Chris Connor reviews the eighth episode of House of the Dragon…
House of the Dragon continues to cement itself as a worthy successor to the juggernaut that was Game of Thrones and its eighth episode ‘Lord of the Tides’ is a manifestation of what made both shows work so well. It is full of political intrigue and battling for control of the Seven Kingdoms, while not short of a surprise or two.
This episode sees another sizable time jump with Rhaenyra and Daemon now wed and returning to King’s Landing after a lengthy absence at Dragonstone. Much of the episode is dedicated to who will inherit rule of Dragonstone following Corlys Velaryon’s declining health.
This opens up feuds on all sides with the Targaryen’s conspiring against Queen Alicent and the King’s hand her father Ser Otto Hightower. It is a welcoming sight to see a greater role for Rhys Ifans’ scheming character who’s role had seemingly been reduced somewhat; here he is a scheming mastermind trying to ensure Alicent’s claim to the Iron Throne isn’t lessened.
There is a significant amount of tension built around the claim to the throne , leaving the audience enthralled and the ultimate outcome coming as a shock as both sides make pacts and see their aims cut down, on multiple occasions.
This episode handles the time jumps far more efficiently than the show has to date with the older cast of Targaryen children immediately feeling at home. With the return to King’s Landing there is clearly no love lost between Rhaenyra and Alicent’s children, picking up where things left off in the last episode with the heritage of her children a constant looming presence.
A dinner between all sides of the King’s family makes for one of the most entertaining and taut sequences of the series to date, with fine acting from Emma D’Arcy, Olivia Cooke, Matt Smith and all concerned. We get a clear sense of animosity and resentment but also a desire for all to cooperate for the sake of the ailing King Viserys, now almost incapable of walking on his own, heavily sedated, and unrecognisable from the man we first encountered at the start of the series. These scenes with the full Targaryen family employing sly tactics against one another showcases House of the Dragon at its finest and what has helped separate it from a mere knock off of its predecessor.
‘Lord of the Tides’ sees House of the Dragon at its most unpredictable and political, focusing on several lines of succession and pitting family members and friends against one another. Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke excel at both wanting to undermine one another but also struggling to retain what spark remains of their childhood friendship. The episode handles the time jumps more efficiently than before, with both sets of children now grown men and integral to the story. Its ending sets the stage for a greater conflict to come and the final two episodes will likely see us heading towards an all out war in season two.