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House of the Dragon: Here’s why Rhaenys didn’t dracarys everyone

Eve Best stars as Rhaenys Targaryen, as seen in Episode 5 of HBO's House of the Dragon Season 1
Eve Best stars as Rhaenys Targaryen, as seen in Episode 5 of House of the Dragon Season 1. Pic credit: HBO/Ollie Upton

The penultimate episode of House of the Dragon ended with a coronation — and a near miss for Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and her children.

The latest installment focused entirely on the events inside the Red Keep in King’s Landing after the death of King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) in Episode 8.

Thanks to a misunderstanding, Alicent believed that Viserys had changed his mind at the last minute and, after years of declaring his daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) as his heir, instead chose Alicent’s son, Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney).

Viserys had mistakenly thought he was talking to Rhaenyra at the time and was expanding on previous conversations about Aegon the Conqueror.

Regardless of the intent, Alicent and her father, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), kept quiet about the king’s passing and immediately took action to crown Aegon II Targaryen, usurping Rhaenyra. In the process, Rhaenys (Eve Best), who was staying at the Red Keep, was imprisoned.

Eventually, she was freed by the Cargylle twins, and the episode ended with Rhaenys breaking her dragon out of its imprisonment and scaring everyone at the coronation.

Eve Best stars as Rhaenys Targaryen in Episode 9 of HBO's House of the Dragon Season 1
Eve Best stars as Rhaenys Targaryen in Episode 9 of House of the Dragon Season 1. Pic credit: HBO/Ollie Upton

Rhaenys Targaryen was angry at her imprisonment

As to be expected, Rhaenys was plenty angry with her imprisonment merely for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

After all, she had only been there because there was a disagreement regarding the line of succession for Driftmark, one which Viserys had decisively cleared up.

However, it also placed her in a position where she was openly a supporter of Rhaenyra and Alicent couldn’t have that when she wanted to make sure the princess didn’t know about her father’s death just yet.

Once Rhaenys was broken out of the Keep by the Cargylle twins, she used the confusion of people being gathered to witness the coronation to rescue her dragon as well.

Then, Meleys broke through the ceiling and surprised all those above who were witnessing Aegon being crowned.

Taking a long moment to stare down Alicent and her supporters, many fans were yelling at their TV screens and demanding that Rhaenys call out “Dracarys” and incinerate all those who supported Aegon and his rule.

It would make things very simple for Rhaenyra, after all. But there was good reason for Rhaenys not to do this.

Eve Best as Rhaenys Targaryen and Steve Toussaint as Corlys Velaryon, as seen in Episode 1 of HBO's House of the Dragon Season 1
Eve Best as Rhaenys Targaryen and Steve Toussaint as Corlys Velaryon, as seen in Episode 1 of House of the Dragon Season 1. Pic credit: HBO/Ollie Upton

Rhaenys had valid reasons for not murdering everyone

As pointed out by Polygon, things are more complicated than they seem.

For starters, this isn’t Rhaenys’ war.

Secondly, by doing so, Rhaenys, who was once overlooked to become the queen of Westeros, would have put her family at risk. As it has already been explored in previous episodes of House of the Dragon, family is everything to her.

But, most importantly, if Rhaenys took matters into her own hands and killed all of Rhaenyra’s opposition in one fell swoop, there would have been irrefutable evidence of regicide with everyone else looking on to witness the brutality.

Without a doubt, regicide (the killing of a king) is a treasonable offense, once again, placing what is left of her family in absolute danger.

Of course, with what book fans already know about the storyline within House of the Dragon, with Rhaenys letting them all live, many lives will still, ultimately, be lost in the upcoming civil war between House Targaryen over the Iron Throne.

House of the Dragon airs every Sunday night at 9/8c on HBO Max.

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