House of the Dragon episode 8 recap: Is King Viserys dead?
Judgement is passed on Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen's children. **SPOILER ALERT for episode 8**
House of the Dragon’s eighth episode was perhaps the most dramatic yet, as the show continues its run towards the season finale and inevitable civil war for the Iron Throne.
Titled The Lord of the Tides, episode 8 picked up six years after the previous instalment and saw another gruesome death as two noble families waged war over the throne of Driftmark.
The latest episode of House of the Dragon also welcomed some familiar faces into the mix, including The Last Kingdom stars Ewan Mitchell and Phia Saban as Aemond and Helaena respectively.
If you didn't quite follow what happened at the end of the episode, then don't worry: we've got you covered. Read on for a recap of exactly what happened on the show amidst all that scheming, violence and gore.
**Spoiler warning for House of the Dragon episode 8**
House of the Dragon episode 8 recap: Lord of the Tides
On Driftmark, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) is informed by a Maester that her husband Lord Corlys Velaryon has been injured fighting in the Stepstones where he has been away from her for the past six years. Corlys’ throat has been slashed and he fell overboard and is now being treated but remains in a critical condition. At Rhaenys’ side on the Driftwood throne is her eldest granddaughter Lady Baela Targaryen (Bethany Antonia). Lord Corlys is due to arrive in three days. Baela speaks words of comfort to Rhaenys, while Corlys' brother Ser Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) comments on the potential for Corlys to die and who will succeed to the Driftwood throne. Rhaenys promises to honour her husband’s wishes and place Prince Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) as Lord of the Tides, but Ser Vaemond wants true Velaryon Blood ruling Driftmark and wants it for himself. Rhaenys wants her brother-in-law that to question the legitimacy of Lucerys is an act of treason. Ser Vaemond blames Corlys’ ambition for the calamities they now face and doesn’t want the bloodline sullied by bastard Strong blood. Rhaenys reminds Ser Vaemond that King Viserys would cut his tongue out for this but he replies that a King no longer sits on the Iron Throne, but a Queen instead.
On Dragonstone, Prince Daemon Targaryen climbs down a crack in the mountainside and digs out fresh dragon eggs. The Prince gives three of Syrax’s eggs and hands them to dragonkeepers to be warmed, one of whom hands him a message from his daughter Lady Baela on Driftmark.
Inside Dragonstone’s fortress, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen walks in on her eldest son Prince Jacaerys Velaryon (now played by Harry Collett) learning High Valyrian from Maester Gerardys (Phil Daniels) but struggles. Prince Joffrey Velaryon reads with a maid before Rhaenyra asks them all to leave when Daemon returns with the message of what is happening on Driftmark. Rhaenyra fears that Ser Vaemond’s intentions will question the legitimacy of her children and claim to the Iron Throne, while also learning that Rhaenys is also heading to King’s Landing but Daemon doubts she is backing Ser Vaemond. Rhaenyra isn’t so certain as she comments that Rhaenys believes they killed Ser Laenor and only keeps Lady Baela as a ward due to honouring Lady Laena’s memory. Rhaenyra notes that vipers now rule in King’s Landing as King Viserys is too unwell. They decide to return there.
In King’s Landing, Rhaenyra and Daemon arrive with no greeting as Princess Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban) watches from a window. Only Lord Caswell welcomes them back. Rhaenyra sees that the Seven-Pointed Star is present in the place now and comments that she does not recognise her old home.
In a Small Council meeting, Queen Alicent presides over a meeting as they are interrupted and informed of the new arrivals. The Hand of the King and Alicent's father Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) makes clear that he hopes they were welcomed in a manner befitting their station as he instructed. The group discuss the Driftmark succession issue as Alicent says they will hear all petitions the next day. Alicent leaves but is approached by the Kingsguard knight Ser Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittensor) about a matter involving "the Prince".
In Viserys’ chambers, Rhaenyra and Daemon visit the bandaged, bedridden and deathly ill Viserys who has to be told by his daughter that they have come. Daemon reveals the situation in the Stepstones and with the Driftmark succession issue and Viserys says that Ser Otto will deal with it but they’re firm that Viserys must back Lucerys. Viserys is then introduced to Rhaenyra and Daemon’s young sons, Prince Aegon Targaryen (the Younger) and Prince Viserys Targaryen. The King is delighted but pained and the children cry. Daemon helps his brother drink tea.
A cowering maid is shown on her knees before Queen Alicent before being bid to stand. The maid Dyana reveals to Alicent that she was raped by her son Prince Aegon Targaryen (now played by Tom Glynn-Carney) before being hugged by Alicent who thanks her for this. Alicent tells Dyana it wasn’t her fault and that she believes her but worries about what others might believe. Alicent notes that others may believe she was trying to besmirch Aegon and set out to entice him. Dyana promises to never tell anyone else about this. Alicent comments that she knows Dyana won’t before giving her money and then is handed moon tea from her own maid Talya (Alexis Raben) which she gives to Dyana to prevent any possible bastards. Dyana drinks the tea as a conflicted Alicent watches.
In Prince Aegon’s room, he is awoken naked by his furious mother Alicent and he is sleepy and unbothered, dismissing the Dyana situation as “harmless fun”. Alicent notes the shame he could bring on the family and slaps him, telling him that he is no son of hers. Aegon counters that he does not want any of this but has always done what Alicent asks of him. Helaena, Aegon’s sister-wife, enters and asks Dyana to dress the children. Alicent then embraces Helaena.
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In the King's rooms, a pregnant Rhaenyra notes Viserys’ poor health to Daemon and suggests that they consult Maester Gerardys when Alicent enters. The pair bring up the lack of greeting and how Alicent now rules but she argues that she and Ser Otto are mere stewards for the King. Rhaenyra complains that Viserys is being addled by the Milk of the Poppy by the Hightowers’ maesters and Daemon bemoans the removal of Targaryen heraldry in the Red Keep and being replaced by other statues and stars, but Alicent comments that the star is that of the Seven who guide them and remind all of a higher power. Rhaenyra asks who will judge her son Lucerys’ claim to Driftmark and Alicent confirms that it will be her and the Hand. Alicent says she will forgive the accusations levelled at her before leaving.
In the courtyard, Jacaerys and Lucerys arrive and watch as the Cargyll twins spar as courtiers look upon them and judge. Lucerys notes his legitimacy wouldn’t be questioned if he more closely resembled Ser Laenor and not Ser Harwin Strong. Jacaerys comments that it does not matter what they think before they are directed by another sparring match between Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and Prince Aemond Targaryen (now played by Ewan Mitchell and sporting an eye-patch), the latter of whom wins. Ser Criston tells Aemond he will soon win tourneys but Aemond does not care. The Prince addresses his nephews and asks if they have come to train. All are interrupted by the arrival of Ser Vaemond Velaryon who looks upon the boys with disdain.
In the Small Council chamber, Ser Otto encourages Alicent to stay strong but she notes that Lord Corlys may yet live. Ser Vaemond is still concerned as Lord Corlys may die. Ser Otto reminds Alicent that war could soon emerge and that they need a strong leader of the realm’s fleet and not a child. Ser Vaemond suggests he will provide support to the Hightowers if he gains Driftmark.
In the Godswood, Lady Rhaena Targaryen (Phoebe Campbell) approaches Rhaenys with Rhaenyra, who comments on her noble raising of Baela. Rhaenyra asks to speak with Rhaenys alone and then asks why Rhaenys has come. Rhaenyra guesses that Rhaenys is there to argue for herself but explains that it is all a trap. Rhaenyra tells Rhaenys that she loved Ser Laenor and denies ordering his death or being complicit in it. Rhaenyra then offers to betroth Baela and Rhaena to Jacaerys and Lucerys, respectively. Rhaenys answers that it is generous or desperate but agrees with Rhaenyra on it either way. However, Rhaenys notes that the Hightowers will deliver their first blow to Rhaenyra the next day, leaving Rhaenys to stand alone.
In the King’s chambers, Rhaenyra visits her delirious father alone as he initially calls for Alicent. Rhaenyra asks him about the Song of Ice and Fire and Aegon’s dream. Rhaenyra reminds him of the duty to honour Aegon’s dream but comments that naming her heir has divided the realm. The Princess breaks down wondering if she now wants the Iron Throne as the burden is too heavy. Rhaenyra asks Viserys to defend her and her children but he falls into deliriousness once again. Rhaenyra breaks down in tears.
In the morning, Viserys is treated by maesters and he requests to Ser Otto that his whole family dines together that night. The King is in intense pain and Ser Otto suggests more Milk of the Poppy but he refuses.
In the Throne room, Ser Otto sits on the Iron Throne to judge the issue of the succession in Driftmark. In attendance is the Queen, her children, Rhaenyra, Daemon, and their children, Rhaenys and Ser Vaemond. Speaking on the importance of House Velaryon’s lineage and his claim, Ser Vaemond is then interrupted by Rhaenyra who is then scolded for speaking over him by Alicent. Aegon smirks at this before Ser Vaemond mocks Rhaenyra for knowing nothing of Velaryon blood. Aemond smirks at Jacaerys and Lucerys. Ser Vaemond petitions himself to be the rightful heir to the title of Lord of the Tides.
After Ser Vaemond’s speech, Princess Rhaenyra begins speaking but is interrupted by the arrival of King Viserys who also wears a golden mask over the scarred side of his face. Limping across the Throne room, King Viserys walks past his family, climbs the stairs and slowly takes his place on the Iron Throne. At the last moment, Viserys is aided by his brother Daemon who places the crown that had fallen back on his head. King Viserys says that he is confused by the debating of a succession matter when the issue is already settled: Prince Lucerys Velaryon is the heir to Driftmark. Viserys asks his cousin Rhaenys to comment on the matter and what Lord Corlys wants, to which she comments that Lucerys is therefore the chosen heir and reveals the betrothal of Jace and Luke to Baela and Rhaena, respectively. Alicent is furious, but Aegon is amused. King Viserys proclaims Lucerys as the next Lord of the Tides.
Ser Vaemond then verbally hits out at Viserys for breaking with tradition and law when he named Rhaenyra as his heir and slams the latest ruling, calling Lucerys an illegitimate child. Ser Vaemond refuses to let Viserys decide the future of House Velaryon. Daemon dares Ser Vaemond to say what is on his lips and Ser Vaemond then proclaims the boys are bastards and that Rhaenyra is a whore. Viserys unsheathes his dagger and comments that he will have Ser Vaemond's tongue. However, Daemon then partially decapitates Ser Vaemond himself, to the horror of those present. “He can keep his tongue,” said Daemon as we see Vaemond's cut head but his tongue is still intact. Viserys collapses and Alicent rushes to his side before the King is helped out of the chamber.
The body of Ser Vaemond Velaryon is embalmed by the Silent Sisters for its return to Driftmark and Grand Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan) suggests that the present Princess Rhaenys leaves for this process. A weary Rhaenys notes that she is used to death and continues to watch the process.
In the banquet chamber, Alicent and Rhaenyra are icy with one another. Viserys is carried to the feast in a chair and the entire family is reunited, bar Rhaenys. Viserys speaks of his pleasure at everyone present. Alicent speaks a prayer for the Seven and speaks kindly of Ser Vaemond, to Ser Otto’s displeasure. Viserys toasts the recent betrothals. Aegon speaks to Jace of sex but Baela tells Aegon to be quiet before Jace warns him to not be a jester. Viserys stands and reveals his pain that all of those present are his most beloved but have grown so distant from one another. Viserys shows his eye has rotted and part of his face has wasted away and comments on his lack of a handsome face - if he ever had one. The King asks them all to see him as he is, not just a monarch but as a father, brother, husband and grandfather. Viserys asks for the House of the Dragon to no longer be divided and set aside all grievances, for the Crown and for him as an old man.
Rhaenyra stands and says a toast to Alicent as a good wife to the King and praises all of her devotion to Viserys, before apologising to Alicent. The Queen reveals that she is moved and comments on how they both love their children and have much in common. Alicent raises her cup to Rhaenyra and her family and comments that Rhaenyra will make a fine queen. Rhaenyra smiles. The whole family drinks.
Prince Aegon soon stands and tells Baela he regrets the disappointment she will soon suffer with Jace but comments that he can always satisfy her instead. A furious Jace stands and slams the table as Baela tries to calm him. Aemond then stands. Jace raises his own toast to Aegon and Aemond, commenting on their years apart but close youth together and toasts their families together. Aegon returns the favour. A drunk Helaena speaks to herself before standing and raising a toast to Baela and Rhaena, noting that marriage is not so bad as her husband mostly ignored her except sometimes when he is drunk. Daemon laughs. As music starts, Jace stands and invites Helaena for a dance and they have a fun time together.
The family have a mostly joyful feast as a weary Viserys looks on, watched by both Alicent and Rhaenyra. The King weeps in pain before Alicent orders the guards to take him to his room.
Lucerys sits as Aemond watches him. Aemond then stands and raises a toast to Jace, Luke and Joffrey, praising them as handsome, wise and strong - “the three Strong boys”. Jace dares Aemond to say it again, prompting Jace to then punch Aemond before Aegon fights with Lucerys slamming him on the table. Guards seize the Velaryon boys. Alicent questions Aemond on his actions but he continues to mock him. The boys leave at Rhaenyra’s urging as Daemon stares at Aemond until the latter leaves.
Alicent approaches Rhaenyra who comments that her family should likely return to Dragonstone, but Alicent holds her hand and notes that they only just arrived. Rhaenyra reveals she will see the children home first before returning on dragonback, to Alicent’s pleasure.
Elsewhere at a large house in King’s Landing, a jewelled Mysaria is visited by a hooded figure revealed to be the Queen’s servant Talya who addresses Mysaria as "My Lady". Mysaria comments on what a night it has been in the castle.
In the King’s chambers, Viserys is tended to by Alicent who gives him Milk of the Poppy. Viserys apologises and Alicent soothes him, as Viserys begins speaking of Aegon’s dream, confusing Alicent for Rhaenyra. The King speaks of the Song of Ice and Fire and The Prince That Was Promised and speaks of Aegon - confusing Alicent. Viserys tells Alicent - believing her to be Rhaenyra - that she is the one to unite the realm and must do this. Alicent strokes Viserys’ face before leaving his chamber after stating that she understands. An ailing King then reaches out and says "my love." We're pretty sure this is Viserys' last breath...
What book changes are in House of the Dragon episode 8?
There were a number of book changes when adapting Fire & Blood for House of the Dragon episode 8.
- The time jump between the previous episode and this one skips over another controversy in the book: Rhaenyra and Daemon naming their first son as Aegon, which was considered a slight by Alicent as her own eldest son is already a second Aegon to the original Aegon the Conquerer.
- The show has entirely omitted the third son of King Viserys and Alicent: Prince Daeron Targaryen.
- The show has not yet named the children of Aegon the Elder and his wife Helaena, named in the book as Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen, Princess Jaehaera Targaryen, and Prince Maelor Targaryen.
- In the book, Aegon had already fathered two bastard children: one by a girl whose virginity he won in an auction on the Street of Silk and the other by one of his mother's maidservants.
- In the book, Lord Corlys caught a fever and was near death, unlike the show where he is wounded in battle on the Stepstones.
- Ser Vaemond Velaryon is once again depicted as Lord Corlys's brother here instead of as his eldest nephew as he is in the book.
- In the book, Ser Vaemond is killed when Rhaenyra sends Daemon to kill him. It is in response to this that Ser Vaemond's family heads to King's Landing to petition the King for justice. The King immediately hears these claims in the book as he is sick but mostly fat and unfit. It is after this meeting that Viserys stumbled and cut his hand on the Iron Throne, falling gravely ill after and his death was feared. Rhaenyra called her own maester, Gerardys, to come and help the King, and he does so by amputating two of his fingers. This saves the King's life.
- In the book, Viserys holds a feast to celebrate his recovery and the Greens and Blacks come together. The feast here is depicted as accurate to the book, albeit omitting toasts from Ser Otto and Prince Daemon to each other. In the book, this conflict did not get physical but in the show does.
- Also in the book, Grand Maester Mellos - who was killed off in the time jump between episodes 5 and 6 - died sometime after the feast, prompting a debate over who should replace him and the Blacks and Greens clashed until the Citadel at Oldtown selected Grand Maester Orwyle.
- In the book, Viserys grows ill and leaves matters to Ser Otto before taking to his bed but all after the feast.
- In the book, Viserys' last visit is from Princess Helaena and her children before he goes to bed and dies peacefully in his sleep. Rhaenyra had already returned to Dragonstone and was preparing to give birth to her third child from her marriage to Daemon.
- In the book, Viserys' death occurs two years after the judgement on Driftmark's succession and the feast following his recovery.
- The series gives Alicent a more prominent role in the ruling of the kingdom during Viserys' sickness.
- The series adds an added tragic element as it genuinely appears as though Rhaenyra and Alicent could be about to achieve a reconciliation before a misunderstanding by Viserys tees Alicent up to once again battle her stepdaughter.
Next week's ninth episode of House of the Dragon, The Green Council, follows the aftermath of the death of King Viserys I Targaryen.
Queen Alicent Hightower will have to move fast with her allies if she hopes to place Prince Aegon on the Iron Throne.
Will the Greens succeed in placing their desired candidate on the Iron Throne?
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