Review of House of the Dragon Episode 8: A Final Game of Thrones for King Viserys

House of the Dragon episode 8 – now airing on HBO Max and Disney + Hotstar – is titled “Lord of the Tides”. That’s because it mainly focuses on deciding who will inherit the throne of Driftmark, which Corlys Lord “Sea Snake” Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is said to be mortally wounded. (It’s a bit odd that the Game of Thrones spin-off series essentially killed off one of its main cast members completely offscreen. Thanks, time leap.) In some ways, House. of the Dragon episode 8 can be called “Lord of the Undercurrents”. Although everyone involved can feel it, almost no one has the courage to admit that a war is inevitable and imminent. This, if you can call it that, is the calm before the inevitable storm.

And it was a strangely tense calm. Six years have passed since the event Dragon’s House episode 7. King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is a shadow of his former self. Half of his face is gone, he is more or less bedridden, and he is surviving on the milk of the poppy – which he feels extremely painful. In his absence, the Hightowers are essentially the new rulers: Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), and the father of the Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans). And since the Velaryon household has a closer relationship with husband and wife Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) – both of whom are married to Sea Snake’s children – the current Hightowers however do not tend to follow standard inheritance rules. apply to Driftmark.

Instead of taking everything with fire and blood, as was the case in episode 7, political intrigue and back-dealing was the name of the game in House of the Dragon episode 8. The Hightowers invited “petitions” to be deal in Red Hold on, and since the scale of power is in their favor at this point – The King’s Hand speaks on behalf of the King when he cannot be subdued – they will surely deal a blow heavily into Rhaenyra. After all, holding a Driftmark allows you to control the Seven Kingdoms’ largest fleet. Add to that Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), Alicent’s third child, defeating Vhagar for their cause in episode 7, and that would make them formidable. Rhaenyra understood this too – which is why she set off for King’s Landing as soon as she received the message.

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Wil Johnson as Ser Vaemond Velaryon in House of the Dragon episode 8
Image source: Ollie Upton / HBO

Words come from Daemon’s daughter, Lady Baela (Bethany Antonia), at Driftmark. (Baela has been her grandmother’s ward in the years since episode 7.) House of the Dragon episode 8 opens there, with Sea Snake’s younger brother, Ser Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson), giving a reason why he should be the new lord of the Driftmark so Corlys can’t get through. I have to admit, I had to look up his name. Vaemond is barely on the show – this is partly a matter of years of dancing, with the characters not getting enough screen time – and suddenly he’s front and center, painting get a seat of power. Like, who are you? Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) warns her brother-in-law that his words are treasonous, but Vaemond is safe in the knowledge that it is the Queen who rules these days.

Alicent is so busy with the verdict that she doesn’t even have time to greet her guests, Rhaenyra and Daemon. Although it’s the more charitable version. The two best childhood friends don’t see each other anymore – and things have ended badly lately. In fact, when they reunited in Dragon’s House episode 8, Alicent’s eyes go to Rhaenyra’s left arm, where the scar has healed but is still visible. Instead of being a moment of concession, the reunion ended up turning bitter, with accusations going back and forth. Given her father’s kingly status, Rhaenyra felt that the Hightowers were occupying the Iron Throne without legitimacy. After all, she is the heir. Alicent protested that Viserys was guiding them from his bed. Who do you choose to believe?

Daemon’s chuckle at that point in House of the Dragon episode 8 says it all. After all, it’s clear who’s actually calling the shots. The decision Alicent – with the guidance of her father, Otto – makes here is essentially a reflection of the bigger picture. If you ignore the birthright of your son (in this case, Prince Lucerys, son of Rhaenyra and grandson of the Sea Serpent in name if not by blood) because you want someone to benefit you (in this case, Vaemond, the guy is barely in the show), you’re setting a dangerous precedent. Sure, you’re helping your cause – Rhaenyra, the chosen heir to Alicent’s firstborn Aegon – but it also opens you up to suspicion and suspicion from other future lords.

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Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon episode 8
Image source: Ollie Upton / HBO

For Rhaenyra, the petitions were a profound insult. Princess Targaryen sees this as a question of her own legitimacy to claim the throne – if her children are omitted for the Driftmark seat, what does that say about the holder of ultimate power? upper? At night, Rhaenyra visited her ailing father again, half begging the gods to give him the strength to oversee the proceedings. But in the morning, when petitions were heard in the Great Hall, there was no sign of Viserys. Instead, Otto was the one sitting on the Iron Throne. When Vaemond Velaryon made his case in House of the Dragon episode 8, Rhaenyra was clearly disappointed. She might be the heir to the throne, but right now, she’s completely powerless.

Then, the atmosphere in the Great Hall changed completely when the door opened. In Viserys’ step – clutching a staff, the King of the Seven Kingdoms slowly approached the Iron Throne. Otto, Alicent, and Vaemond glanced at each other, knowing that this would pour cold water on their plans. Viserys’ weakness is evident for all to see in episode 8 of House of the Dragon, and he can barely keep the crown on his head, but once he does get to the other end of the room , obviously now only the voice of an important man . The king noted that since Corlys was injured the best person to speak to on his behalf would be his wife, Rhaenys.

Instead of making a case for herself as she had suggested earlier, Rhaenys publicly agreed to the marriage proposals posed privately by Rhaenyra earlier in the episode. It’s smart. Instead of weakening herself to Viserys, who is full of books, The Queen Who Never Was shows that she knows how to play the game. Game of thrones. However, her brother-in-law Vaemond doesn’t have it. He went on a rampage, calling Rhaenyra the letter W and her children the letter B. Forget the insults; this is treacherous, especially given the way Viserys reacted in House of the Dragon episode 7. As you might expect, the king stood up and demanded Velaryon’s tongue. But Daemon was two steps ahead, when he cut off Vaemond’s head from behind. And just like that, the guy we barely knew was gone.

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Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen in House of the Dragon episode 8
Image source: Ollie Upton / HBO

That evening, after dinner, the ailing Viserys did his best to bridge the gap between his wife and daughter. (House of the Dragon episode 8 sets up this scene with a stunning shot of the literal gulf between the Queen and heir – appropriately filled by the King.) And for a while, words. His has worked. Rhaenyra and Alicent acknowledge each other’s efforts. Even Rhaenyra’s children got in on the action, doing their best to say something nice about their uncles, Alicent’s boys. Satisfied with what he was seeing, Viserys requested music, which led to a dance between one of Rhaenyra’s boys and Alicent’s only girl. It was a brief hint of a merger between the two warring factions. As he carried his pain, the King thought he had done his duty.

But, apparently, it’s all just an act. Alicent’s boys were naturally more bitter, for Rhaenyra and her family would sit on every throne. Having previously taunted them about their marriage, Aemond – the boy who became Vhagar’s new dragon rider in episode 7 of House of the Dragon – gave the final speech. He chooses his words skillfully, calling Rhaenyra’s boys “strong” while implying something completely different. When the children started fighting, they were separated and sent to their room. Rhaenyra then told Alicent that they were going to Dragonstone in the morning – she had what she came for – even though they had only just arrived.

As Alicent nursed her kingly husband after a sumptuous dinner, Viserys began babbling about the “song of ice and fire”. He was talking about the dream Aegon the Conqueror had – a vision of a long night when invaders would come from the North – whose details had been passed down from generation to generation, from generation to generation. ruling Targaryen after another. But the Queen misunderstood him, thinking he was referring to their son Aegon (II) as the “promised prince” and “unifier of the kingdom.” It was clear that Alicent would use those words to establish her son’s credentials later. Rhaenyra might have heard the whole thing (when Viserys was sober and sober), but it was her words against Alicent’s.

And with the King taking his last breath in episode 8 of House of the Dragon, the fragile peace he struggles to maintain his appearance is about to fade at any second.

House of the Dragon episode 8 is now streaming Disney + Hotstar in India, and HBO Max anywhere available. New episodes release every Monday at 6:30 a.m. IST / Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

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