Previously on House of the Dragon …
In last week’s episode, the families came together in Driftmark to mourn the loss of Lady Laena. As can be expected from this group, a gathering such as this leads to immense drama. In the episode, Prince Aemond claims Vhagar as his own dragon, angering the daughters of Daemon and Laena. With aid from their cousins, Jacaerys and Lucerys, they confront Aemond — which results in the loss of the prince’s eye. Reunited with her uncle, Rhaenyra hatches a plan to better secure her future seat on the Iron Throne — to fake the death of her husband Laenor, who escapes with his lover Qarl and marry Daemon.
Spoilers ahead for episode 8, “The Lord of the Tides.”
Another time jump forward, this time six years, as announced by Rhaenys. Following the deaths of their children, Corlys has been at sea and hasn’t been seen or heard from in all this time. During a scuffle with pirates, Corlys suffered a slash to the throat and fell overboard, and while he is recovering, there is a hitch — the Lord of Driftmark has developed a fever. Unenthused with his brother’s absence and with Rhaenys sitting on the throne in his place, Vaemond declares he should be granted the claim to Driftmark rather than “House Strong’s pups,” a clear reference to the true parentage of Princess Rhaenyra’s eldest sons. Vaemond openly challenges Rhaenys and threatens to take the position by force if he must, prompting Baela to send a letter to her father (the Rogue Prince himself — Daemon) outlining the issues and alerting him that Vaemond intends to travel to King’s Landing to consult with the Queen.
Rhaenyra and Daemon make plans to travel to King’s Landing as well to defend their claim, meaning it’s time for another family gathering.
In King’s Landing, the first order of business is for Princess Rhaenyra to reunite with her sickly father. King Viserys looks awful in his bed-ridden state — can barely speak, let alone breathe, but he does get to meet his new grandchildren — Aegon III and Viserys II, named after the King himself.
“That’s a name fit for a king.”
In less happier parts of the Red Keep, we learn that Prince Aegon has raped a young maid, Dyana, who is hyperventilating in front of Queen Alicent in her chambers. Rightfully terrified about what has transpired and the potential consequences, the maid is paid off by Alicent, forced into secrecy, and given Moon Tea to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Alicent then chastises her son for his actions and for bringing shame to himself and his wife (and sister) Helaena and smacks him across the face, telling him that he is “no son of mine.” We also learn that this is not the first time Aegon has done something like this
In a meeting between Rhaenyra, Daemon, Alicent, and Otto, the Hightowers explain that they are not ruling the kingdom but instead “following the King’s wisdom.” Daemon remarks that this is unlikely considering Viserys’ state and inquires how this wisdom is expressed — “By blinks and wheezes?” Rhaenyra and Daemon also accost the Queen about the removal of the Targaryen sigil throughout the Red Keep, which has been replaced by the seven-pointed star of the Seven.
In another meeting in the garden between Rhaenyra, Rhaenys, and Rhaena, the Princess tries to convince her former mother-in-law that she did not plot for Laenor’s murder, but the Queen Who Never Was is not convinced. Rhaenyra, in an attempt to form more alliances and strengthen her claim to the throne, suggests that her eldest sons be wed to Rhaena and Baela.
In the Driftmark succession hearing, Hand of the King Otto Hightower is sitting on the Iron Throne with the intention to side with Vaemond’s petition along with his daughter, Queen Alicent. King Viserys makes his way into the throne room and stumbles to his rightful throne with the aid of his brother, Daemon, who lovingly places the crown back on his head after it has fallen. Viserys invites his cousin, Rhaenys, to speak on the matter of Driftmark’s succession for her to reiterate that her husband intended Lucerys to be the heir. Rhaenys also reveals that she will accept Rhaenyra’s offer and that Baela and Rhaena will be wed to Jacaerys and Lucerys. In Viserys’ mind, the matter is settled by this information, but Vaemond is obviously displeased by the decision and attempts to prompt an execution by proclaiming that Rhaenyra’s eldest sons are bastards and that she is a whore.
Viserys, despite his horribly failing health, draws Aegon the Conqueror’s dagger to come to the defense of his daughter, stating he will have Vaemond’s tongue for his slander. He doesn’t get the chance before Daemon slices the man’s head into two pieces, proclaiming that he can “keep his tongue.”
At night and over a family dinner, Viserys begs his family to put aside their differences for the sake of the realm. Rhaenyra hears his pleas and sympathizes with the sentiment, deciding to raise a toast to her former best friend:
“I love my father, but I must admit that no one has stood more loyally by his side than his good wife. She has tended to him with unfailing devotion, love, and honor. And for that, she has my gratitude and my apologies.”
Alicent returns the good will and states that Rhaenyra will make a fine Queen.
But things cannot be happy forever. During the dinner, Aegon I turns to Lady Baela and whispers that should his nephew, Jacaerys, fail in his duties as a husband, he would be happy to satisfy her. This nearly causes an altercation between Jacaerys and Aegon, aided by his younger one-eyed brother Aemond — but this is halted by an awkward toast from Princess Helaena. She toasts to Daemon’s daughters and their upcoming marriage, proclaiming that marriage isn’t so bad — mostly because her own husband, her older brother, ignores her most of the time. Jacaerys asks Helaena to dance, which soothes the boiling tension in the room once again. Soon enough, the King is removed from the room to return for more rest, and Aemond instigates another fight with Rhaenyra’s sons.
Rhaenyra and Daemon put an end to the behavior after sending the children to bed, and Rhaenyra promises Alicent that she will return her family to Dragonstone, then return to be with her dying father.
Her return will be too late, however, as King Viserys is on his deathbed that very night. He tells his wife about Aegon the Conqueror’s dream and the Prince Who Was Promised prophecy, though his words are hard to understand due to his current state. The Queen interprets his dying words to mean that Viserys wishes for their eldest son, Aegon I, should take the Iron Throne rather than Rhaenyra, his named heir. As she leaves the room, Viserys presumably takes his final breath.
Paddy Considine will be greatly missed in the cast, and we would be amiss for not putting out a special thank you to him for giving Viserys unmatched depth, humanity, and compassion.
House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max. Stay tuned with Nerds & Beyond here as we publish episodic recaps for the series.