Sunday nights are now for deciphering new clues on House of the Dragon that will surely spark debate—and our utmost curiosity—about its Game of Thrones foreshadowing. In many ways, House of the Dragon, episode nine, was a culmination of the events set in motion the very moment that King Viserys Targaryen named his daughter, Rhaenyra, heir to the Iron Throne. We discussed in episode two how women were treated as unworthy of the Iron Throne, and now this treatment has a significant impact on the happenings of episode nine.
Each week, we’re answering all your burning questions and thoughts on House of the Dragon. The question out of House of the Dragon episode nine simply boils down to: The King is dead—so now what?
What Happens Now That King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) Has Died?
We ended episode 8 of House of the Dragon with the sad passing of Viserys Targaryen. However, it was during his final moments, speaking the words of his prophecy to Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) that sparked much of the drama. Alicent interprets Viserys’ talk of “Aegon, the Prince Who Was Promised” to mean her son Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney). But that’s because she’s still unaware that Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) also named her son Aegon.
A small council meeting breaks out in the hours soon after Viserys’ passing, and there’s a tense conversation about Aegon being named King over Rhaenyra being named Queen. We knew that Otto Hightower (Rhys Ilfans) had long planned this outcome, but his public statement that he’d planned this long before Viserys spoke of the prophecy was even shocking to his daughter, Alicent.
While most present were largely okay with Aegon being named heir, harkening back to Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) stating bluntly in episode two that the people would never accept a female ruler, Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Patterson) angrily states that going against Rhaenyra as ruler would be treasonous.
In many ways, Beesbury’s outburst in episode nine is not all that different (other than context) from Vaemond Velaryon’s (Wil Johnson) outburst in episode eight. However, like the departed Vaemond, Beesbury’s outburst is silenced soon thereafter, when Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel)—who is known to act out violently—smashes Beesbury’s head into the table, killing him. In doing so, Cole inadvertently causes the first casualty of the Dance of the Dragons.
Do We Have an Early Defector on the Side of the Hightowers AKA “The Greens?
Midway through episode nine, we’re treated to a “detective mission” from two different parties—both looking for the missing Prince Aegon.
Ser Criston Cole and Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) are searching for the missing Aegon on behalf of Alicent, while twin brothers Ser Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittensor) and Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliott Tittensor) are hunting for Aegon at the request of Otto Hightower.
The Hightowers seek to be first to get to the Prince. Alicent hopes to convince him to spare the lives of Rhaenyra and her family as an act of goodwill (and genuine heart on her part), whereas Otto wishes Aegon to order their deaths as they stand to contest Aegon’s right to the Throne.
The Cargylls, however, get to Aegon first and find out that he’s sired many bastard children in Flea Bottom and likes watching children engage in vicious fighting pits. Aegon is swiftly taken from their “custody” by Cole and Aemond.
This kicks off one of the sadder arcs of episode nine as Erryk clearly sees Aegon as unworthy of the Iron Throne. First Erryk lets his brother, Arryk, deal with Cole alone in combat (Arryk loses) and later Erryk helps free Rhaenys Targaryen (more on that later). Assuming Erryk escapes with his life, this will clearly put him on opposite sides of what we know is the Dance of the Dragons war.
Why Would Alicent Hightower Tell Rhaenys that She Should Have Been Queen?
Maybe Alicent was just trying to sway favor from Rhaenys during their private conversation, but her negotiating skills are not quite up to par yet. During a tense scene with Rhaenys as a prisoner, Alicent tries to convince Rhaenys to side with the Greens in what she knows will be a conflict soon; this decision would theoretically save Rhaenys’ life in the short term but would also rob the Rhaenyra supporters of their largest dragon, Meleys, who is ridden by Rhaenys.
Alicent’s plan backfires spectacularly as it empowers Rhaenys despite her current predicament. Rhaenys doesn’t panic at all. She plots and plans in a way that would make her still missing husband, Ser Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) proud. With the help of the defector Erryk Cargyll, she escapes into the city, setting up one of the best moments of the series.
Does Anything Ever Go Right at Weddings or Coronations in Westeros?
Aegon’s coronation seemed to go smoothly at first. Despite some grumblings, he is named Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and draws applause from the vast audience gathered there.
We know that Rhaenys is there and had hoped to sneak away to the Dragonpit to claim Meleys before departing. But we see her sneak away from the crowd and down to the chambers where the Dragons live, setting the audience up nicely for what comes next.
Rhaenys, the Queen Who Never Was, gets to live her most dramatic moment of the series when she literally erupts through the floor of the dragon pit on her absolutely enormous dragon. Meleys appears to be second in size only to Vhagar and flattens many a member of the audience who is trying to flee. She’s not passive in that moment, she’s a heroic, badass, dragon rider in full armor.
Alicent stated earlier in the episode that everyone knew Rhaenys should have been named queen, and now we see her in as regal warrior—and we love it. Alicent and Aegon are positively terrified as Meleys opens her mouth… but Rhaenys spares the lives of all there, in an action that will surely have big implications for what’s next. Speaking of that…
What Might Happen in the House of the Dragon Season Finale?
We can only assume the war will begin in the finale, pending that Rhaenys reveals to Rhaenyra that her father has died and the Hightower’s have hastily crowned Aegon instead of Rhaenyra.
Hopefully we’ll see some good Dragon on Dragon fighting. Here’s a reminder of the Dragon/Dragonrider pairings known thus far:
Syrax (ridden by Rhaenyra Targaryen)
Caraxes (ridden by Daemon Targaryen)
Meleys (ridden by Rhaenys Targaryen)
Vermax (ridden by Jacaerys Velaryon)
Vhagar (ridden by Aemond Targaryen)
Sunfyre (ridden by Aegon Targaryen)
We do not know what has happened to Seasmoke, the dragon ridden by Laenor Velaryon, but hopefully Seasmoke joins the side of Rhaenyra!
How to Watch House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones
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Free now through 10/31: Enjoy 16 episodes of the Best of Targaryen, a curated collection from the HBO Original series Game of Thrones
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Catch up on past House of the Dragon Burning Questions . . .
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 8: Is Honor Worth Dying For?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 7: Is the Newfound Targaryen Legacy in Danger?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 6: Will Family Feuds Impact the Dance of Dragons?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 5: Is Vulnerability a Weakness?
‘House of the Dragon’ Burning Question, Episode 4: Are Rhaenyra and Alicent officially learning the Game of Thrones?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 3: Does Anybody Exist Above Tradition and Duty in Westeros?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 2: Why Are Women Treated Unworthy of the Iron Throne?
'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode One: Will We See the White Walkers from 'Game of Thrones'?