House of the Dragon 1×9 Review: The Green Council
‘The Green Council’ is my favorite episode so far. Did I say this last week? Yes. But I mean it this time, too.
Sometimes I wonder if my initial love for any given episode depends on Ramin Djawadi’s music. ‘The Green Council’ opened up with somber shots of the immediate aftermath of Viserys’ death with some absolutely haunting music. The moment I let those haunting vibes wash over me, I knew this was going to be an awesome episode. It absolutely delivered on that expectation.
As a bonus, I don’t have to defend any of Daemon Targaryen’s crimes this week. Neither he nor Rhaenyra were in this episode. Based on all available preview material and interviews, next week will be devoted to the Black Council. So we should essentially have one episode for each side to show how they respond to the news of King Viserys’ death. This is much better pacing than some other episodes this season, so I’m pretty thrilled.
The Green Council
The Green Council had been planning to usurp the throne long before King Viserys’ misinterpreted deathbed confession. Before things even kicked off, they had the loyalty of Houses Lannister, Hightower, Tyrell, and ‘allies in Riverrun,’ which we can assume is House Tully. This is largely through the connections from the Small Council, which features Ser Tyland Lannister, Jasper Wylde, and, of course, Lord Otto Hightower. Wylde’s connection to House Baratheon isn’t a guarantee, though, as there are apparently problems in the Stormlands, which the Baratheons rule over.
Seeing the Lannisters and Tullys on the same side of this battle is surely jarring after all the events in Game of Thrones, but this was 200 years prior. Things are quite different. There will be even more divisions that are equally as jarring. And that’s half the fun, honestly. Watching these houses change over the generations is incredibly compelling fiction and I want to see more of this on screen.
Those who aren’t already in on the plot are essentially forced to be on Team Green through coercion. Lord Lyman Beesbury is the first to learn what the consequences are for disobeying the Greens. He’s the first death in the Dance of Dragons. His death is soon followed by other the heads of houses that refused to bend the knee; Lady Fell, Lord Merryweather, and Lord Caswell.
Ser Criston Cole, The Hypocrite
Criston Cole continues to be the stereotypical incel. He has the audacity to tell Prince Aemond that he should use respectful words toward women. This comes just a couple of episodes after he used a misogynistic slur toward Princess Rhaenyra. It’s astounding, honestly. The audacity!
He also murdered Lord Beesbury, and I took that personally. I love House Beesbury. Their entire aesthetic is based around bees. Their sigil has beehives on it, their words are ‘beware our sting,’ and their seat is in Honeyholt. Guess what their specialty is? That’s right. It’s wheat. No, I’m kidding. It’s honey! How can you not love such a charming little house? And Criston Cole murdered him. What a jerk!
It’s not a spoiler to say that Ser Criston dies. This is 200 years in the past. Everyone dies. It’s only a matter of when they will die. I only hope we get to see his death on screen because I need the catharsis. I think I hate him even more than Otto Hightower at this point. At least Otto Hightower’s schemes have been consistent. Criston Cole flipped sides because he was rejected by a woman. I hate him!
The Footening, aka “Foot-Gate”
Before this episode aired, there was a leak about that rather unusual scene between Larys and Queen Alicent involving, uh, her feet. It sounded almost too ridiculous to be true, but then weird things started happening that made us think it might actually happen. The very first scene between her and Larys featured her taking off her shoes. Then reviewers who have early access started hinting at it.
This situation was quickly dubbed ‘Foot-Gate,’ or ‘The Footening” by places like r/FreeFolk (which is my main ASOIAF hangout, as silly as it may seem). Memes were spawned. Debates and speculation raged on. And we all came to accept that the Footening was real. It’s happening. A Foot Fetish has entered the chat.
To be clear, a foot fetish is pretty harmless. It doesn’t really hurt anyone if it’s consensual (arguably, Alicent is pretty uncomfortable, but nonetheless…). But it is, at its core, sort of a silly fetish. Feet? Really? Feet? Ok, fam. YKINMKATOK. I’m not going to kink shame, even if I do giggle a bit. Have fun, folks.
Having the guy with a clubfoot have a foot kink is a little on the nose, though. But it’s very George RR Martin so it sort of fits. He’s big on having character flaws impact their psychology in this way, which is sometimes realistic, and sometimes not.
Aegon Doesn’t Even Want to Be King
Aegon doesn’t want to be King. Alicent seems to know she’s been manipulated and isn’t as confident in her chosen path. Viserys wanted Rhaenyra on the throne, which they would have disregarded even without the deathbed confession. So why are we fighting, guys? When we boil it all down, it’s because of Otto’s ambition. He wants his blood on the throne and everyone else is just a tool for that goal.
By the end of it, Aegon seems to finally give in to his grandfather’s desires. There’s a moment after he’s crowned (with Aegon the Conqueror’s crown, not his father’s) where he seems to have a taste of what it will be like to be King. He then triumphantly raises his sword to the cheers of the smallfolk. He knows he isn’t suited for this role, and says so repeatedly. But his moral compass is broken. If this is going to be his life, he’s going to enjoy it. And we should all be absolutely terrified by that thought.
Tom Glynn-Carney was absolutely spectacular here. Once again, Ramin Djawadi’s music greatly enhanced the coronation scene, but Glynn-Carney’s acting is notable. If you didn’t think he was going to be great in this role before now, he likely won you over here. I didn’t have an opinion on him one way or another as he hasn’t really done much yet, but I’m all in for him now. He’s going to be horrifying and it’s perfect.
Too Many Aegons! (A Brief Targaryen History)
For those of you who aren’t as obsessive about A Song of Ice and Fire as I am, I want to break down some of this. Most characters have either very similar names (Aegon/Aemond, Rhaenyra/Rhaenys/Rhaena, Visensya/Viserys), or the same name (Aegon I, Aegon II, Aegon III, Aegon IV). The most complicated one is Aegon. But by mentioning that Aegon II is wearing Aegon I’s crown, and not his father’s, I feel like I need to have a brief explainer.
The first Aegon is known as Aegon the Conqueror. He and his two sister-wives, Visenya and Rhaenys, conquered six of the seven kingdoms in Westeros (Dorne will be brought in later). As such, he is the first actual King of Westeros.
Many years later, King Viserys and Queen Alicent name their first child Aegon. He becomes King Aegon, Second of His Name and is crowned with the first Aegon’s crown. It’s a symbol of his ‘rightful’ inheritance.
However, there is a second Aegon alive right now, too. Rhaenyra and Daemon’s first son together is also named Aegon. Eventually, these two will be differentiated as “Aegon the Elder” and “Aegon the Younger.” Or just “Aegon II” and “Aegon III.”
Confused? That’s normal. But the Aegonification of the Iron Throne doesn’t end there. In Game of Thrones, there was also an Aegon. That was Jon Snow’s birth name. Viserys’ visions seem to imply that he is the Prince that was Promised. Which is what led to Queen Alicent horribly misinterpreting his final words.
Got it? Good. Don’t got it? That sucks. I’m sorry. We have to move on, though.
Mysaria is Back
Mysaria is basically a mix of Varys “The Master of Whispers” and Ros. She’s a sex worker who worked her way up to being an informant. She feels incredibly safe in this position, since she knows everything that’s going on around her. But she really isn’t. Her trying to strongarm Lord Hightower into helping the common folk in flea bottom is probably not going to end well for her. No matter how many secrets she knows, she’s still disposable to nobles.
There are things I like about Mysaria. A woman of low standing working her way up in this misogynistic and classist world is something worth noting. She’s getting a bit cocky about it, though. I fear for her. If she survives to the end of the season I will be surprised.
On a much more petty note, her accent is grating. The actress is a Japanese-born British woman, so this certainly isn’t her natural accent in either direction. I’m not sure why they chose to make her accent so stilted, but here we are.
Rhaenys the Badass
When Rhaenys burst through the floorboards (an incident foreseen by Helaena as the ‘beast beneath the boards’) I cheered. I thought this was an incredibly badass moment. It’s complicated, though, as she could have ended the war right then and there. I can see why she didn’t. Killing political rivals may be commonplace in this universe, but it won’t come easy to everyone. Taking a life is still a huge thing.
An argument can be made that she already killed a bunch of smallfolk when she arrived so it shouldn’t matter, but I still think this tracks logically for the character. As unfortunate as it is, these characters view nobility and common folk as entirely different things. Rhaenys may struggle to kill noble people that she knows, but probably hardly spared a thought to the smallfolk. You can judge her for it if you want, but I think the vast majority of these characters have the same moral logic. There are a few that appreciate common folk, but not many.
Surprisingly, this scene is controversial in some corners of the Internet. Their reasons seem to be centered around two arguments. First, this didn’t happen in the books and it’s monumental enough that it should be mentioned. I get that. The second seems to be due to the fact that she didn’t kill them then and there, which, as I said, I still feel tracks with her character.
To each their own, I suppose. I loved this scene, though. I just needed to put a little more thought into the character’s motives to understand it.
Pour One Out for the Small Folk
Despite being able to understand Rhaenys’ motives and how she can dismiss the lives of the common people offhand, I do feel bad for them. I can’t help it. I’m human. I’m a human that can still love fictional characters who show utter disregard for human lives, but I still feel terrible for them.
But seriously, just imagine their situation for a moment. You’re wandering around King’s Landing going about your business when suddenly a bunch of Knights start closing off the streets around you. You’re then ushered into the Sept and have absolutely no idea what’s going on until some important-looking guy starts yelling at you. So okay, you get to see a King get crowned. Neat.
Do you know that this is a usurper? Maybe. Maybe not. Certainly, some small folk are up to date on royal gossip, but some are too busy trying to survive to know what’s happening. But either way, it doesn’t really matter to you. Even if you were aware of Rhaenyra’s claim, there’s nothing you can do from this crowded Sept to change things. And heck, maybe you even agree that it should be usurped. Women ruling? In this economy? Boo! Let’s go, Team Misogyny!
Then suddenly a dragon bursts through the floor. Maybe you die instantly. Or maybe you have a few seconds to see heavy debris flying at you before you’re crushed. Perhaps you get crushed under Meley’s feet.
If you survived, though, whose side would you back up now? Those people who invited you to see a King get crowned, or the person who nearly killed you, and perhaps killed some of your loved ones? I would be Team Green in a heartbeat.
Next Week is the Finale
Next week is the finale and I’m prepared to have an incredibly long wait for the next season. They haven’t even started filming it yet, and I have no idea how far into pre-production they actually are at this point. I’m looking forward to it, though. If we are judging this entire season so far based on just these nine episodes, I’d place it in the A-/B+ range. It’s only not an A+ due to the bad pacing in some of the episodes and the awful night scenes. Other than that, I’ve loved it very much.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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