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House of the Dragon Episode 8 Recap/Review

Episode 8 of House of the Dragon treats us to a somber family dinner that serves as a last hoorah for Paddy Considine’s Viserys.

This week’s episode 8, “The Lord of the Tides,” marks the final major time-jump in House of the Dragons’s first season, as we are told six years have gone by since the events of episode 7. After a naval battle, Corlys Velaryon (Steve Tousssaint) is seriously injured during his fight against the Triarchy’s resurgence. This raises the question of succession at Driftmark, since Laenor’s (John Macmillan) sons aren’t biologically his and Laena’s (Nanna Blondell) are young women. Rhaenys (Eve Best) sits the Driftwood Throne in her husband’s place, but Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson), the Sea Snake’s younger brother, uses this as an opportunity to push his claim as Lord of the Tides forward.

At Dragonstone, Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy), Daemon (Matt Smith), and their family have been living a relatively peaceful, quiet life. Daemon is seen searching for new dragon eggs within the caves of the island and Rhaenyra is helping Jacaerys (Harry Collet) with his High Valyrian, while tending to her other children such as a grown Joffrey. Their day is interrupted when a message arrives describing Vaemond’s intentions to travel to King’s Landing to seek an audience with the Hand of the King in order to plea for his claim to Driftmark over Rhaenyra’s second child Lucerys (Elliot Grihault). To prevent further questions about the legitimacy of Jace and Luke, they too sail to King’s Landing.

Once in the Red Keep, everything has changed. King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is no longer capable of ruling, leaving his duties to Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans). To make matters more offensive, nobody is present to welcome Rhaenyra and her family. In addition, Valyrian decorations across the royal castle have been replaced with the Seven-Pointed star in honor of the Faith of the Seven, which House Hightower is loyal to. This automatically shows who really is in control of the realm at the moment.

loud and clear reviews House of the Dragon episode 8 recap review hbo show
Elliot Grihault, Harry Collett, Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith and Phoebe Campbell in Episode 8 of House of the Dragon (Ollie Upton / HBO)

As their first order of business, Rhaenyra and Daemon pay a visit to Viserys in his chambers. He is not the man they remembered, barely having the ability to move or recognize whoever is in his presence. He’s restrained to his bed now with half of his face covered in bandages. Almost as if trying to ignore his brother’s unfortunate condition, as he is too codependent on the milk of the poppy to ease his pain and mind, Daemon urges Viserys to reaffirm Luke’s right to Driftmark. Rhaenyra tries to lighten the room by introducing his father to her younger children with Daemon, Aegon (III) and Viserys (II). 

In the meantime, Alicent is forced to deal with her son Aegon II’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) actions, after it’s implied he sexually assaulted a servant girl named Dyana (Maddie Evans). At first, Alicent seems sympathetic towards the girl, only to show subtle signs of hostility as she pays her off for her silence and forces Dyana to drink moon tea. She later confronts Aegon, but nothing worthwhile comes from their conversation. Alicent finally welcomes both Rhaenyra and Daemon to King’s Landing, but she does so with threats as she informs them the fate of Luke’s inheritance lies in her hands and those of her father’s.

Jace and Luke are exploring the courtyard where they grew up training with their uncles. Everyone around is giving them dirty looks, clearly still dismissing them as bastard children. Both brothers’ attention is redirected to a fight between Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell). After the training session, Vaemond Velaryon arrives at the Red Keep. He does not waste the opportunity to give Jace and Luke a look of disapproval before his private meeting with the Queen and the Hand. Here, the Greens make a deal to give Driftmark to the Sea Snake’s brother in an attempt to get themselves more allies in the coming war and possess control over the Velaryon’s naval ships.

In the Godswood, Rhaenys reunites with her granddaughter Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell), who is joined by her step-mother Rhaenyra. The young girl leaves the two older women to discuss important manners after paying her respects to her grandmother. Seeking for allies of her own, Rhaenyra practically begs Rhaenys to support Luke’s claim to Driftmark, promising they could keep the Velaryon bloodline pure by marrying her sons off to Daemon’s daughter that he had with Laena. Rhaenys seems indifferent at first, leaving the Princess to her own thoughts. That same night, Rhaenyra visits her father one more time, asking him if Aegon the Conqueror’s prophecy is true and if she should still be the heir to the Iron Throne. In a desperate attempt for aid, she asks for him to make a final effort to defend her rights and that of her children.

The day finally comes for the matter of Driftmark’s succession to be answered, as Vaemond’s  hearing is in full motion. Of course, he petitions to become the heir of Driftmark. It isn’t so much of a hearing in his favor, as much as it is an ambush against Rhaenyra and her family. Otto and Alicent try to undermine the Princess at every turn they possibly can, but their attempts are cut short when Viserys appears fully dressed in his Kingly gown and his crown to take over the situation. As expected, he sides with his oldest daughter, disregarding Vaemond’s claim all together. Vaemond becomes furious, insulting the Princess and calling her sons bastards. This prompts Viserys to ask for his tongue removed, but Daemon takes it one step ahead and cuts off Vaemond’s head with his sword Dark Sister. The matter is settled once more, leaving the Greens with one less ally. 

How do you follow such a tense political issue? Well, with an uncomfortable family feast that serves as Viserys’ last supper where both sides of his troublesome family are reunited. All three generations are present: from Otto Hightower, Viserys and Daemon to Alicent and Rhaenyra, and finally their children. Wearing half of a golden mask to cover his deformity, Viserys shares his wishes to see his loved ones reconciled. Rhaenyra is the one who takes the first step in making her father’s hopes a reality by offering a toast in Alicent’s name, thanking her for being devoted to Viserys throughout the years. The Queen returns the favor and compliments her old friend for being a good mother and reassuring her she will one day make a good Queen. They share a sincere and well-intended smile, perhaps the first in ages. 

Viserys asks for his servants to play music to continue humoring the mood, which pushes Jace to ask Helaena (Phia Saban) to dance with him after Aegon made fun of his engagement to Baela (Bethany Antonia). Helaena seems happy for the first time in the season, as it’s implied that Aegon is unfaithful to her and mistreats her. It’s a bittersweet moment, as it was previously proposed for them to have married, showcasing the much happier life Helaena would be living if they had listened to Rhaenyra. Viserys retires to his chambers after witnessing his family finally together, even if it is for a short few minutes. Of course, because this is still House of the Dragon, things fall back into chaos once the King isn’t present when Aemond makes a speech mocking Jace and Luke by calling them “Strong boys,” an insult referring to Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), which causes a fight between the young boys to break loose.

loud and clear reviews House of the Dragon episode 8 recap review hbo show
Ewan Mitchell in Episode 8 of House of the Dragon (Ollie Upton / HBO)

In order to avoid future issues, Rhaenyra and Daemon decide to go back to Dragonstone, but not without Rhaenyra promising to return afterwards in her dragon. In episode 8’s closing scenes, we get to briefly see Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) re-enter the picture, as it is revealed one of the servants working in the Red Keep is one of her own personal spies. Alicent is then seen putting Viserys to bed. Here, arguably the big plot-twist of the week comes to light when Viserys begins talking to Alicent about Aegon the Conqueror’s prophetic dream, thinking he was confiding to Rhaenyra. Not realizing her husband meant to discuss the secret every Targaryen King has had to keep silent, Alicent mistakes his final words before dying as him changing the succession in favor of their son Aegon II. 

I don’t think we could’ve asked for a better sendoff for Paddy Considine than the one we got tonight. What a compelling performance, what a mark he is leaving behind with his portrayal of Viserys. A character that is carrying so much sorrow, the tragedy built within him is just too emotional. As for the new cast of actors playing the children, they’re all good in their own right, but Ewan Mitchell’s Aemond takes the cake. Menacing, yet there is a sense of immaturity in him. We cannot wait to see him grow into his character’s shoes.

The thematic idea of a last supper to say farewell to King Viserys pays off quite beautifully. Not only does it allow a good man such as Viserys to leave this world thinking “maybe everything will be okay,” but it also reassures us that things are not okay at all. Even if we’re treated to brief moments of reconciliation between Alicent and Rhaenyra, honest or not, the damage is beyond repairable. The conflict that we’re about to see be fleshed out in the coming final two episodes has been passed down to the children as well. It is too late. Nothing can be done to prevent the wars to come, and episode 8 brilliantly gives a last moment of peace not only to Viserys but to the audience too. Starting next week, the dragons begin to dance.

Episode of House of the Dragon is now available to watch on HBO Max. Find out why you should be excited for House of the Dragon and come back next week for our next review of the series.

House of the Dragon Episode 9 Recap/Review – Loud And Clear
Review: Episode 9 of House of the Dragon marks the first official blow against Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne.
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