‘House Of The Dragon’ Recap: Daemon Defends Rhaenyra & Kills A Traitor

'House of the Dragon' episode was the show's best episode to date. Rhaenyra and Daemon returned to King's Landing to settle Driftmark drama, and there was plenty of bloodshed.

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House of the Dragon episode 8 begins with the reveal that Corlys Velaryon has been gravely injured and now has blood fever. His condition has his brother, Vaemond, wondering who will take the Driftwood throne. Rhaenys, who hasn’t seen her husband in 6 years, says the intention has always been for the seat to go to Luke once Corlys dies. “I am the Sea Snake’s own blood,” Vaemond tells Rhaenys, who points out that his words could be taken as treason.

“I speak the truth, Rhaenys, and you know it,” he adds. Vaemond thinks that Corlys cares “only for the history books,” while he is concerned about the Velaryon line. He wants Driftmark. “The winds have shifted. The crown has good reason to take my side,” Vaemond says. Rhaenys knows Viserys would have Vaemond’s tongue for what he’s saying. Vaemond snaps that Viserys isn’t ruling these days. It’s Alicent and Otto.

Vaemond Velaryon in episode 8. (HBO)

Over in Dragonstone, Daemon finds Syrax’s latest clutch of eggs. Baela writes from Driftmark warning him of what’s happening with Vaemond. Jace has grown up so much and is now trying to learn High Valryian.

Daemon finds Rhaenyra and shows her the letter from Baela. Rhaenys is going to King’s Landing, which makes Rhaenyra worried that Rhaenys will back Vaemond. Daemon knows that won’t happen, but Rhaenyra points out that Rhaenys thinks they had Laenor killed so they could marry.

She knows that Alicent and Otto are ruling in her father’s name. Daemon accompanies her to King’s Landing. When they arrive, it doesn’t feel like home. Alicent is running the small council meeting. The Driftmark situation comes up. Alicent says they’ll hear Rhaenyra out along with the others.

Rhaenyra & Daemon Return To King’s Landing

Rhaenyra and Daemon go to see Viserys in his chambers. At first, Daemon stays outside Viserys’ room, almost as if he’s afraid of what he’ll see. Viserys is extremely ill and looks completely unrecognizable. Rhaenyra helps her father up as Daemon comes to stand by her side. It’s difficult for Daemon to see his brother like this.

They explain what’s going on with Corlys and the petition over the Driftmark throne. “You are to affirm your position for Luke,” Daemon says to Viserys. Rhaenyra introduces her father to her boys with Daemon, Aegon and Viserys. “That is a name fit for a king,” Viserys whispers about the grandson who has his name.

The pain becomes too much for Viserys to bear, and he asks for his tea. Daemon takes a sniff of it and becomes alarmed by what’s in it.

Olivia Cooke
Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower. (HBO)

Meanwhile, Alicent learns that something has happened in Aegon’s chambers. There’s a terrified young serving girl named Dyana who claims that she was sexually assaulted by Aegon. Alicent says that she believes Dyana, but it doesn’t change what she has to do. Alicent gives Dyana money and moon tea to buy her silence.

Alicent storms into Aegon’s room to confront him. “You are no son of mine,” Alicent spits in her son’s face. Aegon is clearly terrified of his mother. “I did not ask for this,” Aegon tells his mother about his lot in life. “I try so hard, but it will never be enough for you or father.”

Rhaenyra and Daemon discuss Viserys’ condition and how he’s taken a turn for the worse. Alicent comes into Viserys’ chambers. She immediately notices Rhaenyra’s scar. They open up about their worries over Viserys’ treatment. Daemon implies that there may be ulterior motives at play.

Rhaenyra Begs Her Father To Defend Her

Luke and Jace tour the grounds they grew up in. Luke is scared about how this Driftmark situation is going to go down. He knows this wouldn’t be an issue if he looked more like Laenor than Harwin. Jace tells him that it doesn’t matter what other people think, only the king.

Vaemond soon arrives to make his claim. He meets with Otto and Alicent. Otto says that the “threat of war looms” and advocates for Vaemond over Luke. Rhaenys makes her way to King’s Landing as well and reunites with Rhaena.

Rhaenyra and Rhaenys get the chance to talk. Rhaenyra realizes that Rhaenys has come to advocate for herself. She thinks this whole situation is a trap to claim that Luke is illegitimate. Rhaenys still thinks that Rhaenyra had something to do with Laenor’s “death.” Rhaenyra remains quiet about the truth and stresses that she loved Laenor. “I did not order his death,” she says.

House of the Dragon
Rhaenyra and Daemon stand next to Rhaenys. (HBO)

Rhaenyra wants to make Rhaenys an offer. She wants to betroth Jace and Luke to Baela and Rhaena. Baela will eventually be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, while Luke and Rhaena rule Driftmark. Rhaenys doesn’t want to hear Rhaenyra’s bargaining. “Tomorrow the Hightowers land their first blow. They force you to your knees, and I must stand alone,” Rhaenys says.

Late in the night, Rhaenyra goes to see Viserys. She’s near tears talking to her father about The Song of Ice & Fire prophecy. She admits that by him naming her heir he divided the realm. “I thought I wanted it, but the burden is a heavy one. It’s too heavy,” Rhaenyra cries to her father. Viserys calls Rhaenyra his “only child.” Rhaenyra pleads with her father, “If you wish me to bear it, then defend me and my children.”

Viserys is determined to have dinner with his entire family. He’s willing to endure grueling pain to make it happen. The king is a shell of his former self. He’s emaciated and weak. Otto wants him to drink milk of the poppy but Viserys refuses.

Vaemond Attacks Rhaenyra & Daemon Retaliates

Otto stands before the Iron Throne before sitting down. He’s going to be the one to hear the petitions over Driftmark. Vaemond is up first. “The true, unimpeachable blood of House Velaryon runs through my veins,” Vaemond says in front of Rhaenyra, Daemon, Luke, and everyone else.

Rhaenyra quickly chimes in to defend her son, saying that Vaemond is only speaking for himself and his own ambition. Alicent snaps that Vaemond deserves to be heard, and Rhaenyra will get her turn. Vaemond turns to Rhaenyra and says that this is about the survival of his House, not hers.

Rhaenyra is up next. As she is about to begin, Viserys makes a surprise appearance. Otto is stunned and immediately steps down from the Iron Throne. Viserys is wearing a gold-plated mask on the right side of his face. He makes the trek through the hall by himself, taking all the energy he has left. He looks over at Rhaenyra before saying to Otto, “I will sit the throne today.”

Viserys begins to climb the stairs to the Iron Throne by himself. His crown falls off as he stumbles. Daemon is there to pick it up and helps him the rest of the way up. He places the crown back on Viserys’ head.

Viserys doesn’t understand all this confusion over settled succession. The only person who can offer insight into Corlys’ condition is Rhaenys, and she steps forward to speak. Rhaenys says that it’s always been Corlys’ intention for Driftmark to pass from Leanor to his true-born son, Lucerys. “His mind never changed, nor did my support of him,” Rhaenys declares.

She brings up that Rhaenyra wants to betroth Jace and Luke to Baela and Rhaena. She “heartily” agrees with this match. Viserys reaffirms that Luke is the next Lord of the Tides, but Vaemond just can’t let it go. He tells Viserys that he “broke centuries of tradition to name Rhaenyra as heir.” He refuses to allow anyone to tell him who will inherit the name Velaryon. Viserys urges Vaemond to back down.

“That is no true Velaryon, and certainly no nephew of mine,” Vaemond says to Luke’s face. Viserys doesn’t sway. “Lucerys is my true-born grandson. You are no more than the second son of Driftmark,” Viserys says. Vaemond’s pride gets the best of him. He says that refuses to see his house end but doesn’t finish his sentence. Daemon tells Vaemond to finish what he wants to say. Vaemond calls Rhaenyra’s children “bastards” in front of everyone.

“Her children are bastards! And she is a whore,” Vaemond spits at Rhaenyra. Viserys stands up to defend his daughter. “I will have your tongue for that,” Viserys says. Daemon decapitates Vaemond before anything else can be said. “He can keep his tongue,” Daemon declares like a true KING after killing Vaemond. Aemond looks over at Daemon like a nephew proud of his uncle.

Suddenly, Viserys is overcome with great pain. He mutters that he still wants to set things right. After the drama over Driftmark, Rhaenys watches the maesters take care of Vaemond’s body. She doesn’t care about looking death straight in the face.

Viserys Unites His Family… For A Short While

Viserys still makes it to the family dinner. Rhaenyra is to his left, while Alicent is to his right. Viserys toasts to the betrothals of Jace and Luke to Baela and Rhaena. Aegon begins to weirdly taunt Jace about sex. Rhaena sweetly tells Luke that he’ll be a “great” Lord of the Tides.

Viserys stands up in front of the family to make a speech. He knows all too well how his family has grown distant from one another. He takes off his gold-plated face plate and reveals the gruesome right side of his face.

“My own face is no longer a handsome one if indeed it ever was. Tonight, I wish you to see me as I am. Not just a king but your father, your brother, your husband, and your grandsire. Who may not it seems walk for much longer among you,” he begins. “Let us no longer hold ill feelings in our hearts. The crown cannot stand strong if the House of the Dragon remains divided. Set aside your grievances. If not for the sake of the crown, but for the sake of this old man who loves you all so dearly.”

This is Viserys’ last stand. Alicent is looking over at Rhaenyra, but Rhaenyra doesn’t look back. Rhaenyra stands up after her father to raise her glass to Alicent. “I love my father, but I must admit that no one has stood more loyally by his side than his good wife. She has tended to him with unfailing devotion, love, and honor. And for that, she has my gratitude and my apology,” Rhaenyra says. Alicent returns the good gesture and raises her cup to Rhaenyra. “You will make a fine queen,” Alicent tells Rhaenyra.

Tom Glynn Carney
Tom Glynn-Carney as Prince Aegon Targaryen. (HBO)

After the toasts from the parents, Aegon continues to taunt Jace again by saying something inappropriate to Baela. Jace slams his hand against the table and stands up. Aemond rises ready for a fight. Jace takes the high road and raises his glass to Aegon and Aemond. He hopes to be friends and allies in the years to come. “To you as well,” Aegon says, knowing full well that Jace is the bigger man.

Helaena, who is more than a little tipsy, toasts to Baela and Rhaena about their betrothals. “It isn’t so bad, mostly he just ignores you. Except sometimes when he’s drunk,” Helaena says. Jace gets up from the table and asks Helaena to dance.

Viserys Makes A Grave Mistake In His Final Moments

Viserys’ pain begins to worsen, so he’s taken from the room. Luke begins laughing, which Aemond takes as a slight at him. He stands up and toasts to his nephews. “Each of them handsome, wise, strong,” he begins before calling them “three strong boys.” A fight breaks out among the kids. Even Alicent is angry that Aemond is stirring up trouble.

Daemon steps in before things go any further. He gives a huge sigh, knowing that he’s going to have his hands full with Aemond. Rhaenyra tells Alicent that it’s likely best for her family to go back to Dragonstone. She promises to see the children home and then return on dragonback. “The king and I would both like that,” Alicent says.

Ewan Mitchell
Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen. (HBO)

Meanwhile, Mysaria has a new spy lurking in the Red Keep. You know she’s got eyes everywhere. After the dinner, Alicent gives Viserys more milk of the poppy. He begins murmuring about The Song of Ice & Fire prophecies and the “prince that was promised.” He’s speaking in a jumbled mess, mentioning Aegon’s name but not saying he’s talking about Aegon the Conqueror, so the full picture isn’t painted.

“It is you. You are the one. You must do this,” Viserys says to Alicent thinking that she’s Rhaenyra. This changes everything. “I understand, my king,” Alicent says before leaving him. Later in the night, Viserys is whispering to himself “no more” in bed. After much fight, King Viserys dies completely alone. He dies having no idea the chaos his death is going to cause for his family that he desperately tried to unite in his final days.