House of the Dragon, Episode 8: The Hidden Secrets

Episode 8 of the first season of House of the Dragon it’s full of hidden details, little foreshadowing moments, and a few Game of Thrones connections.

After previous revamps, episode 8 of the first season of House of the Dragon has another significant jump in time. With the actors playing Alicent Hightower’s sons and Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor’s sons Velaryon appearing older. It’s been at least six years since the end of Episode 7 and Laenor’s “death”, with things once again drastically altered.

King Viserys somehow clings to life, with Alicent and Otto Hightower making most of the decision. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra and Daemon already have two children – Aegon and Viserys – with a third on the way. And your children are much older, if not wiser. All this makes this one of the most dramatic episodes of the series yet. It’s full of tension, intense little moments and meaningful events. Which will matter when the Dance of Dragons starts right.

We separate some points for you.

That Dragon Eggs Daemon has are important

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not for the first time in House of the Dragon, Daemon Targaryen is seen in possession of a dragon egg. Although this time it’s one he didn’t steal. Daemon mentions getting three eggs from Syrax’s last brood (Rhaenyra’s dragon), which is important for a few reasons.

Exactly how many dragons came from Syrax is unknown, but the definitive one is Morning, which will be piloted by Rhaena Targaryen in House of the Dragon. It is also an indication of an important battle line in the Dance of Dragons. Which will see the dark faction of Rhaenyra and Daemon looking to get more dragons and more dragon riders. So this is an initial provocation of the war to come.

Jacaerys’ High Valyrian Lesson is an important moment for Aegon the Conqueror

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Jacaerys Velaryon learns to speak High Valyrian in Episode 8, and it works like a history lesson. Among the lines he tries to deliver are how Aegon “landed on the Blackwater Rush”, which is a reference to Aegon’s Landing who came into the undefended lands there, beginning his conquest of Westeros. It was also at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush that the conqueror had Aegonfort built, his first castle (on the land where the Red Keep now stands).

Lord Caswell is one of Rhaenyra’s main supporters.

When Rhaenyra and Daemon arrive in King’s Landing, the only person there to greet them is Lord Caswell. This one, which was previously seen in episode 6 of House of the Dragon. This sets up his role in the Dance of Dragons pretty well: Caswell is a loyalist to Rhaenyra who, after Viserys’ death, is imprisoned and ultimately killed rather than swearing allegiance to Aegon.

The seven-pointed star in the red fortress and Alicent’s necklace are more significant than you think

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The Red Keep, as Rhaenyra and Daemon note, has undergone some redecoration. Mainly with the addition of the Seven-Pointed Star – this echoing a change Joffrey Baratheon would make after becoming King.

The seven-pointed star also appears on both of the necklaces Alicent wears in season 1 of House of the Dragon, episode 8, one big and one small. Which reflects how pious and hypocritical she has become.

This will also influence the future and Dance of Dragons. In the book, Alicent’s son Aegon is crowned by Septon Eustace (in the High Septon’s absence), with the Faith of the Seven, which has long been supported by House Hightower, behind their claim to the Iron Throne over the from Rhaenira.

Otto’s Insult to Rhaenyra and Daemon

Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen arrive back in King’s Landing in Season 1 of House of the Dragon, episode 8, with a rather muted reception. Shortly afterwards, upon being informed of the arrival of his guests, Otto states that he hopes they have received a greeting befitting his status. and it is revealed that it went according to his plans.

The theme of the episode’s later scenes may have been unity, but even from this moment it was clear how Otto was looking to insult and undermine his rivals.

Why Alicent’s Ser Arryk/Erryk confusion matters (and how it relates to GOT)

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Alicent speaks to a Knight of the Kingsguard whom she mistakenly calls “Ser Arryk”, before he corrects her that it is actually “Erryk”. This is not just a misname, but the introduction to the Cargylls: Arryk and Erryk are identical twins and both members of the Kingsguard. In Fire & Blood, Erryk has replaced Harwin Strong as Rhaenyra’s sworn shield, and aligns with her faction in the Dance of Dragons. It is perhaps a little revealing that Alicent was assuming she spoke to Arryk. Unlike his brother, he will side with the Greens during the Targaryen civil war. There is also confusion of Arryk and Erryk in A Song of Ice and Fire with Lady Olenna Tyrell. Her personal guards are called Arryk and Erryk, but as she cannot tell them apart, she simply calls them Left and Right.

Alicent’s “You Are Not Son of Mine” Is a Tywin Lannister Callback

Alicent might think her love for her children is something she and Rhaenyra have in common. But she (briefly) disowns Aegon after it is revealed that he sexually assaulted Dyana. Alicent tells Aegon “You are not son of mine” and while she may have been compared to Cersei Lannister before, it actually echoes another member of the family: Tywin.

He spoke these exact words to Tyrion in Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 10. Right before he died in the toilet, so things could have been a lot worse for Alicent at that moment.

moon tea and poppy milk

Alicent can be seen giving Dyana a drink, which is apparently just in case. This is moon tea, essentially the Westeros equivalent of the morning-after pill. Which shows how much she’s changed: young Alicent was shocked and horrified to hear that Rhaenyra had been given moon tea after her flirtations with Daemon and Ser Criston Cole. Later, Alicent can be seen giving Viserys some poppy milk. Which is made from crushed poppies and used as a pain reliever, although it can also render its drinker unconscious, like a Westerosi morphine. It was seen a few times on Game of Thrones, including being given to Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark shortly before their deaths.

Viserys really is a fitting name for a king

When baby Viserys is introduced to his namesake, he says it’s a fitting name for a king… and he’s more right than he thinks. Although it is Viserys’ brother Aegon who will sit on the Iron Throne first, he will also be crowned after him. Thus, becoming King Viserys II. These words also bear a resemblance to what Rhaegar says in a vision Daenerys had in A Song of Ice and Fire, talking about her own son, Aegon. Thus saying, “What better name for a king?”

Rhaenyra and Daemon’s son Aegon has his own connection to Viserys.

Aegon, of course, is not just a good name for a king, but a multifaceted choice by Rhaenyra and Daemon for their son. It is an insult to Alicent, who also has a son of that name; and is a tribute to Aegon the Conqueror. But there’s also another link: Viserys and Daemon had another brother, who died before he was even one year old. His name? Aegon, obviously.

Mask of Viserys could be a nod to real-life leper king

King Viserys’ mask is a defining detail in season 1 of House of the Dragon and has a connection with a real-life King… in a way. Viserys’ disease is leprosy which, as the episode reveals, disfigured his face and saw him lose an eye. This connects him to King Baldwin IV, who served as King of Jerusalem from 1174 to 1185. Baldwin had leprosy from an early age, although he did not begin to show signs until much later in life.

Like Viserys, he ruled while he had the disease, leading him to become known as the Leper King or simply The Leper, and was blinded by it. Baldwin IV images, largely thanks to the film Kingdom of Heaven (where he was played by Ed Norton), often depict him wearing a silver mask to cover his face. The Dragon House may have sought a similar effect here, though there is no historical evidence that Baldwin actually wore a mask.

Second Children Are Very Important in HOTD & GOT

Viserys may rule out Vaemond Velaryon as the second son of House Velaryon’s family, but it’s these sons that define so much House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones, often because of their different responsibilities to firstborn children (or due to stepping up after they die).

Daemon and Aemond are two important examples of second sons driving the story of House of the Dragonbut it goes further in Game of Thrones: from Ned Stark to Stannis Baratheon, Tyrion Lannister to Jon Snow and Sandor Clegane, the second sons massively shape the story.

The History of Maesters and House Hightower

When it is revealed that the Maesters are helping with Viserys’ illness on Alicent’s orders, Rhaenyra and Daemon scoff that it is clear that the Maesters are helping them. While in general Maesters must be loyal to those they serve, House Hightower has a long history with them. One of the titles held by Lord of Hightower is Defender or Protector of the Citadel, with the house long established as a patron of the order of Maesters. The Hightowers even helped found the Citadel, and it’s funded by Oldtown taxes which, yes, also run through the Hightowers.

Gold Dragons in Viserys’ Suit is a hint of things to come

Viserys’ costume in episode 8 of House of the Dragon it is adorned with various pieces of jewelry, including some golden dragons. While perhaps it is just a symbol of elegance now, it will be important later.

When Aegon claims the Iron Throne, he will create a new Targaryen sigil: instead of a red dragon, it will be golden (inspired by his dragon, Sunfyre). Viserys clearly prefers Rhaenyra, but he unwittingly lends a degree of support to Aegon here.

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