The Lord of the Tides
Episode 8 of House of the Dragon starts with us jumping forward six years. Lord Corlys has been gravely injured in battle. Rhaenys has been ruling in his stead. His brother, Vaemond, sets the tide in motion as he questions who will be the next Lord of the Tides if Corlus passes away.
Corlys would have wanted Lucerys Velaryon, Laenor’s son, to be named heir. The trouble with that though, is that he’s not true Valeryon and Vaemond does not take kindly to it. He wants Driftmark for himself. “The winds have shifted. The crown have good reason to support me.” He says.
Meanwhile, Daemon head off on an expedition, picking up a dragon egg from Syrax. Three to be precise. His men hurry off to take them to the warming chamber immediately, while Daemon receives a message from Lady Baela on Driftmark. When he returns to his wife, Daemon catches up with her and the kids, handing over the note. Luke and Jace’s legitimacy are called into question, while the succession of Driftmark is a massive talking point here and could change the destiny of many people in the realm. This is a serious matter and the only thing for it is to sail for King’s Landing and confront those claims head on.
As for Alicent, she continues to oversee the council meetings, and it seems issues in the Stepstones have managed to stabilize for a while now and trade is good. Alicent continues to juggle the exploits of her kids though, especially Aegon who sexually assaults a maid whom the queen pays off to keep quiet. She also gives her some tea too.
Alicent is livid and confronts her son, and given he’s married, is calling their house into disrepute. Viserys continues to deteriorate in the wake of all this, now bedbound with bandages wrapped round his head and eye. Daemon and Rhaenyra show up to see him, informing the King about the petition regarding Driftmark.
Rhaenyra introduces her father to two new kids as well (Daemon and Rhaenyra’s), Aegon and Viserys, the latter named after him of course. When Viserys weakens, the pair are graced by Alicent’s company. Daemon immediately confronts her over the changes around King’s Landing, namely that of the religious emblems of the Seven, including those stars, which are evidence of larger waves of change sweeping the realm.
Vaemond shows up and speaks to Alicent and Otto. The latter is convinced that war is coming, what with the petition as precarious as it is. They need to work swiftly to stifle that.
Out in the courtyard, Rhaenyra meets with Rhaenys. She cleverly tells him that she didn’t order her son’s death, nor was complicit in it, which is definitely true from a certain perspective. To try and seal the deal, Rhaenyra makes an offer. If Rhaenys backs Lucery’s claim to the throne, Rhaenyra will have Jacaerys and Lucerys betrothed to Baela and Rhaena. That way it would secure Velaryon blood to rule both the Seven Kingdoms and Driftmark. Rhaenys knows this is a desperate claim but she holds her cards close to her chest, telling Rhaenyra that the first blow will be dealt tomorrow.
With Viserys the worse for wear, in his absence we get Otto Hightower speak as the Hand of the King instead. There are a number of arguments for and against, including Ser Vaemond who smirks when Rhaenyra challenges his ambition. When Rhaenyra starts to make her case, she’s interrupted by a very sickly Viserys heading into the chamber, covering half his face with a golden facemask.
He’s helped to the throne and throws shade on what’s happening. He also tells them all that the only one here who has insight into Corlys’ true wishes is Rhaenys herself. She speaks up on behalf of Rhaenyra and the proposed marriages, as well as Corlys’ wishes to have Lucerys on the Driftwood Throne.
Vaemond is livid. “No. I will not allow it.” He rasps. He goes on to call the children bastards and Rhaenyra a whore. When Viserys tells him he’ll have his tongue, Daemon moves quick as lightning and cuts the man’s head off.
During dinner, things seem to settle down a little as Viserys toasts to their strengthened bonds… but is also sad about the distance that’s grown between them all. He reminds them that he won’t be there for long and in his absence, they need to stand strong for the sake of the House of the Dragon. If not, then war is going to erupt and chaos rain down on the Kingdom.
Rhaenyra gets things started by toasting to Alicent for everything she’s done, doing her duty and standing by Viserys’ side all these years. Alicent, by comparison, toasts to Rhaenyra, telling her she’ll make a fine queen.
When the kids begin toasting, there’s a lot of tension, especially between Aegon and Jace. However, everyone is all smiles and enjoying their time together, which Viserys looks on fondly. It seems it’s his last memory of them, but at least it’s a good one… until Aemond speaks up.
With Viserys out the room, Aemond toasts to how “Strong” Jace and Luke are, which of course is a double entendre given who their father is. The kids are separated and Rhaenyra decides to head back to Dragonstone before things escalate further. Interestingly, Rhaenyra promises to come back on Dragon to see Alicent.
That night, Viserys talks to Alicent about the coming threat, that being the awful writing in seasons 7 and 8 of Game of Thrones of course. I jest, it’s the White Walkers. There’s dialogue here that’s going to be the catalyst for war erupting across the realm, and poor Viserys is too drugged up and garbled to actually articulate what he means properly.
He speaks of the Song and Ice of Fie and mentions Aegon. He’s talking about Aegon the Conqueror of course but Alicent interprets this as their son, Aegon. “It is you. You are the one. You must do this.” Viserys says.
Alicent replies “I understand my King.” And this is where misinterpretation come from. While Viserys dies off-screen on his death-bed, Viserys’ words are going to cause havoc.
Viserys wishes for Alicent to take up his mantle as protector of the realm and keep the houses together. However, Alicent clearly interprets this as needing to usurp the succession and put Aegon on the throne. Oh boy!
The Episode Review
While Rings of Power continues to get worse every week, with the characters brushing off pyroclastic flows like it’s a strong wind and bathing in terrible dialogue, House of the Dragon has a purpose. It has drive. And its poetic dialogue is so cleverly written that ever line feels meaningful to either character or plot progression. It has all the combustible elements to make for a bloody good show and every episode seems to be getting better and better.
The characters here are absolutely fascinating to watch and every single person has a motive and a desire. There are murky shades of grey all over the place and no one person is inherently good, although you could argue Jace and Luke are being built up to fit those roles. Even something as simple as a look – like that shared by Daemon and Aegon at the end – is enough to build up tension. Given we’ve seen the latter prove himself as a formidable warrior, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see those two duel in the future.
It’s fair to say that whatever Alicent does here, she’s going to piss off a lot of people and that can only mean bad news for realm. War is coming, and someone is about to suffer some great losses. Which side of the coin will that fall I wonder?