Warning: contains spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 8 ‘The Lord of the Tides’.
Despite Viserys’ moving plea for unity in episode eight, the royal family are now more divided than ever. That excellent, tense Targaryen supper scene exposed the many cracks undermining the House of the Dragon’s foundations – one tremor and it could all come tumbling down. One tremor such as… Queen Alicent misinterpreting King Viserys’ last words on the succession of the Iron Throne.
Alicent thought the King had chosen son Aegon in his dying breath, while Viserys not only wanted Rhaenyra to inherit the Iron Throne but also believed his daughter had been prophesied by Aegon the Conqueror to unite the Seven Kingdoms against the coming darkness.
House of the Dragon’s penultimate season one episode ‘The Green Council’ shows the beginnings of the quake that results from the succession issue. Directed by Clare Kilner (who also directed episode four ‘King of the Narrow Sea’ and episode five ‘We Light the Way’), it was written by executive producer Sara Hess (who also wrote episode six, ‘The Princess and the Queen’).
Let’s delve into the episode trailer.
An Empty Throne
First, we see the empty Iron Throne following the death of King Viserys I in episode eight. It’s a mournful and menacing sight as there’s nothing more deadly in the game of thrones than a power vacuum, because of those who seek to fill it…
The Green Council
…enter: Ser Otto Hightower, Queen Alicent and Ser Criston Cole, opening the Small Council session that was set down in Westerosi history books as “The Green Council” (House Hightower’s colours, as opposed to Targaryen black). Otto declares “The King is dead” while (what looks like) Ser Criston cleans the blade of his sword. A grieving Alicent tells the council “He told me he wished for Aegon to be king,” while later in the trailer, Otto issues an instruction that the door remains shut until their business is finished – their business being the fulfillment of Otto’s decades-long wish that his grandson Aegon inherits the Iron Throne.
The Peasants are Revolting
There’s public unrest in King’s Landing as the gold cloaks (knights of the City Watch) push back a crowd of smallfolk running through the streets. By the end of the trailer, we see the crowd gather outside the grand Sept of Baelor – the cathedral that will be destroyed by Cersei Lannister two centuries down the line.
The Lords Bow Down
House of the Dragon’s opening episode ended with the Lords of Westeros pledging fealty to Viserys’ chosen heir Rhaenyra. Here, it looks as though a bunch of them (is that Lord Boremund Baratheon, who originally supported Princess Rhaenys’ claim to the Iron Throne over that of her cousin Viserys?) are kneeling to Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand to the King. (PS. If you’re not bothered about spoilers, pause the trailer at 0:22 for an unmistakable, if out-of-focus, spoiler image.)
Otto’s Secret Agent(s)
This promises to be Otto’s episode, as we see him instruct a long-haired knight with a secret task. “None can know who you are or what you seek.” We later see that same knight (likely Ser Arryk or Erryk Cargyll) chasing after Prince Aegon, and possibly sword fighting with Prince Aemond ‘One Eye’, though that last one could be a bit of editing misdirection.
To the Dungeons!
Not only do we see Princess Rhaenyra locked in to her chambers, but a host of Red Keep staff are also led down to the dungeons, including royal family handmaiden Talya (Alexis Raben), seen last episode spying for the Lady Mysaria aka ‘The White Worm’. Have her crossed loyalties been discovered?
Lord Beesbury’s Protest
The Green Council is not a peaceable affair by the looks of this protest made by Lord Beesbury (Bill Paterson). The Master of the Coin here shouts “It is treason at the least!”, and we later see Queen Alicent’s sworn protector Ser Criston Cole pull his sword on what might be Ser Harrold Westerling (Graham McTavish), the Commander of the City Watch.
Ser Larys the Master of Whispers
Next to a shot of a young Targaryen child held in a prison cell, the scheming Ser Larys Strong tells Alicent “I have found out something you should know.” Does it relate to the child, to Princess Rhaenyra, or to something else?
‘Have You Never Imagined Yourself on the Iron Throne?’
The final shot of the trailer is Viserys’ crown being placed on a green (the colour is relevant) velvet cushion as a woman’s voice asks “Have you never imagined yourself on the Iron Throne?”, preceded by soldiers bearing the Targaryen sigil riding out while herald trumpets sound and that crowd gathers outside the Sept of Baelor. The dance of dragons begins.
House of the Dragon episode 9 ‘The Green Council’ airs on October 16 on HBO in the US and on October 17 on Sky Atlantic in the UK. Season finale ‘The Black Queen’ will air the following week.