‘House Of The Dragon’ Episode 4: Breakdown – Who Is White Worm? Is Otto Poisoning Viserys?


The world of dragons deals in metaphors, analogies, symbols, and a lot of cryptic messages. It points towards a particular direction but leaves it up to you to decipher and see through it. Episode 4 of “House of the Dragon” was no less when it came to dropping hints about a character’s inclinations and also about what destiny had in store for the House of Targaryen. So, let’s break down the events of Episode 4 and try to analyze the little subtleties that the makers left for us to savor.

Spoilers Ahead

What Is The Significance Of Rhaenyra’s Valyrian Necklace?

At the very beginning of episode 4 of “House of the Dragon,” we see Rhaenyra caressing her necklace, given to her by Daemon, and is lost in some deep thought while the suitors come and give their introduction. The gesture could be indicative of a conflict; on one hand, Rhaenyra’s father wanted her to get married to a Lord with the biggest castle, but she was looking for something very different. She liked Daemon, and her relationship with him extended far beyond the boundaries of an uncle and niece. Daemon was often dominating and a bit cheeky with her. Daemon was like her guilty pleasure. Maybe she likes his arrogant and discourteous attitude. She is infatuated by the wild Targaryen prince, who is often seen going about his business in an unrestrained manner. Daemon Targaryen, who is often referred to as the Lord of Flea Bottom, takes Rhaenyra to the dingy alleys and gives into his carnal desires. But somehow, his conscience makes him stop, and he leaves her abruptly. Rhaenyra comes back and makes love to Ser Criston Cole. It is to be noticed here that Rhaenyra, on purpose, does not wear the necklace in front of Ser Criston Cole. She started wearing a gold cloak that the soldiers in the city watch wore after Daemon left her in Flea Bottom. It is an undeniable fact that she was smitten by Ser Criston Cole ever since she saw him for the very first time in the tourney, where he had defeated Daemon. But the decision to make love to him seemed like it was triggered only because Daemon left her. Rhaenyra still had a lot of feelings for Daemon, but she couldn’t do anything about it. Daemon, too, asked for her hand from Viserys Targaryen, but the king felt that it was blasphemous and, moreover, he wanted his daughter to get married to the son of Lord Corlys Velaryon to create a strong political alliance.

Who Is Helaena Targaryen?

In the fourth episode of “House of the Dragon,” we see Alicent with her newborn girl. The girl was named Helaena Targaryen, the second child of Viserys Targaryen and Alicent Hightower. According to the Targaryen tradition, we would see her getting married to Aegon II Targaryen, her brother. Alicent’s bloodline had a very strong claim to the Iron Throne. Rhaenyra’s position as the heir to the Iron Throne was in jeopardy, as Otto Hightower had wanted.  There were many reasons behind this. Rhaenyra herself witnessed in the Flea Bottom that the people didn’t want a woman to sit on the Iron Throne. They felt that Aegon was more deserving, even though they knew nothing about his abilities and potential. Halaena was more loved by the commoners as compared to Rhaenyra. In the future, when Aegon marries his own sister, his claim will be strengthened even more, though Rhaenyra was not somebody who would give up so easily without putting up a fight. According to the novel, Fire and Blood, a huge conflict will eventually arise between Rhaenyra and her stepbrother Aegon, where both will fight to sit on the Iron Throne.

What Was The Significance Of The Rats?

We saw that Rhaenyra was given a map by Daemon, through which she came to know of the hidden doorways in the palace and reached Flea Bottom with him. Daemon knew about these passageways and often eavesdropped when the small council was having any important discussion pertaining to the politics of the kingdoms. Though we saw Daemon and Rhaenyra sharing an intimate moment in the pleasure house, the motive of this breakout was not merely that. We see a few rats nibbling just in front of a huge dragon statue. These rats were a metaphorical depiction of the common people of the land. Often, kings and dragon riders didn’t care about what these commoners thought about them. It didn’t matter what they wanted. Daemon wanted his niece to know about the perceptions and the sensibilities of a common man. Maybe he wanted to tell his niece that undermining the power that was held by these commoners could prove to be a fatal mistake. Daemon had spent a lot of time in the Flea Bottom, and he knew how important it was to keep one’s ear to the ground at all times. Daemon knew that being aware of the problems that existed at the grassroots level was the key to effective administration.

Who Is The White Worm?

Flea Bottom was a place that had a lot of pleasure houses, gambling places, cheap hotels, and pubs. It was Daemon Targaryen’s territory. He spent a lot of time in those alleys and thus came to be known as the Lord of Flea Bottom. It was also a place where there were a lot of spies who were loyal to certain lords, sitting in the small council. Otto Hightower gets to know from a messenger of a spy called White Worm, that Rhaenyra and Daemon were seen in a pleasure house, indulging in things they shouldn’t have. Mysaria, whom Daemon had taken as his wife, was the White Worm, and she had an intricate labyrinth of spies spread all across Kings Landing. Though Daemon had taken her as his wife and wanted a legitimate relationship with her, she always considered herself to be a prisoner. She acted on the whims and fancies of the Targaryen Prince. Mysaria had realized that selling her own skin was not enough to make her dreams into reality. She didn’t want to be a commoner who was trampled under the feet of those who were higher up the food chain. So that is why she turned into an informer, and created a sort of credibility for herself, where the information she provided never proved to be wrong.

What Is The Importance Of Aegon’s Dagger?

When Viserys was going to name his daughter Rhaenyra, the heir to the Iron Throne, he told her about Aegon’s dream that was called the “Song of Ice and Fire.” In that dream, Aegon saw the end of the race of men and a horrifying winter originating from somewhere in the northern end of the Seven Kingdoms. The dagger had cryptic symbols all over it, which were visible when it was heated. It was said that Aegon’s vision was inscribed all over the Valyrian steel. The dagger belonged to Aenar Targaryen, who was the father of Daenys the Dreamer, who had foreseen the destruction of Valyria, which later came to be known as the Doom of Valyria. Aegon’s dagger was probably the most important weapon in the whole of the seven kingdoms. The secret inscribed on it was passed from a king to his heir as a tradition, and nobody else knew about it. Viserys gave a lot of importance to prophecies and visions like these. He tells Rhaenyra that the prophecy is more important than her own petty desires. It was said by Aegon that when the time came, a Targaryen king or queen would rise to the occasion and would save the world from impending doom.  

Moon Tea: Who Will Become The Father Of Rhaenyra’s Sons?

We witness in Episode 4 of “House of the Dragon” that Rhaenyra is given the contraceptive liquid, known as “Moon Tea,” so that if she is pregnant, it could be terminated. But Rhaenyra does not drink it and later has children after getting married to Laenor Velaryon. Her sons did not have blonde hair but were brunettes. According to the account of R.R. Martin, they were often referred to as the “Strong boys” as it was rumored that their father was not Laenor Velaryon but the sworn shield of Rhaenyra, Ser Harwin Strong. Mushroom, the crude dwarf, said in his accounts that he had found Harwin Strong and Rhaenyra in bed, and he speculated that she had lost her maidenhood to him. In the series, though, the makers have taken a slight diversion. Rhaenyra did share an intimate moment with Ser Criston Cole, and it could be possible that he was the biological father of her sons, though upcoming episodes will shed more light on it and give us some clarity. 

A Rumor Never Proven: Did Otto Poison Baelon the Brave?

When Viserys Targaryen was removing Otto Hightower from the position of the hand of the king, he accused him of plotting the murder of Baelon the Brave, son of Jaehaerys Targaryen. According to the book “Fire and Blood,” there was no proof of the fact that Otto had a role to play in the scheme of things. Baelon was on a hunting trip when he started having pain in his stomach area. He probably had appendicitis, and he died five days after he complained about his pain. King Jaehaerys was devastated by his son’s death, but there was one man who benefited from it. Now call it coincidence, destiny, or a well-thought-out conspiracy, Otto was made the hand of the king, and served Jaehaerys for the last two years of his reign. He used to send his daughter, Alicent Hightower, to an ailing Jaehaerys, and though people looked at it as a noble thing, Otto was the kind of man who always had an ulterior motive. There is no doubt about it that Otto wanted to stay in a position from where he could influence the decision of the king. We saw him getting insecure when Lord Corlys or Daemon interfered in matters of the state. He plotted against them and made sure that Viserys married his daughter, Alicent, rather than Laena Velaryon. House Hightower had sworn their allegiance to the Faith of the Seven. If a person who upheld the beliefs and traditions of the faith sat on the Iron Throne, it would also mean they would have a better hold over the functioning of King’s Landing. There is no evidence available that could prove his active involvement in the conspiracy, because Otto was a shrewd man. He knew how to play politics and how to make the King act according to his own interests. If we keenly observed the motives, the ambitions, and the desires of the man, it could be very well possible that the accusations of Viserys had some merit in them.

Is Otto Poisoning Viserys?

Viserys was constantly getting bruised by sitting on the Iron Throne. But more importantly, his wounds were not healing. The maesters had sent inquiries to the Citadel, asking if there was some resource material that could give them more information about the wounds of Viserys that were slowly becoming the cause of his misery. They were of the opinion that they might have to perform a procedure known as Cauterization. They tried each and every method and even went off the book at times to come up with a solution, but nothing helped. We saw in the first episode of “House of the Dragon” that Otto tells the Grand Maester that the issue must be kept secret. Now it could be that he didn’t want the credibility of the king to go down, and maybe he didn’t want the masses to think that their king was in a deplorable state, as it was viewed as a weakness. But what if Otto had a role to play, and he was poisoning the king slowly so that his wounds would not heal? In the teaser of Episode 5, we saw that Otto tells his daughter, Alicent, to prepare her son, Aegon II Targaryen, to sit on the Iron Throne, as it was unlikely that Viserys would survive. We all know that Otto was a knowledgeable man, and it is very much possible that he could have devised a method to induce some toxic substance in the body of the king, which was not easily detectable and also does the job in due time. Though Otto did have an assertive personality, whether he was capable of such a dastardly act is a matter of debate. But our inclination towards believing that it could be a plausible theory only arises from the fact that the Arch-maesters had never seen such a medical case, and in the case of the death of the king, there was a possibility that Aegon II Targaryen would be made king, which would once again benefit Otto Hightower.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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