Episode 8 pulled on all the heartstrings last night with many a toast and speech, as well as Viserys’ final ascension to sit on the Iron Throne. We were introduced to the next generation of Targaryens and Velaryons aged up to young adults, signifying that we are officially on the timeline for the Dance of the Dragons! Looking forward, with only two episodes left in the season (in a show that moves at a very swift pace), the drama is bound to escalate full tilt. To prepare, let’s recap the reunions and disputes of episode 8.
Return to King’s Landing
The Red Keep that Rhaenyra and Daemon return to is scarcely recognizable compared to the lively mural-painted court that we see in the pilot. Director Geeta Patel makes this clear as husband and wife descend into the empty, cavernous halls, which we can view through a fragment of a massive seven-pointed star.
Evidently, that’s not the only ostentatious religious decor around, as Alicent flaunts a gargantuan necklace of her newfound faith. Clearly, while Viserys has been bedridden and delirious off of milk of the poppy, Alicent was having a bit of a mid-life crisis and took refuge in the Faith of the Seven – further cementing her divide from the traditions of House Targaryen.
Then, of course, came the jumpscare as Rhaenyra and Daemon made their way into the King’s chambers to find Viserys gravely ill. The sprawling King’s Landing model he’s obsessed over for decades is now crawling with cobwebs. He seems too dazed to hear their cause to support Lucerys’ claim to the Driftmark against the greens. It’s a very somber and emotional moment as Rhaenyra presents her two young, very blond sons, Aegon III and Viserys II, to her father, who, essentially, is in hospice. It signified, once again, how the central and tumultuous theme of the show is family.
Viserys, First of his Name…
Perhaps the most impactful sequence of the episode took place in the throne room, where a “farce” of a hearing was set up by the greens to decide who gets to inherit the Driftwood Throne. Even though Lord Corlys is not dead, he is, by all accounts, reported to be gravely wounded. Though Lucerys was long decided to be the heir to Driftmark, the Sea Snake’s brother, Vaemond, has much to say.
Unlike Lord Corlys, who cares not that Rhaenyra’s children were clearly fathered by Ser Harwin Strong – “History does not remember blood. It remembers names” – Vaemond loves to emphasize on the bloodline. The greens want Vaemond at the head of the Driftmark fleet, ready to back their cause. And with Otto Hightower plonked on the throne, everything is set to go their way.
That is, until King Viserys, First of his Name (you know the spiel), shows up unexpectedly – essentially a walking corpse – taking his last stand to support his daughter. The drawn-out sequence of Viserys’ torturous limp to the throne was a monumentally redeeming moment for his character that was magnificent to watch. For, even at his weakest, as he stumbles in, the greens show immediate panic and fear. And for good reason! Viserys remained loyal to his daughter until his last breath.
Plus, don’t even get me started on that brotherly bond moment between Viserys and Daemon. That was perhaps one of my favorite interactions so far in the entire franchise. Rumor has it, the crown fell on accident, and that take was improvised! However it happened, it was brilliant. And, to top off a truly remarkable sequence of events, Daemon made quick work of Vaemond for slandering his wifey, lopping off his head in one sudden swing of Darksister. The Rogue Prince never misses!
A Final Attempt At Peace
At Viserys’ behest, we achieve one final glimpse of potential family bonding at a dinner feast. However, by the episode’s end, it’s very clear that this dinner was akin to the last supper. We see that Aemond is not the only one at the table down an eye, as Viserys removes his Phantom of the Opera face piece to reveal an empty eye socket.
Despite Viserys’ jarring corpse-like appearance, we then watch a string of reconciliatory efforts play out – even between Alicent and Rhaenyra. However, everything goes south when a roast pig is set in front of Aemond, and Lucerys starts to have a little giggle. If we remember from episode 6, the boys used to tease Aemond about not having a dragon, pulling the whole pig with wings stunt. Now, Aemond has the biggest dragon in the world, Vhagar, and has clearly evolved in his villain arc since boyhood.
A small scuffle breaks out, but the parents are swift to intervene. There’s one small stand-off between Aemond and Daemon, which for all the Fire & Blood readers, immediately foreshadows the epic battles to come. All of which quickly switches the tenor from family bonding to irreconcilable differences. War inevitably looms, for, as Viserys even alludes at dinner, he is not going to be around much longer.
In the end, Viserys’ final fault of mistaking Alicent for Rhaenyra and spouting garbled bits of prophecy had most fans screaming: STOP NAMING ALL YOUR KIDS AEGON. It leaves the door open for mix-ups like these, which have consequences on the scale of war. Oh well, poor old Viserys tried his best, and he loved Rhaenyra so very much that I just had to shed a couple of tears. If I were to construct a eulogy for him, it would boil down to two points: great girl dad but not so great king.
Finally, check out our weekly round-up of House of the Dragon Tweets here.