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House of the Dragon episode 9 recap: The Hightowers make their move

After last week's episode and Viserys finally rotting away the Hightowers and the Greens make a play for the throne in House of the Dragon episode 9

House of the Dragon episode 9 recap:

Our Verdict

A fantastic episode that makes the Greens and Alicent far more sympathetic.

Warning Spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 9 ahead! After last week’s episode and Viserys finally breathing his last rotten breath, the Hightowers finally make their move in House of the Dragon episode 9. The fantasy series actually picks up just a few moments after the end of the previous episode, as the servants inform Alicent (Olivia Cooke) of Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) death.

Distraught at the news, Alicent goes to see her father, Otto (Rhys Ifans) and tells him about Viserys ‘last words’. The queen genuinely believes the king wanted her son Prince Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) named heir after hearing Viserys ‘incoherent ramblings. We know, of course, this isn’t true. He was explaining to who he thought was Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised and the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy.

I really like this development. Before this, we presumed that the Hightowers were just greedy usurpers, but this makes Alicent far more sympathetic. She genuinely believes she is carrying out her dying husband’s last wishes, which is a good thing. It’s just a shame that she’s dooming the realm by doing so. Still, it makes the Greens less cartoonishly evil, which is something.

Or at least some of them are less cartoonishly evil. You see, it turns out that old Otto’s been planning for Viserys death for some time, and we don’t mean he’s been making funeral arrangements. No, Otto and certain members of the privy council never planned on crowning Rhaenyra queen. Instead, the plan was always to make Aegon king.

Only Lyman Beesbury and Alicent speak out for Rhaenyra, but Lyman’s opposition doesn’t last long. The old man comes down with a dreadful case of ‘having his skull cracked open’ when Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), who’s really up for a bit of treason, smashes his head against the table.

An aghast Alicent isn’t totally against the plan either. She wants Aegon to be named king, but she’d rather Rhaenyra and her family not die. Indeed a few people get squeamish about regicide, including the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Harrold Westerling, and refuse to get involved, so the council tables the motion of murder for now.

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To be fair, there’s a bigger problem. You can’t crown Aegon king if you can’t find him, and the prince has been on a bender in King’s Landing. Otto sends the knights Erryk and Arryk Cargyll  (Elliott and Luke Tittensor) out to find him. Alicent meanwhile despatches Criston and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) out to do the same job.

During their hunt, Criston and Aemond learn that Aegon has stopped going to the Street of Silk (King’s Landing’s red light district) because his appetites have seemingly grown beyond it. Learning this kind of irritates Aemond, who tells Criston that he should be king, not his lout of a brother.

We also quickly learn what Aegon does when in the city. He bets on brawling children. This would be despicable enough, but Erryk points out Aegon’s bastard children are fighting in the pit.

House of the Dragon episode 9 recap:

That’s right, the man they want to make king sends his children to die in gambling dens. I mean, by Targaryen standards, that’s probably not that bad but come on, Aegon, you’re better than this.

Or maybe he gets it from his dear old grandad, who’s having a great time getting the assembled lords and ladies to bend the knee to Aegon and imprisoning those who won’t. He’s desperate to keep the news of Viserys’ death from leaving King’s Landing, just in case those loyal to Rhaenyra spill the beans before they find Aegon and pop the crown on his head.

Alicent, meanwhile, is trying to get Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best)
onside. Unfortunately, Alicent’s not the smoothest of operators – it doesn’t help she had the princess imprisoned – and Rhaenys refuses to join the Greens’ side and betray Viserys.

House of the Dragon episode 9 recap:

Back in the city, Erryk and Arryk manage to find a hot lead. The White Worm, aka Daemon Targaryen’s former love Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), has started operating a network of spies, and she knows where Prince Aegon is. In a meeting with Otto, she swaps the location for the promise that the king will end the child fighting in the city.

Otto unsurprisingly agrees, so Mysaria delivers on her promise and Erryk and Arryk find Aegon in the Great Sept. Before they can get him to Otto, though, they’re attacked by Criston and Aemond, who manage to capture Aegon and take him to his mother.

Now that Alicent has Aegon, she dictates her terms to her father. They will crown Aegon king, but they won’t murder Rhaenyra. Instead, they’ll make her a peace offering (we’re sure this plan will definitely work), and Criston is to be named the new lord commander of the Kingsguard.

House of the Dragon episode 9 recap:

With no other option, Otto agrees but not before warning Alicent that her plan will end in bloodshed. Anyway, it’s been a while since we saw something creepy, and who better to honestly give us the heebie-jeebies than Larys Strong (Matthew Needham)?

Larys has formed a close relationship with Alicent, as we know, a very close relationship. The spymaster has been giving the queen information in exchange for the medieval equivalent of feet pics. Yes really. Once Larys has seen the queen’s toes and he’s satisfied himself, he tells her about the White Worm and her network of spies.

While Larys and Alicent chat Erryk, who’s sickened by Prince Aegon’s behaviour, frees Rhaenys and the pair escape into the city. The next day is Aegon’s coronation, and as they try and escape, they find themselves swept up in the crowd and taken to the dragon pit.

House of the Dragon episode 9 recap:

There the royal family has gathered, and after a brief argument between Aegon and Alicent which the prince admits he doesn’t think Viserys like him, Aegon is crowned king of the Seven Kingdoms and the protector of the realm.

As he puts aside his doubts, Aegon holds his sword to the sky, and the people cry his name, but soon they’re crying in fear. Princess Rhaenys used the commotion to get to her dragon, Meleys, and she escapes the pit, killing a lot of the common folk who came to see Aegon’s coronation.

House of the Dragon episode 9 recap:

As Aegon cowers behind his mother, the Greens look like they’re about to be wiped out, but Rhaenys shows mercy and flies away, and the episode draws to a close. I’ve made no secret of my dislike of the Greens, but this episode may have changed my mind. I’d previously seen them as ambitious thieves who stole the crown from the rightful heir, but that’s not exactly true.

Sure some of them are backstabbing opportunists, but Alicent seems like a good person who’s just a bit misguided and doesn’t know she’s making a mistake. I’m still on team Black through and through, but I won’t lie. This coming war just got a lot more complicated.