House Of The Dragon Introduced Its Coolest Castle Yet With Driftmark

Spoilers for "House of the Dragon" episode 5.

In this week's "House of the Dragon," we finally got to see Driftmark, the castle of Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), and Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best). These two are the wealthiest people in Westeros, with Corlys controlling the navy and Rhaenys a dragon rider. This power couple — who seem to love each other, unlike most of the court — have turned a stone castle on an island into a comfortable home. 

We're introduced to this place as King Viserys (Paddy Considine) shows up to propose a marriage between Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate). He decides to sail there in a storm because every decision this king makes is a bad one, despite being the nicest man in Westeros. Even though the sky is dark, there is something about this castle that is warm and inviting. It's a display of power without being showy. While the Iron Throne is imposing, and the hall it sits in is grand, there is nothing comfortable about it. It's as if every ruler is just temporarily perching at the edge of the pokey seat, terrified of being thrown off but happy to show how powerful they are. 

Driftmark, on the other hand, is full of trophies and beautiful murals of battles won, displayed for the joy of the people who live here rather than trying to impress visitors. The blue walls glisten, the giant shell softens the room, dragons adorn every surface, and an entire food board sits at the side. No servants are bustling around. It's Rhaenys, dressed in comfortable pants and relaxed, who brings the king some wine.

A much more comfortable seat

The throne itself is driftwood. It's weathered, clearly surviving storms that would have drowned other items, smooth and without splinters after having been through buffeting. Way better than that stabby seat in King's Landing. There are candles everywhere, bringing warm light and little touches, making it less of a throne room and more of a home. Even the throne's dais is only three steps up from the floor. Nothing echoes with the wood surrounding it all, making it even more friendly (and challenging to eavesdrop on conversations).

I also noticed a great lighting moment. The room is darker through the storm and the king's entrance. Then the lighting warms up when it's just Rhaenys and Corlys, who are definitely about to take this up the curvy staircase in that room and head to bed. You see more of the blue on the walls and more of the items that are precious to the family. Even the Crab Feeder's mask is displayed to the side for Corlys to enjoy rather than to intimidate visitors.

This setting makes it clear that Corlys and Rhaenys are comfortable enough in their power and partnership that they don't need to intimidate anyone. They don't need ostentatious or intimidating displays. Rhaenys may have been meant to rule, but she's probably happier here than she would have been in King's Landing.

Final thought: I did notice what appeared to be a model of the castle in the room ... what is it with the ruling families of Westeros that they need to have dollhouses? 

"House of the Dragon" is airing on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.