The big moments of House of the Dragon Episode 9 weren’t in the book

A scene from Episode 9 was improved over Fire and Blood. As for the other, well…

In true Game of Thrones fashion, House of the Dragon Episode 9 packs one hell of a punch.

Written by Sara Hess and directed by Claire Kilner, The Green Council is set just after the death of Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), with his wife and council plotting to pass the crown to son Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney ) to pass on. instead of his named heiress Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy). All of this roughly follows George RR Martin’s Fire & Blood, which tells the story of House Targaryen, but at least two main scenes are unique to the show.

The first of these takes place at the beginning of the episode when Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) is talking to Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) about the events that are happening in the Castle and Capitol at that moment. Larys loves his whispers (like Varys in Game of Thrones) and loves drama, so he’s already feasting on this scene — but it’s only going to get worse.

Watching a queen in Westeros do something as mundane and relatable as taking off her socks is harrowing enough for a House of the Dragon viewer and should serve as a warning: This isn’t a show about people washing themselves , eat meals or take off their clothes with no explicit narrative purpose. As the camera switches between a close-up of Alicent’s bare feet and Larys’ hungry expression, the connection becomes crystal clear – and keeps getting worse.

The scene ends with Alicent turning away from Larys, who starts masturbating at the sight of her bare feet. Larys’ quirks are his own and certainly not noticeable in a show steeped in layers of incest, but the added layer of his disability changes the context of this scene. Game of Thrones prominently featured a character with dwarfism and a quadriplegic teenager, but it was never particularly elegant when it came to dealing with disabilities in the modern world. Larys is known as “clubfoot” because he was born with an inturned foot, and his foot fetish seems driven more by that than by any Rhae interest in Alicent himself (despite killing his entire family for her). This could be part of the show’s larger effort to give Larys a clear allegiance when his motives weren’t always known on Fire & Blood. In House of the Dragon, Larys is clearly linked to the Hightowers and Targaryens, and Alicent’s approval of him in this way only strengthens his loyalty to her.

Mid-range shot of a dark-haired man resting his hand on a walking stick; still from "house of the dragon."

Matthew Needham in The House of the Dragon


The second new scene is more of a crowd puller. Thousands of little people line the dragon pit for Aegon’s coronation, and as the reluctant usurper brandishes his sword in front of the cheering crowds, a dragon swoops in to wreak havoc. It is Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best), The Queen That Never Was, and her silent flight could not speak louder: she rejects the false king and supports Rhaenyra, and with the etiquette and ceremony of King’s Landing she is now green pledge fully finished open proud treason. She flies Dragon Meleeys straight to the pedestal where Alicent, Aegon and their immediate family stand, perfectly positioned to incinerate them all and end this war before it begins in earnest.

Instead, she flies away.

Rhaenys’ dramatic escape and merciful sparing of the Greens is nowhere to be found in Fire & Blood, and while it’s as cinematic a sequence as any, much of what’s to come in House of the Dragon is new . Whatever happens in the finale and future seasons definitely wouldn’t have happened if Rhaenys had screamed “Dracarys” and ended this war before it even started. And now the Greens owe her their lives, which could make for extremely riveting excitement going forward.

In a way, Rhaenys’ moment feels like justice for Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) in Game of Thrones, whose final kite flights in Season 8 were criticized for sloppy character development that rushed the storyline. Here is Rhaenys, a woman of unassailable character (surrounded by the highly unassailable) who rides a dragon to illustrate the strength of her beliefs. She risks being called a traitor and almost becoming a kinslayer, and doesn’t hesitate for a moment to doubt herself. She may be the queen it never was, and this moment proves it: the kingdom didn’t deserve her.

House of the Dragon improvised scenes not found in Fire & Blood, as did Game of Thrones before expanding on A Song of Ice and Fire (to a mixed reception). Episode 9 embodies the breadth of these creative choices, from charged and disturbing to badass fanservice. With a second season in the works (and likely more), these won’t be the final twists in the plot for Fire & Blood readers – not with a finale imminent.

“House of the Dragon” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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Lindsay Lowe

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