House of the Dragon (Season 1), Episode 8: The latest “House of the Dragon” episode starts with another time jump. Titled “The Lord of the Tides,” the eighth episode is the most emotional of this series so far. Perhaps one of the entire ‘Game of Thrones’ saga. This episode provides House of the Dragon’s first perfect send-off.
House of the Dragon (Season 1), Episode 8 Recap:
Lord of Driftmark
It has been six years since the supposed death of Laenor and the subsequent wedding of Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Daemon (Matt Smith). At Driftmark, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) serves as the head of the Velaryon family, in the quite prolonged absence of his husband, Lord Corlys. The Triarchy is once again a problem, and Lord Corlys has taken a grievous injury on the battlefield.
Corlys’ brother, Vaemond (Wil Johnson), sees this as an opportunity to claim the lordship of Driftmark after his brother, disregarding his brother’s wish to see his grandchild Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) ascend the Driftmark seat. Vaemond does not consider Lucerys a true Velaryon (which he is not wrong about). The news of Vaemond petitioning to be named the successor of Driftmark reached Daemon and Rhaenyra. So, Rhaenyra’s party also travels to King’s Landing to not surrender Lucerys’ claim.
The King’s Council
At King’s Landing, it is now a Queen that runs the kingdom, albeit in the name of the King. King Viserys (Paddy Considine) has been bedridden for quite some time. It is the Hightowers that has taken over the Council. Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) fills her husband’s position in most meetings, with her father, Otto (Rhys Ifans), serving as the Hand of the King. The Hightowers warm the Iron throne on most court days.
That is why it is no wonder that Rhaenys says to Rhaenyra that her support in the Driftmark succession case would not matter much. Rhaenys has never forgiven Rhaenyra for the killing of her son, despite Rhaenyra claiming she had played no part in Laenor’s death (which is also technically true, as Laenor is not dead). Rhaenyra still pleads with Rhaenys to support her when the time comes.
Rhaenyra and Daemon meet the shrunken and knocking-at-death’s-door Viserys. Viserys, mind-addled due to various medical potions, struggle to recognize Daemon and Rhaenyra. But he does. Rhaenyra asks him to support her and not let her children be cast aside.
In perhaps one of the most glorious moments of this show, the frail Viserys walks up to the King’s court and takes his seat from Otto. With a little help from Daemon (another great touch). Otto, without doubt, would have ruled in favor of Vaemond, officially branding Jacaerys (Harry Collett) and Lucerys as bastards. But Viserys comes just in time to save Rhaenyra from that. He pronounces that Lucerys will remain the successor as Lord Corlys wished so, and once again reminds any aspersion on the nobility of the birth of his grandchildren will not be tolerated. And so Viserys does.
Vaemond loses it and calls them bastards and calls Rhaenyra a ‘whore’ in front of the full court. Viserys was about to ask to take Vaemond’s tongue for it. But Daemon slashed Vaemond’s head in half.
The Dragon Children
Viserys arranges a supper with all his family members. As always, Viserys wishes for them to remain united. Moved by the impassioned plea from her dying father, Rhaenyra also offers an olive branch to Queen Alicent. Alicent also could not ignore her husband and accepted Rhaenyra’s friendship.
However, although the adults start to take the first step toward burying the hatchet, the children ignite it further. Just like they did six years ago. Jacaerys ignored Aegon’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) jibes, but when Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) calls Jacaerys and Lucerys ‘Strong’ boys, Jacaerys loses temper. A fight between the four teenage boys is nipped in the bud due to the presence of the adults, especially Daemon. None of the boys dares to carry the fight when Daemon strides in between them.
House of the Dragon (Season 1), Episode 8 Review:
One of the memorable quotes from ‘Game of Thrones’ was from Lord Varys to Tyrion Lannister. “A very small man cast a very large shadow.” It is to highlight the significance of a person cannot be measured by visible or tangible parameters. If we take King Viserys and Paddy Considine’s portrayal of it, we might consider it small in duration. Surely when the actual dance of dragons starts, there will be many key characters. By his own admission, Viserys has not been part of any war. He has not conquered anything. He has often wondered about his place in history.
However, Viserys would be leaving a lasting impression in the Game of Thrones/House of the Dragon lore. He is perhaps the most empathetic king we have seen in this TV series. Paddy Considine has to be the one taking full credit for it. From the very first day, Considine has portrayed Viserys in a kind, torn between duties and love, strong but not headstrong, manner. It all culminated in the last walk into King’s court to defend his daughter. For Game of Thrones fans, Viserys has provided one of the best moments of the entire TV series, GoT included.
The only thing that comes across as a little off-putting now, in HotD, is the inconsistent recasting. Here we have another set of characters, the children, recast. But then there are characters who have gone more than sixteen years without looking a hair different, like Matt Smith’s Daemon or Fabien Frankel’s Ser Criston. These inconsistencies are starting to be a bit noticeable now.
House of the Dragon (Season 1), Episode 8 Ending Explained:
What Ticked Aemond off? Why did Aemond call Jace and Luke Strong?
Just before Aemond picks the fight with Jacaerys and Lucerys, he sees Lucerys smile when a fully roasted pig was served in front of Aemond. Aemond, now the rider of Vhagar, the largest dragon of Westeros clearly recognized the reason behind Lucerys’ smile. Lucerys clearly got reminded of the times when along with Aegon, the two Velaryon brothers made fun of Aemond not having any dragon, when they got a pig with make-shift wings presented to Aemond as a dragon.
Aemond raises the glass for Jacaerys and Lucerys and praises them. But he also calls them ‘strong’. As both boys’ true father was the late Harwin Strong, it is Aemond’s way of taunting the Rhaenyra’s two boys. Cleverly calling the boys bastards.
Did Viserys Finally Die?
Yes. After dinner, Queen Alicent visits Viserys to give him his milk of the poppy. Viserys misrecognize her as Rhaenyra. Rhaenyra had asked him the previous night whether Viserys still believed in the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ prophecy. Viserys, thinking Alicent Rhaenyra, says that he believes Aegon is right. He asks Alicent to unite the realm and tells about the prince that was promised.
Since Alicent never knew about Aegon’s prophecy. She must have believed Viserys is talking about her firstborn, Aegon. She must now think that Viserys wants Aegon to be the king as he can be the ‘Prince that was promised.’ In reality, Viserys was talking about the old Aegon and Rhaenyra being the Targaryen to unite the realm.
As Viserys breathes his last, he utters, ‘My love.’ Glad to be finally reunited with his true love, Aemma.