Nutshell Review: House of the Dragon, S1: E8
PG Score: 9.5/10
House of the Dragon is available on HBO Max. New episodes every Sunday at 9 PM ET.
*SOME SPOILERS BELOW*
"Can't we all just get along?" King Viserys (Paddy Considine) gave his best performance in a season of great performances for the dialogue-heavy eighth episode of House of the Dragon, "Lord of the Tides".
Time Gone By
Six years have passed since the previous episode and the whole family is back together at what is bound to be Viserys's Last Supper. Issues with a different succession than Princess Rhaenyra's brood when word reaches the kingdoms that Lord Corlys Velaryon is gravely injured, and his ambitious brother is not going to just fall in line. This causes Rhaenyra, Daemon, and the rest of the Dragonstone clan to come back to King's Landing and the hostility is almost too much for the bedridden King to handle.
The acting was exceptional in "Lord of the Tides", as I already mentioned. Considine (Viserys) has been ravaged by leprosy. Grotesque and mostly bedridden due to the constant pain and drugs, it is the Hightowers who have ruled these last few years, leading to some major changes in the look, style, and religious decorations of the Red Keep. The dueling dichotomy between Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and Alicent (Olivia Cooke) has been ongoing all season, but the writers really keyed in on it this episode.
Alicent, who has done her best to serve her family and husband, has true-born Targaryen children who have been tough to raise. Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) is all grown up, at least physically. He comes off as a drunken wastrel with similar carnal appetites to Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) that causes his mother nothing but disappointment and a mess she has to clean up.
Aemond One-Eye (Ewan Mitchell) has changed drastically from the shy boy who was made fun of by his brother and nephews. The years since coming into possession of the oldest and largest Dragon in Westeros have changed him into a bitter, vengeful, and battle-hungry young man. There are a lot of similarities between Aemond and his Uncle Daemon (Matt Smith) and a scene at the end of the episode promises more to come between these two.
Alicent's daughter Helaena (Phia Saban), along with the misfortune of being married to her brother Aegon, suffers from dragon dreams similar to Aegon the Conqueror and Daenys the Dreamer.
Rhaenyra and Co.
Rhaenyra, on the other hand, has shown she very much likes to follow her desires, despite her duties. That has only contributed to the fractured relationship between the two Targaryen families. One thing about Rhaenyra is she loves her children very much and, despite their parentage, has raised them to be and act like royalty.
Even though it is quite obvious to everyone except King Viserys that Jacaerys (Harry Collet) and Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) are bastard-born, unlike their older uncles, they shoulder the responsibilities of what it means.
Minimal Action, Maximum Drama
One very visceral death, gruesome visual effects, Emmy-worthy dialogue, and showing all the ghastly damage the disease has done to Viserys progressed the story nicely without needing much action at all. There's a peaceful dinner where Paddy Considine really gets to shine and almost pull the family back together, but it is also the King who later provides whispers that will start an avalanche for the Targaryen dynasty.