House of the Dragon Episode 8 Review
Well, we all knew this day was coming. It would happen before the first season ended, no less. However, knowing that it was coming didn’t make it any easier for us to watch. Especially since this moment would doom almost everyone in the cast to what will come next, this week on House of the Dragon, King Viserys breathes his last. It’s the beginning of the long end of House Targaryen.
The Driftmark Affair
After yet another time skip (the last, I hope), the episode opens up on Driftmark in a succession crisis. Corlys was badly injured fighting in the Stepstones (again), and his survival remains doubtful. Thus, his brother Vaemond’s trying to press his claim to the lordship of House Velaryon since it’s obvious that Rhaenyra’s kids aren’t Laenor’s. While Corlys seemed aware of this, he ignored it, preferring to let House Velaryon live in name if not in blood. In the end, House Velaryon decides to take the issue to King’s Landing, now firmly a Hightower stronghold.
Side note, I never read the books, but I know that Corlys Velaryon made it to the end of what’s to come and was a major player in the Dance of the Dragons. While his fate’s unknown, his death would be a major change of events with massive consequences. Hearing about this, Rhaenyra’s family heads to King’s Landing to head Vaemond off, since if he wins, it could cost her the Iron Throne.
Aegon the Elder Belongs in Jail
I wasn’t joking when I said King’s Landing is under Hightower control. Otto and Alicent have redecorated to focus on the Faith of the Seven, and stacked the court with their loyalists. Worse, Alicent has gotten even more paranoid. Though given how her firstborn son is a rapist, she has every right to be.
I’m being serious here. In a series filled with plenty of dark moments, one of the darkest might be learning that Aegon forced himself onto a poor servant girl. And he considers it to be harmless fun. I could spend an entire post listing all the reasons why this is messed, but the bottom line is that if Aegon weren’t a Prince, he’d be thrown in the cells. Alicent’s ready to disown him, she’s so beside herself. The message is clear: Aegon as King is a bad idea.
King Viserys: Too Good for This World
However, the most surprising part of the episode is what we see of King Viserys…or what’s left of him. Already in poor health at Driftmark, Viserys has become little more than a living corpse. His body’s covered in sores, his hair’s gone, and he’s missing an eye! He looks absolutely horrible…and it makes it even harder to see what’s become of him. It also hit…really close to home.
A few years back, an older relative of mine passed away in the hospital while we were visiting them. While they looked nothing like how King Viserys does, the sight of seeing someone that you’ve known all your life, that you see so full of life, hooked up to machines and tubes, is heart-wrenching to see. That’s how I felt when watching Viserys. The curse of the Iron Throne led him to this state!
In essence, this whole episode painted King Viserys’ entire life as this great tragedy. All Viserys ever wanted to do was protect his Kingdom and make others happy. As a result, others took advantage of his good nature to manipulate him for power and create discord. And even now, when he’s in so much pain that he can barely move, he still tries to keep his family together! The sight of Viserys limping toward the Iron Throne was a brilliant example of how far he’s fallen, and how determined he is to keep his family together.
I swear to God, if Paddy Considine doesnt win an Emmy next year, I’m going to be so pissed.
A Last Hope Snuffed Out
In the end, it seems like Viserys determination to keep his family together might have worked. Some negotiation between Rhaenyra and Rhaenys has her eldest sons promised to her granddaughters, ensuring Velaryon would survive in blood and name. Vaemond suffers from death by Daemon in the process, though. Daemon is such a badass!
In addition, Viserys organizes a family dinner for both sides, and, despite everything, Rhaenyra and Alicent find that they still have things in common. Rhaenyra thought that Alicent was exaggerating how hard it was looking after her father, but seeing King Viserys’ made her realize that she wasn’t. It was that hard for Alicent. So Rhaenyra genuinely thanks her former friend for what she gave up. And for a brief moment, it looks like both sides can reconcile. Which is why what happens next made my heart sink like a stone.
Firstly, the animosity between the kids still leads them to come to blows, a result of the hate their parents encouraged in them. Rhaenyra ends up deciding to take her kids back to Dragonstone as the dinner ends with her and Alicent seemingly parting on good terms. They don’t know it, but this proves to be a tragic decision could doom them all.
As the episode ends, King Viserys lies on his deathbed in the dark, alone. No family to be found. With his final breath, he speaks of the Song of Ice and Fire and Aegon’s dream and how he believes in it. There’s just one problem: he thinks he’s talking to Rhaenyra. In reality, it’s Alicent who hears his last words. And she ignorantly thinks he’s talking about making Aegon king. Without even realizing it, Viserys destroyed his family as he died.
The Storm Breaks
The King is dead. Long live the King.
I don’t blame Viserys for what’s happened beyond the death of his wife; at least, not entirely. Viserys was a man who saw the forest for the trees. While everyone else schemed for power, Viserys knew the evil from beyond the Wall would come, and the blood of Aegon would have to face it. Ultimately, Viserys was vindicated. It would Rhaenyra’s descendants in Daenaerys Targaryen and Jon Snow that would rally Westeros against the Night King. It was Aegon’s dagger that Arya used to kill the Night King. In the time of House of the Dragon, though, most of the players will die.
I promised I wouldn’t hate or get attached to any characters in this show, but after seeing the preview for next week’s episode, I feel my anger rising. Alicent, you just doomed everyone.
King Viserys is dead, and the storm will break next week. The dragons shall begin to dance, and it will tear Westeros apart. Man, this was such a good episode. Kept me glued from start to finish!