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HBO’s “House of the Dragon” will not be for the faint of coronary heart. There’s incest, conflict, manipulation, traumatic birth, and a lot of violence. But the tragic — and significantly brutal — loss of life of Joffrey Lonmouth in episode 5 nonetheless managed to lift many followers’ eyebrows.

If you missed the episode, the fundamental thrust of the storyline is that princess and inheritor obvious Rhaenyra Targaryen (a distant ancestor of “Game of Thrones” protagonist Daenerys Targaryen) is about to marry Laenor Velaryon, the inheritor to Driftmark (and Rhaenyra’s second cousin). The match is advantageous to each homes, and the couple come to a snug settlement: they’ll have kids and marry for obligation however are free to have lovers as they see match.

This settlement is initially useful to each events, as Rhaenyra is sleeping together with her sworn knight Criston Cole (and has a whole thing going on with her uncle, Daemon), and Laenor, her future husband, is homosexual.

Following the dialog between Rhaenyra and Laenor, we see the inheritor to Driftmark along with his lover, Joffrey. In a scene that feels notably mushy for “House of the Dragon,” a collection that so far has largely portrayed its characters having intercourse out of obligation, obedience, and political manipulation somewhat than for pleasure, Laenor and Joffrey kiss on the sand dunes close to Laenor’s house and rejoice their good luck: not solely can they keep collectively, however Laenor’s meant appears to each know and settle for that he prefers males.

But by the finish of the episode, the scene feels extra of a bait-and-switch, as what had appeared to be the introduction of a loving relationship ends with Joffrey brutally overwhelmed to loss of life by Cole in a rage.

That sort of about face is not atypical for “House of the Dragon.” Across the board, the collection performs with viewers’ (and characters’) expectations. After King Viserys sacrifices his spouse to maintain his toddler son alive in childbirth, the child’s loss of life is abruptly and shockingly revealed when viewers see the tiny physique alongside his mom’s funeral pyre, as an example. Other characters are sometimes killed inside simply minutes of being launched, together with Daemon’s wife Lady Rhea in the same episode.

But what feels totally different about Joffrey’s loss of life is that these characters had been queer and, momentarily, completely satisfied. In media, a typical plot trajectory is to “bury your gays” — what scholar Haley Hulan describes

as a literary trope the place “a same-gender couple finish with one of the lovers dying and the different realizing they had been by no means truly homosexual, typically operating into the arms of a heterosexual accomplice.”

In latest years, “bury your gays” has been much less about returning to heterosexuality and extra outlined by tragedy, as with the CW’s “The 100” or AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” After the former present killed off beloved queer character Lexa, a number of tv writers and producers even created a pledge saying that they, amongst different issues, “refuse to kill a queer character solely to additional the plot of a straight one.” And in case you are pondering these deaths are merely a coincidence, Autostraddle did a round-up of 225 useless lesbian and bisexual characters on TV.

The trope hurts queer viewers past only a fondness for a present’s characters. The message is evident: you might be homosexual, however do not count on a contented ending. And after repeated publicity to this message, tales like Laenor’s and Joffrey’s do not feel remoted — it looks like a warning, or generally even a risk. Not to say that queer representation on screen is proscribed sufficient; shedding queer characters prematurely might be irritating once they’re already in the minority.

But is not unhappiness, human messiness, ego, and violence the fundamental hinge level of “House of the Dragon”? Certainly, nobody is truly completely satisfied on this present. The King is dying, the patriarchal realm is about to reject Rhaenyra as queen, and marriage is extra confinement and political obligation than a dedication of love and belief. Even so, simply as soon as it might be good to see a queer couple last more than one episode.

Image Source: Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

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