House of the Dragon episode 8 review: A battle for Lord of the Tides, an awkward family dinner and the death of King Viserys

We recap House of the Dragon episode 8 as tensions rise in King's Landing, King Viserys takes a final stand and there is a brutal battle for the title of Lord of the Tides.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 11 October 2022 - 12.15pm
Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon

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House of the Dragon went through its final time-jump and series of recastings this week, and the arrival of Aemond, Aegon, Luce and Jaec, who will take us into the Targaryen Civil War, took the show to a whole new level.

The Triarchy is rising in the Stepstones again, Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is sick and the question of who should become Lord of the Tides if the Sea Snake dies brought the brewing tension between Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and Rhaenarya (Emma D’Arcy) to a head.

King Viserys (Paddy Considine) is but a husk of the man who once ruled the Seven Kingdoms and a row about who should succeed Corlys as ruler of Driftmark acted as a dry run for the battles ahead over the Iron Throne.

The episode reached a crescendo with the most awkward family dinner of all time – you wouldn’t have wanted to be put in charge of that seating plan – as the next generation of Targaryens came to blows.

The tensest episode of House of the Dragon so far, here are all the burning questions we have as we recap episode 8, The Lord of the Tides…

Where is Corlys Velaryon?

Eve Best as Rhaenys Velaryon in House of the Dragon

The absence of Corlys Velaryon left a huge power vacuum as the question of who should rule Driftmark after he’s gone came under scrutiny.

Corlys had named his grandson Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) his heir – despite everyone knowing that Luce isn’t really a Velaryon.

The debates and bickering about who should control Driftmark gave everyone the chance to test the waters for the rows and battles that lay ahead when King Viserys finally exits stage left.

Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) stepped up as head of House Velaryon as Corlys battled ill health and nobody, not even Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), has packed the same level of swagger in the Iron Throne.

Rhaenys didn’t cower under threats from Corlys brother Vaemond (Wil Johnson) and the Queen Who Never Was used the power battle for Driftmark as an opportunity to observe how Rhaenyra is going to play the game.

In a series filled with wrong ‘uns, Rhaenys is by some margin the coolest and most likable character in the corridors of power.

Vaemond loses his head

Vaemond Targaryen - Played by Wil Johnson

With Corlys sick, his younger brother Vaemond took the opportunity to strike a secret deal with the Hightowers and make a claim on Driftmark for himself.

Last week, we heard Corlys claim that history remembers name rather than blood. But his younger sibling wasn’t as willing to look the other way and let Luce head up House Velaryon.

Unluckily for Vaemond, his deal with the Hightowers met a snag when King Viserys managed to summon the strength to return to the Iron Throne for one final time.

Viserys insisted that his grandson Lucerys should inherit Driftmark as planned, enraging Vaemond, whose temperature continued to rise as everyone continued to ignore the obvious – Luce is a Strong, not a Velaryon.

Unable to control his anger or his mouth, Viserys threatened to have his tongue removed. But before the King could lay down the law, Prince Daemon stepped in to save everyone some time and chopped Vaemond’s head off with a quick swipe of Dark Sister.

Without question, it’s the most memorable exit from House of the Dragon so far.

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Who are the new faces on the Small Council?

 Lord Jasper ‘Ironrod’ Wylde (Played by Paul Kennedy)

With Viserys on his deathbed and Rhaenyra and Daemon busy making babies, Otto and Alicent Hightower have assembled a new Small Council that appears to work more heavily in their favour.

Only the senile Lord Beesbury (Bill Paterson) remains as a familiar face, but he is largely ignored and mocked by the rest.

Alongside the Hightowers sits Lord Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall) - and we all know how trustworthy that family can be - Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan) and Lord Jasper ‘Ironrod’ Wylde (Paul Kennedy).

Ironrod is the most intriguing new arrival, sitting firmly in camp Hightower when it comes to succession plans.

Rhaenyra and Daemon may be united, but Otto Hightower has also clearly kept busy building alliances of his own.

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How scared should we be about Aegon and Aemond?

Tom Glynn-Carney and Ewan Mitchell as Aegon and Aemond Targaryen

Tom Glynn-Carney and Ewan Mitchell will play Aegon and Aemond Targaryen for the remainder of the show and the duo made a big impression as they took over as the sinister brothers.

Aegon, the older sibling and potential heir to the Iron Throne if Alicent and Otto get their way, remains more interested in following what his groin wants than any of the politics of King’s Landing.

Alicent had to intervene with money and ‘tea’ when her eldest raped a servant and, judging by her reaction, this wasn’t the first time Aegon’s bedroom activities had caused her problems.

It was also Aegon’s taunts to Jace (Harry Collett) about being a flop in the bedroom that started a brawl between the nephews.

While Aegon cuts a rather pathetic and nasty figure, Aemond is another kettle of fish.

Even with his eye-patch – a permanent reminder of what Jace and Luce did to him as a child – Ewan Mitchell still manages to deliver the most terrifying stare down.

While his brother is more interested in matters of the flesh, Aemond looks like he’s spent his youth preparing for war, blood and chaos. Like Prince Daemon, turned up to 12, Aemond looks like he’ll be a terrifying wildcard in the chaos to come.

The knotty Targaryen family tree creates a family dinner to remember

Jace Targaryen (Harry Collett)

Has there ever been a more awkward family dinner? King Viserys’ final wish to reunite his wife and daughter, and their squabbling families, descended into a dinner table scrap between the young nephews.

While Rhaenyra and Alicent appeared to finally see sense over their quarrels, too much has passed between the two families for any chance of peace.

Their respective children all have vendettas and bitterness about the lot they’ve been given, Aemond looks like he’d happily murder Jace and Luce at any moment and Otto Hightower and Prince Daemon are merely twiddling their thumbs while they wait for the chance to go to war.

Filled with knowing glances, a gloriously silly dance performance from Jace and Helaena (Phia Saban) and a good family brawl, the gloriously uncomfortable dinner party was one of the highlights of season 1 so far.

A guide to the Targaryen family tree

What is King Aegon’s Dream and who is the Prince Who Was Promised?

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen

In his final moments King Viserys was so delirious he confused Queen Alicent for Rhaenyra and started babbling about the King Aegon’s dream.

Aegon’s dream about an endless winter coming from the North and ‘a Prince Who Was Promised’ defending the Seven Kingdoms was a running theme in Game of Thrones.

In the end it was Maisie Williams' Arya Stark who killed the Night King and saved Westeros. Whether she was 'the Prince Who Was Promised’ remains open for debate among fans – maybe the prophecy was mistaken, maybe it should have been Jon Snow, maybe Arya was the Promised one, they are all viable theories.

However, King Viserys believes it will be one his ancestors who is required to stand up to the dark forces that are coming and it’s important to his legacy that he passed on the message of Aegon’s dream.

Unfortunately, Viserys’ confused dying moments with Alicent are taken as an instruction that is should her be son, Aegon II, who takes the Iron Throne. Any possibility of a smooth succession for Rhaenyra have been thrown out of the window by the late king’s final parting words – the Dance of Dragons and civil war are here.

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