Episodes nine and 10 of House of the Dragon aired almost two months ago. I’m still recovering emotionally from an incredible season filled with gut-wrenching moments. In the final Inside the Episode, Miguel Sapochnik, co-showrunner for season one, described these episodes as “sister episodes.” This is fitting, as these episodes together feel like the finale. Hence, this two-part review. Check out my colleague’s article if you need a refresher on what happened in episode eight.
Apart from too much information about Lord Larys the Clubfoot-guy’s sexual proclivities, another gruesome childbirth, and an alarming choking scene, I felt the season finished strong. In fact, I liked these episodes so much that I read Fire & Blood and rewatched the episodes multiple times before bringing you this review.
The King is Dead…Now What?
The king is dead. As the episode names suggest, The Green Council primarily follows Alicent and the Greens, and The Black Queen primarily follows Rhaenyra and the Blacks. The episodes show how each side responded to the death of Viserys the Peaceful (save for laying the seeds for the ensuing civil war known as “The Dance of the Dragons”).
The Green Council opens with a servant boy whispering in the ear of Talya, Queen Alicent’s lady-in-waiting. Talya promptly told Alicent that King Viserys passed. Alicent even managed to muster up some tears. We later learn from Larys that Talya is a spy for the White Worm, Mysaria.
No one embalmed Viserys’ body until about halfway through the episode. I can only imagine how bad it smelled.
The Green Council Meets
Alicent went straight to the King’s Hand (her father), Otto Hightower, with the news. She told Otto about Viserys’ dying wish for Aegon to be king. But, of course, Otto sought no clarification as to whether Viserys meant Prince Aegon II, the son of Viserys and Alicent, or Aegon III, the son of Daemon and Rhaenyra, or any of the other seemingly infinite Aegons throughout Westerosi history.
Alicent and Otto swiftly convened the Green Council to plot their next move. Once Otto relayed Viserys’ dying wish, the council’s long-laid plan to make Prince Aegon king became clear, regardless of Viserys’ wishes. But, per apparent previous discussions, there was much to be done. The council needed to rid the City Watch of Daemon’s loyalists, divide the gold for safekeeping, and send ravens to rally their allies.
“This meeting should have been raven mail.” – Lord Beesbury, probably.
This all came as a surprise not only to Alicent but also to the 76-year-old Lord Lyman Beesbury, long-time master of coin for King Jaehaerys and King Viserys. The rest of the scene was tough to watch. When Lord Beesbury stood up against the plan, Ser Criston Cole slammed him into the table and killed him instantly. Do you think Criston meant to kill Beesbury, or is he just unhinged? Either way, Lord Beesbury became the first bloodshed of the Dance of the Dragons.
I couldn’t believe the council continued the meeting with Lord Beesbury bleeding out of his brain on the table. That’s ‘Thrones, baby. As for Rhaenyra and Daemon, the council planned to give them an opportunity to bend the knee to Aegon, and knowing they would never do so, to kill them should they refuse. Though Alicent pleaded that Viserys would not have wanted his daughter murdered, she had no other suggestions for how to handle the situation.
The Race to Find Aegon
Before the Greens could crown Aegon, they had to find him. Aegon secretly left the castle and ventured into the city. Time was of the essence. The Greens could only keep Viserys’ death a secret for so long. Alicent and Otto raced to see who could find Aegon first. Each wanted to privately advise the young king-to-be and garner control over the pivotal next steps. In many ways, the suspense of this race carried the episode.
Otto ordered identical twin Kingsguard members, Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk Cargyll (basically indistinguishable without subtitles), to find Aegon. Meanwhile, Alicent sent her loyal bulldog, Ser Criston, to do the same with Aemond’s insisted assistance.
As Criston and Aemond searched the Street of Silk, Aemond shed light on his childhood with Aegon. Unlike my childhood, Aemond’s involved a trip to the brothel at age 13. Aemond, who trains in swordsmanship and studies Targaryen history religiously, bitterly expressed to Criston that he should be king over his unfit older brother. As a younger brother myself, I sympathize with Aemond’s sentiment. Though, he should remember Aegon has fathered children with stronger claims to the Throne than his own.
Erryk or Arryk?
Erryk and Arryk found themselves in a Flea Bottom rat pit frequently visited by Aegon, where 10-year-old children with sharpened teeth and nails are forced to fight for sport. There, they encountered one of Aegon’s (likely many) illegitimate children in the pit. The child had silver hair and clearly Targaryen features. Aegon’s monstrous behavior was palpable. Yet, Erryk and Arryk became split on whether their sworn duties outweighed the immorality of helping to crown the ill-suited Aegon.
Ultimately, Mysaria’s messenger approached the brothers to set up a meeting between her and Otto. When Otto and Mysaria met, she traded Aegon’s location for Otto’s agreement to end the savagery in Flea Bottom.
Once Erryk and Arryk found Aegon, he tried to run and said that he wanted no part of the crown. Aegon tried to run again when Ser Criston and Aemond, who followed the Cargyll brothers closely, arrived to claim him. As Arryk fought Ser Criston, Erryk fled. In the end, Ser Criston and Aemond got Aegon, and Alicent won the race.
This was a huge win (and episode) for Alicent. Though Otto seemed to respect how well his daughter played the game, he undoubtedly hated losing control over the situation. As a result, Alicent dictated the next steps. They would send true, fair terms to Rhaenyra on Dragonstone, make Ser Criston Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and anoint Aegon before all of King’s Landing the next day with the Conqueror’s Crown and the fabled Valyrian steel sword, Blackfyre, in his hand. Though Otto challenged Alicent and implied that her judgment was clouded by her childhood friendship with Rhaenyra, he had little choice but to oblige.
Keep An Eye on Larys (and your shoes on)
Even more so in the book, Larys is the most cunning character. In this episode, Larys was lurking around the corner when the Greens jailed Talya, and the other servants who knew Viserys died. When Otto gathered the great houses of Westeros to affirm their allegiance to Aegon (or face imprisonment or likely death), Larys observed from above. Larys also prevented Lord Allun Caswell from fleeing the city and warning Rhaenyra, earning Otto’s favor. That said, Otto noted the number of hours that Larys has spent with Alicent lately. To this, Larys responded that there was no reason those hours could not benefit Otto in the end.
Do you think Larys’ loyalty lies with anyone? What does he want? Otto and Mysaria appear to have a symbiotic relationship. Yet, at the same time, Larys all but offered to murder Mysaria during his cringe-worthy one-on-one with Alicent. So, we may have a better idea next season.
Meleys Crashes the Coronation
In this episode, we first see Rhaenys, the Queen Who Never Was, confined to a room in the castle with her scarlet dragon, Meleys, locked away in the Dragonpit. Alicent spoke with Rhaenys, using Rhaenyra’s poor treatment (and, to Rhaenys’ knowledge, murder) of her son, Laenor, to hopefully sway Rhaenys to the Greens. Alicent made some good points. Nevertheless, it felt odd that Alicent would think Rhaenys, of all people, would support a male usurping the Throne from the named female heir. During their conversation, Rhaenys delivered all-time line after all-time line. This culminated in chills down my spine when Rhaenys whispered in Alicent’s ear, asking whether she ever imagined herself on the Iron Throne. What did you think of Alicent’s appeal to Rhaenys?
On the way to his coronation, Aegon seemed to put aside his daddy issues and warm up to the idea of being king once Alicent unsheathed Blackfyre. I was impressed by the Greens’ ability to plan a grand coronation within 24 hours. With the crown on his head, pumping Blackfyre in the air before thousands of cheering Kingslanders, Aegon certainly felt like the King of the Seven Kingdoms. At least, until Rhaenys busted through the floor on Meleys, spoiling the coronation.
Though Rhaenys seemed to have no problem killing many innocent people, she refrained from opening fire on Aegon, Alicent, and the rest of the important Greens. Why do you think Rhaenys spared them? This is also a good reminder to pay attention to dreams and those who may be dreamers. Remember, Helaena interrupted her mother earlier in the episode and said there is a “beast beneath the boards.” The episode ended with Rhaenys flying off on Meleys, presumably bound for Dragonstone.
In a nutshell, I thought The Green Council was awesome. After so much character development and setup, I am fully invested in these characters, who are on the brink of war. The show created a childhood friendship between Alicent and Rhaenyra that makes the Greens a bit easier to support. But, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being on the side of Rhaenyra and the Blacks. Tune in next week for part two of the finale review. We will do some dragon math and debate who is in a better position to win the war.