‘House of the Dragon’ Just Dropped an Episode on January 6 – Rolling Stone

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It starts slowly. Through the corridors and stairways of an empty palace just before daybreak, a waiter brings the news: the king is dead.

It ends spectacularly: From the basement where thousands of people have gathered to pay homage to their new ruler, a dragon bursts forth, howling its fury before flying away with its rider, Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, aboard. That, too, is kind of news: there’s a new king in town, but for how long?

Titled “The Green Council” – after the ring of conspirators who plot to remove Rhaenyra Targaryen from her position as heir to the Iron Throne – this episode follows in their footsteps by removing the future queen (along with her husband Daemon and their entire brood of children) of the procedure. Instead, the focus is on Rhaenyra’s friend-turned-rival-turned-friend-turned-rival, Queen Alicent Hightower, and the men trying to make her horrid son Aegon monarch instead.

The plan, which we learn has been in the works unbeknownst to Alice for some time, does not go off without a hitch. Lord Lyman Beesbury, the old mintmaster of the Little Council, was not consulted by the hand of King Otto Hightower on this matter, and he is outraged that his colleagues are considering breaking the oaths which the Seven Kingdoms have sworn to Rhaenyra years earlier. He angrily objects – and soon gets his head banged against the table by fanatical Ser Criston Cole, the princess’ most bitter enemy.

Beesbury is not the only one to suffer at the hands of the conspirators. Palace servants are herded en masse in the dungeon to prevent them from talking. Rebellious lords are threatened with execution and, in one case, hanged in the courtyard. Otto is not joking.

But when he announces his intention to have Rhaenyra and her children killed to prevent them from challenging Aegon’s ascension, the queen has had enough. Admittedly, she mistakenly believes that Viserys’ scrambled last words about the original Aegon and his prophecy about the “prince who was promised” to unite the kingdom referred to their son. But that doesn’t mean she wants her old friend dead, especially not right after they seem to have partially reconciled.

And when future Aegon II goes missing, the race is on between Otto and Alicent to get him back first, knowing that whoever finds the future king can likely persuade him to follow their orders regarding Rhaenyra.

The Regent relies on the loyal Ser Criston and his ambitious and clearly very dangerous younger son, Aemond One-Eye, to hunt down Aegon. Otto goes with twin Kingsguard knights Erryk and Arryk Cargyll, who are played by identical twins Elliott and Luke Tittensor. (Nothing betrays George RR Martin’s roots in the New York tri-state area like his apparent belief that most people pronounce “Erryk” and “Arryk” differently.) Erryk may be Aegon’s sworn protector. , but he hates the prince, aka an alcoholic rapist who watches children fight to the death for fun. Arryk, on the other hand, seems to think an order is an order.

Otto and the twins receive help in their hunt from an interesting source: Daemon Targaryen’s former lover, Mysaria, now a high-powered master spy known as the White Worm. Well aware of everything going on in the Red Keep, she hid Aegon to keep him safe and allows the twins to retrieve him…for a price.

But in the end, they are defeated by Cole and Aemond, who kidnap Arryk’s future king (or is it Erryk?) and bring him back to Alicent. We then see how the Queen comes by her own information: by allowing mild-mannered mastermind Lord Larys “The Clubfoot” Strong to jerk off to her feet in exchange for her information and help. (Finally, TV is giving the world’s foot fetishists a long-awaited performance!) Larys reveals Mysaria’s role in all of this to the Queen and has the White Worm’s base of operations burned down – the same method he has. used to eliminate her own father and brother in hopes of currying favor with the Queen years earlier.

Otto arranges for Aegon II to be crowned in full view of the townspeople. At Alicent’s insistence, the young man is given the crown and sword of his ancestor – “the Conqueror” – to further solidify his claim. Everyone applauds!

Everyone except Rhaenys. Held captive in the Red Keep until she swears fealty, she is freed by Ser Erryk and is carried away by the crowd rushing to the coronation. She sneaks up, fetches her dragon Meleys, and sends the beast bursting through the ground under the mob’s feat. But instead of setting fire to the usurper and his followers, it flies away, delaying the inevitable conflagration to come.

Writer Sara Hess and director Clare Kilner give the whole affair the vibe of a tense political thriller, as alliances are forged and broken and various players vie for position in the new regime. Much of this is achieved through skillful character work that helps solidify some of the show’s most fragile decisions.

For example, is it kind of annoying that Alicent decides to crown Aegon instead of Rhaenyra due to some sitcom-style confusion involving Viserys’ dying statement? Sure. But it’s worth noting how obligated she seems to feel about it; as far as she is concerned, she does the right thing and respects the late king’s wishes, without happily annoying his enemy. In fact, she fights – hard – to keep Rhaenyra alive in the face of opposition from none less than her own father. Actress Olivia Cooke threads that needle with aplomb.

Likewise, Rhaenys’ decision not to roast the entire royal family comes across as reckless, at least at first. But keep in mind that, like Alicent, the older woman is trying to avoid a war, not start one. If she were to usher in the reign of her former daughter-in-law Rhaenyra by sneakily attacking Aegon II, Otto, and Alicent, as well as innocent people like Aegon’s sister-wife Helaena, how would that help anyone?

(A quick note: Helaena seems to have foreseen Rhaenys’ dragon attack, mumbling about “a beast under the boards” earlier in the episode. Watch out for this one, folks.)

Then there is Aegon himself. He’s an utterly despicable person, and he knows it and hates himself for it, as a stellar performance from actor Tom Glynn-Carney shows. He has no desire to be king, and says so; Aegon thinks his mother’s claim that his father declared him heir on his deathbed is bullshit, and says so too. But once he hears the roar of the crowd, he begins to change his tone, holding his legendary sword Blackfyre aloft and pumping it to pump up the people. Since his only hobbies seem to be drinking and making the weaker suffer, that’s not a good sign.

Only one episode left Dragon Housestellar first season. Presumably, this will show us Rhaenyra and Daemon’s reaction to all of this, and it’s unlikely to be pretty. Rhaenyra left King’s Landing believing she had mended the fences with Alicent, eager to return to her old friend’s side. How will she react after being stabbed in the back, even though the queen tried to do it as politely as possible? The Seven Kingdoms and the spectacle are at stake.

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