Going into Episode Eight of House of the Dragon, “Lord of the Tides”, I was expecting the Geeta Vasant Patel directed episode to be a pretty standard one but nothing special.
This is why I was surprised when “Lord of the Tides” more than exceeded my expectations, becoming my favourite episode of of the show thus far.
The episode picks up six years after the events of “Driftmark.”
In that time, Corlys has returned to fighting in the Stepstones, only to suffer a potentially lethal wound, from which his life now hangs in the balance.
And so the succession to the Driftwood Throne is now in question.
Ordinarily, it would pass to Lucerys, like Corlys wanted because, even though he is a bastard, “history does not remember blood, it remembers names,” as Corlys said last episode.
However, Corlys’ brother Vaemond wants the throne to stay in the Velaryon bloodline, so he petitions the Iron Throne to hear his claim.
This would not have ended well for Vaemond had Viserys been sitting the throne but, as Vaemond points out to Rhaenys, it is Alicent who is in charge while Viserys is bedridden with his sickness.
Meanwhile, on Dragonstone, we see Daemon retrieving a clutch of eggs from Syrax for his children with Rhanerya.
These are Aegon, Viserys, and the baby soon to be born.
His subsequent meeting with the dragon keepers is quite funny, as Daemon seems like a giddy child, having retrieved the dragon eggs for his own kids.
This giddiness is dulled, however, when he recieves a letter from Baela (Bethany Antonia), whom has become a ward of Rhaenys, warning him of Vaemond’s incoming attempt to have Lucerys illegitimized so he can take the Driftwood Throne.
Upon Daemon going to inform Rhanerya of this, he finds her tutoring Jace (Harry Collett) in High Valyrian.
Rhanerya is understandably distressed by the news of Vaemond’s actions, even more so by the uncertainty of which side Rhaneys will take, due to her believing Rhanerya and Daemon had Laenor killed so they could marry.
In the end, Rhanerya and Daemon travel to King’s Landing, only to recieve a frosty reception, as only one loyal lord greets them, despite Rhanerya being the heir.
Not only this but the Targaryen iconography seen in previous episodes has been entirely replaced by ones representing the Faith of the Seven, which the Hightowers worship, showing just how far their influence has spread.
While Daemon and Rhanerya wish to continue Targaryen traditions, as seen with Rhanerya teaching Jace High Valyrian, the Hightowers seek to replace this.
Even worse is the state of Viserys, whom Rhanerya and Daemon find bedridden, with his leprocy having consumed half of his face.
Daemon’s reaction to seeing his brother like this is a particular gut punch.
The scene turns more heart warming when Rhanerya introduces her father to Aegon and Viserys.
As for why Rhanerya would also name one of her children Aegon, in the book it is most likely a slight against Alicent.
King Viserys is overjoyed to see a grandchild named after him, saying he has a name “fit for a king,” only for pain to overwhelm him, needing milk of the poppy to sooth him.
Meanwhile, Alicent has problems of her own, as Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) has raped a servant named Dyana.
Maddie Evans’ performance as the abused Dyana is gut wrenching and you cannot help but feel sorry for her and disgusted at Alicent’s actions, as she pays her off with gold to keep silent, gives her a tea to prevent pregnancy (which is kind of hypocritical since she judged Rhanerya for this in Episode Five) and then sends her away.
Alicent then goes to berate Aegon over what he did to Dyana, with Aegon grossly saying, “It was just harmless fun.”
When Alicent slaps Aegon and calls him “no son of mine”, Aegon throws a pity party, saying nothing he does is good enough for Alicent or Viserys.
Well, if you want your parents’ love and affection, Aegon, maybe you could start by not sexually assaulting women and be an actual decent human being for a change?
Just an idea.
The argument between Aegon and Alicent is then interrupted by Helaena (Phia Saban), who wonders where Dyana is because she was supposed to dress her children with Aegon.
Alicent then embraces Helaena, clearly regretting marrying her to Aegon.
Helaena seems like the only completley innocent character on the Green’s side, so you have to feel sorry for her being married to such a piece of work.
Afterwards, Alicent meets with Rhanerya and Daemon who both accuse her of keeping Viserys drugged up on milk of the poppy.
Alicent does make a good point, however, as she states that Viserys is in a great deal of pain without it, something we see to certainly be true.
Meanwhile, Jace and Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) are looking around the training yard when they see an older Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) training with Ser Criston Cole.
I have to say, of all the aged up actors, Mitchell is particularly great as Aemond.
He gives off the perfect feeling of menace as, after defeating Criston, he calls out to his nephews without even looking at them.
Despite only having one eye, Aemond’s senses are keen, making him quite dangerous.
Any potential confrontation between Aemond and Jace and Luke is interrupted with the arrival of Vaemond, who meets with Alicent and Otto in an attempt to convince them to support his claim, promising his loyalty in the coming Targaryen succession crisis.
Meanwhile, Rhanerya meets with Rhaneys in an attempt to persuade her to her side.
Interestingly, Rhanerya does not reveal that Laenor is alive to win Rhaenys’ support.
This shows just how deep her loyalty to Laenor goes.
As for Rhaenys, Rhanerya suggests marrying Jace to Baela and Luke to Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell), which would make Baela the future Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
Rhanerya says this is a generous yet desperate offer, and Rhanerya hits back that desperation does not matter because it would still benefit Rhaenys and her grandchildren.
However, Rhaenys is correct in her next comeback that such an alliance would be worthless if the Hightowers succeed in declaring Rhanerya’s children illegitimate.
That night, Rhanerya visits her ailing father, begging him to help her, bringing up Aegon the Conqueror’s dream about the Prince that was Promised.
This is something that will have both positive and disastrous consequences.
The next morning, Vaemond makes his petition to Otto, who sits the Iron Throne in Viserys’ absence.
Things look dire for Rhanerya until, in what is the best moment of the show so far, Viserys enters the throne room and stumbles to the Iron Throne with his cane.
Much like Alicent’s entrance in the green dress during Episode Five, this epic entrance is accompanied by Ramin Djawadi’s excellent score, hyping up the bravery of this moment.
Viserys is in incredible pain, yet he still struggles to the throne to protect his daughter.
He stumbles twice, the first time refusing help and the second time accepting help from Daemon of all people.
The brothers went from at odds during the beginning of the show to reconciled near the end, and it is beautiful to watch Daemon help Viserys to the throne with gentle encouragement and then place his fallen crown upon his head.
Now upon the throne, Viserys asks to hear Rhaenys thoughts on who should inherit the Driftwood Throne, since she is the only one who would understand her husband’s wishes.
Rhaenys makes her decision, supporting Lucerys’ claim, backing Rhanerya.
However, she also plays the situation in her own favour, by announcing the betrothal between Jace and Baela, and Luke and Rhaena.
Viserys accepts this and reaffirms Lucerys claim, only for Vaemond to angrily denounce this.
Spurred on by Daemon, Vaemond goes on to call Jace and Lucerys bastards but goes a step even further, calling Rhanerya a whore.
And the Darwin Award goes to… Vaemond Velaryon for stupidly calling the heir to the Iron Throne a whore, somehow thinking this would not get him executed!
To Vaemond’s credit, he may have known this would get him killed but he decided to die getting the truth of Rhanerya’s children’s parentage out into the open once and for all.
In the end, his death is pretty quick and brutal, with Daemon cutting half his head off right after Viserys demands his tongue, stating, “he can keep his tongue.”
The reaction to this from the Hightowers are priceless, with all of them being horrified, except for Aemond who appears to be quite impressed with his uncle/brother-in law… man, Targaryen family trees are weird.
That night, after recovering somewhat, Viserys orders a dinner to take place with his family in the hopes of reconciling the two factions.
His speech is heart breaking and it seems to get through to Rhanerya and Alicent in particular who both raise their cups to one another.
Alicent even says that Rhanerya would make a good queen, seemingly accepting her rise to the throne following her own son’s terrible actions.
Aegon attempts to provoke Jace by making a sexual advance on Baela but Jace plays this off, being the better person.
This all prompts Helaena to make her own toast, encouraging Baela and Rhaena in their marriages.
“It’s not so bad,” she says. “Mostly he just ignores you, except when he’s drunk.”
Helaena is just too pure for the terrible world of Westeros.
Her toast leads to Jace dancing with her afterwards, in what is both a noble attempt to cheer her up and also to get back at Aegon for his pot stirring.
Much celebration follows, with the two sides seemingly getting along and Viserys heart is clearly warmed at the sight, as he clearly thinks his family has reconciled.
So, of course, as soon as Viserys departs, due to the pain he feels, fighting breaks out.
A pig is placed in front of Aemond and this clearly reminds both him and Lucerys of “the pink dread” prank he, Jace and Aegon played on Aemond when they were younger.
Lucerys tries not to laugh at the memory.
It was really not a good plan to provoke the guy whose eye you cut out and now definitley has a grudge against you, Lucerys.
This is proven when Aemond makes his own toast to his nephew’s health, calling them “Strong” in a clear reference to their true father.
Jace punches Aemond in retalitation but Daemon steps in before a brawl can break out and someone else loses an eye.
As Jace and Luke go to their rooms, Aemond and Daemon face off silently, before Aemond relents and leaves.
Alicent and Rhanerya then reconcile further, with Rhanerya saying she will return to visit “on dragon back.”
After Rhanerya and her family leave, Alicent puts Viserys to bed, giving him milk of the poppy again for the pain.
Unfortunately, this has the worst of consequences, as it causes Viserys to hallucinate, thinking that Alicent is Rhanerya from the night before, asking about the Prince that was Promised.
Viserys response causes Alicent to think that he is saying Aegon should be king over Rhanerya, when he is actually saying Rhanerya is the heir who will continue Aegon the Conqueror’s line.
I have made it clear that I have disliked the inclusion of the whole Prince that was Promised plotline, given that it never amounted to anything in Game of Thrones.
However, I think this was the perfect usage of it, with this natural misunderstanding between Alicent and Viserys leading to the Dance of the Dragons.
If this misunderstanding never happened then Alicent very may well have supported Rhanerya’s claim over Aegon’s, following Viserys’ death.
And because Viserys dies he can never clear up the misunderstanding that just happened.
Viserys passes alone, in his bed, seeing his dear Aemma in his final moments.
“My love,” he whispers, as he breaths his last breath.
So dies King Viserys Targaryen, the First of his Name, King of the Andals, and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.
With Viserys’ time on the show now at an end, I am now going to say what many people have been saying since this episode aired… Give Paddy Considine his Emmy!
Seriously, the guy gives an incredible performance as Viserys, turning the bland character from the book into one of the most tragic characters in the show.
If he is not at least nominated for this role then I do not what the world is coming to.
Viserys’ storyline alone makes “Lord of the Tides” my favourite episode of House of the Dragon thus far.
It is a fantastic episode, which serves as a great goodbye to Viserys and is the final calm before the storm.
And now the dragons dance.
Book Spoiler Section:
Once again for the book spoiler section, I will begin by attempting to guess what Helaena’s prophecy means.
“Beware the beast beneath the boards,” is what Helaena murmers at the dinner party.
I think this is a reference to Blood and Cheese, the tragic event in the Dance of the Dragons, where assassins are sent to kill one of Helaena’s children in retaliation for Luke’s death.
It will certainly be a horrifying moment in the show when this happens in Season Two, considering how sweet Helaena is.
“Lord of the Tides” also has a lot of great foreshadowing for the future of the show.
There is Rhanerya saying she will return “on dragon back”, which she does when she takes King’s Landing during the Dance.
There is Aemond and Daemon’s brief stand off, hinting at their final fight above the God’s Eye.
We see Mysaria has a servant of Alicent as an informer, foreshadowing her future role as a Mistress of Whisperers.
Then, there is Viserys comment about his grandson having a name “fit for a king,” which Viserys the younger will eventually become.
Although, this is decades down the line, so we likely will not see it in the show.
The next book spoiler I wish to discuss is actually not related to the episode itself.
This spoiler concerns the character of Daeron.
In the book, he is Alicent and Visery’s fourth child who has a key role to play in the Dance. However, he has been completley absent in the show.
Many have speculated that he is squiring in Old Town and George R.R Martin has seemingly confirmed Daeron’s existence in the show.
However, him not even being mentioned previously will make it quite strange for show only viewers to meet him in the following seasons.
I just hope he is introduced right and in a way that feels natural, despite him not being mentioned.