The penultimate episode for House of the Dragon‘s first season, “The Green Council” is an episode full of political intrigue and infighting, as Alicent and Otto fight for control of Aegon during their coup to take the Iron Throne.
Directed by Clare Kilner, the episode begins in the aftermath of Viserys’ death, as a servant quickly relays the news of to Alicent, who is quite distraught.
I think this portrayal of Alicent is great and Olivia Cooke completley sells it.
In the book, I never got the sense that Alicent loved Viserys, since she seemed to fall into the stereotypical evil step-mother character archetype.
The show, however, clearly shows that Alicent did love Viserys, just not in a romantic way.
It makes her much more sympathetic than in the book, along with her reasoning for putting Aegon on the Throne, this being that she misunderstood what Viserys said before he died.
With the possible exception of Otto, clearly no one in the Small Council buys Alicent’s claim that Viserys’ dying wish was for Aegon to be king.
This does not the stop the majority of them from usurping Rhanerya’s throne, as it is revealed that Otto had been spearheading a plan to do this for years.
Alicent is outraged by this but she is not the only one, as the Master of Coin, Lyman Beesbury, is also greatly angered, calling this coup out for the treason that it is.
He is understandably suspicious about the circumstances of Viserys’ death.
Although, his comment that “the king was well last night, by all accounts” is pretty hilarious when you consider that Viserys looked like he was on death’s door constantly.
In any case, Criston does not take kindly to Beesbury suggesting that Alicent poisoned Viserys and murders him by slamming his head into the ball used by Small Council members.
I guess this is why we never saw these things in Game of Thrones.
The members of the Small Council were probably worried about having their heads bashed in with them.
All joking aside, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Harrold Westerling, attempts to take Criston into custody but is talked down.
So this is the second time Criston has murdered an innocent man in front of numerous witnesses and got away with the crime.
It does make sense for him to get away with it this time, though, since Beesbury probably would have been executed for supporting Rhanerya later.
With Beesbury dead, the conversation among the Green Council turns darker, as Alicent realizes Otto means to have Rhanerya, Daemon and their children put to death.
She is angered by this idea and so is Ser Harrold, who quits as soon as Otto orders him to go and kill Rhanerya on Dragonstone.
Now realizing they will have to fight to influence Aegon, Alicent and Otto race to his rooms, only to find Helaena with the children.
“It is out fate, I think,” Helaena tells a servant, before Otto and Alicent walk in. “To crave always what is given to another. If one posesses a thing, the other will take it away.”
This is a perfect reflection on the Green coup.
People really should start listening to Helaena.
Unfortunately, Alicent and Otto just want to know where Aegon is, and Otto departs when he learns he is not there.
For the second time, Helaena warns that “there is a beast beneath the boards” but Alicent dimisses this, although in a caring way.
With Aegon missing, the game to find and control him begins, with Otto sending the Kingsguard twin brothers, Ser Erryk and Arryk Cargyll, and Alicent sending Aemond and Criston.
Erryk and Arryk have the advantage, however, as Arryk is more aware of the places Aegon goes.
This includes a child fighting ring, where some of Aegon’s own bastards fight to the death for the amusement of crowds.
So, Aegon is definitley the worst choice to be king.
Not only is he a rapist but he also allows his children to be sold into fighting rings.
While searching for Aegon at the child fighting ring, they are approached by an associate of Mysaria, who has kidnapped Aegon after Alicent’s handmaiden Talia informed her of the king’s death.
Mysaria now wants a meeting with Otto, who is currently dealing with those who swore fealty to Rhanerya, demanding they now renounce these oaths and swear fealty to Aegon instead.
Many do but some are proud enough to keep their honour and are executed.
One of these is Lord Caswell, who acts as though he has switched sides, only to attempt an escape to warn Rhanerya.
He is sadly caught thanks to Larys spies and executed.
Meanwhile, Criston and Aemond are performing their own searches at brothels Aegon frequented, with Aemond venting to Criston about Aegon and the crown going to him.
When Aemond mentions the way Aegon spoke of women, Criston replies that every woman in an image of the Mother and must be spoken of with reverance.
Well, that’s pretty hypocritical coming from the man who called Rhanerya the C word in Episode Six.
Along with Criston’s hypocrisy, we also get a good look at Aemond’s envy, as he wishes to be king and, honestly, would actually be better suited for it than Aegon.
Yet, as the second son, he is doomed for the support role.
Aemond really has a lot of parallels with Daemon.
Even their names are almost identical.
Despite their lack of success in finding Aegon, Criston and Aemond catch a lucky break when they spot Otto secretly meeting with Mysaria.
Maybe it was the Hand of the King badge he stupidly wore under his hood which gave him away?
As for Mysaria, yep, her accent is still terrible.
I like Mysaria as a character, as her motivation to stop the child fighting rings in King’s Landing is noble, yet it is hard to get into her story when the actress’ accent is so bad it distracts me.
I’m still really hoping they remove this accent in Season Two.
While all this is happening, Alicent meets with Rhaenys, who has been locked up in the Red Keep until now.
Informing her of Viserys’ death, Alicent attempts to convince Rhaenys to side with the Greens, admitting that Rhaenys should have been queen but stating that they can still have power through guiding the men above them.
Rhaenys grows newfound respect for Alicent’s conviction, yet correctly states that, “You desire not to be free but to make a window in the wall of your prison. Have you never imagined yourself on the Iron Throne?”
This was an excellent moment for Rhaenys and Eve Best continues to do great work as the character.
Meanwhile, thanks to Otto’s deal with Mysaria to stop the child fighting rings, Erryk and Arryk are able to locate Aegon, only to be ambushed by Aemond and Criston, who followed them.
A fight ensues, during which Criston and Aemond take Aegon captive, as Erryk leaves, disgusted by Aegon, as he now knows he is not fit to be king.
Aegon begs Aemond to let him go, stating that he will find a ship and never return.
Aemond seems to consider this but, before he can do anything, Criston leads Aegon to Alicent.
With Aegon now firmly in Alicent’s clutches, she meets with Otto where he tries to worm his way into Alicent’s good graces.
Alicent is having none of it, however, leaving when Otto says she looks so much like her mother.
Despite his manipulations, I could not help but think that Otto was oddly proud of Alicent in this moment.
Not everything is going well for Alicent, however, as it is revealed that she trades sexual favors to Larys in exchange for information, specifically by presenting her feet to him.
I had heard the leaks for this scene and I was quite concerned about it but, after having seen it, I think it was handled as well as it could have been.
It certainly makes the moment Alicent takes her shoes off when talking with Larys in Episode Six creepier.
The guy with a club foot having a foot fetish is a bit on the nose, though.
Larys informs Alicent of Mysaria’s spy ring, leading to her ordering an attack on Mysaria, pretty much destroying her deal with Otto, which is not exactly a good thing, since Mysaria pointed out to him just how much power the small folk actually have.
Another blow to the Greens is Erryk Cargyll, as he frees Rhaenys, defecting to the Blacks.
He intends to lead her out of the city, leaving Rhaenys’ dragon Meleys behind, only for Rhaenys to be swept up in a crowd that is luckily heading for the Dragon Pit.
It is here that Aegon is crowned as king by Criston and it is also here that I have to mention one of my criticisms, this being Criston’s role in crowning Aegon being reduced.
Sure, he does place the crown on his head but in the book he played a much more important role, since he was actually the one to convince Aegon to take the throne by claiming that Rhanerya would kill him and his entire family if he did not.
This earned him the title of King Maker.
In the show, however, it is Alicent who convinces Aegon and Criston merely crowns him.
I hope they do not downplay any of Criston’s other actions in future seasons.
As for Aegon, we see that he has overcome his reluctance to become king, due to the love he recieves from the crowd in the Dragon Pit.
As messed up as Aegon is, he did want love and affection from his parents and now he is getting that affection from the people of Kings’ Landing.
Or rather, what is left of the people of King’s Landing because Rhaenys chooses this moment to bash through the ground with Meleys killing an untold number of small folk, and fulfilling Helaena’s “beast beneath the boards” prophecy.
She looks ready to kill the Greens until Alicent jumps in the way.
Having gained a newfound respect for Alicent and also sympathising with her as a mother, Rhaenys spares the Greens’ lives and departs in epic fashion to warn Rhanerya of her crown being usurped, bringing an end to the episode.
This moment is entirely show original and has recieved mixed reactions, since some have said it makes no sense for Rhaneys to kill many civilians but then spare Alicent and the rest of the Greens immediately afterwards.
However, I think it works when you take into consideration that the nobles do not really care about the small folk in general.
I mean, there is a literal child fighting ring going on in Kings’ Landing and no noble did anything about that.
So, I think this change does work.
Overall, “The Green Council” is another solid episode of House of the Dragon.
It is not one of my favourites but it does build nicely into the finale, which I am very excited to see, as a book reader.
I am probably more excited for Episode Ten, “The Black Queen”, than I have been for any previous House of the Dragon episode.
This is because we will get the first dance between the dragons in “The Black Queen”, if you can even call what happens a “dance.”
It’s more of a slaughter, actually, with Lucerys’ Arrax standing no chance against Aemond’s Vhagar.
It will be brutal and, along with the stillbirth of Visenya, will be a tragic way to end the season, with Season Two almost definitley not arriving until 2024.
It will be a long wait but I think it will certainly be worth it to see many of the epic and horrifying events that take place during the Dance of the Dragons.
One of these horrifying moments is the Blood and Cheese incident, where Daemon and Mysaria send hitmen to murder Aegon’s son in retaliation for Lucerys’ death.
Mysaria’s involvement in this act makes a lot of sense after Episode Nine because of how her chance to end the child fighting rings was destroyed by the Greens in this episode.
We also have to take Helaena’s “beast beneath the boards” prophecy into account.
Yes, she was most likely talking about Rhaenys and Meleys but her prophecy could also have a double meaning by referring to Blood and Cheese.
We will have to wait for Season Two to know for sure.
Until then, we can enjoy the final episode of House of the Dragon‘s first season, which airs today.