House of the Dragon’s best scene yet is more important than you think

Aemond’s “Strong boys” speech is just the beginning.

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Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) holds up a goblet in House of the Dragon Episode 8

The Greens and the Blacks come together, likely for the last time, in House of the Dragon Episode 8.

The HBO drama’s latest installment, titled “The Lord of the Tides,” ends with the passing of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine). However, before he makes his not-quite-untimely exit from House of the Dragon, Viserys get to make one final gesture of love toward his daughter and heir, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy). He even manages to briefly bring all of his immediate, if disparate, family members together one last time.

Viserys’ family reunion is equal parts moving and unnerving, a sequence that’s simmering with unresolved grudges, past traumas, and sins that have yet to be acknowledged. The scene is, in many ways, one of the best that House of the Dragon has delivered up to this point. Through its various interactions, the sequence also, notably, sets up practically every major moment of House of the Dragon’s future seasons.

In House of the Dragon Episode 8, the Greens and the Blacks come together for one final dinner.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Ominous Signs — Throughout all of House of the Dragon’s first eight episodes, Viserys has struggled — and often failed — to keep his family together. In “The Lord of the Tides,” he’s given one final chance to do just that, and it seems, for a time, like he has.

Not only do Rhaenyra and Alicent (Olivia Cooke) both give genuine toasts to each other, but even their kids are able to keep their petty squabbles at bay for the majority of their dinner. However, those familiar with Fire & Blood (the book that House of the Dragon is based on) will know that every interaction — both friendly and otherwise — throughout Viserys’ final dinner scene subtly foreshadows moments that are still to come in the series.

Tom Glynn-Carney as Aegon II Targaryen in House of the Dragon Episode 8.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Things to Come — There are, of course, a few obvious moments of foreshadowing, like Helaena Targaryen’s (Phia Saban) comment about fearing “the beast beneath the boards” and Rhaenyra’s parting remark that she will “return on dragonback” to King’s Landing. But these lines of dialogue are far from the only moments in House of the Dragon Episode 8 that are destined to connect to future events of the series.

The fact that the peace between the Greens and the Blacks quickly disintegrates after Viserys has been escorted out of the room is, for instance, one way in which “The Lord of the Tides” foreshadows the conflict between the Hightowers and the Targaryens that will break out now that the patriarch who initially bound them together is dead. The same goes for the fact that it’s ultimately the unresolved rivalry between Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) and Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) that breaks the scene’s fragile peace.

Aegon II’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) teasing of Jace (Harry Collett) and, in specific, the latter’s diplomatic response, similarly foreshadows the ways in which both Aegon and Jace’s roles will evolve over the course of House of the Dragon’s forthcoming seasons. In case it wasn’t already clear, Aemond’s brief staredown with his uncle Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) also makes it clear that the two characters are on a collision course and, indeed, have been ever since Aemond decided to claim Vhagar, the dragon that Daemon’s late wife, Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell), once rode.

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Episode 8.

Ollie Upton/HBO

The Inverse Analysis — Altogether, these moments in House of the Dragon Episode 8 not only play into the show’s established tensions and conflicts, but they also fill “The Lord of the Tides” with layers of poetic tragedy. The further the series gets into its story, the more rewarding it will be to revisit House of the Dragon Episode 8’s dinner scene, which contains more than its fair share of moments that are far more important than they might initially seem.

New episodes of House of the Dragon air Sundays on HBO.

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