Stay on a boat, Galadriel!
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. Because we can!
Previously on Rings of the Dragon, Galadriel rode a horse, Arondir got all his friends killed, Otto Hightower got fired and the Targaryens Targaryened—sexily. And now let’s check in on the latest episodes.
SPOILERS AHEAD, as usual.
The Rings of Power Episode 4: The Great Wave
Queen Regent Miriel opens the episode by having a terrifying vision of falling leaves and The Great Wave. +2 points for the top-notch visuals of giant waves swallowing Númenor.
As the queen grapples with things yet to come, her people are questioning her loyalty on the streets. With the arrival of Galadriel, one (1) single elf, on their precious island, the Númenoreans somehow think that elves will take their jobs.
Pharazôn, consul and cousin to Miriel, hears this rhetoric and tries to calm things down by being the voice of reason—and then immediately reinforces the anti-elf sentiment of the people, promising that he will not let Elven hands take Númenor’s helm. He promises to make Númenor great again. And then he buys everyone a drink. +1 for the comically easy to manipulate mob. More on them later.
Galadriel tries to convince Miriel to take up arms against an unseen enemy. The queen dismisses the Elf’s nonsense. Everyone loses their cool. In one of the funniest moments in the series yet, Galadriel gets thrown in jail for sedition. +3 points for an actual attempt at humor that actually lands.
Isildur gets himself and two of his buddies kicked out of the Sea Guard. He’s probably important.
Blurry orc leader Adar’s face is finally revealed. He seems like a corrupted Elf of some sort. We don’t exactly find out what his entire deal is, but the orcs uncharacteristically show him reverence, and he in turn shows empathy and pain as he puts one of the injured orcs out of his misery. Is he Sauron? Maybe. He is definitely Orc Daddy.
Orc Daddy has a little chat with Elf Cop before sending him away to deliver a message to the Men taking refuge at the old watchtower. These Men happen to include Bronwyn and her prick of a son, Theo.
Theo, against his mother’s wishes, ventures out to scavenge for some food. He encounters an orc, so a fun game of cat and mouse ensues.
Benedict Celebrimbor complains about being ignored by Durin, so Elrond goes to his friend to find out what’s up. It turns out that Durin, Disa and the rest of the Dwarves have discovered a new kind of shiny rock. Lighter than silk, harder than iron. Mithril. +1 point for dramatic declarations of a rock’s name.
Back in Jerk Island, Pharazôn’s son, Kemen and Isildur’s sister, Eärien, flirt. They’re probably important.
Galadriel hilariously overpowers a bunch of guards and escapes jail. She goes straight to the room of King Tar-Palantir, Miriel’s father, where the queen regent is waiting. The two women start a watch party of The Great Wave through a seeing-stone.
Checking back with Theo, he narrowly escapes a band of Orcs with the help of Elf Cop, who does a pretty good impression of Legolas. He, Bronwyn and Theo outrun their pursuers, but only because Orcs are allergic to the sun.
Durin trades quips with Elrond before dealing with his daddy issues. King Durin IV and Prince Durin III kiss and make up. +1 point for the younger Durin finally leaving the mountain to join the rest of the show.
Elf Cop delivers Orc Daddy’s threatening message to Bronwyn as Theo and creepy old man Waldreg bond over their cool Sauron tattoos.
For the second time in the series, Galadriel gets on a boat but doesn’t go where she’s supposed to go.
Queen Regent Miriel ends the episode by seeing real falling leaves and changing her mind about Galadriel and her call to arms. The comically easy to manipulate Númenorean mob backs her up and volunteers to escort filthy Elf Galadriel back to Middle-earth. +3 points for things finally happening in this show, and it only took them half the season. Let’s all hope Galadriel can stay on a boat this time.
Final Score: 11
House of the Dragon Episode 5: We Light The Way
HOTD is also halfway through its first season, but there is way more happening here than in TROP.
We finally meet Daemon Targaryen’s wife, Lady Rhea Royce, heir to Runestone. Pleased to me you, Lady Rhea! We don’t exactly know if Daemon paid her a visit to kill her or just to spook her horse and stand mysteriously in her way, but he ends up bashing her head in, off-screen thank the gods. Bye, Lady Rhea! +1 point for Daemon doing his usual unpredictable prick gimmick.
Unlike some elf in TROP that we know, people on HOTD can actually stay on boats. Rhaenyra, Viserys, Lyonel Strong (the new Hand of the King) and the rest of their royal crew sail to Driftmark to ask Corlys and Rhaenys for the hand of their prince. Viserys throws up. It’s probably just sea sickness. I’m sure he’s fine.
We check in for a bit on King’s Landing where Otto Hightower tells his daughter, Alicent, that she has been played. +2 points for all the talk about war that, if they come to pass, would be bad news for everyone in Westeros and good news for those of us watching at home.
Back to Driftmark. Viserys and his party get an icy welcome.
And then back again to King’s Landing. Ser Larys Strong, son of Lyonel, plants poisonous seeds of doubt in the mind of Alicent about Rhaenyra. This is the second time in the first 15 minutes of the show where it is suggested that she has been played by her best friend/stepdaughter.
Back in Driftmark. Viserys is finally granted an audience by Corlys and Rhaenys. They talk about marrying their children for a stronger bloodline. Viserys keeps coughing and refusing several offers for a chair. I’m sure he’s fine.
While their futures are decided for them, Rhaenyra and heir to Driftmark, Laenor Velaryon, talk about engaging in an open relationship. They will perform their royal duties while still getting to bed whomever they choose. The cousins discuss this in a veiled manner, but I’m pretty sure one of them wants to fuck a goose, and the other, a roast duck.
Corlys and Rhaenys debate what they have just done to their boy as the Targaryens sail back to King’s Landing. +1 point for Parents of the Year.
It looks like Ser Criston Cole has developed feelings for Rhaenyra after their sexy time in the last episode. He asks her to ditch the crown and run away with him. Rhaenyra is like, “Yeah, no.” He runs away crying. You’re on a boat, Ser Criston. Where you gonna go? Once at King’s Landing, he tries to shuffle back to his room, presumably to cry some more.
He doesn’t get the chance, though. He’s invited for a little chat by Alicent. As the queen nervously tries to find her words to ask Ser Criston about Rhaenyra and Daemon’s sex scandal, the dumbass white knight spills all the beans about his and Rhaenyra’s late night delight.
That’s three strikes for Alicent. She is now sure that she has indeed been played by Rhaenyra. She is done with the Targaryens’ shit. She is done being played. Now it’s her time to play the game—of thrones. +3 points for the long, slow shot zooming in on Alicent’s face as we see betrayal slowly fueling the fire inside her.
Viserys, after collapsing upon his arrival at the Red Keep, asks Lyonel how he will be remembered. I’m sure he’s fine.
The who’s who of the realm gather at King’s Landing to celebrate the upcoming union between Rhaenyra and Laenor. Days of tournaments and feasting are scheduled. Everyone is pumped! But this is a wedding in Westeros, so of course something goes horribly wrong.
Various individuals exchange tense looks and thinly veiled threats. Ser Joffrey, Laenor’s lover, for some reason, antagonizes Ser Criston. Queen Alicent struts into the room in the middle of Viserys’ speech, carrying herself finally as someone who you do not trifle with. Rhaenyra and Daemon square off in the middle of a dance party. White Knight Baby Ser Criston Cole loses his shit and straight up murders Laenor’s lover, ending the festivities. Way to kill the party, bro.
Viserys decides to skip the planned days of celebration and just do a shotgun wedding right then and there. He then collapses again. I’m sure he’s fine? +5 points for another wacky Westeros wedding.
Final Score: 12
With the final scores being HOTD: 12, TROP: 11, HOTD wins Rings of the Dragon for the third week in a row. While HOTD keeps escalating the drama, the plot and the stakes, TROP is just too slow at setting things up. Both shows are at their halfway point, but TROP feels like it’s just getting started, while HOTD keeps dialing the tension up in every episode.
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