What Happened on House of the Dragon? Here’s Our Recap of Episode 9.
The following story contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 9 of House of the Dragon, titled “The Green Council”
Throughout the years, Game of Thrones has become known use the second-to-last episode in a season as a place for the season’s biggest moment; the finale then becomes both an aftermath and a way 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 packed wall-to-wall with action, adventure, scheming, and intrigue—basically everything you could want from this show—but doesn’t have the big moment you think of from Thrones past, like Ned Stark’s beheading or the infamous “Battle of the Bastards.”
In fact, two of Season 1’s main and most important characters—Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Daemon (Matt Smith)—don’t even appear, obviously an intentional artistic decision as major happenings go down in the realm, and those two relevant parties are nowhere to be seen.
Still, there’s a lot happening here. Without Rhaenyra, the late Viserys (Paddy Considine, whose name appearing in the opening credits probably shocked a lot of people—but it was only because his corpse briefly appears), and Daemon in the episode, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) anchors the plot in a way that she hasn’t yet this season—and she does a remarkable job. Seriously—can we give Cooke an award just for the exasperated look on her face when she hears Larys Strong’s (Matthew Needham) voice coming from behind her? Her second-born son, Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) is also a standout—you can’t look away from that smug, evil-looking dude when he’s on screen. And while much of the episode is what our master schemers Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) and Larys have been waiting for, the most important moment comes from something the White Worm (Sonoya Mizuno) holds the key to. She doesn’t seem long for this world, but it’s nice to see a source of power coming (even briefly) from somewhere other than the patriarchy.
And while this episode is stacked, we can only imagine that next week’s finale will be even more. There are a lot of moving pieces in House of the Dragon, and it’s impossible to cover everything. But below we detail the three most significant takeaways from the penultimate episode 9, “The Green Council” in House of the Dragon‘s Season 1.
This is Otto Hightower’s Super Bowl
It’s been abundantly clear to everyone watching Season 1 of House of the Dragon, and everyone in Westeros (outside of sweet, poor, naive King Viserys) that Otto Hightower has been scheming and scheming and scheming for the decades of action we’ve seen on screen this season (and probably long before that, too). And when Viserys was bright enough to get him out of the picture briefly, another schemer—Larys Strong—managed to get him back into power as Hand of the King again, where he now remains.
And that move is proving to be one of significance, because as soon as word of the King’s death begins to travel, Otto is moving with a pep in his step like we haven’t seen before. This is the moment he’s been waiting for. He doesn’t give a shit, really, that his friend Viserys is dead—he’s excited that he can pull more of his usual dishonest bullshit and finally cement his family’s legacy on the Iron Throne.
When Alicent tells Otto the quasi-lie of what she understood Viserys to tell her in his dying moments, “He told me he wished for Aegon to be King,” Ifans makes such a smug, queasy turn and slight smile. It’s a tremendous moment from a tremendous actor; if he can send this entire episode to Emmy voters, he should. The scheming this episode also includes Criston Cole, essentially on Otto’s behalf, killing council member Lyman Beesbury for daring to say what was obviously true: that the throne is being usurped in an obviously treasonous move.
Otto is good at this—that much is clear. And by the end of the episode, he basically has his way; Rhaenyra has been usurped, and his degenerate grandson (more on him in a moment) has been named king. And it’s not only that Rhaenyra didn’t even have a chance—Otto wants to have her and Daemon killed before they even know what they’re missing out on.
They’re making Will Ferrell from Old School King
As word continues to spread of Viserys’ death, it also becomes clear that the realm will need to locate Aegon to tell him what’s happening and to, you know, crown him (in a total illegal usurping of the throne that Otto, Jason Lannister, and other douchebags were already planning anyway). But finding him proves to be easier said than done; now around 20 years old, Aegon spends his nights being a drunk, degenerate piece of shit (he likes watching children fight with long finger nails and sharpened teeth for sport and has several bastard children scattered throughout the city).
And no one can even find him; racing factions of Aemond and Criston (for Alicent) and Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk (for Otto) are looking for him. And the latter are able to track him down in a drunken stupor only after consulting White Worm on his behalf (and agreeing to try to get that whole child-fighting ring shut down).
But can we, for a moment, just reflect on the person Otto and Alicent are putting so much effort into making king? He’s drunk all the time, he has zero ambition (he states his non desire to rule and even offers to sail away), and his “hobbies” seem to include general sadism. Sounds like Will Ferrell’s “Frank the Tank” from the 2003 comedy classic Old School hazing fraternity pledges and chugging beers to me. (Except even Frank the Tank didn’t take advantage of women and his own power the way we already know Aegon does).
Aemond—who has become an expert fighter, a smug asshole, and wants to rule since his eye incident—wouldn’t have a problem if his dear brother peaced out. And that’s kind of terrifying too, considering that guy may as well have VILLAIN stamped on his forehead.
It’s Dragon Time
Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) was called “The Queen Who Never Was” often early in House of the Dragon Season 1, which, honestly, is such a mean nickname. She seems to be a relatively decent person most of the time, so I’m glad they’ve stopped with that. But she also seems to be someone of constantly shifting alliances; after last week finally helping Rhaenyra and Viserys out, this week she seemed to come down hard on the side of “indifferent” after the Hightower side of the family essentially kept her prisoner in her own room. At least Ser Arryk proves himself noble when he helps her get the hell out of there.
What we need to talk about, however, is her grand moment at the very end of the episode. She knows what’s happening with Aegon is a complete and utter farce. And she blows it up, entering on her dragon, and could have really planted her flag for Viserys and Rhaenyra if she just would’ve said the word “Dracarys” and gotten rid of Alicent, Aegon, Aemond, Criston, Otto, etc. with one swift blaze of glory.
But she took the other path, opting instead to just say yeah, I’m not doing this anymore, while also leaving a clear message of do not fuck with me. It’s a bit frustrating because clearly she could have ended things right there. But at the same time, that would be letting the Ottos, the Aegons, the Cristons, the Aemonds, off easy—we’re going to enjoy seeing their eventual demise. Because if you’re a viewer like me, you can feel the hate brewing. And that means they’re doing their jobs well.
Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.
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