Though Ser Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and his wife, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), have been introduced in earlier episodes, episode 5 of House of the Dragon is the first time we really get to see them in action, both in an audience with King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and alone. It’s instantly clear that they are maybe the show’s only example of couple goals.
The qualities that make them the best is an answer that Toussaint and Best think can best be summed up succinctly (and, as they did in the interview with Polygon, in unison): “All of the other relationships are damaged!”
“Trash! Obscene!” says Toussaint, before Best cuts in with the new Targaryen house motto: “Incestuous! Weird!”
And it’s true; the relationship is not only healthier than anything else House of the Dragon has offered, but the two are in near lockstep. When Viserys comes to ask if they’ll wed their son to his daughter, Rhaenys is present and working the room. She seldom gives the king her full attention, barely offering him wine (and not offering Ser Lyonel Strong any). While Rhaenys doesn’t speak much in the meeting, it’s clear that her mere presence here is distinctive, especially with Rhaenyra stuck on the other side of the door. And when it comes time for Corlys to accept the proposal, he looks to Rhaenys before he does.
Best acknowledges that they’re not the sole loving couple on House of the Dragon, but their sweetness is rooted in something much different.
“You get the feeling with [Viserys and Aemma] they’re not necessarily peers. I mean you hardly see their relationship, but I think she’s quite a bit younger, isn’t she?” Best says, acknowledging that there are certainly “resonances” with Lady Macbeth. “It really feels like a partnership. And it’s very modern in that respect. And it’s very, very equal, and very based on mutual respect, in terms of power. It’s absolutely 100% an alliance.”
Although their origin story isn’t written into the show (yet), Best and Toussaint have filled in the gaps for themselves.
“In my head I always had this idea that they had come back from one of his voyages and he was in the court but he was not quite as polished [as the people there]. And that was kind of an appeal,” Toussaint says. “Also the fact that she didn’t look down on him. Because of course, one of the things in this world is that his house, prior to his voyages, was not nearly as rich as the others. But he went out and made a fortune.”
As he does with Rhaenys, Corlys keeps the things he loves from his adventures close and on display in the throne room of his Driftmark castle. While episode 5 doesn’t give the audience a full look at all that, Toussaint says he asked co-showrunner Ryan Condal to give him information on each and every artifact so he could appreciate the accomplishments of his character.
As we see in the scene when Corlys and Rhaenys are alone, they don’t always 100% agree. But their love is fierce and clearly born out of a deep admiration for the other. Corlys may seem like he’s simply out to protect his family’s name, but he tells Rhaenys he wants to see their son married to right the “small-minded error” of not naming her queen.
In a universe built on people with unhealthy or damaging relationships to each other (as clearly demonstrated in yet another Game of Thrones wedding going haywire this week), Corlys and Rhaenys are clearly a power couple. But they’re also a couple actually worth rooting for as they play the game of thrones.