Not going to lie, I think this is my favorite episode of House of the Dragon so far.
Even with that pesky little change at the end that isn’t book canon.
But first, let’s look at everything else that happens in Episode 8 of HBO’s epic drama series.
Right away, we learn there is a six-year time jump, and, for those of you that are getting sick of these age-ups, this will likely be the last time as we are about to step into the main storyline here. Yes, that’s right, everything so far is pretty much backstory.
Already, thanks to the preview for Episode 8, viewers have been wondering if this will be the final episode for Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint).
And, honestly, by the end of the episode, we still don’t really know his fate.
Corlys is gravely ill, and his brother takes advantage of that
But the episode opens with the news that Corlys has been gravely injured during a scuffle at the Stepstones. He is still alive, but there are fears he won’t make it, and this gives his brother the very opportunity to jump in and be a major d**k.
Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) decides it is time to really push the idea that Rhaenyra’s (Emma C’Arcy) son, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), is not deserving of inheriting Driftmark after Corlys dies.
He has a valid reason if you really want to use the theory that family is only family when they are blood-related.
But, of course, if Vaemond brings out into the open that Lucerys is not a true Valeryon, he is also declaring that Rhaenyra’s first-born son, Jacaerys (Harry Collett), is not legitimate either, and that brings the whole line of succession into question yet again.
And Rhaenyra won’t have that.
When she gets wind of his plan to petition his claim to Driftmark in front of the king, she and her husband, Daemon (Matt Smith), quickly descend on King’s Landing — complete with Rhaenyra’s children from her first marriage plus two new sons, Aegon and Viserys, born to Daemon.
Yes, this will get confusing as Viserys (Paddy Considine) is not only her dad now but her son as well. AND Aegon is also her half-brother, being the firstborn son of Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and Viserys.
On top of that, do I think Rhaenyra named her son Aegon just to f**k with Alicent? Yes, I did.
But, back to Vaemond’s douchery.
The lines are drawn between green and black
While Alicent already drew a line in the sand by wearing a green dress and, essentially, declaring war against Rhaenyra’s claim to the Iron throne back in Episode 5 of House of the Dragon, things have remained mostly underhand since then.
But Episode 8 really brings everything to the fore with Vaemond’s claim and Alicent jumping on it. This is a neat way for her to bring the parentage of Rhaenyra’s three sons into question without it actually being her.
So, when the small council is discussing whether Vaemond is correct or not in his claim, Alicent and her father, Otto (Rhys Ifans), are already steering people across to Team Green.
That doesn’t stop Rhaenyra from also trying to get people on her side ahead of the official petition hearing.
Is Rhaenys Team Black or Green?
Rhaenyra immediately approaches Rhaenys (Eva Best) to try and gauge her support, which is a bold move as viewers quickly learn that no one told Laenor’s (John MacMillan) parents that he is not really dead, just living his best life outside of Westeros.
Rhaenyra even has a plan: marry her eldest boys, Jacaerys and Lucerys, to Rhaenys’ granddaughters, Baela (Bethany Antonia) and Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell).
This would be a perfect way to patch everything up because one of Rhaenys’ granddaughters would become the queen of Westeros one day, and the other would be married to the Lucerys, making her the official mistress of Driftmark.
But Rhaenys has played this game a long time, and she is not about to let up her alliances just yet.
Just when you thought Viserys couldn’t get any older…
Every week, there is commentary on how old King Viserys looks, and in every new episode, HBO manages to make him look even worse.
While last week he was likened by fans to a white walker, that is nothing to how he looks this week.
His face is so bad that he has to cover it with a gold mask just like King Baldwin IV, the leper king, as, underneath, his skin is quite literally falling away. Plus, he is doped to the eyeballs with milk of the poppy, and Alicent insists it is because he needs it and not because she needs him to need it.
Also, he is quite confused as to who he is speaking to at times and doesn’t even recognize Rhaenyra when she first arrives.
When Rhaenyra introduces her new sons, he seems to perk up, though.
Rhaenyra also pleads with him to defend her when it comes time to speak at court regarding her –and her son’s claim — to the Iron Throne. And honestly, it sounds like she is also giving him an out here to replace her with his son, Aegon.
Vaemond finally gets his day in court
The time has come for Vaemond to have his day in front of the king. Except Otto is the one standing in for him now, and boy, doesn’t he primp about it?
Vaemond sure does have plenty to say on the matter but stops short of calling Rhaenyra’s sons bastards. Then, when it is Rhaenyra’s turn to speak, who should turn up? Viserys.
It turns out he will do anything to make sure his daughter’s claim is upheld and the legitimacy of her children is confirmed.
While it takes him the longest time to get to the Iron Throne, when he does, he actually manages to command the room with his presence. Also, he points out that they are all here because of the claim to Driftmark that has been sorted out years ago.
He then calls on Rhaenys to give her opinion on who should rule, and, color me surprised, she sides with Rhaenyra and says her husband has always wanted Lucerys to replace him, which is the truth, but I wasn’t quite sure if she would side with her husband or not in regard to his matter.
When Vaemond realizes he is never going to win against the king, he loses his s**t and actually calls Lucerys a bastard and Rhaenyra a w***e.
Viserys immediately calls for Vaemond’s tongue but, have no fear, Daemon is here to lop off Vaemond’s head in defense of his wife.
If that’s not husband goals in Westeros, I don’t know what is.
Alicent has raised two garbage humans
While all this is happening, we get a closer look at Alicent’s children. And, honestly, if she thinks any of them are fit to rule, she is nuts.
Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) really couldn’t care about anything but bumping uglies and sleeping. And, yes, he’s married to his sister, Helaena (Phia Saban), which I am sure Alicent had something to say about, but you can’t fight Targaryens when it comes to incest.
Also, this doesn’t stop Aegon from shagging everyone, including his children’s nanny.
Meanwhile, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) has grown up to be entirely vicious.
Honestly, if Alicent really did think her children had a legitimate claim to the throne, surely she should have at least given them some proper manners? But, no.
And all this comes to the fore at a family dinner organized by Viserys.
Most awkward family dinner ever
You know those family dinners you never want to attend because you don’t like your cousin, and your uncle is likely to get drunk and ruin everything? Well, that is no match for a Targaryen dinner.
Nobody really wants to be there, but they all are because Viserys wants it. And, while Viserys has made some questionable ruling decisions in the past, there is no denying he loves his family and just wants them to get along, so everyone plays the part.
Rhaenyra toasts Alicent, who returns the favor and actually seems to mean it at some points, even stating that Rhaenyra will make a fine queen.
Things are heated between Rhaenyra and Alicent’s children, though. Aegon is busy hitting on Jacaerys’ newly betrothed, and things nearly come to blows.
Lucerys minds his manners and gives a toast to his uncles and hopes that they can all be friends again.
Oh, how sweet. You can tell Aegon and Aemond aren’t on the same page, though, with Aegon only offering up a “To you as well” in response to Lucerys’ glowing toast.
Once again, where are your manners, boys?
Jacaerys also won’t have Aegon pimping on his wife-to-be, so he asks Helaena to dance, which she does, oblivious to the fact that Aegon is p**sed.
Meanwhile, Viserys has no idea what is going on and thinks everyone is getting along.
However, when the king goes to bed, Aemond decides it is time for his speech after Lucerys laughs at a roast pig being placed in front of him. He toasts his nephews, calling them “strong boys,” which is true in that they are physically strong, but we all know Aemond was referring to the boys’ real father, Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr).
Book fans have been waiting eight episodes for this speech, and it is certainly worth it.
A fight breaks out proper after that, and when it is broken up, Rhaenyra tells Alicent that she will return to King’s Landing after seeing her boys home to Dragonstone. And surprisingly, Alicent seems up for this idea, actually looking like she misses her childhood friend.
Viserys has things to say
Episode 8 of House of the Dragon concludes with Viserys in bed and Alicent easing his pain by giving him milk of the poppy.
It is here that he starts speaking, and things get a little muddled.
He is talking about the Prince who was Promised, but Alicent thinks he is talking about her son, Aegon. Then, it appears that he is saying Alicent is the one to fix things.
While we all know that he is talking about Rhaenyra in this instance, as he has often spoken to her about Aegon’s Dream and the Prince who was Promised, it looks likely that Alicent will interpret what he has said to her — and her son’s — gain.
This is a change from the book canon as to what happens, but, honestly, I love the fact that Alicent will use this against Rhaenyra for her son’s claim for the Iron Throne, even though Viserys has always made it abundantly clear that he wanted Rhaenyra to follow him in ruling Westeros.
Viserys is then left alone, and it doesn’t take long for him to stop breathing. Is he dead?
I am betting on yes, but fans will have to wait until next week’s episode of House of the Dragon to find out for sure. (Although, if you want to know for sure, rewatch the episode with the captions on.)
House of the Dragon airs every Sunday night at 9/8c on HBO Max.