Warning: House of the Dragon Episode 8 spoilers ahead. Turn back now if you haven’t seen the episode!
House of the Dragon episode 8 took a tragic turn. The final scenes of the episode saw a bedridden King Viserys (Paddy Considine) finally succumb to his illness and die, but not before whispering a few final words to his wife, Alicent (Olivia Cooke). Slurring his words a bit, due to his dose of the opiate milk of the Westerosi poppy, Viserys tells her about the prophecy known as “The Song of Ice and Fire.” While it’s unclear exactly what state of mind he’s in, he seems pretty delusional and it’s possible he thinks he’s talking to his daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy).
This prophecy was first mentioned in episode 1 after Viserys named Rhaenyra as his heir. Aegon the Conqueror is referred to as predicting “the end of the world of men”, brought on by a long winter from the North, which could only be defeated if a Targaryen sat on the Iron Throne.
This prophecy is also referenced in Game of Thrones when the Red Priestess Melisandre foretells the Prince That Was Promised, AKA Azor Ahai. The Long Winter refers to the battle between the people of Westeros and the White Walkers of the North, which we see in Season 8 of Game of Thrones. Jon Snow, who leads the charge, is the prince who was promised – revealed to actually be half Targaryen and half Stark.
Of course, with the king at death’s door, everyone’s mind is on who will replace him as ruler. However, although Viserys referred to Rhaenyra and her lineage as the ones who fulfilled the prophecy, Alicent thought he was talking about their son Aegon. But was this a deliberate act of misunderstanding on her part? Or did he really believe that Viserys had changed his mind about who would succeed him on the Iron Throne?
“The intent was that she honestly thought he was telling her that her son was going to be the heir,” said Geeta Patel, who directed episode 8. The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab). “The only way we could get even closer to achieving that was to feel the vulnerability and innocence in Alicent. We had to feel less of the collusion and more of the girl we grew up with in the first episode. The fact that you were still and in confusion it makes me feel good because I felt like it was such a high bar for us to come out of Miguel [Sapochnik, co-showrunner]’small [episode seven] when he hung out with Larry in the last scene. The funny thing is, I called Miguel and said, “Would you like to do something at the end of your episode to help me out a little bit with Alicent?” No, you’re on your own!”
House of the Dragon airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max, before following Mondays in the UK on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV. Make sure you never miss an episode with our handy House of the Dragon release schedule and stay up to date with our guides to the House of the Dragon timeline and the Targaryen family tree.