‘House of the Dragon’ Installs a New King Who ‘Doesn’t Want It’ (RECAP)

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower
Spoiler Alert

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 1 episode 9, “The Green Council.”]

The Game of Thrones universe is two for two on characters named Aegon who “don’t want it.”

The first, you’ll likely recall, was Jon Snow (Kit Harington). The second is Alicent’s (Olivia Cooke) son, Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney), who Viserys believed was the Prince That Was Promised. But unlike Jon, who likely would’ve been a good king, “The Green Council” proves that if Westeros’ fate rests in Aegon II’s hands, Westeros is doomed. Of course, there’s plenty more political infighting going on — so much of it, in fact, that we don’t even catch a glimpse of Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Daemon (Matt Smith) this episode. Here’s how it all happens.

olivia cooke as alicent hightower


In the aftermath of Viserys’ death, the small council meets. Unbeknownst to Alicent, the council already came to a decision on how to proceed; its members planned to have Rhaenyra and Daemon killed. Alicent, enraged, demands Rhaenyra at least have a chance to bend the knee in submission. (One can’t imagine that ending well.) Oh, and Criston (Fabien Frankel) commits another murder. One of the council members declares he won’t go along with killing Rhaenyra. Ser Murder slams the guy’s head against the table hard enough to kill him.

Really, the immediate problem in the episode is that no one can find Aegon, who’s become the most important man in the Seven Kingdoms. The less immediate — but in the long run, likely more pressing — problem is that Aegon is mad. That whole saying about the gods flipping a coin, when it comes to Targaryens? Aegon’s coin landed on the bad side. And in fact, the two knights that go looking for him discover as much when they search a horrific establishment where adults watch young children battle to the death in a pit. Apparently, Aegon’s a regular there. What a great guy.

eve best as rhaenys velaryon


Criston and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) also search for Aegon, although their decency (debatable, at least in Criston’s case) prevents them from finding him. The knights have more luck, as they secure a meeting between Otto Hightower and a mysterious “White Worm,” who claims to have knowledge of their missing prince. The White Worm is, as Otto finds, Daemon’s old flame Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno). A Varys or Littlefinger-esque figure, she’s formed a network of knowledge-trading through castle servants and other spies, and she demands that, in exchange for her information, Otto puts an end to the fighting rings. He agrees, but the extent to which he intends to follow through on his word is unclear.

Meanwhile, Alicent meets with Rhaenys (Eve Best), who winds up stranded in the castle as she’s barricaded inside her room. Alicent apologizes for the harsh treatment, and Rhaenys quickly infers it means the king is dead. She’s aghast to discover Aegon’s soon to sit the throne. “It was my husband’s dying wish,” Alicent says, “believe it or no. Aegon will be king. I came here to ask your support.” They have a bit of back and forth during which Alicent readily admits Rhaenys, not Viserys, should have ruled. But in the end, Rhaenys says the word of her house is “not so fickle.” Alicent leaves her locked in her chambers, saying she can ring the bell once she’s made up her mind.

ewan mitchell as aemond targaryen


The White Worm’s information is good, and Criston and Aemond corner the knights and take Aegon from them. (Is this potentially because the knights might’ve killed him? They’d agreed during their search that Aegon wasn’t fit to be king.) “I have no wish to rule, no taste for duty! I am not suited!” Aegon says, incensing Aemond, who very much does have a wish to rule. The following day, Alicent and Aegon prepare for his ascension, and Rhaenys gets help escaping from a kindhearted knight. They wind up on the King’s Landing streets and he advises her to get on a ship, but they don’t make it to the docks. A wall of people closes in on them from all sides, and they’re herded toward the ceremony. It’s reminiscent of the fateful sequence in Thrones’ first season with Arya, except this time no one gets beheaded.

That said, the event does dissolve into disarray. Aegon formally accepts the title, and as the crown comes to rest on his head, Rhaenys slips away. Aegon picks up his sword and brandishes it about, earning cheers from the crowd … and then an explosion brings the festivities to an abrupt and violent halt. It’s Rhaenys, aboard her dragon! On dragonback, she approaches Alicent, Aegon, Otto and Criston, and her dragon gives a deafening roar. She then soars away, presumably to warn Rhaenyra of what’s coming.

House of the Dragon Season 1, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO