REVIEW: ‘House of the Dragon,’ Episode 9 — “The Green Council”

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House of the Dragon Episode 9 - But Why Tho

The last episode of House of the Dragon was mostly peaceful and somewhat healing, and yet the new generation foreshadowed the political violence that would happen after King Viserys (Paddy Considine) died. While that episode ended with Viserys’s death, the showrunners ensured that we would feel a growing tension. House of the Dragon Episode 9, “The Green Councilis the penultimate episode of the series’s first season, and damn, it doesn’t hold back.

To put it simply, House of the Dragon Episode 9 is where the story of the Targaryen civil war begins as King Viserys Targaryen’s children begin to battle for control of the Iron Throne. Instead of an episode packed with action, this one is packed with an emotional depth that ramps up as the situation builds on itself.  The Hightowers lock down the Red Keep, and everyone within it, including Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) in order to execute their succession plan for Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney).

Those who keep their oath to Rhaenyra are killed for treason. And Alicent’s entire worth is measured by her the men around her. I don’t say this last part with disdain, instead, it captures the reality that women hold up the patriarchy as much as men, either out of duty or out of belief. The events of this episode are all ticking by, running on a clock like a thriller more than epic fantasy. The build-up and payoff of this episode make it fantastic.

House of the Dragon Episode 9 also makes it abundantly clear that the women push this story. One installs her son on the throne instead of looking for her own power,  one allows that son to be saved instead of killed, and of course, one waits in Dragonstone, central to the plot of Kings. While the men in House of the Dragon move about the series with power and royalty, the women, as Alicent said, “guide the men that do.” That is unless they buck the patriarchal system they are in.

This duality of feminity in the series has allowed audiences to see the varying perspectives of survival. Both Rhaenyra and Alicent have hardened themselves for survival. Alicent has hardened herself in order to protect the men around her, and Rhaenyra has hardened herself to break the chains the patriarchy has put on her. Both know how to bend instead of break, and that is important to the storytelling of this series. It’s also vital to understand that Alicent is and never was like Cersei.

House of the Dragon Episode 9 directly confronts Alicent and her subservience to the existing systems of power in a confrontation between her and Princess Rhaenys. Alicent tries to feed into Rhaenys’s ego in order to grab her support, with fealty to the claim that the Princess once held, understanding that Viserys was better suited for a lordship instead of a crown. But stalwart in her oath, and in herself, Rhaenys pushes back, “the word of my house is not fickle.”

It’s a scene that feels like it’s building up to a flip but instead, it’s clear that Rhaenys has no respect for Alicent. Instead, she sees she calls out that Alicent, despite her standing chooses to  “toil still in service to men.” Said with an ounce of disgust, it’s clear to Rhaenys that Alicent doesn’t want to be free, but instead wants “to make a window in a prison.” This is an exchange that puts a perspective on the political moves of the Hightowers and also makes it clear that despite her openness to scheming, Alicent is not looking to be someone on her own but to prop up others out of love of familial duty. Her choice is made because she truly believes that she is fulfilling her husband’s last wish, and in that, Alicent seems more innocent and naive in her political scheming than what was initially shown.

House of the Dragon Episode 9 is an achievement for the series and ultimately sets up the season finale while maintaining its own strength. It may not be the action-packed episode I thought we would get from the trailer we were shown last week, but it is an important one and an excellently crafted one at that. While House of the Dragon has progressed both too slowly and extremely fast given the extensive amount of time jumps, this episode expertly builds on every interaction and decision made up until this point. On top of that, the tension and exploration of emotions toward whether Aegon is worthy are unbeatable.

Having found its footing again, this is a fantastic episode that continually ramps up over its runtime. From the small council chamber to Flea Bottom and Aegon’s coronation, every character choice and movement is perfectly planned. Not to mention Rhaenys’s stunning final moments in this episode that solidify her, and her freedom as one of the series’ best choices.

House of the Dragon Episode 9 is streaming now on HBO Max, with new episodes airing every Sunday.


House of the Dragon Episode 9 — "The Green Council"
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Having found its footing again, this is a fantastic episode that continually ramps up over its runtime. From the small council chamber to Flea Bottom and Aegon’s coronation, every character choice and movement is perfectly planned. Not to mention Rhaenys’s stunning final moments in this episode that solidify her, and her freedom as one of the series’ best choices.

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