The end of episode 8 of House of the Dragon marks a major turning point in the series and begins the civil war among the Targaryens. And a little nod to Jon Snow also slipped into the final scene. Warning, spoilers.
Warning, spoilers. It is advisable to have seen the eight available episodes of House of the Dragon before continuing to read this article.
Two episodes from the end of the first season of House of the Dragon, things are accelerating for the Targaryen family. Civil war is closer than ever as tensions between the family of Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and that of Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma d’Arcy) will be restarted.
Even if episode 8 seemed to bring a moment of calm, the very end of this chapter entitled “The Lord of the Tides” will strongly revive the quarrels between the Queen and the princess. And all because of the last words uttered by King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) on his deathbed. Essential words, which moreover echo Jon Snow (Kit Harington).
A fatal misunderstanding for the Targaryens
Episode 8 of House of the Dragon brings the entire royal family together in King’s Landing as the health of Corlys Velaryon aka The Sea Serpent (Steve Toussaint) is in dire straits after a battle at sea with his fleet gone awry. Gathered at the castle, the members of the Targaryen, Hightower and Velaryon families first all shot each other in the paws to appoint Corlys’ successor to Lamarck before laying low for the well-being of King Viserys.
But this good understanding and these facade smiles will quickly come to an end with the revelation at the end of episode 8. On his deathbed, King Viserys confided in his wife Alicent Hightower, whom he believed to be his daughter Rhaenyra.
He referred to the prophecy of his ancestor Aegon the Conqueror, who took over Westeros and allowed the Targaryens to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Besides his thirst for power, it was a premonitory dream that made Aegon the Conqueror act in this way. And this vision was revealed as early as the first episode of House of the Dragon:
“It will begin with a terrible winter that will roll in from the far North. Aegon has seen darkness ride the winds. What lurks in that darkness will destroy the world of the living. When that winter comes, all of Westeros must rise against it.
For man to survive, there needs to be a Targaryen on the Iron Throne. A king or queen able to unite the kingdom against cold and darkness. This dream is the song of ice and fire. It’s a secret passed down from king to heir since Aegon.”
In the first episode of House of the Dragon, King Viserys shares this secret prophecy with his daughter Rhaenyra. We therefore understand that Aegon had a vision of the threat of the White Walkers hundreds of years before this catastrophic event that we see in Game Of Thrones. And Robert Baratheon’s rebellion and his conquest of the Iron Throne broke the chain of Targaryen rule.
Before dying, King Viserys therefore reveals this prophecy to Alicent in small bits, thinking of addressing Rhaenyra: “You wanted to know if I believed it to be true. Don’t you remember? Aegon. His dream…The song of ice and fire. It’s true. What he saw in the North.”
Except that in his tottering speech, the King adds a decisive element. It evokes “the prince who was promised”: “To unite the kingdom against cold and darkness. It’s you. You are the one… You must do it”. The King then breathes his last, saying “My love” (probably addressed to his late first wife Aemma) and goes out on his bed.
Only here, Alicent takes his last words for the will of Viserys to make Aegon Targaryen, their first son, to succeed his father and to sit on the Iron Throne to reign over the kingdom and fight the threat from the North.
However, Rhaenyra also has a child named Aegon, from her union with her uncle Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and Viserys was referring to Rhaenyra’s bloodline in his last words and not Alicent’s. This misunderstanding will rekindle hostilities between Alicent and Rhaenyra if we are to believe the trailer for episode 9, a key chapter in the Game of Thrones seasons and which promises twists and breathtaking events.
These next tensions will lead the Targaryen family to its loss with the famous civil war called “The Dance of the Dragons”. One of the last images of this episode is of the Valyrian steel dagger, which Rhaenyra knows well since her father showed her when he told her the prophecy but also because Alicent used it to hurt her. during their confrontation in episode 7.
No doubt this dagger will again be a major instrument in the battle between Alicent and Rhaenyra. As a reminder, this dagger has a long history since it was used in an assassination attempt against Bran Stark in season 1 of Game of Thrones and that it allowed Arya Stark to kill the Night King, leader of the White Walkers, in the final season.
The Prince Who Was Promised… or Jon Snow?
When Viserys refers to the prophecy and “the prince who was promised”, it is thought to be one of his close descendants. And yet, this sentence evokes a key character from Game of Thrones who is none other than Jon Snow, or almost.
Indeed, saving the men and fighting the White Walkers was possible thanks to Ned Stark’s bastard. Towards the end of Game of Thrones, the young man learns his true identity. He is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys’ brother, and his name is… Aegon Targaryen, like his ancestor the Conqueror.
Rhaegar also saw in his son “the promised prince, the song of ice and fire”. When Viserys brings up this part of Aegon the Conqueror’s prescient dream, he’s actually mentioning a major Game of Thrones character, unknowingly, of course.
However, the exact identity of the “prince who was promised” has always been unclear in the series. The prophecy would like it to be Jon Snow alias Aegon but the correct translation evokes “a prince or a princess”. Theories would like that Daenerys Targaryen, the descendant of Rhaenyra, or Arya Stark are the princess who was promised.
Anyway, the explanation of the song is given to us in House of the Dragon, and it has been validated by George RR Martinthe author of the literary saga, as confirmed by coshowrunner Ryan Condal at polygon :
“The origin of this prophecy comes from [Martin]. He told us early on in the process, he just casually mentioned that Aegon the Conqueror was a dreamer who had a vision of the White Walkers walking through the wall and sweeping the land with cold and darkness. […] So with his permission, of course, we infused that into the story because it was a great way to resonate with the original series.”
PODCAST – House of the Dragon: incest, marriage and change of actors … we take stock of the Game of Thrones spin-off mid-season:
House of the Dragon is available on OCS.