With House Targaryan now fully divided into two warring factions and King Viserys on death’s door, things are about to get downright ugly in King’s Landing. Lord Corlys Velaryon has been severely injured in the new war in the Stepstones, and six years have passed since the events of Episode 7. Now, with the future of Driftmark hanging in the balance, Rhaenyra’s Targaryan faction heads to King’s Landing for a ruling from the queen.
On the one hand, Rhaenyra’s children are technically Velaryons. Their father, at least on record, is Laenor Velaryon–though everyone knows that Harwin Strong really sired the youngsters. This doesn’t go over well with the Hightower faction making itself at home near the Iron Throne. Alicent herself has a lot more power than Otto could have ever imagined. Viserys is unwell and spends most of his time bedridden, his skin disease having eaten away much of his flesh.
Alicent is less than pleased to see Rhaenyra back in the castle. Vaemond, Corlys’ brother, is certain that Harwin Strong’s children will never sit on the Driftwood Throne and end the Velaryon line. He publicly accuses Rhaenyra’s children of being bastards and calls their mother a whore–something her husband (and uncle, ew) Daemon doesn’t take kindly.
King Viserys musters his strength to sit on the throne to hear the issue of Driftmark’s succession. He is surprised at the need to discuss this matter with his children and grandchildren, explaining that the matter of succession is settled: Laenor’s eldest child, Lucerys Velaryon, will inherit the largest fleet in Westeros.
That’s when Vaemond loses his cool and starts throwing around accusations. Everyone knows he’s right, but you’re really not supposed to call the princess out in front of her extremely violent family. Viserys, incensed, tells Vaemond that he’ll have his tongue. Daemon has other plans, swiftly decapitating the dissenter and expertly leaving his tongue in place, quipping that Velaryon can keep that particular appendage.
The Hightower faction is horrified at the sudden outburst of violence, but they really shouldn’t be. Targaryens are dangerous, short-tempered, and lacking in good judgment, and Daemon is one of the most prominent examples of these character failings. For his own part, the bloodthirsty prince is quite pleased with himself.
Viserys considers the matter settled and has both halves of his increasingly divided family sit down for a nice dinner. Vaemond’s body isn’t cold yet, but the Targaryens are having wine and meat. Really reasonable family stuff, you know… Viserys pleas for peace, and it seems like his words really move both Rhaenyra and Alicent.
Sadly, his words don’t reach his other children or his grandchildren. Several of the younger Targaryens still harbor rivalries and want to cut each other down. Alicent’s son Aegon gives a toast, saying “A final tribute to the health of my nephews,” he says. “Jace, Luc and Joffrey. Each of them handsome, wise … strong. Let us drain our cups to these three Strong boys.” Alicent tells her son to settle down, but tempers are clearly running high.
At the end of the episode, it looks like Viserys is not long for this world. He mistakes Alicent for Rhaenyra and reiterates his earlier warning about the prophecy of the Song of Ice and Fire. Alicent tells her husband that she’ll fulfill the role of “the prince who was promised,” setting Westeros up for the looming Dance of Dragons.