Warning: spoilers ahead for episode 2.
House of the Dragon definitely didn’t come out of the gate slowly with its premiere, after the first episode featured a and across King’s Landing.
The second instalment of the new prequel series has continued to shock, this time with a potential relationship between a grown man and a 12-year-old girl.
In the latest episode, King Viserys I Targaryen () is pressured into selecting a new wife following the death of Queen Aemma Arryn (), who died after undergoing a forced C-section.
While the king is still in mourning for his wife and their son Baelon, who also died after just a few hours, he’s reminded that six months after their deaths, the realm expects him to marry again, providing several people in court with ample opportunity to seek out more power by putting forward a match.
One of those people is the Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), who’s trying to subtly slide his daughter Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) into the king’s good graces.
But Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is also on the case, suggesting his daughter Lady Laena Velaryon (Nova Foueillis-Mos)… who’s only 12 years old.
Yep, you read that right. The adult king, considering marrying an adolescent girl.
While the world of Westeros created by George RR Martin is inspired by real medieval times, when girls would have been put forward for marriage at inappropriately young ages – plus the fact that child brides exist to this day around the world – it’s still jarring to see a grown man walking next to a girl while considering whether or not to make her his wife.
Viserys and Laena go for a stroll together so the king can consider the possibility of marrying the young girl, who’s the daughter of his cousin, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), also known as the ‘Queen Who Never Was’.
Laena delivers a spiel that’s clearly been dictated to her by her father on why she and the king would make a good match.
When the monarch asks her what her mother told her, she chillingly replies: ‘Mother said I wouldn’t have to bed you until I turned 14.’
Later on, when the king is speaking to one of the members of his small council for guidance, he emphasises that Laena is only 12 years old.
‘She’ll mature,’ his advisor responds nonchalantly, fuelling the horror of the situation even more.
In the end, Viserys enrages Corlys when he reveals who he’s chosen to be his bride, as he selects Alicent – much to Otto’s pleasure and Rhaenyra’s devastation, considering she had no idea her best friend was gradually becoming closer with her father.
Viserys’ decision could have significant repercussions in his personal life and his role as king, given Corlys’ role as the realm’s Master of Ships and Rhaenyra’s friendship with Alicent being altered forever.
House of the Dragon next airs on Monday from 2am on Sky Atlantic and NOW.
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