’House of the Dragon’ Episode 9 Review: 'The Green Council’ Finally Settles Viserys’ Succession
This week’s episode of House of the Dragon was forced to finally deal with the matter of King Viserys’ succession once and for all as everyone in King’s Landing scurries about trying to set their plans in motion.
It might be surprising to discover that even the father and daughter of House Hightower are at odds with each other in a moment like this. The book Fire and Blood certainly made it sound like the two were on the same page, so it was surprising to see them challenging each other here. It means that the court is temporarily spun into chaos, with everyone doing their utmost to ensure that Prince Aegon will sit the Iron Throne.
House of the Dragon depicts the time between King Viserys’ death and the coronation of his heir in a much shorter length of time than the book. While Fire and Blood says Viserys’ heir was crowned seven days after his death, The Green Council takes place within 36 hours. Tensions run high as the Greens do their best to crown Aegon before the news reaches Rhaenyra and they lose their advantage.
There’s barely any action in this episode, which might surprise some given that episode 9 was always a big one for Game of Thrones. That doesn’t mean that it’s boring though; the events of this episode are tense and set in motion everything that will happen for the rest of House of the Dragon.
By the end of the episode, the next heir to the Iron Throne has been put in place. Now everyone waits with bated breath to see what the losing side does next.
The episode takes place entirely in King’s Landing, so there’s no Rhaenyra or Daemon in The Green Council. Instead, the episode focuses entirely on Alicent and Otto’s plans to crown Aegon as the new king. However, the father and daughter are at odds with how to deal with Rhaenyra. Otto predictably wants her and Daemon killed, as they represent a constant threat to Aegon’s life and status as king. Alicent does not want to see her childhood friend killed though.
It seems Alicent was indeed being sincere last episode when she expressed her wishes that she and Rhaenyra become friends once more, but clearly not at the expense of her son. House of the Dragon has done some impressive work to ensure that Alicent remains sympathetic during this season. After her attempted maiming of Rhaenyra two weeks ago, it would have been easy for her to alienate herself from her old friend even further and callously have Aegon usurp her out of spite, but Alicent is primarily motivated by Viserys’ apparent dying wish that Aegon be king.
It’s impressive that the show has been so successful in making Alicent a sympathetic figure again. If her wish to save Rhaenyra doesn’t endear her to you, then you’ll be appropriately revolted on her behalf when she reluctantly exposes her feet for Larys “The Clubfoot” Strong to masturbate over, in a strong contender for the most uncomfortable and seedy scene in House of the Dragon so far. Alicent has to do what is necessary to ensure her children’s survival, but this is one distasteful price to pay.
Instead, she actively fights to keep Rhaenyra alive while arguing with her father. While she would do anything to protect her children, she is ultimately a peaceful person. This clash also leads to a refreshingly honest chat with Otto, where she finally calls him out on using her as a pawn over all these years. Finally, she accuses him of pressuring her to gain Viserys’ trust and heart. Not that Otto is too apologetic about it, noting that a younger Alicent would likely have welcomed being made queen. It’s nice to see her finally stand up to her father though.
So far, House of the Dragon has only spent time building Alicent’s backbone when dealing with her political rivals, so it’s nice to see that strength extends to her family too. With Viserys dead, she is arguably the most influential person in her family, with Otto eventually succumbing to her wishes.
Most of the episode is spent searching for Aegon, who has helpfully gone missing on the most important night of his life. With various lords summoned to court and the Red Keep on lockdown until the prince is found (and a couple of them killed, most shockingly when Criston Cole loses his shit again and savagely murders Lord Beesbury of the Small Council during a meeting), Otto orders the Cargyll brothers of the Kingsguard to track him down. Simultaneously, Alicent orders Ser Criston Cole and Aemond to find Aegon and bring him to her, worried that if Otto gets to him first, then he’ll be persuaded to order Rhaenyra’s execution.
The Cargyll brothers reach him first (tipped off by Daemon’s former lover Mysaria, who makes the mistake of trying to get Otto in her debt) before they are discovered by Criston and Aemond. Unfortunately, Erryk Cargyll is not comfortable with usurping Rhaenyra and abandons his brother in the fight with Criston, electing to leave and smuggle Princess Rhaenys out of King’s Landing instead, worried about what will happen to her as a supporter of Rhaenyra during the succession.
When Aegon is found, he has to be dragged home kicking and screaming, reiterating his claim that he does not want to be king and would be terrible at it. We discover earlier that Aemond believes he is a better candidate for the job than his older brother, and Aegon would happily let him inherit the throne instead. But while Aemond would certainly like the throne, it’s clear that he has no wish to take the seat from his brother. These Targaryens have complicated relationships to say the least.
As Aegon is transported to his coronation, we are treated to a personal moment with his mother. There’s an eye-opening moment as he asks Alicent if she ever really loved him. We know that the answer is yes, as why else would Alicent be fighting for her sons so much? But it suggests that Alicent hasn’t always been a kind mother — clearly he hasn’t had the greatest upbringing, otherwise he wouldn’t be going around raping people — perhaps her paranoia over Aegon’s claim to the succession affected her parenting.
Rhaenys is freed from her chambers by Ser Erryk Cargyll, who intends to smuggle her out of King’s Landing via the Blackwater Bay on a ship. Unlike in Game of Thrones when Sansa is escorted out of the city with no hiccups, getting Rhaenys out proves impossible. The Gold Cloaks have been tasked with rounding up all the citizens to watch the king’s coronation, whether they like it or not. This raises some disturbing questions about how the common people are treated by the one per cent, but those concerns will have to wait as Rhaenys is swept up by the crowd and herded toward the dragon pit with the rest of them.
Our first instinct is to worry for Rhaenys as she’s without her Kingsguard escort and perilously close to her rivals when we want her to be getting as far away from them as possible. During the coronation, she slips away into the catacombs to find her dragon…
All it takes for Aegon to come around on being king is simply hearing the praises of his adoring public, who are predictably delighted to have another king and not a queen (remember when young Rhaenyra found out she wasn’t particularly popular with the townsfolk). Perhaps after a tough childhood, all he needed was to feel the love of others. I doubt this means he will be a good king — his personality is too rotten for that — but it’s certainly one less problem for Alicent and Otto to worry about.
Finally, the coronation is interrupted as Rhaenys bursts out of the ground riding her dragon Meleys and pandemonium ensues. The Gold Cloaks instinctively attempt to close the doors to the dragon pit with thousands of people still inside despite Otto’s impotent cries to open them. Chaos and ensues as the spacious auditorium becomes surprisingly cramped with a dragon involved. You’d imagine that not a single person had clean breeches as Meleys roared at them and Alicent accepted that she’d die.
Instead, Rhaenys turned around and flew Meleys out of the dragon pit, choosing to keep her temporary captors alive. But those moments where she knows she has them all in the palm of her hand are fantastic. Eve Best has always given the impression that Rhaenys is more fearsome than she allows herself to be, so to see The Queen Who Never Was finally get her moment of power was a rousing scene to watch.
She could have killed them all — why didn’t she? Was it compassion or simply concern for House Velaryon’s political future that stayed her hand? Probably a mix of both, as we can see she’s a good person.
Strangely, the final shot of the episode is of Alicent and Aegon’s terrified expressions as they watch Rhaenys fly away rather than a sweeping shot of Rhaenys and Meleys in the skies, but that’s my only real nitpick.
Presumably, she’s off to Dragonstone to tell Rhaenyra and Daemon what has transpired. It’s finally time for the Dance of the Dragons to begin.
Josh is a huge a fan of Star Wars, superheroes and video games. He spends most of his time wondering who would win in a fight between Boba Fett and Star Lord.