And so, at last, the man to have been almost dead for longer than any other man in history, King Viserys (Paddy Considine), has snuffed it. In this episode, the penultimate of the season, we deal with the fallout of a royal death – and have the chance to compare it with the circus that followed the death of our own monarch.
Word of the death reaches Alicent (Olivia Cooke), who is distraught but starts spreading the lie that, in his dying moments, Viserys said that Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), not Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), should rule. The man with the best name in House of the Dragon – Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson) smells this for the shit it is, calling it treason. Proving that he has now become an actual psychopath, Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) tells Beesbury to sit down but manages to immediately kill him in doing so. No one is particularly fazed.
Turning back to the Rhaenyra issue, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) counsels murder as the best option: kill her in case she tries to overthrow Aegon. Despite Alicent’s protestations, her father orders it. But Ser Harrold Westerling, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard (Graham McTavish), refuses. While Aegon is nowhere to be seen, Otto tells a bloke called Eric to look for the prince with his brother. When Otto then gathers together a group of people close to the court, only two say they won’t recognise Aegon as King. Off they go – probably to be killed. “Long live the King,” say the remaining folk, meekly.
In an odd scene, Eric and his brother (who are these guys?) find a fighting pit of children, with crowds baying for blood. The implication is that Aegon might be there, watching. When they point significantly to a young blonde child, it’s not clear but… they might be saying that the boy is Aegon’s son? They act on a tip-off, a woman who leads them and Otto to Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), Daemon’s once-mistress. She tells them where Aegon is but wants them to help end the child-fighting racket. Baffling stuff.
Alicent, meanwhile, tries to placate an angry Rhaenys (Eve Best), saying that she can have Driftmark and that she should have been Queen in her place. When she meets Otto again, Alicent underlines her plan: that Rhaenyra be kept safe, and that Criston be named Commander of the Kingsguard. Otto ain’t a happy bunny. Trouble brewing.
With the brothers having found Aegon, they are ambushed by Criston and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), who bring the prospective King back to King’s Landing, despite his protestations. Then, as Alicent shows more and more of her legs to Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) in some bizarre attempt to elicit intel from him, he tells her that she has spies in her chambers and seems to suggest that she ought to think about having her father killed. Then, obviously, while she thinks on this, he masturbates under his clothes.
Rhaenys is rescued from her confinement in King’s Landing, Aegon laughs at Alicent’s lie about her husband’s dying wish, and Aegon’s coronation looms. The answer to the question ‘How do you tell a city about an important event before the internet?’ seems to be ‘Corral them through the streets with a load of sheep so that there’s almost a stampede, then bellow the information at them in a big room.’ The declaration is Otto’s job and, though Aegon is clearly hating every second, everything seems to be going smoothly. Aegon even seems enthusiastic by the end, thrusting his sword into the air. Ah but then, all of a sudden, we learn why Rhaenys slipped away during this massive gathering – she was off fetching her dragon, which she crashes through the floor, killing a bunch of innocent people who didn’t even want to be there, let’s be honest.
Rhaenys could at this point simply have her dragon kill a clutch of the family who have helped make her life a living hell but the beast simply roars, terrifying but not incinerating them. Then it flies away and we have a cracking set-up for the season finale.
- “Or are you simply a further peel in this stinking onion?” – Not an important quote but a funny one from an increasingly exhausted Otto Hightower as he asks Mysaria where Aegon is hiding.
- “It is unsavoury, yes, but a sacrifice we must make to secure Aegon’s succession” – Otto again, this time calling the murder of the dead King’s daughter “unsavoury”. If we ever liked him, we don’t now.
- “Reluctance to murder is not a weakness” – Shout it from the rooftops. Alicent and her father, increasingly at each other’s throats, does not want to equate murder with bravery, and fair play to her for it. She has her limits.
‘House Of The Dragon’ releases new episodes at 2am every Monday on Sky Atlantic and NOW