As it turns out, a family naming all of their kids the same thing can be quite confusing. Not only is this true for viewers of HBO’s House of the Dragon, but it is apparently also problematic for the characters who inhabit its fictional space. This week’s episode, called The Lord of the Tides, is once again all about succession. Set six years after the end of the previous installment, Steve Toussaint‘s Lord Corlys Velaryon has supposedly suffered a grievous incident that has left his life hanging in the balance. Now, the future of his house and his title are in question, with Harry Collett‘s Prince Jacaerys Velaryon – the designated heir – deemed unfit to rule by many members of the royal family.
The Lord of the Tides begins and ends with death. Wil Johnson‘s Ser Vaemond Velaryon loses half his head after claiming Emma D’Arcy‘s Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen mothered bastards, and Paddy Considine‘s King Viserys Targaryen takes his final breaths after a very odd family dinner. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot going on in this episode. Luckily for the folks at home, Murphy’s Multiverse was able to dig through the pile and come up with the best and worst moments The Lord of the Tides had to offer.
BEST – King Viserys and the Family Dinner
Surprising nobody, House of the Dragon was at its very best when the whole Targaryen clan gathered together to cause utter chaos as a familial unit. That closing dinner sequence, in which King Viserys makes it known one last time where he stands on the matter of his succession and the future of his kingdom, is the drama of Westeros at its peak. In only a few minutes of screen time, viewers are treated to a newfound truce between Rhaenyra and Olivia Cooke‘s Queen Consort Alicent Hightower, an absolutely grotesque look at Viserys’ tepid dying body, plenty of uncomfortable silence, and Ewan Mitchell‘s Prince Aemond Targaryen starting a brawl with his cousins and nephews. The way the scene is able to keep its audience on the edge of their seats without doing anything too gimmicky is impressive, and a testament to the way this show has sewn together its plotlines to create believable tension.
Paddy Considine, in what will likely be his last appearance as the good King Viserys, should also be mentioned for an incredible performance as the husk of his former self. He was absolutely the standout of this episode, potentially leaving a greater mark on the Game of Thrones franchise in this hour than the rest combined. It’s deliciously ironic, too, that a character who has always been so clear in his desires should accidentally ruin the future of his name by speaking vaguely, in a fugue state, just seconds before expiring. All that insistence on Rhaenyra’s right to the Iron Throne, every moment of begging his family to get along, was thrown down the drain in a case of mistaken identity. Painful, and excellent.
WORST – Lord Corlys’ Off-Screen Injury
As great as House of the Dragon has been, there are some things that it could do much better. For example, in this episode, fans learn that Lord Corlys – a major character they’ve spent a lot of time with – is likely going to die, and the events surrounding his impending doom all happened off-screen. This isn’t the first time the show has convinced its audience to care about a character, only to do away with them quickly and unceremoniously for the sake of time jumps and speeding through the plot. The series has a lot of ground to cover, which is understandable, but it becomes frustrating when it takes moments that should feel big and makes them weirdly small. It was almost jarring when the episode opened with a line of dialogue that Corlys was kaput, and then little else was said in regard to his impact on the franchise at large. Even if he survives his wounds and returns to prominence, it would have been nice to see what happened so viewers could better relate and sympathize with whatever moves he makes next.
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