Warning spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 8. King Viserys I Targaryen was a good man who only wanted the best for his family, but he was a dreadful king. Soft and compromising, we’ve always known he was the one who laid the ground for the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragon, but we didn’t know quite how much he screwed up until the fantasy series’ penultimate episode.
You see, we knew that Viserys decision to name his daughter Rhaenyra heir to the Iron Throne was a controversial one. Westeros’s patriarchal and sexist society would likely never have accepted a woman ruling over them, but we didn’t know that he’s directly to blame for the dance.
In episode 8, it’s clear that Viserys is near death’s door, and the dying king has a last request. He asks for his family to dine together one final time. While the meal is initially awkward, Rhaenyra and Alicent are reminded of their shared love of Viserys, and they put aside their differences and do their best to mend their old friendship.
It seems like the Dance of Dragons will be avoided, but Viserys screws up massively. While Alicent tends to him, he confuses her for Rhaenyra and starts to tell her the prophecy of the Prince that was Promised.
As he rambles about Aegon, princes, and the coming doom, Alicent misunderstands his words. The queen presumes that Viserys is talking about their son Aegon, not Aegon the Conqueror (this is what happens when you name all your kids the same thing).
Alice then becomes convinced that with his dying breath, Viserys named Prince Aegon king and disinherited Rhaenyra. This completely changes the way we think about the Dance. In the past, Alicent and the Greens had seemed like usurpers who stole the crown from the rightful heir in a fit of misogynistic jealousy.
Now we know, however, this wasn’t the case. The Greens genuinely believed they were following the King’s orders and that Aegon was the legitimate heir.
So well done, Viserys, you couldn’t even die right, and your deathbed rambling has doomed not just the Targaryens but also condemned thousands of ordinary folk to die in the coming wars.