Now some of you may not know this, but I’m Canadian. This means that I celebrated Thanksgiving this weekend, and so this week’s House of the Dragon, entitled “The Lord of the Tides” was very fitting. We got a family dinner, a fight, some mended bonds, and marriage proposals!
In all honesty, this was probably one of the best episodes of the season thus far. While the show started out strong, there was a small lull in the past couple of episodes. But this week, the drama picks right back up, as we finally get to see all our major players in the same room try to not kill each other. Much.
It all really kicks off when Lord Vaemond gets annoyed that he isn’t the heir to his brother’s throne. So, he goes and decides to petition for it, on the accusation, once again, that Rhaenyra’s sons do not have Laenor’s blood in them. Obviously, Rhaenyra and Daemon head over to Westeros to defend their son. So far, this accusation seems to have caused more bitterness, rifts, betrayal, and drama than any other. It seems a bit… plot-devicey.
Is Rhaenyra really the only royal to ever have an affair? Or is she just the first woman to do it so unabashedly? Would any children’s rights ever be this questioned, if Rhaenyra was a man? I guess that’s the point. We are shown that, sometimes, even in death, even when sealed in writing, with a witness, in the most official way — a person’s wishes are not followed, others can still question the validity of the statement, and make their own plans, with almost no care for anyone else’s wishes.
Which is what Vaemond does. And is overruled — again. Viserys makes his epic entrance to the court, in pain (not taking his drugs!), slow and crippled, trying to make things right. And even though he’s just walking down a hall and up/down some stairs, it’s amazing to watch, with Ramin Djawadi’s score in the back. We see what has become of Viserys. We see just how much Otto — and probably Alicent — are taking advantage of his condition; but all he must do is show his face, for everyone to fall back into line. (Except Vaemond, who is quickly killed when he doesn’t).
“The Lord of the Tides” seems to focus on family. If there’s one thing this show has done right, even in its untimely time jumps, is show the complicated relationships between families. And that is why this week’s episode takes the cake as the best episode so far.
While the show has done a great job at making Daemon more and more likable, watching him help Viserys up the stairs, and put his crown back on his head, was absolutely tear-jerking. Watching Viserys, old and sick, weep about how much time has passed from the last time he saw his daughter, due to the rifts between her and his wife, pulls at your heart. And his speech, Viserys’ speech, begging, pleading, and hoping, for his loved ones to move on from the past, and come together, was so sad and beautiful.
“The crown cannot stand strong if the house of the dragon is divided.”King Viserys l, House of the Draon 1×08 – The Lord of the Tides
It really felt like a Thanksgiving dinner. Because as soon as Viserys left, all the good behavior left with him. While Alicent and Rhaenyra seemed to maybe come to a small understanding, for just a moment, their children did not.
It’s a testament to how the environment in which kids are raised, defines them; how it’s harder for children to overcome the negative emotions they have been fed their whole lives, because… well… they’re children. Just because Alicent decides she cares for Rhaenyra again, on a whim, doesn’t mean her sons will, or even can.
The bittersweet ending was that Viserys left before any of this, and so… died, thinking he had accomplished his one final task of reuniting his house. At least he did not die with a heavy heart… but the truth is that House Targaryen will now only become more unsettled and broken, at least for the foreseeable future.
Random Thoughts I had:
- Aegon is not only gross, and awkward… but also just a straight-up rapist. And his mom is now… covering for him. I wonder why. With these time jumps, I feel like we lack any insight into how and why Aegon thinks he can get away with this.
- Helaena Targaryen is a sweetheart — who married her own brother. She reminds me of Luna Lovegood
- I haven’t read in-depth any of the Game of Thrones adjacent books, but Aemond gives me the heebie-jeebies.
- I like that Rhaenyra’s sons just sort of… understood that they will now marry their cousins and must now protect their integrity from scandalous sex talk. Such gentlemen!
- Watching Daemon and Rhaenyra be married is somewhat… nice. They seem to have a pretty functional relationship. I know they’re related, but it’s nice to see the care, love, and respect they have for one another.
- The ending showed us Alicent misinterpreting Viserys’ last words before he died. And yes, I guess that will be the motivation of her rebellion later on; but you would think… knowing that this house reuses names, she’d think twice about what she was hearing.
New episodes of House of the Dragon air Sundays on HBO, and are available to stream on HBO Max.