June 1, 2023

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Episode 8 of “House of the Dragon” is a rehearsal for the Civil War

Episode 8 of "House of the Dragon" is a rehearsal for the Civil War

In the eighth episode, Dragon House A lesson from a colleague at HBO. this summer, replay Her bizarre superstructure wowed audiences, as star Nathan Felder performed elaborate rehearsals to prepare for tough life events.

So, with the death of a leader and a succession crisis looming – the very example of a difficult life event –the Dragon I decided to try the same trick. In “The Lord of the Tides,” Corlys Velaryon, a serpent and Lord Driftmark, is about to die from battle wounds he suffered at the Stepstones, and his succession plan isn’t entirely clear: Is Lucerys, Corlys’ ostensible grandson through Lenore, next in line ? Or should Corlys’ brother Vaemond Velaryon have to pre-empt Lucerys because the latter might be Harwin Strong’s son, not Laenor?

the Dragon He answers that question six years after the “Driftmark”. Many of the Targaryen children have all grown up, and Rhaenyra and Daemon have two young sons. But the same questions that have plagued the Red Keep since mid-season jump, if not before — did Rhaenyra bragged about her privilege to have children out of wedlock? Will people accept her as heir to the throne? And with Viserys’ health deteriorating, she’s more urgent than ever.

The castle on the Driftmark and the title “Lord of the Tides” are both important in their own right – but in this case, the brawl doubles as a proxy warrior for the more important succession to the Iron Throne. As Rhaenyra says, “It means questioning the legitimacy of Luke, and thus Jess, and therefore my claim to the throne.”

Vaemond wants Driftmark for the home of Velaryon – but Alicent and Otto Hightower are counting on this proxy fight to pay off on a larger scale, with the Iron Throne prize. It’s a rehearsal when Viserys dies.

Alicent actually runs things in King’s Landing, in everything but the name. “It’s not the King who sits on the Iron Throne these days, good sister. It’s the Queen,” Faymond told Rhines in the episode’s opening scene. She and her father, Hand Returned to the King, lead meetings of the Small Council. They redecorate with seven-pointed stars to signify faith—which is based in Oldtown, the booming seat of the Highway Towers. So it’s ‘warm [Viserys’s] Throne,” he criticizes Rhinera—quite literally, in the case of Otto, sitting on the large, deformed chair during the court session.

On the day of the hearing, Otto takes this strong seat while the parties involved raise their cases, but a sudden disturbance stirs up the hall: the doors to the throne room open, and Viserys appears. With a golden mask covering half his face and a cane supporting his slow approach, he declares, “I will sit on the throne today.” He turns away from a knight offering support, then tries to do it again when he stumbles down the stairs – only to see his brother, a demon, offer his hand after so many ups and downs in their brotherly relationship.

The entire procession – from the doors open until Daemon’s final placement of the tiara atop Viserys’ head – is a fitting giving and fitting tribute to Paddy Considine’s meticulous performance all season. Between this sequence and Aliscent’s arrival at Rhaenyra and Laenor’s pre-wedding feast, two the DragonThe best scenes so far focus heavily on the people entering the rooms.

For Viserys, the issue of Driftmark inheritance is not really a question at all. The first line he utters after ascending the throne is: “I must confess my perplexity. I don’t understand why I hear petitions for a stable succession.”

But Vaemond isn’t content with this quick dismissal. “Her children miscreants‘ shouts about Rainera, ‘a whore. These are the last words he will ever speak: A demon defends his wife’s honor and shoots Faymond’s head off with one stroke of his sword. Valyrian steel cuts clean.

(in replayFelder’s experiments It may have been morally hackedbut at least it didn’t include any decapitations).

With Lucerys’ legitimacy – and thus Jacaerys and Rhaenyra – reasserted, the family gathers for a group dinner, at Viserys’ request. The table hosts a very short conversation before the king’s arrival; Alicent and Rhaenyra sit near the center, not talking, and an empty Viserys chair forms a large symbolic gap between them.

But the icy atmosphere melts when the king takes his seat and gives a moving speech. “The crown cannot stand strong if the house of the dragon remains divided,” Viserys says in his best impression of Abraham Lincoln. “Put your grievances aside, if not for the crown, then for this old man who loves you so very much.”

At first, the family obeys. Rhaenyra, Alicent and two children serving toast; Aliscent goes so far as to tell her ex-boyfriend and current daughter, “She would make a wonderful queen.” Music played, the room filled with laughter, real smiles – even from the always grouchy Otto – and a real dance of dragons, as Jacaris and Helena trotted around the hall.

But as soon as Viserys leaves the table – once ‘that old man who loves [them] All dearly’ leaves the room–Prince Eamond grabs the figurative microphone and the fragile peace unravels. Let’s stress the timing again: Once Viserys leaves, his family reluctantly exchanges smiles for fists.

Emond, who has apparently grown (and grown) more than any other kid during the six-year leap, is barely speaking in the episode until this point. He beats Sir Creston in a practice match – although he tells the Kingsguard knight, “I don’t care about tournaments.” He’s ready for the real thing.

So with his father gone, Aemond drops the forced Guy Fawkes smile he adopted for most of the episode and offers one last toast. “For the health of my nephews,” he says, “Jess, Luke, and Joffrey. Every one of them is handsome and wise”—and here he pauses and gives a slight nod, as if to indicate, yes, he wants to continue down this path—“Strong. Let us drain. Our cups are for these three strong boys.” Or should it be “Three Strong Boys” with a capital S, given the obvious double meaning behind his words?

Aliscent and Rinera the Elder – Aegon and Emond on one side, and Jess and Luke on the other – are born junk, before being separated by a demon and knights. The division in the house and long-standing grievances resurface again, too entrenched to melt with a few kind words and a meal.

As the episode ended, Viserys of House Targaryen reigned; The first of his name. King of the Andals, the Ruinards, and the First Men; Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. And protector of the kingdom, he takes what may be his last breath. If he had, the only thread holding the two sides of the family together would be cut, and the rehearsal would make way for the real thing.

This is bad news for Rhaenyra, who is on her way to Dragonstone with her family at the end of the episode. On the other hand, the rehearsal was no match for the current battle of succession. Jasper “Ironrod” Weldy notes that in the case of Lucerys and Driftmark, “Sea Snake never formally called him an heir, if it came to that”—while Viserys formally called Rhaenyra, repeating that decision over and over.

However, with Aliscent and Otto taking over the reins of power at King’s Landing, this recurring announcement may not matter. If Viserys didn’t step in and the Hightowers had their way, Vaemond Velaryon would probably stay with his head and a giant castle to boot.

“If you would like me to bear the ‘burden of the crown,’ Reinera pleaded with her father in this episode, ‘Then defend me and my children.’” When that defender is gone, there may be nothing to keep her in line for the throne – or to prevent the Crown from sliding into civil war.

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