Season 1 of House of the Dragon has been leading up to this very point, which is the start of the Dance of the Dragons directly.
Last week, we saw the death of King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), who passed away after having a conversation with his wife, Alicent (Olivia Cooke), which was entirely misconstrued by her.
Sure, Viserys had been talking about Aegon the Conqueror and how his daughter tied into all this. Hell, he even thought he was talking to Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy).
But all Alicent heard was Aegon, which is the name of their eldest son.
And while Viserys has spent the last however many years insisting his daughter take over the Iron Throne, Alicent takes this conversation and runs with it in Episode 9.
Now, the terrible plot to usurp Viserys unfolds.
The Green Council
Ever since Alicent wore that green dress, the lines have been drawn between those who want Viserys’ son, Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), to rule and those who side with Rhaenyra.
Now, in Episode 9 of House of the Dragon, Team Green give no choice in the matter as they keep Viserys’ death a secret in order to get all their ducks in a row.
And by that, I mean bully those currently on the small council on Team Black across to their side.
And, if you think anyone has a say in the matter, think again.
The small council meets secretly to discuss what comes next and this is Alicent’s first real look at how much her dad, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), will scheme behind her back in order to play the game of thrones.
You see, he has been plotting to usurp Rhaenyra for a long time now and everyone in the room is on board with making Aegon king over Rhaenyra.
Well, nearly everyone.
Alicent is suitably horrified that her childhood friend is likely to be murdered at her father’s request rather than having any loose ends left that could legitimately take control.
Also, poor Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson) is even more shocked. And, after seeing what happened to Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) last week, he probably shouldn’t have shut his mouth and played along in order to leave the room alive.
However, once he starts pointing out that he has known Viserys the longest and never once has he hinted at anyone else ruling but Rhaenyra, Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) bashes his head in, and now the council are truly on the same horrific page.
Although, the Lord Commander, Ser Harrold Westerling (Graham MacTavish), who was tasked with killing Rhaenyra by Otto, manages to step down from his position and leave the room without the same immediate fate. This then leaves the door wide open for Alicent to place Cole into his newly vacated position.
Alicent struggles with all the violence, while still choosing violence
Alicent is not quite so black and white in the latest episode of House of the Dragon.
While she is absolutely insistent that her son rules over Westeros, believing entirely what her dying husband said to her, she also doesn’t want harm to befall Rhaenyra.
Not only was Rhaenyra her childhood friend, but she also knows her husband would not have liked anything terrible to befall his daughter.
This brings her into direct loggerheads with Otto, but she does actually stand up to him, trying desperately to keep Rhaenyra from harm while also working out a way to make her son king.
Except, Otto will have none of that and is intent on making sure Rhaenyra is dealt with. While I hate to say it, he does have a valid point.
If Rhaenyra is the heir and they are overthrowing her, as long as she is alive, she will be a threat.
But, seriously, I side with Alicent on this one, abhorring murder is not a weakness.
Still, it also means things are going to get very messy from here on in — especially considering George R. R. Martin is hoping House of the Dragon will run for four seasons.
Where in the Westeros is Aegon?
While all of the plotting is unfolding, there is just one little issue. Aegon is missing.
Otto immediately sends out Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliott Tittensor) and his twin brother, Arryk (Luke Tittensor), to find and return Aegon to him.
Except, Alicent is determined Aegon be returned to her first and sends Cole and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) out to find him as well.
And so begins the Westerosi equivalent of “Where’s Waldo?”
During this whole search, it is discovered that Aegon likes to frequent terrible fighting halls where children are pitted against each other and even an illegitimate child of his is there.
Eventually, though, the White Worm (Sonoya Mizuno) leads the twins to his location, and he is dragged out from under an altar.
However, Cole is determined to get Aegon back to his mother, and a fight breaks out. All the while Aemond manages to secure his brother.
I don’t want it
Aegon is very much like a distant relative and namesake of his. In Game of Thrones, when Jon Snow found out his real name was Aegon Targaryen, he decided he didn’t want to rule Westeros, deferring to his aunt, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).
In House of the Dragon, this Aegon doesn’t want to be king either.
In fact, when Aemond catches him, he would much rather sail away from Westeros and, seriously, Aemond is okay with this because he has already made his intentions clear to Cole, stating he would rule quite happily if Aegon wasn’t found.
Except, Cole turns up then and Aegon has no choice but to return home.
Larys is still the worst creeper
Otto is in his absolute element in the latest episode of House of the Dragon — and so is Larys Strong (Matthew Needham).
He has become quite excellent at being the creepiest creeper for Alicent, but things are about to get decidedly more unsettling for viewers regarding these two.
Larys is very good at watching and keeping an eye on who might be traitorous to the Green Council.
In the process, he finds out more about White Worm and tells Alicent about her.
And this all culminates with Alicent taking off her shoes so that Larys can get himself off to the sight of them.
Yes, Larys has a foot fetish and I’m not about to yuck someone’s yum, except this is Larys and now I have to use eye bleach to remove the images from my brain.
Rhaenys is yet another pawn in the game
The Green Council is still keeping quiet about Viserys’ death until Aegon is found, and everyone who isn’t on the Green Council and knows about the death of the king is taken prisoner — Rhaenys (Eve Best) included.
While Rhaenyra and Daemon (Matt Smith) left King’s Landing before s**t went down, Rhaenys is still there.
She is immediately locked in her room until Alicent can have a little chat with her about persuading her across to Team Green.
Except no one really seems to notice that Rhaenys will do whatever TF she wants, and she refuses to side with Alicent.
This means she is stuck in her room until the twins decide they are sick of Alicent and Otto’s s**t and break her free.
They sneak off just as it is time for the announcement of Viserys’ death and how Aegon is the new king, regardless of what Viserys has been saying for years prior to this.
The coronation of Aegon II
Now, while this episode has been dealing with the usurping of Rhaenyra, let’s just take a moment to feel sorry for poor Aegon.
Not only does he not want to be king, but he also realizes that everyone who should love him, simply doesn’t.
He points out to his mother that even Viserys didn’t like him and when he asks his mother if she loves him, she responds, “You imbecile.”
No wonder the poor kid drinks.
Then, when he is finally declared king — wearing the crown of Aegon the Conqueror, and not his father’s — he gets his very first moment of true happiness when the crowd cheers for him.
However, this is short-lived because Rhaenys has something to say about her and her dragon being imprisoned.
That’s right, they locked up Rhaenys’ dragon because they thought Rhaenyra’s side had enough dragons already and that might be a bit unfair.
Because usurping Rhaenyra is not at all unfair…
So, while Rhaenys is supposed to be sneaking out of King’s Landing, she uses the coronation to her advantage and rescues Meleys.
And, where is the dragon pit?
Well, it’s right below where Aegon is being made king.
So, Rhaenys busts right through the ceiling and disrupts the coronation.
She makes direct eye contact with Alicent, with Aegon hiding behind her, and I really wished Rhaenys had ended all this bulls**t right there and then by calling dracarys on all the usurpers.
But, no, Meleys simply roars at them and takes off, Rhaenys now on her way to alert Rhaenyra of all that has unfolded in King’s Landing.
And, as to how Rhaenyra reacts to the news of her father’s death and the usurping of her position remains to be seen and viewers will just have to wait until the Season 1 finale of House of the Dragon next Sunday night.
House of the Dragon airs every Sunday night at 9/8c on HBO Max.