Warning: Contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 8, “The Lord of the Tides.” What King Viserys I Targaryen says at the end of House of the Dragon season 1, episode 8 – marking his final words – is difficult to make out, but does hold a deeper meaning. After a lengthy illness, Viserys dies in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 8, passing away at the very end. Viserys’ final moments are spent with his wife, Alicent Hightower, in what is a pivotal moment for the series – both creating a power vacuum and pushing her to further believing it is their son, Aegon Targaryen, who should fill it. Despite that, though, it’s not Alicent he’s thinking of in the end.
It’s difficult to properly hear, but subtitles confirm that what Viserys says in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 8’s ending is “my love.” Although he has just been with Alicent, it doesn’t appear as though that’s who he is referring to. During his final moments, the King can be seen touching the ring on his finger – the very same one that once belonged to his first wife, Aemma Arryn. With that, then Viserys’ last words are showing him thinking of his departed wife, allowing him to find peace and be with her once again.
Why Viserys’ Dying Words Are About Aemma, Not Alicent
Though it’s clear Viserys held some affection for Alicent and their children, and may have even loved her, he never felt the same way about her as he did Aemma. Viserys and Aemma were the rare thing in Westeros: a married couple who not only loved one another, but were also in love. There’s a sense in which Viserys never forgave himself for the decision save his son Baelon’s life at the expense of Aemma’s own, and this reflects that.
His continued protection of (and preference for) Rhaenyra further shows how much he still loved his first wife, and that he will do anything to honor her legacy. He re-married and had children out of duty, but Aemma is where his heart belonged. Viserys calling Alicent “Aemma” in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 7 was proof of this, and episode 8 hammers it home.
What Viserys’ Death Means For Alicent’s Future
The King’s death has been a long time coming and, while Viserys’ last words were about Aemma, the most tangible impact will be upon Alicent and Rhaenyra’s stories. Thinking he is talking to Rhaenyra, Viserys tells Alicent about Aegon the Conqueror’s dream and The Prince That Was Promised. Alicent, knowing nothing about this, assumes he means their son, and interprets Viserys’ words as being that Aegon should be on the Iron Throne after him, not Rhaenyra. Despite Alicent and Rhaenyra forgiving each other earlier in the episode, all of that will now be tossed aside: Viserys’ death, and this misunderstanding, is what catapults the realm into the Targaryen civil war known as The Dance of the Dragons.
Alicent was already increasingly self-righteous, and believed her son had a greater claim to the Iron Throne than Rhaenyra and Harwin Strong’s bastards. But now that she also believes she is acting out Viserys’ dying wish and that Aegon being King was foretold by prophecy, then she’ll stop at nothing to ensure he sits upon the Iron Throne. In an instant, while Viserys’ last words were about him finding peace, he has plunged the realm into war, from which there is now no turning back.
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