‘House of the Dragon’: Another Succession Crisis & Westeros’ Most Awkward Family Dinner (RECAP)
The Lord of the Tides
Season 1 • Episode 8
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 1 episode 8, “The Lord of the Tides.”]
When Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is severely injured fighting in the Stepstones, the matter of succession for Driftmark is called into question. Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson), Corlys’ brother, believes he should inherit the throne rather than Rhaenyra’s son; Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) obviously believes her son should inherit the throne; Rhaenys (Eve Best) intends to put herself forward as heir.
Everyone converges on a drastically changed King’s Landing to argue for their own proposals, but first, there are a few matters to attend to. Rhaenyra introduces her ailing father—seriously, Viserys (Paddy Considine) is maybe a quarter of the man he was in the first episode, the rest of him has rotted away or shriveled—to her two sons by Daemon (Matt Smith). She also meets with Rhaenys and realizes her intent to take the throne for herself. She proposes that they wed Laena’s daughters and her sons, thereby securing Laena’s legacy. Rhaenys doesn’t seem to think much of the proposal, and she leaves Rhaenyra standing in the Godswood alone.
Alicent (Olivia Cooke), meanwhile, deals with plenty of family drama. Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) assaulted (and, it’s implied, raped) a serving girl who was sent to his quarters. Alicent is sympathetic to the poor girl, although she does give her moon tea. She then goes to Aegon’s quarters and slaps him, telling him, “You are no son of mine.” She does, however, seem to genuinely care about Helaena (Phia Saban), who she hugs for a long time.
Things get underway in the Great Hall with Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) hearing the arguments for succession. But then, surprisingly, Viserys appears! He’s hardly able to walk and has to use a cane, but he tells his Hand that he will sit on the Iron Throne that day. With Daemon’s help, he makes it up the stairs to the chair. From there, he admits to “confusion” about why the matter is even up for discussion, and he calls upon Rhaenys to explain—she surprises Rhaenyra by telling the court that they intend to wed Laena’s daughters to Rhaenyra’s sons, and thus, the matter is closed.
Except for Vaemond, it isn’t. Enraged, he tells Viserys that he doesn’t accept his word on the fate of his house and Driftmark’s throne. He’s so angry that he flat-out calls Rhaneyra’s sons bastards and her “a whore.” Viserys tells the man he’ll have his tongue for that, but then, in a flash, someone slices Vaemond’s head through with a sword. Daemon—who else would it be? “He can keep his tongue,” Daemon smirks, seeing that the tongue is still attached to the rest of the body.
With the matter settled, Viserys requests a feast be held with all members of his family. That means everyone on both sides, Alicent’s and Rhaenyra’s. At first, the gathering is predictably tense, but then, after a heartwarming plea from Viserys for the assembled kin to get along, Rhaenyra stands and calls a toast to Alicent. Alicent is moved, and she calls a toast to Rhaenyra; music is played, and it seems all conflict might be forgotten.
And then Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) stands.
He proposes a toast to Rhaenyra’s sons. Sweet, right? Not exactly. Not when he calls them “strong,” pointedly, twice in a row. The implication doesn’t go over anyone’s head, and Lucerys (Elliott Grihault) and Jaecerys (Harry Collett) lunge for him. Daemon gets between them, barely managing to curb the impending violence. The feast fizzles out, along with the cheery atmosphere.
That night, Alicent goes to see the weakened Viserys in his room. There, he tells her that he believes Aegon is the Prince That Was Promised—to be fair, he did have the name right, but he was about two centuries early. “I understand, my king,” Alicent says, although it’s not clear how much she really knows about the Song of Ice and Fire. After she leaves, Viserys lasts a few minutes before breathing his last, and a single tear trailing down his cheek ends the episode.
House of the Dragon Season 1, Sundays, 9/8c. HBO