'House of the Dragon' Episode 9 Recap: Whose Queen Is This? (2023)

The penultimate episode of House of the Dragon’s first season makes one thing clear from its first frame, an empty throne shrouded in shadow: The dying breath of a wistful king is now as key a turning point in the Targaryen legacy as Aegon’s Conquest itself. We might as well forget marking time in Dragon with the letters AC, and replace it with AV: After Viserys.

This is because Viserys’s warning about the Song of Ice and Fire—and Alicent’s alleged misunderstanding of that prophecy—has immediate, resounding consequences. At its open, episode 9 lingers on several tableaus that impart a pain beyond mere melancholy: There’s a real sense of foreboding flooding the silent small council room; the lonely, flame-lit corridors; the piano playing as a young, toe-headed boy delivers news of the king’s passing to Talia, the handmaiden. Talia, in turn, notifies Alicent, who seems genuinely distraught as she informs her father of Viserys’s dying wish. We know, of course, that the king’s little mix-up is the doh! of the century. But Alicent’s conviction seems true. Sure, might she be aided by a healthy dose of confirmation bias? Perhaps. But the tears in her eyes betray an earnest terror.

Together, Alicent and her father inform the small council that Viserys the Peaceful passed away in the night. “But he has left us a gift,” Otto adds, his voice suddenly brightening. “With his last breath, he impressed upon the queen his final wish: that his son Aegon should succeed him as Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.” The council is quiet, immobilized, though only long enough for Jason Lannister to reveal that members of the council have already been planning this exact turn of events—the usurpation of the Iron Throne. Alicent is furious these schemes have taken place without her knowing, but good Lord Beesbury is angrier still. He accuses the council of treason, only for Ser Criston to silence him with a stone ball through the skull. (If we questioned the knight’s anger management skills before, this episode serves as a reminder that therapy should be free in Westeros.)

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Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Ser Harrold Westerling isn’t so thrilled about this turn of events either. As Alicent argues for Rhaenyra’s life to be spared, Otto insists her execution is the only way to ensure the stability of the realm. (Alas, that pesky realm at fault once again.) Ser Harrold remains unconvinced, and refuses to take orders from Otto until a king (or a queen) is actually seated upon the throne. Remember, he once served as Rhaenyra’s protector, back when she was known as the Realm’s Delight; it would be folly to think he’s abandoned his affections completely.

'House of the Dragon' Episode 9 Recap: Whose Queen Is This? (2)

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Alicent and the rest of the greens are forced to work quickly. She scurries through the castle to gather up her children; if they had flashing neon targets on their backs before, they’ve grown substantially brighter. The only child missing, of course, is Aegon himself, and his sister-wife Helaena hasn’t a clue where her neglectful husband has fled. But she repeats her prophetic warning from last episode: “There is a beast beneath the boards.” Viserys always yearned for a dragon dreamer in the family. It seems more and more certain that his daughter is one of them.

Still, that doesn’t mean Helaena can magically divine Aegon’s location, and so both junior and senior Hightowers rush to locate the erstwhile heir first. Otto employs the help of Ser Arryk and Ser Erryk Cargyll. (And you thought having multiple Aegons was confusing!) Alicent opts to trust Ser Criston and her second son, Aemond, but only after imploring Criston with a particularly interesting turn of phrase. “Everything you feel for me,” she says, pausing before adding, “as your queen.” “I will not fail you,” he replies, holding her gaze. Are these two...? I mean...?

Together, Criston and Aemond search the Street of Silk as Arryk and Erryk stake out a child gladiator ring. Back in the Red Keep, Otto insists the lords of Westeros bend the knee to King Aegon. Those who deny—or even waver—are promptly rounded up. At the gladiator ring, the Cargyll twins encounter one of Aegon’s bastards (“one of many, I wager”) as well as one of the White Worm’s informants. The White Worm, of course, is Daemon’s former paramour Mysaria, now a King’s Landing secret-keeper à la Lord Varys in Game of Thrones. She demands an end to child fighting in Flea Bottom in exchange for Aegon’s whereabouts.

And so Arryk and Erryk uncover a disheveled Aegon hiding above the dragonpit, only for Criston and Aemond to confront the trio outside the building. A goofy little sword fight ensues—replay Cargyll and Criston dashing down the stairs a few times if you want a good laugh—while Aemond captures Aegon and escorts him home to his fate, regardless of the derelict heir’s lack of “taste for duty.”

Meanwhile, in the Red Keep, Rhaenys is locked into her chambers while Alicent oversees the embalming of her late husband. The Queen Who Never Was breaks out long enough to confront the former Lady Hightower, who expresses her regrets “for the lack of ceremony.” She pleads with Rhaenys to join her side; whether Rhaenys believes that Viserys changed his mind or not, the point remains: Aegon will be named king. “House Velaryon has long allied itself with the Princess Rhaenyra, and what has it gained you?” Alicent posits. “Your daughter dead, alone in Pentos. Your son, cuckolded. Rhaenyra’s heirs are none of yours.” She even invokes Corlys’s reckless pursuit of the throne, as he wastes away from an injury we’ve yet to see on camera.

Finally, Alicent appeals to Rhaenys’s own lust for power. “You should have been queen,” she whispers, and it seems, for a moment, she might have won an incalculable act of diplomacy. “You are wiser than I believed you to be,” Rhaenys replies, but with steel in her voice. “And yet you toil still in service to men. You desire not to be free but to make a window in the wall of your prison.” A delicious line, and a perceptive one. Alicent has never imagined, let alone manifested, a reality outside the confines of men’s machinations.

So when the queen confronts her father after Aegon’s safe return home, it’s intriguing to discover she resents Otto’s role in her current, tortured position. “Our hearts were never one,” she tells him. “I see that now. Rather, I’ve been a piece that you moved about the board. I wanted whatever you impressed upon me to want.”

'House of the Dragon' Episode 9 Recap: Whose Queen Is This? (3)

(Video) House of The Dragon Episode 9 Review

Otto warns that Rhaenyra cannot live; if she does, her allies will gather to her cause. “My husband would have desired this mercy be shown to his daughter,” Alicent insists. Otto practically scoffs. “Your husband?” he asks. “Or you, his daughter’s childhood companion?”

I paused here to study Alicent’s face, wary of her reaction. This is one of the first times Rhaenyra and Alicent’s friendship has been mentioned by someone other than the daughters themselves, and it’s addressed with an air of accusation, tinged with shame—as if a forbidden romance whose feelings linger still. Still, Alicent betrays no regret.

Even as she escapes her father’s chambers, the queen is to be humbled further this evening. She encounters Larys, who teases information about how and why Otto learned of Aegon’s hiding place before she did. Alicent sits, removes her shoes, and Larys speaks again, of a web of spies operating for Otto’s benefit within the Red Keep. He pauses, and Alicent slips off her stockings, quiet but seething. The Clubfoot allows another detail: One of the spies is Alicent’s handmaiden, Talia—a fact many fans had already suspected, given the character’s inexplicable prominence in episodes past. They agree to dispose of her discretely, and Alicent lifts her feet as a reward, turning her face away as Larys masturbates. Dragon gleefully employs rampant incest and graphic childbirth scenes, yet little has made my stomach churn like this moment between supposed allies.

But episode 9 is not to end on such a note of defeatism. A particularly brave Erryk, unable to “let this treachery stand,” barges into Rhaenys’s quarters and demands she follow him, should she wish to escape the Red Keep unnoticed. Together, they slip through the roads among the common folk, only to be swept up in the crowds gathering outside the king’s coronation ceremony (held conveniently above the dragonpit). Rolling into the scene in a carriage are Alicent and Aegon, the latter of which is certain his father never actually named him heir. “Do not toy with me, mother,” he says, as she insists he show Rhaenyra mercy when he’s crowned king. He interrupts: “Do you love me?” Olivia Cooke’s reaction here is an instant classic, a delicious mix of disbelief, fury, and affection. “You imbecile,” she replies.

Finally, Aegon is named heir before the crowds of King’s Landing. A murmur of disbelief ripples throughout the crowd as they process this unexpected news, but applause follows soon after. They are happy enough for the status quo to continue: A man has always ruled upon the Iron Throne. As Aegon II is given the crown of Aegon the Conqueror, he lifts his sword into the air with the baffled delight of a child unaccustomed to adoration. Suddenly, his power is made manifest, and Aegon is instantly addicted.

(Video) House of the Dragon Episode 9 Review - Fans are Divided

His glory is not to last. In a scene that nods to Game of Thrones’s most famous (and infamous) episodes, such as “The Winds Of Winter” and “The Bells,” the ground splits from beneath the chapel, and a dragon rises through the dust and debris. The Red Queen, Meleys, approaches King Aegon with Rhaenys on her back, threatening enough to prompt Alicent sprinting in front of her firstborn son. But Meleys intends only to unleash a deafening roar, and the scarlet she-dragon lifts into the sky, taking with her the Queen Who Never Was—and a few scraps of Aegon’s dignity. An epic moment to herald Dragon’s finale, and an essential one: With this move on the chess board, we can officially consider the Dance of the Dragons begun.

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'House of the Dragon' Episode 9 Recap: Whose Queen Is This? (4)

Lauren Puckett-Pope

(Video) House of the Dragon: Episode 9 Explained

Associate Editor

Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, TV, books and fashion.


Who was hanging in episode 9 House of the Dragon? ›

Two of them are promptly arrested and one that was seemingly trying to escape the Red Keep to warn Rhaenyra is hanged in the castle's courtyard. The only head of house who escapes Lord Otto's small purge is Lady Rhaenys, who was locked in her room by Queen Alicent.

What happened in the 9th episode of House of the Dragon? ›

House of the Dragon Episode 9 Book Changes

Rhaenys, a Targaryen who in HotD Episode 8 backed Rhaenyra's claim, finds herself locked in her chambers within the Red Keep. She is visited by Alicent, who insists it was Viserys' dying wish that Aegon II be made king. Naturally, Rhaenys doesn't believe her.

Where was Princess Rhaenyra in Episode 9? ›

While Rhaenyra and Daemon sailed back to Dragonstone after the events of last episode, Princess Rhaenys is still in King's Landing. However, earlier in the episode, we saw that her doors were locked, making her a prisoner in her own chambers.

Will Rhaenyra be queen? ›

In Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin, Rhaenyra does indeed take the Iron Throne and become queen over the Seven Kingdoms, however, her reign is short-lived. Given how much House of the Dragon has been diverging from the source material, nothing is really certain about what will make it into the final cut.

Who was on the dragon at the end of episode 9? ›

There was one especially dramatic moment at the end of the episode, however, when Rhaenys escapes with the help of Arryk/Erryk, manages to sneak down to the Dragonpit, and grab her dragon, Meleys. She then bursts up through the floor of the Pit, disrupting Aegon's DIY coronation.

What was Lord Larys doing in Episode 9? ›

By the time Episode 9 rolls around, Larys has reached a position of power. He has conversations with Otto (Rhys Ifans), he oversees the collection of the servants in the keep to keep them silenced, he's regarded as the Lord Confessor at one point, and he now enters Alicent's chambers freely to deliver her information.

Who is Lady Mysaria? ›

Mysaria, also called Lady Misery, was a dancer from Lys who became the paramour of Prince Daemon Targaryen and the unofficial mistress of whisperers to Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons.

Why is Rhaenyra and Daemon not in episode 9? ›

Daemon, Rhaenyra, and their children left for Dragonstone at the end of House of the Dragon episode 8, so the family is either still traveling or settling back into their home during the events of “The Green Council.” This is important because it demonstrates how Rhaenyra had absolutely no opportunity to stop the ...

Why did Daemon choke Rhaenyra? ›

Daemon strangled Rhaenyra because he felt betrayed by Viserys. “It's a moment that I think is surprising and shocking for Daemon as a character, but I also think it's one of those things that's been set up over the course of the entire season.

Does Rhaenyra get pregnant? ›

After a few kinds words about her cousin, she delivers further bad news — Aegon has been crowned as Viserys' successor. This news of betrayal, just when her relationship with Alicent was finally being repaired is heartbreaking for Rhaenyra who whimpers and clutches her pregnant belly.

Who married Rhaenyra? ›

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen

Do Daemon and Rhaenyra have a child? ›

Daemon, Rhaenyra and Alicent have 11 kids among them by the eighth episode, which is set about six years after the "Driftmark" episode.

What did the king tell the queen in House of Dragons? ›

Viserys Confirms That He Wants Rhaenyra as Heir

He confuses her with Rhaenyra and tells her, "I'm sorry.

How old is Aemond Targaryen in Episode 9? ›

Aegon II Targaryen: Born in 106 AC in the book, the first son of Viserys and Alicent is 2 years old when he's first introduced in episode 3. In episode 6, we see him for the first time as a young adolescent; in episode 9, he confirms he is 20 years old.

What happens at the end of House of dragon episode 9? ›

At the conclusion of House of the Dragon episode 9, The Green Council, the coronation of King Aegon II Targaryen was interrupted by the arrival of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen on the back of her dragon Meleys. After crashing through the floor of the Dragonpit's main hall, Rhaenys squared up to the Greens on the stage.

Who was on the dragon at the end of House of the Dragon? ›

House of the Dragon Season 1 ends with our first big dragon battle of the series. It's Aemond's (Ewan Mitchell) behemoth Vhagar against Lucerys' small but speedy Arrax.

Who does Rhaenys side with? ›

In 89 AC, Rhaenys joined King Jaehaerys I Targaryen for part of his royal progress. She flew on Meleys to Highgarden to meet up with Jaehaerys, and together they flew to all four of the Shield Islands.

What did it mean at the end of House of the Dragon? ›

The episode ends with Daemon whispering the news to Rhaenyra, who turns around with a blazing expression. This means that the Dance of The Dragons will begin in Season 2 — and Rhaenyra will set a precedent for Daenrys who destroyed the whole of Kings Landing after Queen Cersei killed her close friend, Missandei.

Is Larys Strong related to varys? ›

Oh, and as far as we know, Larys Strong is not related to Varys, though their names sound similar and they're both into spy games. Nor is he related to Littlefinger, though they're both creepy.

Is Larys Strong evil? ›

Larys Strong is a posthumous antagonist of A Song of Ice and Fire book series and its TV series adaptation Game of Thrones, as well as a major antagonist in its prequel House of the Dragon. He was the younger son of Lord Lyonel Strong of Harrenhal, and younger brother of Ser Harwin Strong.

Is Larys into feet? ›

Honestly, the simple answer is that Larys Strong has a foot fetish, and the queen has been using this to get what she needs from the Lord of Harrenhal. Larys has been pretty clear that his services come with a price, and this seems to be it.

Why was Aegon hiding in Episode 9? ›

We come to know that when the White Worm heard of the King's death and Aegon's coronation through her spies, she hid him only to sell him back to his grandfather, the Hand of the King.

What happened at the end of episode 9 House of the Dragon? ›

At the conclusion of House of the Dragon episode 9, The Green Council, the coronation of King Aegon II Targaryen was interrupted by the arrival of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen on the back of her dragon Meleys. After crashing through the floor of the Dragonpit's main hall, Rhaenys squared up to the Greens on the stage.

Who got burned in House of the Dragon? ›

(If it didn't click for you that the stone building torched 46 minutes into the episode is Mysaria's, that upper-level balcony where we saw her standing in “The Lord of the Tides” is the architectural giveaway.)

Why can't Targaryens burn? ›

In fact, Martin outright said as much during a Q&A back in 1999, calling the idea that Targaryens were magically immune to fire a “common misconception.” “TARGARYENS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FIRE!” the author emphatically stated. “The birth of Dany's dragons was unique, magical, wonderous, a miracle.

Why do all Targaryens go mad? ›

House Targaryen carries the trait for insanity in its bloodline. Over three hundred years of heavy inbreeding, marrying brother to sister whenever possible to "keep the bloodline pure," resulted in many of the medical problems seen with incest, particularly mental instability.

What happens to the Dragon Queen? ›

As the two kiss, a greatly anguished Jon tells Daenerys that she will be his queen forever, before he stabs her in her heart with his dagger. Weeping, Jon holds Daenerys in his arms as she dies.

Who is the girl in dragon goes house hunting? ›

Nell is shown to be a very stubborn person. Even when saved she tried to leave and tend to chastise Letty on how weak he is (For a male dragon). Nell is also shown to very explorative and curious.

Why didn t Rhaenyra bend the knee? ›

Ultimately, Rhaenys doesn't kneel before Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon episode 10 because she needed to discuss House Velaryon's loyalty with Corlys first. After telling Corlys they'll be supporting Rhaenyra in this war, Rhaenys makes Rhaenyra's fight her own.

Is Aemond Targaryen Daemons son? ›

Additionally, Prince Daemon Targaryen, the younger brother of King Viserys and Aemond's uncle, was said to be notably cool towards Aemond and Aegon, as their births had pushed him back even further in the line of succession as well.

Did Daemon and Rhaenyra have a child? ›

Aegon III, aka Aegon the Younger: Rhaenyra and Daemon's first child together. Aegon Targaryen, aka Jon Snow: Yes, he comes much later, when a song of ice and fire plays out.

Who is the oldest Targaryen? ›

Aegon I Targaryen, the first Targaryen king in the backstory of A Song of Ice and Fire. Aegon II Targaryen, featured in Fire & Blood and its TV adaptation House of the Dragon.

Whose house was on fire in House of the Dragon Episode 9? ›

Remember who played with fire earlier in the season and got every other male in his family burned ... alive? That's right — Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) was the culprit behind Mysaria's unplanned house barbecue.

Which Targaryen can't be burned? ›

She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But her brother sure as hell wasn't immune to that molten gold. Daenerys survived the flames when her dragons were born thanks to a mysterious, magical mix of Mirri Maz Duur, sacrifice, and dragon eggs.

Why did daemons wife burn? ›

After struggling to give birth while in Pentos with Daemon and her two daughters, the high potential of dying in childbirth leads her to run out into the sand and command her dragon, Vhagar, to burn her to death with dragon fire.


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