House of the Dragon: “Driftmark” Episode Review

Joe Brosnan reviews "Driftmark", episode 7 of HBO's House of the Dragon to discuss Aemond’s powerful trade, Alicent’s maddening spiral, and Rhaenyra’s brand new hubby. Read on for more!

Nothing brings people together like a funeral, so special shout-out to Laena Velaryon for giving us the spectacle that was “Driftmark.” With every major player in attendance, we were treated to an episode filled with everything from subtle power dynamics to full-blown attempted murder. Normally we have to wait for weddings for this type of action in Westeros!

This was also the coming-out party for the Targaryen and Velaryon children. Thus far, we’ve mostly paid attention to Rhaenyra and Alicent, but with time jumps happening seemingly every week, it was inevitable that we’d start to learn about their children who will be major players in the upcoming war. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting an all-out fight, and I especially wasn’t ready for one of the kids to lose an eye. But it was the perfect way to show how easily these wounds will fester. If children are indeed the product of their environments, then these kids are screwed.

In this review, we’ll talk about Aemond’s powerful trade, Alicent’s maddening spiral, and Rhaenyra’s brand new hubby. Get ready for some infighting!


Leo Ashton as Aemond Targaryen in “Driftmark.” © HBO.

Riser of the Week: Aemond Targaryen

I kid you not, less than five minutes before Aemond picked a fight with his younger cousins, I turned to the person I was watching with and said “I really like this kid.” He was the loner, the kid who couldn’t relate to everyone else. He reminded me of Tyrion or Jon Snow. But then, with the slightest taste of power still lingering on his tongue, he attacked, hurling insults and punches at his cousins with complete disregard for their lives. And before I knew it, I went from thinking he was Jon Snow to only seeing Joffrey. Could you imagine if Joffrey had the biggest dragon in the world?

Anyway, I digress. After the fight where Aemond lost his eye, I wasn’t necessarily rooting for him anymore, but I was still captivated by him. Kudos to the actor, Leo Ashton. He was stellar all episode, and he brought depth to the character.

Aemond’s fearlessness in claiming Vhagar will have ramifications for years to come. As Otto Hightower made clear at the end of the episode, trading an eye for the realm’s largest dragon is the ultimate trade for the Greens.

Honorable Mention: Otto Hightower, back in power, back for blood.


Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in “Driftmark.” © HBO.

Faller of the Week: Alicent Hightower

Alicent Hightower has that dog in her. Unfortunately, it seems to have rabies. It’s one thing to let your enemies know that you’d do anything to protect your children, but it’s an entirely different thing to steal a dagger from the King and use it to attack your ex-best friend/daughter-in-law while demanding your bodyguard cut the eye out of a young boy.

Madness is a term thrown around loosely when it comes to Targaryens, but if Alicent’s not careful, it’s going to quickly become a Hightower term too.

I did enjoy the end of the episode when Alicent was bracing for Otto to shame her for her actions. Instead, Otto praised her, saying he was proud to see that she had what it takes to fight and win this war. I suspect this will be a learning lesson for Alicent. Her tenacity isn’t going anywhere, it’s just going to be harder for her enemies to see.

Honorable Mention: Prince Aegon Targaryen, who’s already showing that he might not quite be fit for the throne.



Item of Power: Daemon’s Murder Hoodie

I cannot stop laughing every time Daemon wears his spooky hood. I like to imagine that in his head, he thinks ooh, time to commit a murder, gotta grab my hoodie. He’s worn it while killing his wife, and now while staging the murder of Laenor. Sneak level +1000.



Maester’s Musings:

  • The fight scene between all of the children was brutal. You could tell how violent it was becoming, and these kids were out for blood. It’s one thing to watch adults pummel each other, but watching children hits differently. Bravo to the actors and director for making it seem realistic.
  • Watching Aemond flail around while riding Vhagar was stressful. But I loved his gleeful scream once he secured his grip and figured it out. The visuals for the flight and for Vhagar were stunning.
  • I think one of the shortcomings of the writers thus far is the relationship between Rhaenyra and Daemon. I’m not sure if they’re supposed to be in love or if he’s groomed her. I’m just uncomfortable watching them together, and I’m not exactly excited to watch their relationship unfold.
  • Isn’t Criston Cole such a little bitch?
  • Did anyone else catch King Viserys call Alicent by his first wife’s name, Aemma? He’s starting to lose his grip on reality, and I fear that he might only have one episode left with us. For someone who’s death has been a topic of discussion since the very first episode, I’m still not ready for him to go.
  • I was relieved to see that Rhaenyra didn’t actually plot the murder of Laenor, though I’m a little worried that the writers are setting up Rhaenyra and the Blacks to be “good” and Alicent and the Greens to be “bad.” It’s much less cut and dry in the books, and I hope we get to see nuance moving forward.

Favorite Shot: The opening burial scene. I love little looks into Westerosi customs, and I thought the way that the Velaryons bury their dead was beautiful. Also, seeing all of the dragons perched nearby gave weight to the stakes. Destruction is coming.

Favorite Scene: The entire culmination of the episode with everyone in the Great Hall trying to interrogate the children to find out what happened. The whole episode was a slow simmering cauldron of tension, and here it finally boiled over. I couldn’t look away.

Favorite Line: “Now they see you as you are.” Pointed words for Queen Alicent from Princess Rhaenyra. Alicent may have drawn first blood, but Rhaenyra’s retort was just as pointed.


  1. Brakus

    We also meet Ser Rolly Duckfield, a knight of House Velaryon. Rolly is a loyal friend to Corlys, and he is also in love with Corlys’s daughter, Laena. However, Laena is betrothed to another man, and so Rolly’s love is unrequited

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