'House of the Dragon' Season 1 Episode 9 Recap: Aegon’s Conquest (2024)

The Game of Thrones franchise has a grand tradition of explosive penultimate episodes, and the first season of House of the Dragon is no different, even if it feels more like an inevitability than a hard left turn like the Red Wedding. What it lacks in a main character’s shocking beheading, “The Green Council” boasts in clarity of vision. Episode nine of House of the Dragon fulfills the promise of the series’ previous eight hours, pushing the realm to the brink of a violent war for the Iron Throne, with the common folk of King’s Landing caught in the middle.

“The Green Council” begins no more than a few hours after the previous episode. King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), first of his name, is dead. King Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney), second of his name, now stands ready to rule the Seven Kingdoms, assuming anyone can find him. Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) has taken Viserys’s confused final words about Aegon the Conqueror—not Aegon his son—and ran with them. She sincerely believes her late husband wanted their child to sit on the Iron Throne instead of Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), the king’s official heir for going on two decades now. It’s a big misunderstanding on Alicent’s part, and one that’s sure to get a ton of people killed.

The first of those people to die loses his life on the very same night of Viserys’s death. In the middle of the night, Alicent and Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) assemble the Small Council to share the news of the king’s passing, as well as his dying wish to install Aegon on the throne. The news lands awkwardly within the room. Many are ready to step in and take immediate action, as Otto and his allies have been planning contingencies for this very occasion, unbeknownst to Alicent. Some in the room are scandalized by the Hightowers’ move, such as Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson), who calls out the coup for exactly what it is. In response, Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) slams Beesbury’s head onto the Small Council table, killing him instantly.

Further bloodshed nearly spills in the Small Council chamber, when Ser Harold Westerling (Graham McTavish) removes his white cloak and abdicates his post as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. “I recognize no authority but the king’s,” he tells the room. “Until there is one, I have no place here.” He exits, somehow with his life still intact, but without a single person left behind who might fight against the power grab on the absent Rhaenyra’s behalf.

Perhaps there is one person still willing to extend themselves for Rhaenyra, and it’s an unlikely one: Alicent. In the hours following Viserys’s death, Alicent and Otto race against one another to see who can find Aegon Targaryen first and install him on the throne. Whoever finds the soon-to-be boy-king, lost somewhere in King’s Landing doing god knows what, will be the first whispers in his ear, setting the tone for whatever comes next. Alicent quickly realizes her father means to kill Rhaenyra and her entire family, which she cannot abide, despite all that’s passed between them over the years. And so she sends out Ser Criston and her second son Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) to find Aegon before Otto’s veritable henchmen, the twin knights Erryk and Arryk Cargyll (Elliott and Luke Tittensor), can reach him first.

A game of cat and mouse ensues, as the four swordsmen—Criston, Aemond, and the brothers Cargyll—don their very best disguises and crawl across the city in search of Aegon. Their respective quests take them through the bowels of King’s Landing, discovering one of Aegon’s many bastard children, not to mention a small army of kids battling each other for sport in an illegal fight club. All of these paths leads to Aegon, a scathing indictment of the kind of man who is about to assume the crown, and an early preview of the cruel kings of the future. One thing that separates Aegon from Joffrey Baratheon, at least, is a complete lack of interest in taking the throne. He wants to be left to his own disturbing devices, but fate—and a whole host of Hightowers—have other plans for him.

Through all of this, House of the Dragon checks in on various figures dealing with the fallout of Viserys’s death. These players include Aegon’s sister-wife Helaena (Phia Saban), raising alarms about her brother-husband’s ascension to the throne; Mysaria the White Worm (Sonoya Mizuno) shadow-brokering with Otto, revealing the extent of her espionage network’s reach into the Red Keep; and even Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) attempting to get into both Otto and Alicent’s good graces, all but getting off on the Hightowers’ mad dash to fill the power vacuum, and literally getting off over some Tarantino-esque obsession with Alicent’s feet. (Good to know that even in the middle of all these deadly serious stakes, Game of Thrones still has time to Game of Thrones.)

'House of the Dragon' Season 1 Episode 9 Recap: Aegon’s Conquest (2024)
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