December 2, 2022

“While moving the story forward, and delivering another dramatic episode, episode nine reminds us of the high points of season one of Game Of Thrones.” We review the ninth episode of House Of The Dragon.

After the sad ending to last week’s episode, ‘House Of The Dragon’ this week deals with the aftermath. After being informed of her husband, the king’s death, Queen Alicent moves forward under the misconception that the late king desired her firstborn son to ascend to the Iron Throne. While we know that what she believes isn’t true, dark secrets are finally revealed. And the true villain of the piece is finally unmasked for all to see. And gives us another dramatic piece of terrific storytelling along the way.

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON (1×09: THE GREEN COUNCIL)

After King Viserys’ sad death, the Small Council meets to plot to install Prince Aegon on the Iron Throne. Ser Criston Cole kills Lord Beesbury when he objects to Princess Rhaenyra being supplanted as queen. Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Harrold Westerling resigns in protest at the move. Ser Otto Hightower delays announcing the king’s death to fortify their position, refusing to allow word to reach Rhaenyra of her father’s death. It is finally revealed that he and the council have been planning for this all along. Queen Alicent learns that Otto always intended to install Aegon as king and fails to gain support from Princess Rhaenys, who is being held captive in the castle.

Alicent confronts her father, who doesn’t deny any of the allegations she levels at him. When Aegon disappears, Otto has the Kingsguardmen Ser Erryk Carrgyll and Ser Arryk Cargyll search the city, for him. Alicent meanwhile, sends Criston and Prince Aemond to find him first. Mysaria, the White Worm, informs Otto that Aegon is hiding in the city’s sept, but Criston and Aemond apprehend him after a brief fight. Lord Larys Strong warns Alicent she is being spied upon by Tayla, her handmaiden. Aegon insists he is unfit to rule, but Alicent convinces him otherwise. All the while, those in support of Rhaenyra begin to make their moves, leading to a huge shock and surprise for all as Aegon is crowned.

THOUGHTS

The way the story unfolds this week harkens back to the first season of the original ‘Game Of Thrones’ series. It too didn’t need to have death, violence, and destruction every week. By telling the story, the series builds up the tension ahead of what promises to be a blood-red episode next week to conclude this first season. And it works. We watch as long-held secrets are finally revealed to the shock of many. We finally discover exactly how far Otto Hightower will go to make sure Rhaenyra never ascends to the Iron Throne, her birthright. And we also see sibling rivalry come into play between Aegon and his brother, Aemond. Aegon doesn’t want the throne, Aemond craves it, believing he should rule.

For an episode that doesn’t feature Emma D’Arcy or Matt Smith as Rhaenyra and Daemon respectively, it still ranks as a gripping piece of storytelling. While no blood is shed this week, no nasty deaths, or real shocks, the episode flows as smoothly as water. There isn’t a moment where we can fail to pay attention. To do so will bring confusion later on in the episode and for the final chapter of this first season next week. But by the climax, we are ready for what is sure to come. The final two minutes are worth watching the episode for alone.

THE CAST

The cast once again plays their part during the episode. Eve Best, getting something to do and screentime this week is superb. Rhaenys is a character that will play a large part in the coming Dance Of The Dragons and Eve Best shows that her character isn’t such a pushover or as weak as people think she is. Fabien Frankel shows a nasty, slimy, evil side as Ser Criston Cole this week. In a complete turnaround from earlier in the season, we now see Cole as vile. Far from being the handsome knight and protector to the young Rhaenyra we all liked, now he is a scheming bastard. And one we hope to see get his just desserts. Fabien Frankel has come into his own in the role.

OLIVIA COOKE

Olivia Cooke once again gives a winning performance as Queen Alicent. A few weeks ago, we started to despise her. And yet, this week, we find ourselves feeling sorry for her again. Alicent now knows she has been played all along. And she seems like a deer in the headlights, trapped in shock and fear. She knows what is happening is wrong. She knows something seriously isn’t right. But she goes along with it for the good of the realm and for the safety of her children. Olivia Cooke has fast become a staple in the series and she will continue to be going forward into the next season and beyond. And has embraced the role of Alicent as her own.

RHYS IFANS

But no one, no matter how hard they try, can supplant Rhys Ifans from becoming this week’s standout. Just by looking at him as Otto Hightower, we can see the lust for power, and the desire to have the control that lies within him. And he has finally been unmasked as the real villain of the piece. Whether it’s imprisoning those who won’t bend the knee to Aegon, from plotting the murders of Rhaenyra, Daemon, and all their children to the ‘justice’ he visits on those who refuse him, he is the Cersei or Baelish of this prequel series. His scheming has become evident to anyone who doubted him. And Ifans pulls it all off with sheer ease. No one can touch him in the acting stakes this week.

NEXT WEEK

The trailer for next week’s season finale has been released. And it shows the other side of the coin. It looks as if it will be focussed entirely on Rhaenyra and Daemon as they react to the events in this week’s episode. And the start of the dance. Let’s swoop in and take a look:

FINAL THOUGHTS

While moving the story forward, and delivering another dramatic episode, episode nine reminds us of the high points of season one of Game Of Thrones. And that is to its advantage. The lying, scheming, and dirty underhandedness are evident from the outset, making this a highly enjoyable chapter in the season. While some may call it slow, or complain that it doesn’t add anything, they are missing the point. It has been done this way deliberately, ready to explode into life in a fiery burst of Dragonflame. Those who have read the book, they will know that this is the point of no return.

The Dance Of The Dragons is now an inevitability.  There is no way to stop the coming death and bloodshed from happening. The tragedy of the events will play out over the coming seasons. But the journey to this point has been an enjoyable one. Far from being an inferior show to the original, it more than matches it for quality. The look, design, storylines, and music complement the show and what’s gone before it. The buildup has been done in a coordinated way, for us to get to know the characters, their intertwined stories, and experiences, ready for the battle lines to be drawn, and friends to turn against each other. This ninth chapter brings us to the tipping point that we’ve been waiting for. And it is yet another gripping event that all fans will love.

‘House Of The Dragon’ is streaming on HBO Max in the United States and on various streaming services around the world now.

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