“House of the Dragon” Episode 7: Big Tragedy TV

Foto: 2022 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved

In Driftmark, House of the Dragon shines with an intensity reminiscent of some of Game of Thrones’ strongest episodes. Has the series finally caught on?

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Maybe you have to get used to the qualitative interplay? In the fact that for every filler episode that just tries to pump its audience full of information and fait accompli, as was the case last week, you are rewarded with such a gem. Or perhaps this lengthy exposition of a decade-long narrative that has been beating the war drums for weeks will find its place in the seventh chapter? “Driftmark” is the name of the new episode of “House of the Dragon”, named after the ancestral home of the Velaryons. And so the title already refers to the concentrated view that makes Episode 7 the strongest and simply extremely exciting television program to date.

One place, one day, all the main characters gathered, these are the ingredients of the almost hour-long tragedy. She struggles at first, no doubt. Such a break caused by the previous episode’s time warp isn’t easy to shake off. Because the music of Ramin Djawadi can fiddle no matter how sentimental: the character, Laena Velaryon, who is supposed to be mourned collectively at the beginning, was simply not known enough. There can’t be any tears yet, the skull is still pounding because of the decimated and multiplied workforce that episode 6 had flushed onto the screen.

Great directorial work by Miguel Sapochnik

At Driftmark, the ensemble has gathered for the funeral. At the end of the mourning ceremony, the next morning, the balance of power has been rebalanced, and former friends Rhaenyra and Alicent are finally at odds. Intrigues are spun, the first brutal fisticuffs point to the impending war. This episode is about eye for eye, violence as supposed justice, but also as a gesture of power and dominance.

Miguel Sapochnik, one of the showrunners, directed “Driftmark”. It is his third and final directorial effort this season. From the second season he will leave the show as series creator, that’s already certain. One can only hope that he stays with the “House of the Dragon” at least as a director. Sapochnik drives the plot forward so densely and intensely, he knows how to handle the positional play of his characters so elegantly! While in the predecessor he only had to eat functional sequences, in this episode he can demonstrate all his talent.

Foto: 2022 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved

A natural spectacle

It starts with the impressive staging of the cinematic space with its barren landscapes of the soul. A significant part of “Driftmark” takes place in the open air, in a rough, twilight natural setting, which throws back the whole archaic that breaks out of the conflict of the rulers. Be it the ominous weather phenomena, the darkening of the sky, the gathering storm, or the defeat of the huge, screen-filling dragon Vhagar by young Aemond, who will pay for it with his eyesight. This powerful weapon is now in the hands of the “Greens”, as the party around Queen Alicent is called.

At the same time, “Driftmark” knew that this symbolic tool of destruction was unavailable. It is an episode about proportions: people in their crushing cosmos, under the sky, above whose cloud cover invisible beings roar and scream. Small people who conquer overwhelming power and thus conjure up catastrophes. Little people who suddenly surpass themselves, get involved in the intrigues of the rulers and have to pay for it. And big people, Los Blancos, who suddenly lose their put-on composure. Where one generation is still struggling to hold its own, the next is already falling into prepared chaos.

The tension of the inevitable

In “Driftmark” unstoppable things come to a head, predetermined fates, that too is the tragic essence. They are man made. Lineage, racist ideologies of pure blood eat up their protagonists. Past mistakes have consequences years later, others only repeat themselves in a new guise.

In one of the strongest moments, an aging couple, Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen, discuss years of power struggles. Rhaenys, who was once rejected as queen, confronts her husband with his thirst for power, who tries to camouflage his own interests with symbolic power politics for others. The episode is full of polished, pointed, multi-faceted dialogues presented and played until all words fail. The final scream of the Targaryen Queen That Never Was is heart-rending. She is said to have lost another child, unaware that she only fell victim to an elaborate intrigue.

Foto: 2022 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved

Between Shakespeare and Schiller

And the fisticuffs also begin here with the replacement of verbal skirmishes. In the nocturnal hall, Queen Alicent and heir apparent Rhaenyra attack each other. The king’s dagger, this charged fetish object that harbors the ideology of fate and the shaky legitimacy of one’s claims to power, as the series has explained on numerous occasions, inflicts a bleeding wound.

So far, “House of the Dragon” has been compared to Shakespeare, not least by the author George R.R. Martin From now on, one would like to add to Schiller’s “Maria Stuart”, how two queens argue about the question of power in this visually and eloquently powerful fantasy TV, how the larvae fall in front of the assembled team. Testimony in politics is fatal and a powerful miracle cure at the same time. This episode, which begins with disparaging looks and ends with a rift, is a reminder of this.

House of the Dragon is picking up speed

It’s about nothing other than the conflict between individualism and opportunistic system affiliation. Two power-hungry women carry it out for their families, which in this episode are filled with further ambivalence and obstinacy. Step by step they explore the price of compliance or subversion when they are stuck in so much tradition and encrusted paths.

Their former guardians, embodied by the aged King Viserys, can only helplessly watch their own downfall in the family quarrel, which is also where this brilliant episode draws its uncomfortable tension. In the end, an almost insurmountable distance has opened up between the sailing away ship, the flying dragons of the green and the black ones on the other side, Rhaenyra and Daemon, these Macbeths. “House of the Dragon” truly lets the fire blaze inside for the first time.

House of the Dragon joined August 22nd Sky available for streaming. A new episode comes out every Monday. More information about the broadcast can be found here.

All reviews of “House of the Dragon” at a glance

A preview of the upcoming eighth episode can be seen here:

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