We Light the Way

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"We Light the Way"
House of the Dragon episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 5
Directed byClare Kilner
Written byCharmaine DeGraté
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byAlejandro Martinez
Editing byCrispin Green
Original air dateSeptember 18, 2022 (2022-09-18)
Running time60 minutes
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"We Light the Way" is the fifth episode of the first season of the HBO fantasy drama television series House of the Dragon. Its title is the motto of House Hightower, one of the fictional noble families featured in the series.[1] It was written by Charmaine DeGraté, and directed by Clare Kilner, and was first aired on September 18, 2022.

The episode marks the final appearances of three starring cast members: Milly Alcock as young Rhaenyra Targaryen, Emily Carey as young Alicent Hightower, and Theo Nate as young Laenor Velaryon, due to the 10-year time jump between this and the succeeding episode, in which Rhaenyra, Alicent, and Laenor will be portrayed as adults by Emma D'Arcy, Olivia Cooke, and John Macmillan, respectively. It also marks the only appearance of Savannah Steyn as the teenage Laena Velaryon, who was portrayed as a younger child by Nova Foueillis-Mose in the first and second episodes, in which the adult version will be subsequently portrayed by Nanna Blondell.[2]

The episode has received generally positive reviews, with critics praising Carey's performance, the conversation between Laenor and Rhaenyra at Driftmark, and the wedding sequence.


In the Vale, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) murders his estranged wife, Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford), framing her death as a hunting accident.

King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) sail to Driftmark, where he arranges for her to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate), the son of Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint) and Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best), thus uniting the Targaryens and Velaryon Houses. Knowing Laenor is gay, Rhaenyra tells him that, once married, they can perform their royal duties to produce heirs while remaining free to have lovers. Later, to restore the honour lost by breaking his oath of chastity, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) proposes that Rhaenyra elope with him to Essos to marry him, with both assuming new identities. Rhaenyra rejects this, wanting the throne; she proposes they continue their sexual relationship, upsetting Criston.

Before leaving King's Landing, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) warns Alicent (Emily Carey) that if Rhaenyra assumes the throne, Alicent's children will be considered a dangerous political threat to Rhaenyra. Ser Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) slyly asks Alicent about Rhaenyra's health, saying she was given a medicinal drink. Alicent vaguely asks Criston about allegations of Rhaenyra and Daemon having sex; Criston misunderstands and confesses that he slept with the princess. Criston asks to be executed, but Alicent merely dismisses him and keeps the information confidential. Rhaenyra's dishonesty distresses Alicent.

At a feast celebrating Rhaenyra and Laenor's forthcoming nuptials, Alicent interrupts Viserys' speech with her late entrance, wearing a green gown matching House Hightower's signal color for a call to arms. Her uncle, Lord Hobert (Steffan Rhodri), assures her of full political support. Daemon unexpectedly attends the feast, where Ser Gerold Royce (Owen Oakeshott) accuses him of murdering Rhea, but Daemon denies it. Daemon flirts with Laena (Savannah Steyn), Lord Corlys's daughter. Daemon then privately questions Rhaenyra's marriage, and Rhaenyra teasingly implores him to take her to Dragonstone to wed her.

Laenor's lover, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), realizes that Criston is Rhaenyra's paramour. Joffrey tells Criston that they should keep the wedding couple's secrets, but Criston perceives this as blackmail. Criston brutally beats a dagger-wielding Joffrey to death, bringing the feast to a disastrous end. Rhaenyra and a devastated Laenor are hastily wed in a private ceremony the same night, where the frail Viserys collapses immediately afterward.

Later, Criston is about to commit suicide over his misdeeds, but Alicent interrupts him.



Critical response

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the episode received an approval rating of 86% based on 98 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus said, "Holding true to the Westerosi rule that no wedding goes according to plan, 'We Light the Way' is a disturbing midpoint for House of the Dragon, punctuated by shocking brutality and Queen Alicent coming into her own."[3]

The episode received a rating of 5 out of 5 stars from Michael Deacon of The Telegraph, 4 out of 5 stars from Molly Edwards of GamesRadar+ and 3 out of 5 stars from Alec Bojalad of Den of Geek, a "B-" grade from Jenna Scherer of The A.V. Club, and a "good" score of 7 out of 10 from Helen O'Hara of IGN.[4][5][6][7][8] In his review, Deacon called the episode "the most action-packed, and best, installment to date" and praised Rhaenyra's character development.[4] Edwards said, "We've crossed the halfway point of House of the Dragon’s first season, and, as we head into that final stretch of episodes, the battle lines have been drawn. [...] The board is set for the wars to come – and that legendary Targaryen dynasty is more fragile than ever," and further praised Carey's performance."[5] Bojalad criticized the characterization of Ser Criston Cole in the episode, but praised the conversation between Rhaenyra and Laenor at Driftmark, and summarized his review by saying, "House of the Dragon is at its best when viewers can feel the weight of history pressing down upon every moment. It’s why most of the various conversations and negotiations in the episode work. It’s also why the more literal, kinetic moments don’t. When the mere sight of a young woman wearing a green dress is enough to bring an entire wedding to a grinding halt, we don't need Ser Criston Cole to crush some other guy's face in for good measure. As House of the Dragon continues on, hopefully it will pick up on that lesson and let our imaginations run free."[6] O'Hara wrote in her verdict, "This week has another talky episode, but one that further exposes the schisms in the Targaryen clan. [...] But excellent performances keep it interesting, especially from Milly Alcock and Emily Carey as they wind up their run before the big time jump."[8]

However, the episode drew criticism from critics and fans alike for its portrayal of the death of Joffrey and its supposed use of the "bury your gays" trope, a pattern by which LGBT characters in film and TV are killed off at a much higher rate than heterosexual characters because they are deemed more expendable.[9][7][10][11]


  1. ^ Romano, Aja (September 18, 2022). "House of the Dragon's green dress signals a major series turning point". Vox. Retrieved September 24, 2022.
  2. ^ Guillaume, Jenna (September 20, 2022). "People Are Sad "House Of The Dragon" Has Recast These Lead Actors". BuzzFeed. Retrieved September 24, 2022.
  3. ^ "House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 5". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 3, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b Deacon, Michael (September 19, 2022). "House of the Dragon, episode 5, review: forget the Red Wedding, here comes the Bloody Ball". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on September 20, 2022. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Edwards, Molly (September 18, 2022). "House of the Dragon episode 5 review: "Weddings never end well in Westeros"". GamesRadar+. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Bojalad, Alec (September 18, 2022). "House of the Dragon Episode 5 Review: We Light the Way". Den of Geek. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Scherer, Jenna (September 18, 2022). "House Of The Dragon follows an ugly Game Of Thrones pattern". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  8. ^ a b O'Hara, Helen (September 19, 2022). "House of the Dragon - Episode 5 Review". IGN. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  9. ^ ""House of the Dragon" fans accuse show of partaking in anti-gay trope". Newsweek. September 21, 2022. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  10. ^ Opie, David (September 21, 2022). "Why House of the Dragon's queer mistake is even worse than you think". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 24, 2022.
  11. ^ Lowry, Brian (September 19, 2022). "'House of the Dragon' closes a chapter, but not before touching on a painful trope". CNN. Retrieved September 24, 2022.

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