Another House of the Dragons episode, another time jump. Just over six years have passed since the “death” of Laenor and the children from last week’s episode have now all aged up and have been recast. With these new faces comes a whole slew of new problems. Attempts at reconciliation were made this week, but due to a misunderstanding, I think all of that is going to go out the window next week.
The inciting incident in this week’s episode of House of the Dragon is the revelation that The Sea Snake has been seriously wounded by pirates while returning home from the Stepstones. Even though he’s not in this episode, his presence is felt, as the Lord of Driftmark never named a formal successor to the throne. This, of course, brings the legitimacy of Rhaenyra’s three eldest children into question yet again. She now has two children with her new husband/uncle Daemon, with a third on the way as well and unlike the children that carry the Velaryon name, Daemon’s children all have white hair. So a council is called at King’s Landing to hear the cases of the succession (is it bad that every time I hear that word, I hear this in my head now?)
It’s abundantly clear that Otto would much prefer to install Corly’s brother Vaemond onto the throne instead of Lucerys, who apart from being the subject of rumour, is a boy and not a good fit for the strongest navy in the realm on the cusp of war. One can understand Otto’s reasoning here. Plus, let’s be real here, Vaemond has a much stronger claim to the throne at the end of the day, knowing that Lucerys is actually a bastard. And Otto almost gets his wish too, if not for the unexpected entry of King Viserys.
The king is on death’s door at this point in House of the Dragon, the wounds he’s collected over the decades finally making him delusional and in near-constant pain. He’s on a heavy dose of milk of the poppy and is relegated to bed rest, leaving the actual ruling to Alicent and Otto. But upon their arrival, Rhaenyra and Daemon pay the king a visit and ask for his help in petitioning for Lucerys’ claim to the throne, despite the fact that it seems it’s a lost cause. Rhaenyra also pays Rhaenys a visit by the Godswood, asking for her support in exchange for the marriage of their children, something Rhaenys initially refuses but later publically acknowledges and agrees to. Viserys’ half-face mask not only brings to mind the Phantom of the Opera, but King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem while his decrepit form brings to mind King Henry Lancaster’s condition when Edward of York returned to England.
This doesn’t sit well with Vaemond. Between Rhaenys not backing him up and Viserys proclaiming Lucerys the heir to Driftmark, he calls the children bastards in the throne room and Rhaenarya a whore. Viserys calls for his tongue, not before Daemon beheads him from the mouth up, stating he can keep his tongue. Mic drop. I love how casual and indifferent Daemon is to violence, but really like how his character has evolved since episode one. Here, he’s helping his brother climb the steps to the throne, giving him words of encouragement, and despite knowing that the three eldest children of Rhaenerya are bastards, still defends their honour in court. I mean, he defends it with murder, but he’s still come a long way.
Viserys insists that the two sides of the family have dinner together with him and try to let bygones be bygones. And apart from some rivalry and animosity between Rhaenerys’ eldest and Alicent’s two boys, Princes Aemond and Aegon, peace is almost achieved, with the two women burying the past in favour of making amends. But the hate is already instilled into their children. Prince Aemond in particular has evolved drastically from the quiet and meekish boy to a fierce and cunning warrior not afraid to clap back, calling Rhaenerya’s eldest three “handsome, wise and strong”, which is a backhanded way of saying he knows Ser Strong is their father. Aemond is also a skilled duelist, capable of beating Ser Cristen in a skirmish. Aemond continues to size up Daemon, who is probably the second-best duelist after Ser Cristen and is likely quite eager to fight him, probably to the death. Meanwhile, toward the end of the dinner banquet, Jacaerys Velaryon and Helaena Hightower share a dance, foreshadowing the upcoming Dance of Dragons, the impending Civil War. Also, shoutout to the fact that both Aemond and Helaena’s actors are reunited after working together on The Last Kingdom.
But things get complicated with Aegon, whose a real piece of work. When we get reintroduced to him, we learn that he’s just recently raped the serving girl and has no memory or interest in his actions. He’s a real PoS and his mother Alicent tells him that he’s no son of hers. But then things just had to get complicated, when Viserys, high as a kite on the milk of the poppy, accidentally tells Alicent about the Song of Ice and Fire and that Aegon’s Dream involves the Prince that was Promised. Alicent misinterprets this to mean her Aegon, not Aegon the Conqueror and now that Viserys is dead, will Alicent now move to have Aegon put on the throne despite Rhaenyra being the heir? Considering the ninth episode of Game of Thrones is usually the episode with either the most action (the batter for the Wall or Blackwater) or shocking character moments (the walk of shame, Ned’s execution), I’m sure things are going to get intense next week due to the power vacuum. Colour me very excited.
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