House of the Dragon Ep 8 Review: Targaryens get together for a disturbing yet emotional reunion
The eighth episode of House of the Dragon promises an episode that sets up the story well for the final two episodes of the season. Read Pinkvilla's review below.
Cast: Matt Smith, Emma D'Arcy, Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke
Creators: Ryan Condal, George R. R. Martin
*SPOILERS ALERT* House of the Dragon's first season has seen multiple time jumps in the plot and yet another comes with episode 8 but it looks like this one may be the final one given that it serves as a major turning point in the series till now. The history of Westeros as we know it will change following this very episode. After the seventh episode of the show turned out to be one of its best ones, the new episode now begins nearly six years after Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and Prince Daemon's (Matt Damon) marriage. They now have two kids and another one on the way whereas Jacerys, Luceyrs and Joffrey are all grown up as well. Following Laenor's death ( as assumed) by Rhaenys (Eve Best) and Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), the latter finds himself heading to the Stepstones as yet another threat looms. The eighth episode begins with the news that Corlys may not have survived and hence the succession of the Driftmark throne is up for question.
While the succession of the throne automatically goes to Laenor's children following his absence, Ser Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson), the brother of Corlys Velaryon challenges the same claiming his right to Driftmark in the absence of his brother and his son. In the meantime in King's Landing, it's the Hightowers who have taken over the council given King Viserys' (Paddy Considine) ill health. Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) sits on the council board along with her father Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) and it's not only the leadership but also the architecture of King's Landing that's turning green. For Driftmark's succession, a petition is called for by Ser Vaemond in front of the Queen and that leads Rhaenyra and Daemon to return to King's Landing for the first time since their marriage.
Looking at her ailing father, Rhaenyra gets emotional but she's also there to plead her case to him about the need for her son to take over Driftmark to shut down any further illegitimacy claims. Although with Viserys' poor health, there's a possibility that she must present her petition for Luc to be handed the Driftmark position in front of the Queen who may not be all that supportive given their history from when Lucerys stabbed Aemond in the eye. Just when Rhaenyra is about to plead her case in court regarding Luc's succession to the throne to Otto, the hand of the King who sits on the Iron throne in the King's absence, Viserys (Considine) makes an entrance, leaving everyone utterly shocked given how he drags himself to the throne while his weak body is being weighed down by his clothes and ornaments. At one point as he prepares to sit on the throne, his crown falls to his feet because of his hunched-over posture and it's his brother Daemon who comes to his rescue and boosts him to walk on ahead and sit on his throne. While Viserys declares Luc to take over Lord Corlys as the head of Driftmark, Ser Vaemond continues to disagree and it does not end well for him.
Elsewhere, Rhaenyra and Alicent's kids continue to have heated exchanges with each other during a family dinner that Viserys requests for everyone to come together again. The episode ends with a major twist once again as the talk of the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy is reiterated by Viserys while he is on his deathbed. Presumably unable to tell who he is talking to, Viserys ends up telling Alicent about the "Prince that was promised."
With only two more episodes to go for House of the Dragon to wrap up its first season, the eighth episode is crucial and the hour-long episode despite its slow pace packs several important events including the succession of Driftmark which is a key seat when it comes to the protection of the Seven Kingdoms. The episode's highlight is certainly the scene involving King Visery's walk to the Iron throne as it evokes all sorts of emotions including pity all at once. Yet another stellar point in the new episode is also how we are shown how powerful Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) has become since the time he lost his eye. We see him beat Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) while sparring with swords and he turns out to be a clear winner. The entire Targaryen family dinner sequence also brings out the best performances from everyone especially Paddy Considine who impresses all through the episode.
Yet another time jump is sure to upset fans as they have been trying hard to keep up with the new actors being cast in the same roles. With the eighth episode, we meet a new set of young actors who take on the roles of Aegon, Aemond, Lucerys and Jacerys. Much of the attention is given to Ewan Mitchell's Aemond who manages to add sinister stares in every scene he is in, establishing quite straightforwardly how he's going to be the evil Targaryen uncle to Luc and Jace. There are also a lot of marriages and proposals that seem hard to catch up on as the show goes ahead given how incestuous all of them are like Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) being married to his sister Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban). There also seems to be some major ageing issue happening with Ser Criston Cole who does not look older despite the passage of time.
The House of the Dragon's eighth episode is all about the assertion of power and how it's the Hightowers who are once again put them in their place by King Viserys when it comes to reminding them that the authority still remains with even when he may have one eye missing and half of his face rotting away. The make-up and the costume department deserve all the kudos for the way they have managed to create Viserys' look as the ailing king given the rollercoaster of emotions it brings out. The new episode is also a masterclass in acting from Paddy Considine who brilliantly makes Viserys the absolute centrepiece of this episode and deservedly so. We bet we won't see any other Targaryen King like him. As for Daemon Targaryen who has been mellow in the past few episodes, we see his ruthless side return again as she shows once again, he's a man who speaks with his sword first. There also seems to be some tension developing between Aemond and Daemon and it looks like the former would like to prove he's darker and stronger than the Prince who was once the commander of City Watch whom everyone in King's Landing seemed to have dreaded.
- Paddy Considine's scene-stealing act as Viserys.
- Olivia Cooke and Emma D'Arcy's dinner table scene.
- Return of Daemon Targaryen's dark side.
The eighth episode may not have been the series' best but it does leave us with a grand setup for what lies ahead. Following King Visery's death, the true game for the Iron throne will now begin and it's going to start a war for sure.
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