House of the Dragon Episode 8 Recap: A Terrible Misunderstanding

Spoilers below.

Welcome back to House of Time Jumps the Dragon, where yet one more few years have passed between episodes. Meaning the younger characters, like Rhaenyra, Alicent, and Daemon’s children, have again been recast to depict the passing of time, but it will probably be confusing with their parents not visually aging in any respect. That’s aside from King Viserys, whose nasty battle with a type of leprosy has reduced him to all but a respiration corpse. Knowing he’s in his final days, he pleads his clan to make peace with each other, to have dinner together like civilized, if not loving, kin as an alternative of enemies who pull knives on each other. But will it work? Within the vein of a Real Housewives reunion, the gathering starts off hopeful but, inevitably, ends in chaos. Especially now that one other succession battle has come to the fore.

The episode starts with Princess Rhaenys receiving news that her husband, Lord Corlys, has been severely wounded in battle and his odds for survival are uncertain. It’s been six years since she’s seen him, but she must prepare for the worst case scenario. The seat of Driftmark is supposed to be passed all the way down to Lord Corlys’ son, Laenor, but since they imagine he’s deceased, the following in line can be Laenor and Rhaenyra’s second son, Lucerys. (His first son is already in line for the Iron Throne.) Corlys’ brother Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) won’t accept this. He knows that Laenor’s kids aren’t really Laenor’s; why should foreign blood rule over Driftmark? Vaemond proposes that as Corlys’ own blood, he must be next in line. But what about Rhaenys? She’s been filling in for Lord Corlys as he battles abroad. Could she sit on the Driftwood Throne for good, or will the Queen That Never Was be passed once more? That’s irrespective of to Vaemond; he’s set on sailing to King’s Landing to make his case.

Over in Dragonstone, Daemon scales down a cliff into Syrax’s lair to search out the dragon has laid three eggs. (More dragons!) His daughter Baela, who’s been staying with Rhaenys in Driftmark, sends a message warning him that Uncle Vaemond is riding to King’s Landing to debate “matters of succession, rights, and the sanctity of blood” with the king. He shows the letter to Rhaenyra, who promptly takes offense to yet one more challenge of her son’s parentage. She and Daemon resolve they need to go to King’s Landing, too.

Earlier on this scene, we get a way of the Targaryen household in Dragonstone nowadays: Now-teenage Jacaerys (Harry Collett) is practicing High Valyrian with the grand maester. Joffrey, who was born two episodes ago, is now preschool age, or regardless of the equivalent in Westeros is. Also, Rhaenyra is pregnant again. Time is basically flying!

Daemon (Matt Smith), Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), Luke (Elliot Grihault), Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell), and Rhaenys (Eve Best).

HBO

The Targaryens’ setup on Dragonstone can be much warmer than their accommodations after they arrive in King’s Landing. Rhaenyra can barely recognize the Red Keep’s dark halls, which is partially Otto Hightower’s doing. On the Small Council meeting, he says he arranged the couple’s residence “as befits their station.” Ouch. One other big change? The Faith of the Seven has taken over the palace, with its symbolic seven-pointed star hovering above and hanging as a pendant on Queen Alicent’s neck. She sits at the pinnacle of the council table, acting on behalf of her husband, the king.

Side note: If you happen to’re wondering who the newbies on the Small Council are, they’re Jasper Wylde, Master of Law; Grand Maester Orwyle, who replaced the previous Grand Maester Mellos; and Tyland Lannister, Master of Ships and twin brother of Jason Lannister.

Rhaenyra and Daemon visit Viserys in his chambers to search out him deathly sick and bedridden. He’s lost just about all of his hair, his skin is purple and scabbed, his nails are brown. He can’t even recognize Rhaenyra, his only child, beside him. The princess tearfully takes on this difficult image, and so does Daemon, but he also reminds them why they’re there. He informs the king that a petition for the Driftwood Throne will soon happen they usually need him to affirm Lucerys because the rightful heir. Rhaenyra also has a surprise for her father: She and Daemon have had two sons, Aegon (a bit petty to present your child the identical name as your fremeny’s firstborn, no?) and Viserys. With platinum blonde hair, Aegon III and Viserys II are undoubtedly Rhaenyra and Daemon’s blood.

Alicent deals with a “delicate matter” regarding her own son, Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney). The servant girl Diana has come forward accusing him of sexually assaulting her. Alicent believes her account, even embracing her as she cries. “It wasn’t your fault. I feel you,” the queen says. Still, she worries what others might think if word gets out. She gives Diana money for her troubles and tea to induce an abortion then sends her on her way. Next, she scolds Aegon for his despicable behavior. Groggy and naked in bed, he brushes off Diana’s claims, but his mother just isn’t fooled. He cannot keep shaming his house, shaming his wife (delay, he’s married? Book spoiler: His wife is his sister, Helaena.) like this, she says. With a swift slap across the face, she leans in and tells him, “You aren’t any son of mine,” quoting Tywin Lannister. Aegon starts to interrupt down. He never asked for this life! Irrespective of what he does, his mother and father won’t ever be satisfied, he says. Helaena (Phia Saban) interrupts the conversation, searching for Diana to decorate “the kids.” (Wait, she has children now?) Alicent says nothing, but her eager embrace together with her daughter speaks volumes.

Alicent offers an ungainly welcome to Rhaenyra and Daemon in Viserys’ room but neither silver-haired guest is pleased. She also notices the scar on Rhaenyra’s forearm, left from when she sliced her in a rage with a Valyrian steel blade. Rhaenyra and Daemon are so in sync here, their fed up energy is matched they usually see through Alicent’s act. Their alternating comments are in rhythm as they prod the queen about holding power and introducing the Faith of the Seven while Viserys is weak in bed. Alicent is unperturbed. She’ll have her say in the course of the petition for Lucerys’ inheritance anyway.

As Jace (Jacaerys) and Luke (Lucerys, now played by Elliot Grihault) wander across the Red Keep, Luke notices everyone taking a look at them. He already knows why. “Nobody would query my being heir to Driftmark if I looked more like Ser Laenor Velaryon than Ser Harwin Strong,” he says. Within the yard, they find Ser Criston sparring with none aside from Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), now sporting Legolas-like hair and an eyepatch over the attention Luke sliced out years ago. Aemond’s fighting skills have surely improved since they were boys in combat lessons together. Jace and Luke tremble after they recognize him but Aemond has already spotted them in the group. “Nephews,” he calls out to them. “Have you ever come to coach?”

Before they’ll arrange a rematch, Vaemond Velaryon arrives in King’s landing. During a temporary meeting, Otto and Alicent Hightower consider his proposition. The queen desires to act in the general public’s best interest, however the scheming Hand of the King makes a very good point: War is looming. When it comes, do you really need a toddler leading the best fleet in Westeros?

alicent hightower in house of the dragon

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower.

HBO

I can’t imagine this happened, but we get Rhaenyra, Rhaenys, and Rhaena—Daemon and Laena’s younger daughter—all together in the identical scene. (Will a Daemon, Aemond, and Vaemond collab come next?) Rhaenyra approaches Rhaenys on the Weirwood tree, knowing the latter is here to vouch for herself as the following leader of Driftmark. Rhaenyra makes a suggestion: If Rhaenys supports Luke as heir of Driftmark, they’ll betrothe Laena’s children to Rhaenyra’s. That will make Baela (Bethany Antonia) queen of the seven kingdoms if she marries Jace and Raena (Phoebe Campbell) a future ruler of Driftmark alongside Lucerys. The Driftwood Throne can be inherited by her children. Rhaenys seems intrigued, calling it “a generous offer…or a desperate one.” But she chooses to act alone for now.

Rhaenyra visits her father’s bedside on a stormy night, troubled. “The Song of Ice and Fire, do you think it to be true?” she asks him, tears in her eyes. When she was a toddler, he told her about Aegon the Conqueror’s secret prophecy, and that it was their duty to unite the realm against a typical foe. But, “by naming me heir, you divided the realm,” she says. “I assumed I wanted it,” Rhaenyra says of the crown. But because the old adage says, heavy is the pinnacle that wears it. The princess is beginning to crumble under that weight. “If you happen to wish me to bear it, then defend me and my children,” she begs to her father. With everyone coming after her, she needs him on her side.

Within the Great Hall, Vaemond makes his case to inherit the seat of Driftmark while Otto presides over the gathering. Rhaenyra comes next, but before she will speak, King Viserys hobbles into the throne room wearing his crown, cape, and all of the regalia, aided with a cane and a sick golden Phantom of the Opera mask. The gang is in shock; nobody was expecting him to point out. “I’ll sit the throne today,” Viserys insists, though it’s a pitiful picture as he heaves and struggles up the steps to the Iron Throne. His crown even falls off—an obvious metaphor—but Daemon picks it up, helps his brother up the steps, and places the crown back on his head. Viserys reiterates that the matter of Driftmark’s successor has already been settled. Even Rhaenys voices her support for Luke as heir and confirms that Laena’s children will marry Rhaenyra’s. Viserys is pleased.

But Vaemond just isn’t. Whilst the king of the Seven Kingdoms, Viserys is in no place to inform him who can inherit his family’s ancestral throne and residential. House Velaryon survived the Doom; it cannot develop into extinct over this. Wil Johnson gives his all here, respiration fire into Vaemond’s impassioned, poignant speech. He’s not simply fighting for legacy like his brother Corlys; he’s fighting for his family’s survival. Vaemond ends his piece calling Rhaenyra’s sons bastards and the princess a whore. The hall gasps. Viserys gets up. Daemon slices Vaemond’s face clean in half along with his sword. It’s a sudden and shocking death, and I’m almost left wishing we could’ve seen more of Vaemond. After keeping to the background in past episodes, this was the one where he shone probably the most, but in addition where he met his premature end. (Alas, the character can be beheaded in George R. R. Martin’s books after he tries to say the Driftwood Throne and questions Rhaenyra’s children.)

house of the dragon

Wil Johnson as Vaemond.

HBO

Despite the bloodshed, the Targaryen and Hightower families still gather for dinner together on the king’s behest, and he’s the just one who appears to be joyful about it. Here, Viserys makes a desperate final plea to his family. He removes his mask to disclose the remainder of his face, an eyeball missing and the skin of his cheek almost entirely gone. He looks skeletal. “I wish you to see me as I’m. Not only a king but your father, your brother, your husband, your grandsire, who may not it seems walk for for much longer amongst you,” he says. He begs them to make nice with one another, if not for the realm’s sake, then for his. Rhaenyra is the primary to comply, raising her glass to Alicent to praise her loyalty and devotion to Viserys. “For that she has my gratitude and my apology,” she says. Moved, Alicent raises her own glass to Rhaenyra and her house. “You’ll make a wonderful queen,” she adds. Even Otto is surprised.

Meanwhile, the children are still squabbling. Aegon hits on Jace’s fiancée, Baela, to get on his nerves. But Jace takes the high road, raising a toast to Aemond and Aegon in what’s beginning to feel like a feelings circle. Helaena toasts Baela and Rhaena for his or her engagements, adding that having a husband is “not so bad—mostly he just ignores you, except sometimes when he’s drunk.” (Someone help this girl!) Jace dances with Helaena while the family looks on, having fun with laughs at dinner. For a moment it looks like every little thing is okay in House Targaryen. Until Viserys starts feeling a terrible pain and is carried out of the dining room.

A roasted pig is placed in front of Aemond for dinner, and Luke laughs remembering how they used to tease Aemond along with his very own “dragon pig.” Aemond loses his patience. He gives a final toast dedicated to his nephews, calling them handsome, clever, and powerful, alluding to their real father Harwin Strong. Once more, he picks up the parentage issue they’d just seemingly laid to rest. The boys are offended and tousle with their uncles once more until the adults send all of them back to their rooms. Rhaenyra desires to take the kids back to Dragonstone. Alicent takes her hand, hoping she’ll come back soon. The gesture is gentle and familiar, almost harking back to their friendship as young girls.

house of the dragon

Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen.

HBO

Remember Mysaria? We’ve passed through several episodes and three of Daemon’s wives since we last saw her. But after dinner, Talya, a handmaiden to Queen Alicent, meets together with her within the cloak of night. The scene ends there, though. Character development can have to attend one other day!

Viserys writhes in pain in bed while Alicent tends to him. Not in his right mind, he mistakes her for Rhaenyra and answers her query from the opposite night. He does imagine within the Song of Ice and Fire, he confirms. He name-drops Aegon, referring to the Conqueror, and says what he saw within the North was true. He mentions “The Prince That Was Promised,” referring to the destined hero who will arise from the Targaryen bloodline. But Alicent, who has no knowledge of Viserys and Rhaenyra’s secret, interprets this otherwise: She believes Viserys is looking Aegon, their firstborn son, the prince that was promised—as within the rightful heir to the Iron Throne as an alternative of Rhaenyra. “It’s you. You’re the one. You need to do that,” Viserys whispers in his delirium. Alicent takes this as his wish for his or her son to develop into king. Olivia Cooke is great at conveying Alicent’s shock, relief, acceptance, and even fear as she grapples with the burden of this message. You possibly can already tell what chaos will ensue, and what damage she’s going to do, with this news.

“I understand my king,” Alicent tells him as she leaves the room. The camera pans to that fated Valryian steel dagger as she exits. Within the darkness, Viserys appears to be taking his final breaths in bed. He has no idea he’s just played the worst game of telephone ever.

<< Read last week's recap

Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There’s a 75 percent probability she’s listening to Lorde immediately. 

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