Game of Thrones has become recognized for using the second-to-last episode of a season as a venue for the season’s significant moment; the finale becomes both an aftermath and a chance to set up storylines for the next season. Episode 9 of House of the Dragon, Season 1’s penultimate episode titled “The Green Council,” is jam-packed with action, adventure, scheming, and intrigue—basically everything you could want from this show—but lacks the big moments you remember from previous seasons, such as Ned Stark’s beheading or the infamous “Battle of the Bastards.”
How does the Plotline Differ?
Still, a lot is going on here. Without Rhaenyra, the late Viserys (Paddy Considine, whose name appears in the opening credits probably surprised a lot of people—but it’s only because his corpse briefly appears), and Daemon in the episode, Alicent Hightower anchors the plot in a way she hasn’t done yet this season—and she does it brilliantly. Can we give Cooke an award just for her frustrated expression when she hears Larys Strong’s voice from behind her? Prince Aemond, her second-born son, is also a standout; you can’t take your eyes off that smug, evil-looking dude when he’s on screen. While most of the show is what our master schemers Otto Hightower and Larys had been looking forward to.
Otto Hightower’s Super Bowl:
Everyone watching Season 1 of House of the Dragon, and everyone in Westeros, has seen Otto Hightower scheming and planning and scheming for the decades of action we’ve seen on screen this season. When Viserys was smart enough to keep him out of the scene for a while, another schemer—Larys Strong—managed to re-empower him as Hand of the King, where he remains. And that move is proving significant since as soon as word of the King’s death spreads, Otto moves with a vigor we haven’t seen before. This is the moment he’s been looking forward to.
They’re remaking Will Ferrell as the Old School King:
As word of Viserys’ death spreads, it becomes evident that the realm will need to seek Aegon to inform him of what’s going on and, you know, crown him in a whole unlawful usurpation of the throne that Otto, Jason Lannister, and other douchebags were already preparing anyway. But finding him proves more difficult than anticipated; now approximately 20 years old, Aegon spends his nights as a drunk, depraved piece of garbage (he likes watching children fight with long fingernails and sharpened teeth for sport) and has several bastard children scattered throughout the city). Even the racing groups of Aemond and Criston, as well as Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk, are seeking him.
This is Dragon Period:
Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) was frequently referred to as “The Queen Who Never Was” throughout Season 1 of House of the Dragon, which is a terrible nickname. I’m glad they’ve stopped with it because she appears to be a reasonably lovely person most of the time. But she also seems to be someone whose allegiances are constantly shifting; after finally assisting Rhaenyra and Viserys last week, she appeared to err on the side of “indifferent” this week when the Hightower side of the family effectively held her prisoner in her room. At the very least, Ser Arryk demonstrates his noble character by assisting her in getting out of there.
The Interesting Plotline:
Criston Cole, essentially on Otto’s behalf, murders council member Lyman Beesbury for daring to proclaim what was true: that the throne is being usurped in an openly traitorous move. Otto is skilled at this. He essentially won; Rhaenyra was deposed, and his degenerate grandson (more on him later) was named king. And it’s not just that Rhaenyra didn’t stand a chance—Otto wants to kill her and Daemon before they realize what they’re missing out on.
We need to talk about her big moment at the end of the episode. She realizes what is going on with Aegon is a complete farce. And she blows it up, riding her dragon, and could have planted her flag for Viserys and Rhaenyra if she had just uttered “Dracarys” and gotten rid of Alicent. But she chose the other route, simply saying, “Yeah, I’m not doing this anymore,” while simultaneously sending a clear message, “Do not fuck with me.” It’s frustrating because she could have quickly terminated things there. At the same time, that would let the Ottos, Aegons, Cristons, and Aemonds off the hook.