“Although a more dramatic than an action-packed episode, this eighth chapter ramps up the tension ahead of the Dance Of The Dragons.” We review the eighth episode of House Of The Dragon.
It has happened. The final obstacle in the way of the Dance Of The Dragons has been removed. And now, the battle for the Iron Throne is within touching distance. This week’s episode of ‘House Of The Dragon’ is a more muted affair than we have come to expect. But that shouldn’t fool anyone. The tension that has been in the air for weeks now is ready to be fully unleashed. As we bid goodbye to *SPOILER ALERT* Paddy Considine as King Viserys, the meat of the story is finally exposed. Although a more dramatic than an action-packed episode, this eighth chapter ramps up the tension ahead of the Dance Of The Dragons. And one character this week loses their head. Literally.
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON 1×08: THE LORD OF THE TIDES
The episode jumps forward once again. it is now six years later. House Velaryon faces a succession crisis when it is revealed that Lord Corlys Velaryon has been severely wounded in the Stepstones. His brother, Ser Vaemond Velaryon petitions King’s Landing to remove Lucerys as Corlys’ heir. He claims he is illegitimate and that hem Vaemond should be the rightful heir. Rhaenyra and Daemon are forced to return to the capital with all their children to defend Lucerys’ claim to the Driftmark throne. They discover that Rhaenyra’s father, King Viserys, is now bedridden. And that all royal affairs are managed by Queen Alicent and Ser Otto in his stead.
Alicent meanwhile has to cover up that her married son Aegon has raped a handmaiden. Alicent is very comforting to the poor handmaiden but sees fit to bribe her into silence and to drink a cup of Moon Tea, just in case Aegon has impregnated her. Rhaenyra proposes a marriage arrangement in an attempt to gain Princess Rhaenys’ support for Lucerys’ claim. Rhaenyra also pushes for her ailing father to defend her succession, quoting Aegon the Conqueror’s dream. Otto Hightower, sitting the Iron Throne in Viserys’ stead, hears Vaemond’s demand that the Driftmark throne passes to him. Just as Rhaenyra begins speaking for her son, King Viserys arrives in the throne room and declares Lucerys to be the heir to Driftmark. He also confirms Rhaenyra’s succession after his death. And this will have grave consequences for all involved.
While not containing much in the way of action or violence, the episode is masterful in bringing the final positions for the dance to their rightful places. With the death of Viserys, the final obstacle preventing the upcoming war has been removed from the board. From here, the two sides will attain their allies and forces as they prepare to fight against each other. And many of the people we encounter in this episode won’t be left standing when the dance is over. But we see this week the final attempt at avoiding the conflict. It is bound to fail but attempts have been made. But surprisingly to all concerned, it isn’t the adults that have lit the final fuse but their children instead. And is a magnificent turn of events, and a masterful piece of storytelling.
As usual, the cast all play their parts well. Eve Best as Rhaenys is the best she has been so far in her role. She has underlying anger in her that she allows to shine through at just the right time and makes her someone to be wary of. And this is all down to Eve Best’s acting performance. Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower gives a restrained but equally epic performance. His looks and facial expressions as the character as his perfectly laid plans are undone by Viserys’ surprise appearance is sheer brilliance. We can see the scheming underneath his calm veneer that he keeps hidden almost perfectly. And Ifans gives the impression he is a snake hiding in plain sight.
Emma D’arcy and Olivia Cooke continue their war as Rhaenyra and Alicent respectively again this week and both come off exceedingly well. The feast scene where both toast the other is chilling as well as insightful. Both characters are playing their own games and plotting against each other. While we all know what the other is trying to do against their rival, some characters remain blissfully unaware. And the way the two actresses play their roles and ramp up the tension is remarkable. We are starting to fear for both characters, even though some of us who have read the book already know the outcome. But for those not in the know, it makes for compelling, compulsive viewing.
Wil Johnson as Vaemond Velaryon comes ever so close to pulling off the coup of upstaging everyone else this week. His powerful and raging performance as the would-be heir to the Driftmark throne shows the best the actor can do. Johnson is compelling to watch here. We can see the anger bubbling underneath his deceitfully calm front. And it leads us to fear for him. We can see what’s on his mind, we can see he wants to blurt out what he really thinks and feels. We hope against hope that he will pull back from the brink before it’s too late and he goes one step too far. And this is Johnson’s best performance as Vaemond.
PADDY CONSIDINE AND MATT SMITH
But nothing can top the performances of Paddy Considine in his farewell appearance as Viserys and Matt Smith as Daemon. Their performances this week are beyond sublime. Considine has a harder task as the dying Viserys. He needs to act as if he is in serious pain, that he is struggling just to stay alive. And Considine pulls it off with great success. His final scenes are truly heartbreaking as we see the once powerful, just, and fair man brought to his knees and his deathbed. And in a heartbreaking finale, we cut to a black screen as Viserys utters his final words, and his breathing stops. The end credits are shown in complete silence, giving the episode a fitting end.
Matt Smith gives a restrained performance this week. But it is equally as powerful as Considine’s. By staying quiet and moving slowly through the scenes, Smith shows Daemon as someone you should never trust. You certainly wouldn’t want him standing behind you if you can help it. But Smith also shows a more compassionate side to Daemon. The scene where Daemon is sitting by his dying brother’s bedside or the touching scene of him helping Viserys to sit on the Iron Throne confirms that Smith is a master of his profession. We ACTUALLY feel sorry for Daemon this week, bringing a huge surprise to all of us who are watching and waiting for him to perform his next dastardly deed.
The teaser for next week’s episode, the penultimate one for this first season has been released:
The Dance Of The Dragons is imminent now. After this week’s events, blood is about to be shed by the bucketload. Some of our favorites are about to meet their demise. But not all. That will be for the second season or even a third. But this week’s slower but never less than gripping episode has done everything it needs to do. We have sadness, we have anger, and we have a sense of foreboding. And is yet another great episode in a great first season.
‘House Of The Dragon’ is available to watch now on HBO Max in the United States and on various streaming platforms around the world.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!