Episode Seven of House of the Dragon, ‘Driftmark’ ended with one hell of a raucous, and the first shards of an internal conflict between warring sides of House Targaryen were established. Six years have now passed since that awful night and time has not healed old wounds, instead leaving them to fester, and now this frayed family lay themselves open in Episode Eight, ‘The Lord of the Tides’.
Six years later. With the Driftmark succession suddenly critical, Rhaenyra attempts to strike a bargain with Rhaenys.
Six years have now passed since the pain and wrath at Driftmark and in this time period, no healing has occurred between ‘The Blacks’ and ‘The Greens’ of House Targaryen. Instead, each side has splintered further from the other and it is only when tragedy strikes close to home that each side is drawn back together. With her children now growing, Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) is now strong in her marriage to Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), and they return to Kings Landing to legitimise the claim of their son, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) as heir to Driftmark. But their arrival is not a welcome one and soon Princess Rhaenyra is brought into direct conflict with the vindictive Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke), all while her husband, and the Protector of the Realm, King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), wastes away to disease, age and regret.
Director Geeta Vasant Patel steps behind the camera for ‘The Lord of the Tides‘ and she spins an intricate story of political intrigue and deeply burdened family relations in this tension-filled episode. Of keen interest for audiences is that we now see the King’s children, Prince Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), Princess Helaena (Phia Saban) and Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) grown up. And they’re a right rotten bunch. This is especially true of Glynn-Carney, who is a repugnant and spiteful young royal as Prince Aegon, who is regarded as a sexual deviant, and whose tastes linger to the ugliest of impulses. Prince Aegon is a sharp contrast to his violent and cunning younger brother Prince Aemond, who is now a proficient knight and warrior and who has not forgotten what was robbed of him by Princess Rhaenyra’s son, Prince Jacaerys (Harry Collett). And it all leads to plenty of uncomfortable moments on screen.
The chief issue of ‘The Lord of the Tides’ consists of the legitimacy and inheritance of Driftmark and there are many claimants to its seat and the Driftwood Throne. All of this is contained in a particularly quarrelsome and rash scene that ends with a bloody conclusion thanks to the reach of Matt Smith’s smirking Prince Daemon. But the crux of this episode rests on the shoulders of Paddy Considine who is transformed into a disfigured, dying wretch as King Viserys I and his performance in the episode is utterly compelling.
Throughout House of the Dragon, Paddy Considine has stood at the centre of the series as the impulsive, and often at odds King of the Seven Kingdoms. Not fit to rule in any way possible, Viserys I has somehow managed to keep Westeros from war and famine on the whole and tried his best to do his duty. He’s a man who has always seemed to be on the losing end of every situation, and now in his most decrepit form and nearing death he gains his most triumphant moment. Hobbled by age and infirmity his climb up the Iron Throne set to composer Ramin Djawadi’s operatic ‘Protector of the Realm’ is one of the series’ most epic moments to date and is followed by a powerful monologue of utter Shakespearian gravitas, and Considine lays it all on the line with his final performance as King Viserys I.
But while a noble king may make his final mark in ‘The Lord of the Tides’, and there is a moment of peace and love between the family of House Targaryen, the fires have been stoked for too long, and the ‘game of thrones’ is still to be played in House of the Dragon.
House of the Dragon is available to watch on SKY SOHO and NEON.
Image: SKY TV