The poignant dance between Jacaerys and Helaena in House of the Dragon episode eight illustrates what the Targaryens’ tragically destructive quarrel may have been. Before Aemond’s “Strong lads” speech made the Targaryen supper too heated, each side of the family made an effort to put their differences aside in order to honor King Viserys’ final wishes.
Viserys observes his seeming family for the final time in one of House of the Dragon’s most moving sequences, when he witnesses Daemon and Rhaenyra smiling, Otto laughing at his grandchildren, and Jace and Helaena dancing. The Targaryen blacks and greens will never again live in harmony, and Jacaerys and Helaena’s dance in House of the Dragon episode 8 is a particularly touching scene.
Jacaerys Velaryon, a son of Rhaenyra, and Helaena Targaryen, a daughter of Alicent, will not be romantically involved, but their dance in episode eight of House of the Dragon demonstrates their continued love for one another. Helaena is already (unhappily) married to her brother Aegon Targaryen, with whom she has two small children, while Jace is now engaged to his cousin Baela Targaryen. The younger Targaryen generation had the capacity to be kind and friendly to one another, but intergenerational traumas and the politics of the Iron Throne’s succession stood in the way, as seen by Jace and Helaena’s dance, which is a platonic moment.
The sad tone of the narrative is also powerfully conveyed by the House of the Dragon characters’ dance, as Jace and Helaena’s mutual warmth and compassion make the crimes of the Dance of the Dragons all the more horrific. The final amicable dance before the disastrous Dance starts is performed by the blacks’ Jace and the greens’ Helaena in a heartbreakingly symbolic scene.
Why Helaena Was Actually Asked to Dance in HOTD Episode 8 by Jace
Soon after her awkward toast during dinner, Jacaerys asked Helaena to dance. Before House of the Dragon episode 8, Helaena describes how miserable her stay in King’s Landing has been, saying, “It’s not that horrible. Baela and Rhaena are getting married. Except for when he’s intoxicated, he basically simply ignores you.
Helaena is alluding to how her own disgusting and philandering husband Aegon Targaryen treats her, saying that unless he’s inebriated and in the mood for sex, he utterly ignores her. Jace is wise and kind enough to understand how mistreated Helaena has been by the men in her life. Since her spouse has never treated her with the respect she deserves, he acts kindly and asks her to dance. Jace’s request for Helaena to dance is also a snub to Aegon, who had just been made fun of over supper.
The cheerful dance of the Targaryen children finally shows how tragically sad Helaena’s tale in House of the Dragon is. She has been cast as the sole member of the Targaryen green party who is pure of heart and innocent, and who has no ill will toward her half-sister or nephews. Even though Helaena is the most innocent and blameless member of the greens, she will agonizingly endure the greatest destiny during the Targaryen civil war following the most horrible incident from the House of the Dragon.
The biggest “what if” in House of the Dragon is Jace and Helaena’s dance
The romantic dance in House of the Dragon represents how different the Targaryens’ lives would have been if Alicent had agreed to Rhaenyra’s request to wed Jace to Helaena. When the kids were little, Rhaenyra made this her main peace proposal, which may have stopped the Targaryen Civil War entirely following King Viserys’ death. The Queen’s choice to spitefully reject Rhaenyra’s proposition and marry her to Aegon instead left Helaena with a neglected life despite the fact that she appears to be the only child that Alicent actually loves and pities. Jace’s marriage would not only have made Helaena much pleased, but it also may have brought House Targaryen together as a single, powerful force.