House of the Dragon producers break down Alicent, Criston, and Daemon's most-talked about episode 5 moments

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon episode 5
(Image credit: HBO)

Warning: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 5. If you've not yet caught up with the Game of Thrones prequel series, then turn back now.

A lot went down in House of the Dragon episode 5. It stands to reason, really, given that it revolved around a wedding – and well, weddings in Westeros never do run smoothly, do they? Now, the show's producers have broken down the installment's most-talked about points, from Alicent Hightower's power move to Ser Criston Cole's violent outburst.

First, some context: Titled 'We Light the Way', the episode sees Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate) agree to get hitched – on the condition that they'd both keep separate lovers outside of their marriage. Their deal took a dark turn, however, when Laenor's paramour Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod) approached Rhaenyra's, Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) at the celebration, and suggested it'd be a good idea for them to keep the other's relationships a secret. Mistaking Joffrey's words as a veiled threat, he beat the young guard to death in front of all of the wedding guests. 

"The fun of that sequence is playing on the audiences' expectations of a Game of Thrones wedding, and knowing that these things tend not to go well," co-showrunner Ryan Condal explains in the latest Inside the Episode, which you can watch in its entirety below. "You just don't know where the explosion is going to come from, and then it comes from the most unexpected place when Criston Cole finally just snaps."

House of the Dragon episode 5

(Image credit: HBO)

"It's a scene of chaos and anger unleashed," adds director Clare Kilner. "All the people at the top table, who have been trying to control their kids and manipulate them... this is the result of that."

Joffrey isn't the only one to lose his life in the episode, either. Though whether or not the other fallen character actually died at the hand of another is up for debate. At the start of 'We Light the Way', Daemon (Matt Smith) runs into his young wife Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford) – and it soon becomes clear that the pair don't get on. After a few barbed comments, Rhea goes to reach for her bow, which prompts Daemon to deliberately spook her horse so that she falls off. In the tumble, her head whacks against the stone floor, though she is still alive. 

"I know you couldn't finish", she hisses at Daemon as he walks away. Irritated, he picks up a huge rock and starts walking back towards Rhea before the screen cuts to black. Later on, Rhea's cousin accuses Daemon of murdering her – but whether or not he did is kept ambiguous in both the series and Fire & Blood, the novel in which it's based.

"We allude to Lady Rhea all through the season," co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik notes. "It felt like a good way to meet her was literally just before we kill her."

"There was this line in the book that always fascinated me: Daemon's wife, the Lady Rhea Royce of Runestone, fell off her horse and her skull was crushed in the fall. And I read that and I was like, 'That's such a weird detail to include with no context around it'" says Condal, recalling how he just assumed Daemon killed her from then on, and how they wanted to make Daemon and Rhea's brief interaction like a short film.

"We never know whether Daemon went there to kill his wife or not," Kilner argues, less sure on how the events play out than Condal. "And that's what Matt plays so interestingly. You never know what's going on in Daemon's head."

Lastly, the trio talked about Alicent subtly taking a stab at the Targaryens during the wedding, after learning that her former friend Rhaenyra lied to her about sleeping with Criston. She rocks up to the event late, wearing a green – which Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) informs another character is the color the Hightower's beacon glows when Oldtown declares war on an enemy – dress.

"This episode is her coming out," Condal says, as Sapochnik adds: "Alicent, I think, snaps. [She] decides to make a statement about where her allegiances are."

"Alicent doesn't like to be observed, she is the observer," actor Emily Carey chimes in. "But she comes in and she holds the room. For once, she looks like the Queen. She doesn't need to come in and shout and scream at Rhaenyra. Because of the dress that she's wearing, that says enough. She is a Hightower, through and through."

House of the Dragon is set to continue on Sunday, September 25 on HBO in the US, and the following day on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK. To ensure you never miss an episode, keep up to date with with our House of the Dragon release schedule.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.