House of the Dragon finale review: The War of the Dragons beginsOct 26 | 5 min read
House of the Dragon episode 9 review and recap: Alicent's feet, Aegon's crown and Rhaenys' showstopping finale
Now that's what I call a dragon! House of the Dragon episode 9 reviewed and recapped as we head towards a stunning conclusion to the first season.
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After 55 nerve-shredding minutes, it looked like the penultimate episode of season 1 was going to conclude with a fist-pumping King Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) celebrating his coronation and a magnificently smug Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) grinning in delight.
But Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best) and her dragon Meleys had other ideas. It made Vaemond’s head-chopping exit last week look like small fry.
We look back at Rhaenys’s big moment and all the talking points from episode 9, The Green Council...
1. Rhaenys Velaryon steals the show without saying a word
What a scene. What an entrance. What a finale. Eve Best didn’t even have to say a word and she still claims the crown for the coolest badass in House of the Dragon.
Storming through the floorboards on the back of Meleys – it turns out Heleana’s (Phia Saban) “beast beneath the floorboards” prophecy was bang on the money – Rhaenys pulled back the curtain on Aegon’s ‘glorious’ coronation and revealed it for what it really is - a declaration of war.
Any chance that Rhaenys, and subsequently Corlys (Steve Toussaint) and Driftmark, would stand with the Greens has been smashed to pieces.
It turns out you should never try locking up The Queen Who Never Was. She doesn’t take too kindly to such matters.
2. Alicent and Otto’s power struggle
Olivia Cooke has picked up where Emily Carey left off with Alicent Hightower, making her one of the most intriguing characters in the series.
Rather than portray Alicent as a manipulative vengeful mother or just an amiable pawn in Otto’s games, Cooke manages to balance being both a victim and a villain.
We saw Alicent stand up to her father this week, refusing to order the murder of Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Daemon (Matt Smith) and arguing that they must try to strike a deal to maintain peace.
There is unquestionably a naivety to Alicent. She was shocked to discover Otto had been plotting with the Lannisters (Jefferson Hall) and Ironrod (Paul Kennedy) in advance of Viserys’ death. But she also has a fierceness and stubbornness that makes her more powerful and intimidating than her father, who for all his plotting remains a rather predictable figure.
Both Rhaenyra and Alicent may have been manipulated, suffered and undercut by the actions of men, but they are also smart enough and pack enough swagger to scythe down those who stand in their way.
3. Larys Strong reveals his yucky motive – a Queen Alicent foot fetish
“The enigma that is Larys Strong the Clubfoot has vexed students of history for generations and is not one we can hope to unravel here. Where did his true loyalty lie? What was he about?”
In the Fire and Blood story, the motivations of Larys (Matthew Needham) remain open to interpretation, but in House of the Dragon we at least one motivating factor – a creepy foot fetish.
Olivia Cooke can probably expect an unusual new online fan base after Queen Alicent placed her feet on a table for Larys’s pleasure, as a reward for his scheming.
Perhaps all it took to motivate Larys to have his own brother and father killed was a flash of the Queen’s ankles.
Larys remains a vital weapon for the Greens as he has eyes and ears everywhere, but it appears his loyalty is toward Alicent rather than Aegon or the Hightowers.
4. Who are Erryk and Arryk Cargyll? And what next for Harrold Westerling?
Twin brothers Arryk and Erryk from the Kingsguard became important figures this week as they were tasked with hunting down Aegon from the depths of Flea Bottom by Otto.
Erryk also took sides in the battle for the Iron Throne, doing his best to aid Rhaenys' escape from King’s Landing as he objected to the Hightowers' scheming.
The Cargylls are played by twin brothers Luke and Elliott Tittensor and you’ll be seeing much more of them in season 2.
Elliott Tittensor is best known for starring as Carl Gallagher in Shameless back in 2004 and has also appeared in Moving On, Reg and the films Spike Island and Dunkirk.
It was also a significant week for Harrold Westerling (Graham McTavish), who has spent much of season 1 looking pensive from the sidelines.
He also refused to back the Hightowers' scheming and plotting, and stood down as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. He appears to have a particular distaste for his replacement Ser Criston Cole and an eventual showdown between the two knights is being slowly teased.
5. Is Aegon ready to be King?
Literally dragged to the throne, Aegon would have preferred to spend his days being depraved in the depths of Flea Bottom rather than holding Small Council meetings.
While his brother Aemond has been dreaming of war and power, Aegon has been busy, erm, getting busy.
However, we got a glimpse of a different Aegon as he was greeted by rapturous applause at his coronation. The acclaim from his people appeared to stir his ego and ease his personal insecurities. The slow grin that came over his face as he raised his sword was deliciously menacing.
6. Whose side is Mysaria aka The White Worm on? And did Larys Strong strike again?
Where do Mysaria’s (Sonoya Mizuno) allegiances lay - with her ex-lover Daemon or with the wily old Otto? Episode 9 appears to suggest that she’s actually rooting for Flea Bottom and is going to use her network of informants to bargain for better treatment for the ordinary people of King’s Landing.
Larys Strong isn’t a fan of another whisperer and informant operating on his turf and with the backing of Queen Alicent attempted to take down Mysaria with his now signature calling card – burning down her home.
It would be a massive deviation from Fire and Blood if Mysaria didn’t make it out of season 1 alive, so we’ll have to wait and see what the fallout is from Larys’s firestarting antics.
7. RIP Lord Beesbury
Bill Paterson finally got a chance to shine this week as Lord Beesbury defied the passing years and took a defiant stand against the scheming Hightowers at the Green Council meeting.
The Master of Coin refused to accept that King Viserys would have turned his back on his daughter Rhaenyra and backed Aegon to be King. Unfortunately for Beesbury, Ser Criston Cole still isn’t over being shunned by Rhaenyra and gladly smashed poor old Beesbury’s face in. Cole’s transformation from dashing Dorne hunk to the most punchable pillock has been extraordinary from Fabien Frankel.
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