- Warning: spoilers ahead for “House of the Dragon” season one, episode nine “The Green Council”.
- The TV adaptation of HBO’s “Fire and Blood” made some changes to the story of House Targaryen’s war.
- When Rhaenys killed a group of people in the dragon pit, there was a solid strategy behind this bold move.
At the end of episode 9 of “The House of the Dragon”, which aired on Sunday, Rhaenys shocked everyone by bursting through the floor of the dragon pit on the back of Meleys (her dragon). Although he killed hundreds of random citizens of King’s Landing gathered there without choice, Rhaenys chose not to kill the newly crowned King Aegon II and virtually all of Hightower’s followers with any power whatsoever.
Rhaenys could have ended the war before it started, or so some interpreted that scene.
But there’s a layer of strategy at play here that might not yet be clear if you don’t know the context of “Fire and Blood,” the book the series is based on. This whole Rhaenys sequence was created for the series’ more omniscient retelling of events in the fictional history of House Targaryen.
“Fire and Blood” gives more characterization and nuance to the aftermath of Viserys’ death
In George RR Martin’s “Fire and Blood,” the story told to readers comes from a variety of biased or unreliable witness sources. “House of the Dragon” presents a new series of events and more nuanced choices that will ultimately lead to tragedy. Anyone who’s seen ‘Game of Thrones’ knows that House Targaryen began to decline after their dragons died – that’s all the magic and awe of Daenerys Targaryen’s achievement of hatching not one but Three dragons and rekindling the power of House Targaryen in HBO’s previous series.
So what does all this have to do with Rhaenys?
Throughout the episode “The Green Council”, Otto Hightower and Queen Alicent argue over control of the situation. Otto wants Rhaenyra, Daemon, and all of their children killed immediately – before the people of King’s Landing even know King Viserys is dead.
Alicent wants to send conditions to Rhaenyra and crown Aegon in the meantime as quickly as possible (mistakenly believing this was Viserys’ dying wish), and hopes for a bloodless truce between their families.
Both of these plans are quite ambitious, given the defenses Rhaenyra and Daemon have in Dragonstone and the bonus of Rhaenyra’s rightful claim to the Iron Throne by public decree of the late king.
Rhaenys is the only person who knows what is happening and can convey the true order of events to Rhaenyra and Daemon and their children (who are also believed to be in the true line of succession).
Rhaenys was imprisoned in the Red Keep while Otto had highborns like Lord Caswell executed for trying to let Rhaenyra know that her father was dead. Rhaenys’ life was absolutely in danger if she didn’t bend the knee to Aegon. So she needed an outing – and found it with her dragon.
But guess who doesn’t know any of this? The real people who live in the Seven Kingdoms
Very few people knew Viserys died the first day after he breathed his last.
And as we’ve seen in conversations about all the time jumps in previous episodes, the lords and ladies of the court have either stayed true to the oath they swore to Viserys nearly 21 years ago, either decided that of course a son should inherit the throne over a daughter because male rulers are all they’ve ever known.
The people of the Seven Kingdoms have no reason to doubt the Hand of the King’s own tale that Viserys changed his mind and wanted Aegon to rule instead of Rhaenyra.
Rhaenys is the one who casts doubt on Aegon’s coronation – reminding people how dragons are real Powerful. The creatures are weapons capable of mass killing on a whim, and when bonded to a Targaryen, the dragons will do their bidding.
By thus crashing into the dragon pit and then sparing the life of the newly ascended king and his family, Rhaenys made public the story of the family’s split. In her own way, Rhaenys set the tone for the people of the Seven Kingdoms: align yourself with rightful queen Rhaenyra, or suffer the fate of our dragons.
But Rhaenys also makes the strategic choice of not kill the newly crowned King Aegon II or Alicent and Helaena and the other members of his own family by blood and marriage.
Rhaenys doesn’t want the public story to be “Rhaenys is a murderer and Rhaenyra just wanted the power at all costs.” Rhaenys wants to show off her power, give Alicent one more chance to do the right thing, and then get out of King’s Landing safely.
How passages in ‘Fire and Blood’ also give context to the strategy around Aegon’s coronation at the Dragon Pit
We know that public perception is an element that influences wars and political strategy. In “Fire and Blood”, Martin tells us that “horsemen rode out on pale horses to spread the word to the people of King’s Landing, shouting ‘King Viserys is dead, long live King Aegon'” once the Hightowers decided it was time to make Viserys’ death public.
“Hearing the screams, writes Munkun, some wept while others clapped,” the book continues. “But most of the little people watched in silence, confused and wary, and every now and then a voice cried out, ‘Long live our queen.'”
Martin also says in this fictional history book that the dragon pit could hold 80,000 people (about four times as many as the real Madison Square Garden in New York City), and that the Hightowers believed the structure would protect them from “traitors “exteriors.
“The pit’s thick walls, solid roof, and towering bronze doors made it defensible if traitors tried to disrupt the ceremony,” the book says.
“House of the Dragon” blows a big hole in that logic with the shocking scene of Rhaenys stepping out of the ground, putting the Greens on their feet and giving Team Rhaenyra another victory.
The episode also goes out of its way to show us that Aegon is a disastrous candidate for King’s job. He’s more interested in watching kids fight to the death and spawn bastards and get drunk than anything to do with ruling.
His adversary, and the real person Viserys wanted to crown, is Rhaenyra – a traditional Targaryen queen who served in Small Council meetings from a young age and was named heiress at 14, giving her over 20 years to stand. prepare to rule.
Rhaenyra has done a lot to turn public opinion against her, including siring bastards in a much more public way than Aegon and passing them off as true born (with the consent of all of her immediate family and her husband). She is also said to have murdered her husband in order to marry her uncle in the tradition of incest which most believers of the faith deem wrong.
So if Rhaenys had killed her own family members and shed the first royal blood in the fight for the throne, it would influence opinion. versus The Rhaenyra team. Kinslaying is a special type of moral blatantness in Westeros.
And yes, the same goes for killing hundreds of innocent citizens of your city. This was a major sticking point for many people who didn’t think the episode’s ending was satisfying.
Without going into “Fire and Blood” spoilers, I’ll just say this: don’t think that the deaths of all these people will go unnoticed at the end of the whole story.
The Season 1 finale of “Dragon Houseairs Sunday on HBO at 9 p.m. ET. For more, read our breakdown of the best details you may have missed from last week’s episode.