Director Greg Yaintes (Episodes 2 & 3) takes a Hitchcockian approach to the penultimate episode of House of The Dragon. The events transpiring in “The Green Council ” unfold like a classic thriller, for there is a race again to replace King Viserys. After misinterpreting King Viserys’ dying words, Queen Alicent Hightower believes that Aegon is the rightful heir. We know this is false, for the prophecy of the Song of Ice and Fire was told to Rhaneyra; the rightful heir. Alicent and her perpetually plotting father Otto Hightower both want to find the missing Aegon so he can take the throne. However, the former wants to convince the future King to spare the lives of Daemon and Rhaneyra’s family.
Only a few servants, Grand Maesters, and council officials know about the King’s death. The council, composed of mostly “green” (green are loyal to house Hightower) members, accepts Alicent’s word that Aegon is meant to be King. A Viserys loyalist voices his disgust of Rhaneyra being passed over for the throne and is killed via head-slammed-into-stone-table by Ser Criston Cole. Cole is later tasked by Alicent to find Aegon, and Cole enlists the missing presumptive King’s brother Aemon to help. Otto Hightower orders King’s guardsmen Ser Erryk Carrgyll and Ser Arryk Carrgyll (pictured, right) to find Aegon.
Both search teams find leads through sex workers however it is team Cole and Aemon that find the reluctant heir. Aegon attempts to persuade his brother to sail away to a remote region, to escape the pressures of being a Targaryen. When Aegon utters the words “I am not fit to be King”, Aemon replies “You have no argument from me.” Yet, Aemon obeys the orders of his mother and returns to be the future king.
The internet is gossiping about the quirky quid pro quo between Queen Alicent and her trusted informant Lord Larys Strong. Although a unique and perhaps unsettling scene, I won’t dedicate much prose to the scene. Let’s just say Lord Strong is rewarded in a way that would make Quentin Tarantino blush.
Ser Erryk smuggles Princes Rhaenys out of the castle to escape Otto’s purge of Viserys supporters. Once out of Erryk’s company, Rhaenys takes a detour to retrieve her dragon. What transpires next is a sequence that will thrill and frustrate HOTD viewers. I too was a bit baffled by Rhaenys’s decision, but the scene was so intense, that I abandoned my HDTV and soundbar, and rewatched the sequence on my projector and surround sound system. Rhaenys and her dragon Meleys emerge through tons of thick concrete and interrupts the celebration of Aemon’s coronation. Meleys faces the Hightowers and their children. Just when it appears that Aemon and crew would be cooked well done after the shortest reign in Westeros history, Rhaenys departs.
The decision to let Rhaenys’s enemies live may be seen by some as a cop-out to keep the series going. Yet, I hypothesize that Rhaenys want Rhaenyra to earn the throne by defeating her enemies. Furthermore, Rhaenys may not want to kill a mother and innocent (well somewhat innocent) children. The finale will certainly add clarity to this decision and more carnage will follow.
The HOUSE OF THE DRAGON season finale airs October 23, 2022 at 10PM ET on HBO.