HBO‘s House of the Dragon Episode 9 “The Green Council” officially kicks off the gruesome civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. As soon as she learns that Viserys (Paddy Considine) is dead, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) makes moves to ensure that her son Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) ascends the Iron Throne.
Dissenters are imprisoned and killed, Viserys’s death is kept secret, and battle lines are officially drawn. But while you might have caught that Aegon is unworthy of the Iron Throne and that Alicent insisted on giving him both the sword and the crown of his namesake, Aegon the Conqueror, did you catch that the show subtly confirmed Alicent’s fourth kid by Viserys? Or that Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) definitely has a type in women?
The penultimate episode of House of the Dragon Season 1 is chock full of little Easter eggs, from Aegon’s supposed penchant for watching poor serfs with filed-down teeth brawl to concerns about House Baratheon’s loyalties.
The former is a scandalous rumor in George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, while the latter is definitely a case of foreshadowing. (We may have briefly visited Storm’s End on young Rhaenyra’s tour, but the legendary castle is also the site of a key turning point in the Dance of the Dragons…)
However, did you catch that the show has introduced still more Targaryens to the ever-expanding family tree? Or that Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson) was given a kinder death than in the books?
From Daeron’s sigil in the Opening Credits of House of the Dragon last night to your key for telling twin knights Erryk (Luke Tittensor) and Arryk (Elliot Tittensor) apart going forward, here are five things you may have missed in “The Green Council”…
George R.R. Martin caused quite a minor kerfuffle this week when he posted on his “Not a Blog” that House of the Dragon did not forget about Alicent and Viserys’s fourth and favorite son, Daeron.
Sure, no one’s mentioned him in passing and Viserys made a big deal that his whole family was in King’s Landing in Episode 8, but Daeron exists!
He totally does. George R.R. Martin said so. They just didn’t have time to mention the beloved baby of the family.
The one kid Alicent has that everyone uniformly likes and no one considers to be a freak! House of the Dragon totally remembered about Daeron!
The thing is…Daeron does show up in House of the Dragon Episode 9 “The Green Council.” Sort of.
You’ll remember that the blood-soaked opening credits of House of the Dragon shows us a version of the Targaryen family tree.
We follow the blood as it flows from Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-bride Rhaenys to future generations, arriving at the likes of Viserys, Daemon (Matt Smith), and Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy).
In Episode 9, we follow Viserys’s line with Alicent. There are four separate lines that run from Alicent’s Hightower sigil.
The shortest of which ends at a tower-like sigil while the other three flow down and into symbols that clearly represent Helaena (Phia Saban), an insect, Aegon, a golden chalice shaped like a woman, and Aemond, a sapphire, which is a nod to the gem stone Aemond canonically wears in place of his missing eye. (He usually wears the patch over this.)
The Hightower-esque fourth symbol is supposed to be Daeron, who Martin claimed has been off-screen in Oldtown this whole time. In the books, Daeron was indeed sent to the Hightowers as a boy to serve as a cupbearer to his great-uncle, Lord Hobart.
The bloodlines don’t lie! And they also reveal that Alicent is a grandmother…
Aegon is One Bad Daddy
Sure, Helaena referenced “children” in last week’s episode, but this week, we finally got to meet two of Helaena and Aegon’s three children: the toddler twins Jaehaerys and Jaehaera. Note that there is also an infant named Maelor somewhere off-screen.
We see the older two children in the scene where Alicent is first looking for her wayward son Aegon and then has to break the news of Viserys’s death to Helaena.
However, we don’t just meet Aegon’s twins by Helaena this episode. When Ser Erryk leads his own twin Ser Arryk through Flea Bottom, they arrive at a dismal establishment where children fight each other in a pit for the amusement of drunkards.
Ser Erryk explains that Aegon loves this place so much that he’s here almost every night. Not only that, but Ser Erryk points out an obvious Targaryen bastard just hanging out unattended in this sordid den of iniquity. (I’m sure it’s fine that there are random Targaryen bastards floating around during a civil war fought over succession. There’s no way this can come back to bite anyone in the butt.)
As it happens, Aegon has many bastards floating around Flea Bottom. While Ser Arryk shrugs this off and refuses to question the fitness of their new monarch, Ser Erryk is stewing… And in the end, the twins take different paths…
We Can Finally Tell Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk Apart
As we learned last week, there are now identical twins on the Kingsguard. They’re named Ser Arryk and Ser Erryk, and that’s not confusing at all.
This week, however, we got to know the twins a little better and now have a way to tell the two apart. Ser Arryk is loyal to Alicent and the Hightowers, but Ser Erryk thinks Aegon is a little shit and this whole coup stinks like shit.
Ser Erryk is the twin who breaks Rhaenys out of the Red Keep and although he loses her in the crowd, she proves more than capable of spiriting herself out of King’s Landing.
So where will Ser Erryk go next? Assuming he sticks with the plan, he’s going to sneak out of King’s Landing via boat. And you know what part of Westeros you can easily get to by sailing out of King’s Landing? Dragonstone, where Rhaenyra holds court.
Kill Them With Kindness
Just as in Martin’s Fire & Blood, poor Lord Lyman Beesbury is the first official death of the Dance of the Dragons. In the book, he is the lone voice speaking up in the Small Council on behalf of Rhaenyra’s claim.
There are three versions of how Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) reacts to this. One version — that of Grand Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan) himself — says that Lord Beesbury was seized at the door and sent to the dungeons, where he died of a chill. Convenient, that.
However, there are two other versions. One says that Ser Criston Cole forced Beesbury back in his seat and then sliced his throat open. The other alleges that Ser Criston threw the old man out the window and he was impaled on spikes below.
House of the Dragon‘s version hews closer to the one involving a blade, but takes the dagger out of the equation.
The HBO show suggests that Ser Criston pushed the old man so hard that he “accidentally” suffered a head wound on his fancy stone ball. If it was an accident, it puts Ser Criston in a slightly kinder light than the story involving a defenestration.
Lord Beesbury had to die. House of the Dragon chose the most grey way possible.
Aemond Has a Type
After Alicent charges Ser Criston to find Aegon, Aemond volunteers to guide the knight to a brothel on the Street of Silk. Apparently, Aemond remembers Aegon bringing him here when he was 13 (yikes!) to lose his virginity.
After discovering from the middle-aged madam that Aegon’s tastes have become way more lowbrow over the ensuing years, there is a short moment that teases something about Aemond we haven’t seen before.
The idea that he might be interested in something other than swords and dragons. He might like older women.
Based on Aemond’s interaction with this much older sex worker, it seems that she is woman who took his virginity. She is impressed with how the prince has sprouted up.
However, there is a glimmer of a look on Aemond’s face that suggests he might be…turned on?
Of course, Aemond would not let himself get distracted in a pivotal moment, so he leaves. But that glimmer is interesting.
At least it suggests that a (much older) love interest from the books may indeed be in Aemond’s future…