PG Score: 8.25/10
House of the Dragon is available on HBO Max. New episodes every Sunday at 9 PM ET.
*SOME SPOILERS BELOW*
Major Time Jump
Ten years have gone by when episode 6 of House of the Dragon begins. "The Princess and the Queen" introduces the viewer to new characters with big roles to play in the Royal Children and the recasting of Princess Rhaenyra by Emma D'Arcy (Truth Seekers), and Queen Alicent by Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One). Lots to digest with this episode, which is basically the start of a new season itself. The faces may have changed, but the politics remain the same as everyone fights for positioning as King Viserys (Paddy Considine) looks to be on death's door.
This episode of House of the Dragon was all about the power struggle and where everyone stands in the hierarchy, along with the family dynamic between Rhaenyra and Alicent's children. Alicent's have the traditional Targaryen looks, while Rhaenyra's children's appearances raise a lot of unwanted questions for the Royal Family. D'Arcy and Cooke do an admirable job of stepping in and filling the shoes of Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, respectively. The recasting works great as a tool as well, to visibly show the passing of time for our characters.
We meet the King's grandchildren and all three of his children with Alicent for the first time. All six of the Royal children will be aged up and recast by the end of the season, but this introduction shows that the ongoing tension and hostility between Princess and the Queen will only harm the relationship between the kids, causing an underlying resentment that will fester between all parties involved.
Parallel Plot Elements
Like the first episode of House of the Dragon, this episode had two key birthing scenes that will have large ramifications for Targaryens and dragons alike. Episode 6 has plenty in common with the original series, Game of Thrones, with lots of events being cyclical. The question of parentage for the heirs to the Iron Throne, a Hand of the King in turmoil, and a character that has the best, or rather worst, traits of both Varys and Littlefinger. Introduced earlier this season, Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) made his first big move in a major way on the political landscape that has Queen Alicent questioning her "friendship" with the man.
Good, Not Quite Great
"The Princess and the Queen" was a good, but safe, episode to have following the ten-year time jump. The episode featured a lot of politicking and jockeying for position between Princess Rhaenyra's side and Queen Alicent's side, all while a very decrepit King Viserys turns a blind eye to all and plays with his model of Valyria. The biggest disappointment of this episode was the CGI involving the dragons, which is concerning since it mostly just involved Daemon and Laena flying over Pentos. Hopefully, it was just cable and looks better on HBO Max. Overall, a solid start to the back half of a season that has far succeeded expectations.