“It is a powerful episode with a lot of character development as well as culmination of several important plot arcs.”
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON 1×08 “THE LORD OF THE TIDES” is one of the biggest episodes in the series and it’s interesting because it is one of the quieter ones. While there’s yet another unnecessary time skip, it carries over from the previous episode’s development so I’m able to ignore it.
It is a powerful episode with a lot of character development as well as culmination of several important plot arcs. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite of the episodes but it is strong enough that I am going to say the show has bounced back from several issues it had previously been suffering due to the constant barrelling forward without pausing to analyze previous characterization.
The premise is Ser Vaemond Velaryon, brother of Corlys, is making a play to become Lord of Driftmark. Corlys has gotten himself severely injured fighting in the Stepstones and this is understandable since the guy has to be, in-universe, in his sixties at the very least. Vaemond also has the point that the official heirs of Driftmark are, in fact, Rhaenyra’s bastards with no Velaryon blood in their veins. It should be noted by my pendantic Westerosi scholar heart, though, that he’s still not the heir but Daemon’s daughters as female children come before uncles in the Andal tradition.
Ser Vaemond has an ace in the hole to forward his claim because he is going to be taking it before Ser Otto Hightower as he’s acting as regent for the dying bedridden King Viserys. Given Otto wants more than anything to disinherit Rhaenyra and her heirs, it seems like a slam dunk. Unfortunately, for Otto, Rhaenyra is warned about his treacherous plan and heads to King’s Landing where the Hightowers are hiding behind religion as well as have attempted to remove all of her supporters.
Alicent also has an interesting balance between being her darker ruthless side with her nicer more mothering side. Some of the things she does are unforgivable like the fact she covers up for her son’s rape in what I’m sure is meant to be an invocation of several other mothers doing the same for afluent white kids in today’s society. She also attempts to reconcile with Rhaenyra after one last tragic plea by Viserys before it is all ruined by a misunderstanding.
Speaking of Viserys, Paddy Considine is the MVP of the episode with his best performance yet. He really deserves a Emmy nod if not the actual award. Using the very last of his life, he manages to thwart the Hightower’s attempt to seize power. He may not have been a good king but he was a good man (ignoring the whole killing his wife during childbirth thing). He finally dies at the end of the episode but it was after his best act of kingsmanship.
I also have to give credit for the establishing of the stakes between the sons of Alicent Hightower with the sons of Rhaenyra. Some people complain about the fact that the Blacks are being shown to be superior morally while the Greens are shown to be monsters. You know? I have no problem with that whatsoever. The Greens were scum in the books and the Blacks were far more likable, the show is just following suit.
I do have an issue with the fact that Viserys’ last words seem to be what gets Alicent to decide on betraying Rhaenyra to crown her son. But not much of an issue as I don’t think that she would have honored Viserys’ wishes anyway. She’s spent twenty years grasping for power and trying to think she was justified in the process. People make too much of the misunderstanding when Alicent clearly was ignoring he was out of his mind. All she wanted was some sort of sign that he wanted Aegon to be on the throne and would have interpreted anything her way (which she did).
In conclusion, solid episode and I am very excited for next week.