‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 5 Recap: ‘We Light the Way’ Closes a Chapter, But Not Before Touching on a Painful Trope (SPOILERS)

Editor’s note: The following are spoilers for the fifth episode of “House of the Dragon,” which premiered on September 18.


“House of the Dragon’s” fifth episode is significant for logistical reasons, essentially marking the end of the chapter before the show’s time jumps forward, featuring older versions of some characters and shuffling the deck a bit.

However, the hour could spark yet another buzz of a brutal death, to discuss concerns and old wounds about the way LGBTQ characters are treated in TV dramas.

Advances in greater inclusion have coincided with debate about how these characters are portrayed and the fates they fulfill, and the hotly debated trope known as “Bury Your Gays” has emerged. The phrase refers to the history in which gay characters have died disproportionately as a plot point, creating the impression that they are more expendable in the eyes of the storytellers.

In view of this, the prequel “Game of Thrones” created controversy with its last episode, subtitled “We Light the Way”, which proved once again, among other things, that good things never happen in Westeros marriages. (The series plays on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.)

As part of the plot, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) agreed to a marriage of convenience with Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate) – a royal fusion designed to consolidate the power of their respective lines so that they could satisfy their “hunger” elsewhere.

Upon learning that Laenor is gay, Rhaenyra – reminded by her uncle Daemon (Matt Smith) that the marriage is just a political arrangement – reassures her that they will essentially live separate lives, allowing her to continue her relationship with Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod). ). Rhaenyra, on the other hand, was accompanied by her knight, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel).

At the wedding feast, Joffrey revealed to Criston that the knight was aware of his relationship with Rhaenyra, which clearly worried and disturbed him. Moments later when the event erupts into chaotic violence, Criston is on top of Joffrey, brutally bludgeoning him to death during the melee. He then flirts with taking his own life, before Rhaenyra’s fledgling political rival, Alicent (Emily Carey), intervenes.

Martin’s vision is of a medieval world where life is often cheap. This includes everything from orgies to incest, and the horrors of childbirth to securing royal succession, even if that means marrying off young girls.

However, the introduction of Laenor and Joffrey’s relationship to dispatch the latter so quickly and horribly almost immediately prompted questions on Twitter on Sunday night as to whether the “Bury Your Gays” trope applies here. Notably, past discussions of the practice have often surrounded science fiction and fantasy series, including “The 100” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and more recently, BBC America’s dark spy thriller “Killing Eve.”

It’s also worth noting that during the “Game of Thrones” era, some questioned whether the show had a “gay problem,” Vulture said in a 2016 article, citing the number of LGBTQ characters who had met a violent one up to that point. the end

Laenor’s character arc doesn’t end with the last episode. How that story unfolds could offset or soften this latest turn of events in the eyes of his critics.

For now, though, based on the over-the-top nature of the franchise that trumps almost everything in the series, “House of the Dragon” can handle the near-term heat.

HBO declined a request to address the episode.