PG Score: 8.25/10
House of the Dragon is available on HBO Max. New episodes every Sunday at 9 PM ET.
*SOME SPOILERS BELOW*
In the previous six seasons, Game of Thrones had a habit of making episode 9 the stand-out episode of the year. Season 1 had "Baelor", when the main character Ned Stark lost his head. Season 2 had the most epic of battles in "Blackwater". And who can forget one of the most tragic episodes, "The Rains of Castamere", aka The Red Wedding from season 3? Therefore, House of the Dragon's episode 9 was eagerly anticipated by yours truly.
Not Without Flaws
Did "The Green Council" live up to the hype? Short answer: no. But the episode did a lot of things right in dealing with the fallout of King Viserys's death and what it means for the realm and those who seek the throne. One of the more epic scenes of the episode is also a point of contention for being a lazy and poorly written story choice. I won't spoil it too much, but it involves Rhaenys, her dragon, the loss of a bunch of innocent lives, and the sparing of a bunch of not-so-innocent lives. Does it take away from the whole episode? No, but it does cost the episode some points on the grading scale.
Hightower Power Struggle
"The Green Council" was all about the Hightower-led Targaryen Greens cementing their power after the unfortunate passing of Viserys, fueled by his last words that only enhanced the divide he tried so hard to bridge. Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) puts his years of work into action, as almost the entire King's Council joins him in getting the Green's ducks, or dragons, if you will, in a row before announcing to the Realm that the King is dead.
Strictly taking place in King's Landing, Alicent and her father Otto were politicking against one another throughout the episode, though both have the same goal of making Aegon king. This episode shows more of the truer side of Otto, who comes off as a villain with an end-justifies-the-means mentality, versus Alicent's method of trying to limit the bloodshed. Alicent (Olivia Cooke) is phenomenal in this episode and comes off as more sympathetic than she has since marrying the King. But she finds herself stuck between a rock and hard place in fulfilling what she believes to be Viserys's dying request.
Keeping Viewers on Their...Toes
"The Green Council" featured the return of a former mistress of Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), who appears to be playing her own game with her own spies, making it unclear whose side she is truly on. This episode also revealed the price Alicent has to pay for the work Larys the Clubfoot (Matt Needham) puts in behind the scenes. Let's just say there's a foot fetish involved with some self-gratification and leave it at that. The whole scene was odd, disturbing, and quite amusing to watch, as it was so unexpected.
King (?) Aegon
Loyalties are being tested, which is sure to lead to confrontations between former allies and even current brothers of the Kingsguard. Otto is doing his very best to limit those who could oppose them by any means necessary. Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carey) the would-be king remains elusive in this episode, causing Alicent and Otto to send their own little groups out searching for him. It is a race to see who will pick him up first. Glynn-Carey was given the time to show more depth to the perverted, wastrel of a character we have gotten to know so far. He's not quite on the level of a Joffrey or Ramsay, as this episode revealed a vulnerable side to the character who doesn't believe either of his parents loved him. That could explain part of his behavior, but his darker tendencies are bound to come out with a war looming in the future.
Imperfect, but Effective
Despite not living up to the hype of a GoT episode 9, "The Green Council" was a very well-done episode. There are some interesting character pairings, particularly Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) and Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and brothers Arryk (Luke Tittensor) and Erryk (Elliott Tittensor), who both serve on the Kingsguard. The search for Aegon gives us more insight into these characters than the series has shown us previously, and it will be interesting to see how their ambitions, intentions, loyalties, and beliefs will play out.
"The Green Council" has an excellent score throughout the episode with familiarly haunting notes, which helps convey the fact that history repeats itself. A methodical pace for the episode allows the viewer to see that the Greens are not quite united, even though they have the same goals. Next week's House of the Dragon episode will show the fallout from this struggle when we get to see the Blacks' (Rhaenyra Targaryen's faction) reaction to Viserys's death and the Greens stealing the throne due to Alicent's misinterpretation of Viserys's last words. Along with Otto Hightower's ambition, of course.