“The king will die. And if Rhaenyra succeeds him, war will follow. Do you understand? And to secure her claim, she’ll have to put your children to the sword. Either prepare for Aegon to rule, or cleave to Rhaenyra and beg for mercy.” Otto Hightower, shorn of his Hand status, remains savvy to Westerosi politics, and his admonishment to his daughter the queen informs Alicent’s decision making in “We Light the Way,” the apex fifth episode of House of the Dragon. She believed the princess, that nothing happened with Daemon during their dalliance in the pillow house. (And in a way, nothing did, due to Daemon’s own issues.) But when the queen questions Ser Criston Cole on the matter, on the princess’s “lapse of morals,” he can only assume it’s him she’s talking about, because Criston is oblivious to the sly uncle-niece hookup. “It happened, Your Grace. The sin you allude to. I have committed it.” And with this second piece of information on her former BFF Rhaenyra, Alicent decides it’s time to go Team Green, and go all in on retaining power.

By the time of his admission to the queen, Ser Criston’s own decision to shoot his shot with Rhaenyra had been decidedly blocked in the paint. “I’m asking you to come with me, away from the burdens and indignities of your inheritance. We’ll be nameless, and free. In Essos, you could marry me.” But for Rhaenyra, her duties as heir dovetail with her own aims at power. She likes kicking it with Criston, but not to the point that she’d become a commoner. And upon her denial of his love, the Kingsguard knight heavily stews.

Besides, Criston’s move was always going to fail. King Viserys was at sea, sailing to Driftmark to sell Lord Corlys Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys on marrying Rhaenyra to their son Ser Laenor. The royal puke bucket was close at hand, as was the brand new Hand of the King Lord Lyonel, who donated his handkerchief to a visibly spent Viserys. He wasn’t just seasick. King V has become a mess of congestion, gray pallor, and irritability; whatever he has, leeches can’t fix, but he forced himself to make the trek in order to resolve the mess of Rhaenyra’s marriage before he dropped dead or disintegrated.

Meleys and Seasmoke in House of the Dragon Episode 5

In a show of force, Corlys didn’t welcome the king and his entourage as they arrived at High Tide. Instead, he waited on the Driftwood Throne, controlling the vibe. A sweaty and phlegmy Viserys convinced Corlys of the match, though. He also assured him that any offspring of Rhaenyra and Laenor would bear the birth name Velaryon, and Targaryen if they ascended to the Iron Throne. It was deemed an equitable compromise to reunite in blood the last pillars of Old Valyria.

Outside the throne room, there was another compromise afoot. “I know that whatever agreement being struck up there will not change your appetites, nor will it change mine,” the princess told her betrothed during a seaside stroll – that Laenor is gay is well known in royal circles. But taking a page from the Prince Daemon handbook, Rhaenyra then proposed that the young couple publicly perform their duties to the realm and their fathers’ political ends, but privately stay true to their respective sexual appetites. And Laenor was down. As for Laenor’s lover, “The Knight of Kisses” Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), he was equally cool with it as he wondered out loud about the identity of the princess’s paramour. He’d soon be extremely less cool with it.

While King V was at sea and Rhaenyra was offering Ser Criston the esteemed position of clandestine royal fuck toy, Prince Daemon was in the Vale of Arryn, attending to the murder of his wife. Yes, in “We Light the Way” we briefly meet Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford), who remains proud and defiant even as she lies immobilized after Daemon unhorses her. “I knew you couldn’t finish!” she spits, and that’s when the prince picks up a big rock.

The king’s return to the Red Keep is accompanied by his physical collapse, something Alicent witnesses from a high window and undoubtedly further contributes to her decision to go on a power offensive. Potions, poultices, parasitic worms: none of it will bring back his vitality, or his fingers. Flying dragons, the Velaryon fleet, and all of the lords and ladies of the realm arrive at King’s Landing for Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding celebration, which kicks off with a lavish feast in the throne room. Prince Daemon even shows up, and silently takes a seat at the head table. But Queen Alicent’s chair is empty, until her entrance interrupts King V’s welcoming speech. She’s dressed in resplendent emerald green, the traditional Hightower color for war, and it’s on like Donkey Kong. Alicent doesn’t participate in the group dance, and instead stands with her family; she doesn’t even acknowledge Rhaenyra. Lines, as they say, have been drawn.

At the feast, the king is coughing up blood and Ser Criston is still stewing. And when Ser Joffrey determines that he’s Rhaenyra’s paramour, their brief exchange is steeped in the threatening tone of blackmail. Criston is two things, a lover spurned and a man enraged, and in the tradition of Game of Thrones, the wedding celebration takes a turn for the gruesome when he bashes in Joffrey’s skull to the horror of the realm’s elite. That’s enough to speed up the marriage process, and instead of seven days of carrying on, Rhaenyra and Laenor are wed privately that evening amid the ruins of the feast. Exchanging her vows, the princess looks like she finally understands that a marriage can never be just political. And King Viserys collapses again as rats feast on pools of Joffrey’s spilled blood.

Alicent debuting her green in House of the Dragon Episode 5

So the princess is wed, and with Targaryen dragons and Velaryon sea power in her corner. What does Queen Alicent have, besides a child with his own claims to the Iron Throne? She has a growing list of allies, one that seems like it might include clubfooted court whisperer Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), but one that definitely includes Ser Criston Cole, who she stops from committing seppuku in the godswood. He had asked for a sentence of death after his admission; instead, the Queen is keeping Criston alive. Her Green Team needs players.

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges