This review contains spoilers for the latest episode of House of the Dragon, click here for last week’s review.
Coups have been a thing since the beginning of time. You don’t like a King or Queen? Conspire behind their back and come up with a plan to replace/kill them. Coups also lead to wars if they are not executed perfectly or if someone can warn the leader or heir of the situation. This is the premise of this week’s episode of House of the Dragon. Some in King’s Landing have been conspiring against the King’s Wishes and plotting to name Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) King instead of Rhaenyra Queen.
The Prince Who Was Promised, is a story told to each heir before they take the throne. Viserys (Paddy Considine) told this to Rhaenyra after she was named heir. Unfortunately, on his deathbed, he accidentally repeated the story to Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and she mistakenly took it as Aegon was this prince. Also, the King is dead, and the first person to know was the queen’s handmaiden Talya (Alexis Raben). She notifies Alicent and while trying to keep it quiet, Alicent meets with the council. The council has been plotting to kill Rhaenyra and replace her with Aegon. Alicent is clueless, but in a way is complicit.
Alicent isn’t willing to kill Rhaenyra, but she is willing to go to Dragonstone and negotiate. Most of the council is in agreeance, but Lord Beesbury (Bill Paterson) is not. He dies for not being complicit. Alicent and her father, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) disagree on how to handle the situation, but both want Aegon to be King. Aegon however, is nowhere to be found. Alicent sends Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) and Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) to find him, and Otto sends the Cargill brothers Erryk (Elliot Tittensor) and Arryk (Luke Tittensor) after him. The race to find Aegon is an intense one that sheds light on who he truly is.
Aegon apparently hangs out in Flea Bottom, where the common folk roams. He has bastard children, one of whom lives in an area where children are forced to fight. Erryk knows this and understands Aegon isn’t fit to be King but isn’t trying to die for speaking against him. Aemond also knows of his brother’s doings, and realizes his brother isn’t fit to be King. He kind of wants to plot against him, but it doesn’t work that way. When they finally find him, Arryk fights Criston Cole and Erryk leaves his brother high and dry. Aegon tells his brother that he doesn’t want to be King. Either way, he is brought back to his mother and his coronation begins.
Meanwhile his mother waits for him. Aegon’s grandsire Otto has been getting the great Houses to pledge to House Targaryen (green) and support this coup. He even has some of the members who are against it, Lady Fell (Miriam Lucia), Lord Merryweather (Paul Clayton), and Lord Caswell (Paul Hickey) killed for not pledging allegiance. Also, princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) has been kidnapped and held prisoner, and told she will not be released until she pledges to House Green. Erryk, who’s had enough, frees her and takes her into the city as the commoners are being gathered for Aegon’s coronation.
Rhaenys sees an opportunity, though, and she follows the crowd. She smiles the whole way to the castle. She is plotting something, and it’s written all over her face. But the audience has no idea what’s coming. As she enters, she stands with the crowd, covered in her cloaks. She sneaks off as Aegon is blessed by a priest, and crowned by the new King’s Guard leader Ser Criston Cole as King Aegon II, the Elder, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm. Then, Rhaenys crashes the party riding Vhagar. She has an opportunity to completely kill House Green, but chooses not to. She flies off to warn Rhaenyra and Daemon, which is what Alicent and Otto wanted to avoid.
This week’s House of the Dragon is built on the back of Alfred Hitchcock. It’s all about the suspense and tension, and it works so well. Sara Hess and Charmaine De Grate give us a great teleplay. This definitely got the job done, and set up the season finale perfectly. Claire Kilner is back as director for her third episode and I don’t think it could’ve been done any better. Ramin Djawadi’s score was unsettling, Alejandro Martinez’s cinematography mirrored films like Vertigo and Rear Window with how certain scenes were shot.
Some of this episode was more than just a thriller, though – it was also extremely disturbing. Mainly, the dynamic of Lord Larys and Alicent’s “relationship.” The scene in the Red Keep of him touching himself to her feet showed just how desperate she was for information. We know Larys has a thing for Alicent, and he’s shown it in more ways than one. Ser Criston Cole does as well, I wish this could be explored more because Larys isn’t a fighter. But I think he’d have Cole killed if it came down to it. Just a strange love triangle that is hinted at but never touched upon.
There is a lot to break down in this episode. We finally see Aegon for who he is and who we’ve known him to be. Alicent is desperate to put her son on the throne, and the ways she goes about it are despicable for a queen. Everybody let Viserys down after everything he did to keep his family and house together. The Prince Who Was Promised hasn’t even been thought of, and that fact in itself is insane. His name is Aegon, but he isn’t Alicent’s son. The realm is being torn apart and sent into chaos because of a lie.
This was a great episode of House of the Dragon. It captured the suspense of a well-made thriller perfectly. Hess is a great director and put her skills at the forefront completely. The cast was amazing, and even though the action was scarce, the quality did not falter. I hope the season finale delivers because this season of House of the Dragon could be the best season of any Game Of Thrones content we’ve had since its sixth season.
I am excited to finish this journey with you all, to say the least. Thank you for reading every week. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Rating – 9.5/10
House of the Dragon premieres Sundays on HBO/HBO Max at 9 PM/8c