House of the Dragon EP 4 Review - The King of the Straits is dialog-heavy and lacking in action. Instead, another attribute of the parent series returns in House of the Dragon: pornography. While Rhaenyra's tour of King's Landing disguised as a boy is reminiscent of Aladdin, we quickly get to see things that have absolutely nothing to do with Disney.
Rhaenyra is in a sex frenzy after Daemon shows her the inside of a brothel. The incest between Rhaenyra and Daemon is unexpected, yet expected. It's shocking, yet in the Targaryen tradition. The scene gives the leading actress an immensely deeper character, it becomes more ambivalent and impenetrable. The subtle power play between her and her brother keeps the tension boiling.
Her dalliance with the beautiful Ser Kriston distracts us from the disturbing brothel scene and lets some erotic sparks fly. The order to undress is completely redefined for Kriston, who first has to peel off his thousand-piece suit of armor before going to bed. Not a word is said and it's possibly the most romantic sex scene since Jon Snow's glorious defloration.
But the star of the episode is once again Paddy Considine as King Viserys, who is surrounded on all sides. Its character is formed in so many dimensions that only string theory could describe it. He shines in every scene, in his strong motivations and painfully understandable wrong decisions.
Even now, I'm having a hard time saying goodbye to Viserys, a bit like anticipated grief. With each subsequent episode, it becomes clear that another nail has been hammered into his coffin. The resignation of Otto Hohenthurm as his hand is so unpleasant to watch because Viserys is equally right and wrong with his assumptions. The construct of truth, lies, and motivation has become so complex in four episodes that Game of Thrones seems like a simple fairy tale in direct comparison.
The King of the Straits is the highlight of the series so far because the narrative pace has never been so tight, the dialogues never so sharp and the twists never so exciting. House of the Dragon gives Game of Thrones some severe competition in terms of complex storytelling. The star continues to be Paddy Considine as Viserys, brave yet clumsy as he pushes his way towards royal ruin. In some moments the series feels like a godfather epic with dragons, a family tragedy about power and betrayal.