House Of The Dragon Continues The Game Of Thrones Tradition Of Very Bad Weddings

This article contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon" episode five. 

At this point, I don't know why anyone gets married in Westeros. The fictional land of seven kingdoms, home to the characters on the HBO shows "Game of Thrones" and "House of the Dragon," is positively cursed when it comes to matters of matrimony. Weddings in this franchise almost always equal death and misery, and "House of the Dragon" followed in the footsteps of its predecessor in episode 5, "We Light the Way." The match between Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate) isn't a perfect one, but it's not terrible, either. At least they're close to the same age, not too closely related, and even agree on extramarital affairs before getting hitched. Unfortunately, not everyone is thrilled about the union, and they're going to make sure everyone else is as miserable as they are. 

In "Game of Thrones," we had the horrific massacre of the Red Wedding, the (honestly deserved) death of Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) at the Purple Wedding, and then the brutality of Sansa's (Sophie Turner) wedding to Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). Nightmare weddings are a Westerosi tradition. Rhaenyra's wedding to Laenor is certainly one for the history books, though not for the reasons Viserys (Paddy Considine) wanted. 

Off to a rough start

The trouble begins at the pre-wedding feast, a massive ordeal where King Viserys and Princess Rhaenyra greet all of their guests and welcome them for seven days of feasting and merriment. There is a massive amount of pomp and circumstance, because Rhaenyra is supposed to be the future ruler, and this marriage cements her as the eventual queen with her king consort, Laenor. People in the Seven Kingdoms are already a little unhappy about the idea of having a female ruler, so the festivities begin with that kingdom-wide tension already in place. 

The second family to greet their hosts are interrupted by Ser Rhoys, the cousin of Daemon's (Matt Smith) late wife. He doesn't think that her death was an accident, and has come to accuse the Targaryen brat prince. It is only the first of many interruptions, though it certainly isn't the worst. Everyone manages to find their place and take their seats and it seems like there's a moment where things might be alright before Daemon strolls in with the swagger of a man with absolutely zero f***s to give. He's here to crash this wedding and he's clearly ready to party. 

Viserys starts to welcome everyone and is interrupted yet again, this time by his own wife, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey). She walks in, looking absolutely stunning but dressed head to toe in green — the color her house uses to signify a call to arms. If Daemon was here to cause some trouble, Alicent is here to start a war

A first dance turned deadly

Alicent is upset about the wedding because she wants her son, Aegon, to take the throne instead of Rhaenyra, but there are a few people with problems more personal than political. Unlike the Red Wedding or Purple Wedding, where everything sort of seems fine until it isn't, the Green Wedding is a powder keg of building tension right from the moment Ser Rhoys breaks the order of greetings. It's obvious that things are going wrong from the start, and frequent camera cuts to the various players who aren't too pleased sells just how awkward things must feel in that room. Among them are Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), who is in love with Rhaenyra and asked her to run away with him, and Joffrey Lonmouth is Laenor's lusty lover. As Laenor and Rhaenyra have their first dance, everyone around them watches and not all of the gazes are kind. 

As the couple dance and the two semi-scorned lovers pout from their respective corners, Alicent makes another power move by going over to her family for a quick chat. "Know that Oldtown stands with you," she's told, which means that they not only understand the significance of her dress but are ready to fight on her behalf. 

The best way to tell how things are going is to look at Viserys, who begins eating his dinner and is furiously stabbing at the meat with his knife and fork. As the dancing picks up and the edits get faster and faster, so too does Viserys' frantic stabbing. By the time he sees Rhaenyra out on the dance floor ready to make out with her uncle, he's practically jamming his fork through the plate. 

Jilted lovers and spilled blood

Daemon Targaryen is an agent of chaos, but he's surprisingly not the one to cause the havoc that breaks loose at the feast. He questions Rhaenyra about what she really wants and she taunts him in High Valyrian, telling him, "take me to Dragonstone and make me your wife," but he doesn't get a chance to react to that demand because Rhaenyra's other main love interest, Ser Cole, becomes overwhelmed with jealousy. Joffrey had sidled up to the knight and tried playing the game of thrones (badly), teasing him about their shared circumstance as the lover of a royal. Unfortunately that was the last straw for Cole, who attacks Joffrey. There's a scream and then the tightly-controlled camera becomes wild, darting around without giving viewers a clear hint as to what's going on. Viserys is fearful for Rhaenyra, who gets carried away to safety by the doting Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), but everyone else is simply thrown into chaos. 

The feast devolves into a brawl and Ser Cole bashes Joffrey's face in. Poor Laenor sees what's left of his lover and is heartbroken, plus he's been injured in the fracas. There's a harsh cut to the aftermath of it all, with the remainder of the food from the feast left on the tables as Laenor and Rhaenyra have a subdued ceremony only shortly after the room has been cleared. Laenor's face is still swollen, and Viserys struggles to keep it together. Not only is he trying to keep everyone in the realm from going at one another's throats, but he's struggling with a chronic illness and is fading fast. His collapse shows his frailty, and hints at the horrors to come after he's gone. 

A solemn affair

Instead of seven days of festivities ending with a lavish wedding, Rhaenyra and Laenor are wed in the mess left behind after the welcome feast, joined by only a few family members and the septon. Laenor's face is still tear-streaked, his heart broken from the loss of his lover. Rhaenyra is also mourning the lost of Ser Cole, whose allegiance to her has been completely destroyed because of his jealousy. After their lovely walk on the beach, the marriage between these two great houses seemed like it would be a happy and fortuitous one, but unfortunately the Westerosi wedding curse goes back way earlier than what happened to the Starks and Tullys in Riverrun

This particular wedding sets the stakes for the rest of the series, as it lays the groundwork for the eventual war between Rhaenyra and Alicent. It also serves as a farewell to Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, as there's a time jump before episode six and two new actors will take on those roles. (There will be new actors for Laenor and his sister, as well.) The pacing and tension of the feast feels like some of the best "Game of Thrones" finales, and since there's still a whole half a season left, that's really exciting. The Green Wedding managed to be as gruesome as the Red Wedding and as politically motivated as the Purple, but the filmmaking on display set it apart as something incredible all on its own. 

New episodes of "House of the Dragon" premiere Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.