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House of the Dragon Episode 9 Review – The fight for the Iron Throne begins

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Den of Geek

Episode nine of House of the Dragon starts with the aftermath of King Viserys’ death as everyone competes to take the throne.

Cast: Olivia Cooke, Rhys Ifans, Eve Best

Creators: Ryan Condal, George R. R. Martin

Language: English

Recap:

after last week’s episode, most of us are still recovering from Paddy Considine’s appearance as King Viserys, in which he takes his final steps to the Iron Throne, when one of the biggest plot twists in television history also occurs when he’s killed by Syrio Forel. In the penultimate episode, Queen Alicent Hightower receives news that her husband is dead and deals with it while being paranoid and keeping it a secret. She gets Ser Otto Hightower, her Hand of the King, and gathers her council to talk about how she wants to deal with the King’s death and possible heir. While there is a historic tendency for succession discussions not to go well, Alicent receives immediate support from the council members including Jason Lannister and others, with the exception of Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson). She claims that the dying King’s wish was to leave the country in Aegon’s hands, which results in tragedy when Beesbury meets his unfortunate end – as the quarrel heats up, Cole tries to stop it, but in the process accidentally kills him.

Otto seems fully prepared with his plan to make his grandson Aegon the next king, while Alicent is feeling the pressure to come up with a plan, even though many plans suggested, including murdering Rhaenyra and her entire family, are often opposed. To usurp his sister’s succession to the throne, King’s Landing noble Lord Otto goes about getting lords and ladies from the Seven Kingdoms who had pledged their fealty to the queen Rhaenyra when she was proclaimed her brother Viserys’s heir to bow before the brother Aegon after Viserys’s death. Princess Rhaenys, who is at King’s Landing, has herself imprisoned in her chamber, refusing to take a decision in the matter.

Aegon (Glynn-Carney), who is next in line to take the Iron throne, went missing from his chambers; therefore Criston and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) went to Fleabottom, which is apparently where he usually stays. On one hand, Cole is instructed to take Aegon to his mother, while on the other hand, Otto sends his own men to look for his grandson. Incredibly, Mysaria aka The White Worm knows Aegon’s whereabouts and bargains with Otto for an excessive price that is greater than gold.

While seeking to win Aegon, Aemond Mitchell is seen discussing how, despite him being perfect to take over as king given that he is the rider of the largest dragon in the world and one of the best swordsmen in the world, it is his brother who doesn’t want to rule who is being forced to take the throne. As Aegon is forcefully led to his crowning, it is not until after hearing his father’s chants from the crowds of King’s landing that he feels he is capable of taking over. The moment of happiness is short-lived as he is soon threatened with an attack as a dragon emerges to warn him. Rather than Rhaenyra, it is Rhaenys.

Points to consider:

Though not what most would call a thrilling show and devoid of all of the qualities people would consider common with Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon has proven to be more effective because of the amount of dialogue that delves into complex and realistic relationships between characters with intentions more morbid than most mainstream shows are willing to pursue. Nevertheless, this ninth episode manages to deliver a moment of powerful spectacle during a sword fight involving Ser Criston, the visuals of which are well-composed. There’s also the grand climax that is guaranteed to bring gasps, and in my opinion there’s no better depiction of a dragon than the one you’ll see in this episode. The biggest power move in all of Westeros worth celebrating, in my opinion, is Rhaenys’.

Points deducted:

House of the Dragon’s first season has done a good job of establishing its characters despite all its time jumps, and the set-up towards an upcoming war seems to have been in place from the start, but one would expect it to be more tense in the second season. Although the finale of episode 9 does detail what’s in store for the next episode, it waits until the very last minute to make the case. To think how impressive the next episode is going to be, considering what a marvelous job the episode 9 finale has already done with the scant amount of time allotted to it, it’s going to be difficult.

Here’s my opinion:

In Episode 9, which is the first episode in the season not focusing on the core Targaryens (namely Rhaenyra and Daemon), Viserys’ death clears the way for the Green team, in the form of the Hightowers. All the drama of this episode pivots around the Hightowers. Alicent and Otto may be on the same team for their goal, to have Aegon take the throne and lead them, but the way in which they each accomplish it differs and although Otto may be overt about his agenda and schemes, Alicent suppresses her desires through Lord Larys (Matthew Needham). In a number of scenes, one realizes how all that while, even though Alicent came across as cruel at some points, she is, in essence, just a pawn at the hands of men. For example, in one episode’s highlight, this was conveyed very well to Alicent by her granddaughter Rhaenys. It’s also an important episode showcasing what the future of King’s Landing will look like under the rule of the young and willful Aegon, who stands to inherit the Iron Throne as ‘missing king’. While his doddering grandfather can scarcely manage a phone call, Otto may already have usurped him with ambitious cunning and callous bloodletting.

Considering her portrayal of Lady Catherine of Thrushcross Grange, Emma Carey was excellent but her season is over and from what I’ve seen in Olivia Cooke’s Alicent, I would never want anyone else to play the role because Cooke does a stunning job of demonstrating range in Alicent, going from powerfully authoritative to vulnerable in just a matter of seconds. This week’s episode, Rhya Ifans also receives focus, in that Otto gains more spotlight and power following Viserys’ death. The actor does a good job of maintaining the complexity of his character, and remaining deceitful. Although, the most notable part of this episode was without a doubt Eve Best for her epic scene in the climax. Not a word was said, but that glare is plenty scary enough.

Highlights include:
1. One of the best scenes is when Olivia Cooke played Alicia.
2. The all-out climax moment, involving the dragon.
3. The role of Otto Hightower played by Rhys Ifans

In conclusion:

The penultimate episode of House of the Dragon raises the stakes even higher than before because the race for the Iron throne has begun. What will happen to Rhaenyra when she learns of Aegon’s succession? This exciting episode will make the wait for next week’s big finale seem longer.

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