laenor is not his father.

Being the good brother he is, Jace pulls out a knife and attacks Aemond, and after Luke throws some dirt in his face, Jace manages to slash Aemond across the eye.

An Eye for an Eye

olivia cooke emma d arcy

The crown prince's blinding in one eye does not go over well with the Royal Court. Viserys and Alicent demand to know how this could have happened and berates the Kingsguard for failing to defend his son. Alicent hits Aegon and screams at him for not protecting his brother.

Blame is thrown around, with both sides arguing that the other is at fault, Alicent saying it's Rhaenyra's children who are the instigators and vice versa. After learning that Aemond calling Jace and Luke bastards is what set it off, Viserys orders his sons to tell him who told him those "lies." As Jace and Luke are in line for the Iron Throne, Rhaenyra accuses Aemond of treason, but Viserys is unwilling to go that far (Aemond is his son, after all.)

As Daemon watches the whole scene unfold, Rhaenyra demands that the Prince be "sharply questioned" to determine where he heard those rumors (spoiler: it was probably his mom.) Alicent's aghast at the suggestion, saying it was just an insult and that her son has lost an eye. Aemond doesn't say where he heard the rumor before Alicent distracts everyone by asking where Laenor is, implying he is out "entertaining his squires."

After exchanging a glance with Alicent that Viserys catches, Aemond says that Aegon was the one that told him. Aegon is asked where he heard the rumors and says, "We know. Everyone knows. Just look at them." As Rhaenyra begins to tear up, Viserys demands that the fighting stop, for them to apologize and move on.

Alicent cannot believe it, wanting justice for her son. Demanding an eye for an eye, Alicent commands Ser Criston cut out Jace's eye, but Criston refuses. Losing herself and seeing no other option, Alicent grabs the dagger from Viserys' belt and rushes to cut his eye out herself. Rhaenyra stops her, saying she's gone too far.
"I? What have I done, but what was expected of me? While you flout and do as you please," Alicent says. As the people surrounding her, even Otto, tell her to drop the blade. "Now they see you as you are," Rhaenyra sharply fires back. Alicent drops the knife, but not after cutting Rhaenyra's arm.

At this moment, we see the room split into two sides: Alicent and the Targaryens vs. Rhaenyra and the Velaryons. After all that has transpired, Aemond declares a "victory." He might have lost an eye, but he's gained a dragon.

Otto, ever the sneaky devil, goes to Alicent and says that even though she may have been a bit extreme in her actions, he is proud of her. He's never seen that side of her and that he even denied it might exist, but he now knows that she has the determination to win the game, one might say, of thrones. Otto tells her to apologize to Viserys, plead for her sons, and that they will emerge victorious in time.

"What that rogue Aemond has done in winning Vhagar to our side, the boy is right; it's worth a thousand times the price he paid," Otto says.

Rhaenyra gets patched up by a Maester when Laenor arrives, saying he should have been there. Rhaenyra tells her sons to leave as she and Laenor discuss his lack of attention to their family and his children. Regardless of blood, they are his sons. He loves his sons but hasn't loved them enough, with Rhaenyra saying that despite their trying, she did want to have his children.

Laenor is an honorable man, according to Rhaenyra, a true rarity in Westeros. He tells Rhaenyra that Ser Qarl will return to the Stepstones, and he will remain at Rhaenyra's side to be her husband and the boys' father. Curiously, she seems less than thrilled.

A Peaceful Wedding...Finally

matt smith emma d arcy

The King and his party leave Driftmark to head back to King's Landing, with Alicent attempting to provide some comfort to an ailing Viserys, which he quickly brushes aside. The dragons of the Targaryen children also leave Driftmark, with Aemond riding his newfound buddy Vhaegar alongside the fleet.

The creepy new head of House Strong and Alicent's unwanted chief spy, Larys Strong, approaches her onboard the ship. He offers to send someone to cut out the eye she failed to get; she refuses but thanks him for his service. She relies on him for his skill and discretion when the time comes.

Daemon and Rhaenyra meet again, discussing that the idea of fire is more of a prison than they would care to admit. She asks for Daemon's help against the Greens, offering to bind their blood in marriage. Together, her claim would not be so easily challenged by her enemies. He reminds her that she's already married and that they couldn't be together unless Laenor were dead. "I know," she says.

Secretly, Daemon approaches Ser Qarl at the docks, giving him money for a quick death for Laenor, one with witnesses. The next sequence can be a little confusing, so let's break it down.

An innocent man is attacked and killed by Daemon in the castle, who begins taking his clothes. In the Driftmark throne room, Qarl attacks Laenor, and as they fight, the guards are summoned by one of Laenor's aides. When the guards, Corlys and Rhaenys, arrive, they find a body dressed in Laenor's clothes, burnt beyond recognition in the fire. Ser Qarl is also nowhere to be seen.

Wasting absolutely NO time, Rhaenyra and Daemon are married in the old Targaryen way: With a whole lot of self-cutting and blood. They share a passionate kiss in front of their children, solidifying the legality of this marriage.

As the episode wraps up, we see that both Laenor and Qarl are, in fact, still alive. They board a rowboat and head to a ship that is, in all likelihood, headed to a much safer place for them both.

Final Thoughts

arty froushan john macmillan

It's nearly do-or-die time for much of the realm, as basically, the only thing holding the damn thing together is the life of Viserys. Once he dies, the knives will come out, and blood (more than just the blood used for weddings) will be spilled. The Civil War that House of the Dragon has been building towards is nearly upon us, and while the first battle likely won't occur until next season, the violence has already begun.

Olivia Cooke stole this episode. Her portrayal of Alicent, torn apart by both sides of the aisle, sent her over the edge, and Cooke showed why she is a master of her craft. House of the Dragon has given her some of the best character development as she has grown from the kind, innocent Alicent we saw in the first episode to a woman more than willing to do what is necessary to "win the game," as her father puts it.

Love him or hate him, it was also great seeing Otto back in the mix again. He's a master of his craft, and now that he knows his daughter is as much of a schemer as he is, this new partnership could only lead to some fantastic drama.

As the realm draws its lines in the sand and the people decide who to support, so does the audience. Are you with the Greens and the Hightowers? Or are you with Team Black and Rhaenyra/Daemon?

As for me, I'm sticking with the Blacks. Long live Queen Rhaenyra!

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down