House of the Dragon – Season 1 Episode 9 Recap & Review

The Green Country

Episode 9 of House of the Dragon starts with birds chirping in the eerie quiet morning. It’s the calm before the storm, as news starts spreading within the castle that the King is dead. Viserys the Peaceful has passed away.

Alicent speaks to her father, admitting that Viserys told her he wanted Aegon to be King. “It is the truth uttered with his own lips.” She says, with tears in her eyes. Of course, we know he was referencing Aegon the Conqueror and as predicted, this is going to spark a war.

The council join in the early hours and Otto Hightower delivers the news to everyone that Viserys is dead. Otto points out that his final wish was for Aegon to become Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. Given Jace was supposed to be be on the throne after Rhaenyra, Otto and the others move quickly to set the wheels into motion.

Those on the City Watch loyal to Daemon are ordered to be replaced… but it all runs like clockwork. Alicent is shocked to learn that they had already been planning to do this for a while. Lord Lyman Beesbury is the only one who believes this is treason and that there’s something fishy going on.

Ser Criston turns and kills Lyman, smashing his face into the table and letting his blood drip off the table. The body is not to be removed until they finish their business though; a symbolic act to show blood is going to be spilled in the future.

Otto and the others turn their attention to Rhaenyra and her family. Now, they need to publicly swear obeisance to the new King. If not? Well, they’ll be imprisoned. Alicent knows that Daemon and Rhaenyra won’t bend the knee, and Otto does too, with plans to kill them when they refuse.

Alicent, of all people, refuses to let this happen, knowing that Viserys would never have wanted Rhaenyra to be killed. The Lord Commander of the King’s Guard refuses to take orders from Otto too, who suggests they rally the men and go to Dragonstone. “Until there is a King, I have no place here.” He says, and walks away.

Aegon is gone from his chamber and not within the castle walls either. Aemond and Criston Cole both head into the city together to try and find him. Time is of the essence though given twin knights Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk Cargyll are also after him, working for Otto.

It’s a very precarious matter, and even more so given Aegon has “spread his seed” across town, including to numerous blonde-haired children who are pitted against others in barbaric fighting pits.

As for Aemond, he wants to be King and given he has the largest dragon, believes he’d make a more suitable ruler.

Anyway, back in the castle the bannermen and women are torn between sticking with Rhaenyra or switching allegiance to Alicent and the new King. Some bend the knee out of fear, but others do so as they truly believe the King’s claim. Others who stand up and refuse, are marched out the chamber by soldiers.

Finally, Alicent shows up to see Rhaenys and reveals that Aegon will be King. She wants her support but Rhaenyra and Daemon are obviously not going to take kindly to this. Alicent even tries to sweeten the deal by suggesting Rhaenys can have Driftmark and pass it on to her granddaughters. Rhaenys throws back a little curveball, asking if she’s ever imagined herself on the Iron Throne. There’s no reply.

That silence speaks volumes unto itself and it’s a really clever bit of dialogue about the power of men without descending into pot-shots at either sex.

Otto Hightower meets with the White Worm, who seems to know all – including the death of the King. Passing over a stack of gold coins, she confirms that the Prince is “safely tucked away.” Now, in order to get Aegon back, White Worm wants an end to the savage use of children in Flea Bottom. We’ve seen the horrible fighting pits earlier in the episode, and Otto promises to “look into it.”

As a result, Aegon is found and he ends up fighting against his brother, Aemond. It’s a light skirmish, not exactly blood-sport, but Aegon tries to convince his brother to leave with him and jump on a ship and sail away.

With Aegon back, Alicent butts heads with her father over the best way to proceed. She’s decided to send favourable terms to Rhaenyra on Dragonstone that she can accept without shame. Otto sees this as a bad move, given it would mean Rhaenyra can rally people to her cause.

Alicent also decides to anoint Criston Cole as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and Aegon will be crowned at dawn. The whole of King’s Landing will see his anointment and she intends to make it a big deal.

On their way to the Keep, Aegon chuckles at the notion of Viserys changing his mind and naming him King. “He didn’t like me.” He says. After handing over the dagger, Alicent tells Aegon not to listen to Otto and certainly not rule with callousness and cruelty. With Rhaenys smuggled out the castle, she blends in with the common folk as they’re led into the great chamber to see the new King crowned.

As the crown is placed on Aegon’s head, the crowd murmurs and awaits what’s to come next. Applause finally breaks out across the chamber and as he lifts his sword into the sky and composes the cheers, a new era is upon us… but suddenly a dragon bursts from the ground. It’s Rhaenys!

The doors are shut and the dragon roars at them all…but not with fire. It turns and leaves the chamber, flying off and, presumably, to warn Rhaenyra of what’s happened.

The Episode Review

There’s a lot of chatter online about this being the weakest episode of the season but I’d have to disagree. Sure it’s not the best, given the high stakes and drama we’ve seen over the past 2 weeks, but there’s enough here to set the foundations for an explosive finale to follow.

Ramin Djawadi’s score for this episode – especially the first 15 minutes – is beautifully constructed and sets the scene so well for what follows. The show has a really solid way of building high stakes out of small snippets of dialogue and there’s a lot of symbolism here too.

The scene featuring Larys Strong and Alicent’s feet is likely to be a big talking point but what’s particularly interesting here is what it signifies. There’s a lot of talk about pushing down the commoner and “stamping” down with authority on those at the very bottom. Seeing Strong pleasure himself while the camera focuses on Alicent’s feet feels symbolic on a deeper level than just “foot fetish”; it directly links to the idea of Alicent and the other High Lords crushing the commoners while they play their game of thrones.

The ending with Rhaenys may come across as some deus ex machina, with many undoubtedly questioning why she didn’t just wipe out the whole house there and then. The thing is, Kinslaying is a big no-no in Westeros, as we know with Jaime Lannister slaying the Mad King. Instead, what we get is a warning, and a promise that the throne is not going uncontested. Blood is about to be spilled in a big way.

After two terrible finales this week (looking at you She-Hulk and Rings of Power), House of the Dragon steps out from the smouldering ruins to deliver a tasty penultimate episode, leaving the door wide open for a bloody good finale to follow. Bring it on!

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You can read our full season review for House of the Dragon Season 1 here!

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5 thoughts on “House of the Dragon – Season 1 Episode 9 Recap & Review”

  1. It’s weird how every episode there’s a man complaining about women’s weakness and needing to get away from the wailing if womenfolk- but men’s egos are so easily bruised you needed to mention “pot shots” blegh. Hush.

  2. Jaime Lannister did not gain notoriety for being a “Kinslayer”, he gained notoriety for being a “Kingslayer” after killing the king he had sworn, as a Kingsguard, to serve and protect. But being a Kinslayer is a definite no-no in Westeros; and Rhaenys may not object to killing a hundred or two smallfolk by breaking Meleys out of the Dragonpit but she does not want to dragon-toast her cousins.

  3. Hey Isa, you’re absolutely right I do apologize I switched out Lannister for Beesbury. I also elaborated further on the part about Jace as he is heir to the throne but after Rhaenyra- if she even managed to get that far of course. I appreciate the heads up though and have changed the article accordingly, thank you!

    -Greg W

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