Prison breaks, vile accusations, secret plans and sex scandals!
Welcome back to Rings of the Dragon, a Wonder series where we recap new episodes of House of the Dragon (HOTD) and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (TROP), and then determine which show wins the week.
Previously on Rings of the Dragon, heirs were chosen, dragon eggs were stolen, crabs were fed, vengeance was sworn, orcs were beheaded, and some weirdo fell from the sky. And now let’s check in on the latest episodes. SPOILERS AHEAD, obviously.
The Rings of Power Episode 3: Adar
When Elf Cop was captured by shadowy hands in the last episode, we weren’t sure if it was orcs or something far more sinister, horrific and dangerous. Because it would be too predictable if orcs did it. The show would have taken an interesting turn if it was revealed that some other creature, or maybe even a friendly entity, yoinked Elf Cop into the shadows. Something or someone unexpected. But nah, it was orcs. -1 point for that non-swerve.
Elf Cop wakes up to find that he and a bunch of other elves are now slaves, digging an underground orc railroad of some sort.
Galadriel also wakes up, but somewhere more pleasant and less orc-y. She and Halbrand are on a fancy motherfucking boat.
They are taken to the Island Kingdom of Jerks, Númenor. +3 points for the awe-inspiring sweeping shots of the island’s architecture and landscape.
Presented to Queen Regent Miriel, Galadriel introduces herself like she’s Daenerys Targaryen. Halbrand introduces himself like he’s Jon Snow. They are both received like they just killed a Stark. People of Númenor really don’t like elves.
Isildur is introduced. He’s probably important.
Back in the Southlands, Elf Cop tries to figure out what the orcs are up to. He and his elf buddies devise a plan to escape, but all of their talking pisses off their captors. They get offered a water ration. Somebody’s throat gets slit. Don’t trust an orc bearing gifts. +2 points for the tensest scene of people drinking water.
Jumping back to Jerk Island, Galadriel finds out that not everyone there hates her Elven guts. She also figures out that the sigil of Sauron that she’s been obsessing about is not just a glowing evil mark that burns with evil fire. If you turn the sigil on its side, it’s actually a map of the Southlands and an integral part of a plan B in the event that Morgoth, the Regional Manager to Sauron’s Assistant (to the) Regional Manager, is defeated! She will now have to steal the Declaration of Independence.
Meanwhile, Halbrand goes John Wick on some Númenorian assholes. He gets locked up. He engages with more fight-flirting with Galadriel. The fact that he’s a secret king is brought up. So he’s this show’s Aragorn? +1 point for using familiar archetypes to make convoluted storylines and tons of exposition go down easier.
Leaving Jerk Island and the Southlands for a bit, we check in on Nori, the Harfoots and Meteor Man. We get to see the life philosophy of the Harfoots, as well as a moving ritual where they remember those who fell behind but will still be carried in their hearts and memories. It’s a poignant scene that gives the Harfoots more depth. Meteor Man then ruins everything by being Mr. Bean.
After getting flak for bringing Meteor Man to their camp, Nori is eventually forgiven, but she and her family will have to be at the very back of the caravan as they do their migration thing. With Nori’s father’s leg being broken and all, they expect it to be a really rough migration. But Meteor Man is there to be their friend and muscle, so everything seems cool in the end. +3 points for friendship.
Finally, back again to Elf Cop and friends, they initiate a daring escape involving kung fu chains. However, the orcs have an ugly ass warg at their disposal. And arrows. It does not end well for Team Prison Break. Elf Cop is restrained and because he led this whole riot, he is now to be brought to the orcs’ leader, some blurry dude called “Adar.” -1 point for blue-balling your audience.
Final Score: 7
House of the Dragon Episode 4: King of the Narrow Sea
From imprisoned secret kings and elf cops, we go to a Targaryen princess who feels like a captive of gender roles and a kingdom full of bozos. Rhaenyra entertains suitors young and old before bowing out of her Find A Husband Tour to return to King’s Landing, just in time for the homecoming of her uncle, Daemon, now King of the Narrow Sea. +1 point for a random dragon fly-by.
The King of the Narrow Sea immediately relinquishes his crown and bows down to his brother, King Viserys. They hug it out, everybody claps, they all have a party. Peace for our time. SIKE! There can be no peace. Not if Daemon has anything to say about it.
Daemon invites Rhaenyra out for a wild night in the streets of King’s Landing. Rhaenyra cosplays as “boy” and accepts the offer. They see and hear what the people really feel about having a girl as the next in line to rule. It’s not good. They run around the city before checking out some butts and boobies in a brothel. +5 points for late night delights. But then a couple of truly gross things happen, seemingly at the same time.
Rhaenyra and Daemon engage in some heavy petting in the bowels of a pleasure den. Viserys and Alicent have sex in the royal chamber, and only one of them wants to be there. It’s sex as a pleasure and sex as a duty. It’s the yin and yang of intercourse. Beautiful and grotesque.
The Targaryen Formerly Known As King of the Narrow Sea, possibly realizing that he’s being a dick with an incestuous dick, snaps out of it and walks out on Rhaenyra. Deprived of a happy ending, the Realm’s Delight decides to end her night with an actual bang. It looks like the princess loses her virginity to Ser Criston Cole. +1 for SCANDAL!
Daemon wakes up with a nasty hangover. Otto, the Hand of the King, delivers some disconcerting news to Viserys, driving a wedge between them. Alicent lays down a vile accusation on Rhaenyra. The Realm’s Delight swears upon the memory of her dead mother that nothing happened—that Daemon never touched her. 👀
Viserys convinces Daemon to pack up and GTFO. Alicent vouches for her friend like an absolute sucker. Political Headache Rhaenyra Targaryen agrees to marry the son of the Sea Snake. Otto Hightower is Hand of the King no more. Things are now super juicy. +1 point for things getting super juicy.
The episode ends with Rhaenyra being offered some birth control tea. Incestuous night outs, marital sexual assault, and abortion before bedtime. This episode has it all. Ew.
Final Score: 8
With the final scores being HOTD: 8, TROP: 7, HOTD wins Rings of the Dragon again. The lack of dragons usually makes things dull and lifeless, but the latest episode of HOTD circumvents that problem with sex scandals and political demotions. We’ll see you again next week, fantasy fans!
You can stream “House of the Dragon” on HBO GO and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” on Amazon Prime Video.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver