House Of The Dragon Has Built A Perfect Storm Of Grudges And Bad Choices

This post contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon" episode 6.

"Nobody trusts anybody now. We're all very tired."

This famous line from "The Thing" could just as easily refer to the characters in "House of the Dragon" as it could the men at the Antarctic research station in John Carpenter's sci-fi horror classic. Episode six, "The Princess and the Queen," picks up 10 years after King Viserys' (Paddy Considine) attempt to host a festive wedding for his daughter Rhaenyra and her husband-to-be Ser Laenor Velaryon ended in — What else? — bloodshed. By the end of the episode, however, those nuptials gone horribly wrong have come to feel like the good old days for the series' leads.

Be it because of grudges, individual bad choices, or the greater systematic failings of Westeros' patriarchy, "House of the Dragon" has reached a point where it's clear House Targaryen is really one giant house of cards ready to collapse at a moment's notice. Even those whose interests align seem just as inclined to stab one another in the back as they do to coopoerate and achieve their goals together. But to understand how the whole thing can (and will) come crashing down, we have to start by looking at who has the most to lose in the weeks ahead.

And you thought the Lannisters were dysfunctional

There's no overlooking the parallels between the extended Targaryen clan and the Lannisters in "Game of Thrones," from the in-fighting to the incestuous romances. At least the latter group had Twyin Lannister, a patriarch who never stopped trying to BS his way out of his problems (right up until his untimely death on the toilet). Viserys, on the other hand, just wants to bury his head in the sand and spend all day playing with his ye olden LEGOs.

Then again, by the end of episode six, it's hard to blame him. His heir, the adult Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy), is barely even trying to pretend her husband Ser Laenor (John Macmillan), is the father of her kids, and has fled King's Landing; his wife, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), has come into her own as queen and is actively preparing their first-born son Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) to challenge Rhaenyra for the throne when Viserys dies; and with his health fading quickly, the odds are against Viserys being able to remedy the situation before he meets his maker.

For Rhaenyra and Alicent, the stakes couldn't be higher. Forget securing the throne. Once Viserys is out of the picture, they'll need all the help they can get to avoid being killed by the other, to say nothing of preventing civil war as the people of Westeros choose their sides in this quarrel. Epsidoe six also make it clear reconciliation is no longer an option. Even if Alicent hadn't seen right through Rhaenyra's last-minute bid to repair their relationship by proposing a marriage between their children, it won't take long for Rhaenyra to connect the dots between Alicent and the death of her lover, Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr).

Meanwhile, on the sidelines...

It the end, it won't be dragons or weirdo pirates who bring House Targaryen toppling down. No, the real cause will be a bunch of people too focused on their grievances to see the forest for the trees.

Take Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), aka The Absolute Worst™. 10 years after Rhaenyra rejected his ill-conceived offer to run away and marry him (prompting him to ruin her wedding), he's now actively conspiring against her and calling her the C-word in front of Alicent. He even starts a fight with Ser Harwin that jeopardizes not just Rhaenyra and her family but the entire kingdom, and for what? So he can continue to cling to his contradictory sense of honor? No one cares, my (not) dude.

Then there's Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), who's been too busy throwing a pity party for himself in Essos about his failed machinations to keep up with anything that's transpired in King's Landing for the last decade. Will the tragic death of his second wife, Lady Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell), spur him into positive action? Of course not. Daemon is a force for chaos on a good day. That he now believes he has little to lose other than his children makes him more dangerous than ever.

Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) is the only player on the sidelines who seems aware they're playing with fire. By killing his family the way he did, he's cleverly put Alicent in a position where she can no longer cut ties with him. He's very much the Littlefinger to "House of the Dragon," arranging the board's various chess pieces to his liking. And unlike Petyr Baelish, he's yet to do anything that would make it impossible for him to switch sides, should the wind change direction.

The sins of the father

There's really no way for the grown-ups to undo their mistakes at this stage in "House of the Dragon." They've made their beds and now they have to lie in them. But if they're hoping their kids will avoid making an equal-sized mess of things, they might want to come up with an alternate plan and fast.

Far from getting along, "The Princess and the Queen" shows Rhaenyra and Alicent's kids are already trying to bash one another's heads in during combat practice. It's also hard not to suspect Aegon taunting his brother Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) will come back to bite him. Viserys and Daemon are proof of what happens when royal siblings in Westeros fail to work out their problems: They find themselves alone and at odds with their family at a time when they need each other's support the most.

Indeed, Rhaenyra and Alicent's children are well on their way to developing rivalries with one another. With Rhaenyra's son Jacaerys (Harry Collett) having already pieced together who his real father is, it feels inevitable he will make a lifelong enemy out of Aegon and Aemond once he learns of their mother's role in Ser Harwin's death. And with dragons on all sides, they're poised to burn down all of House Targaryen once the penny drops and Viserys is no longer around to prevent it from buckling under the ever-growing hurricane blowing at its doors.

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