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House of the Dragon Episode 9 puts women back in charge

Dragon HouseThe ninth episode of, titled “The Green Council,” draws a clear line in the sand. There is no turning back now. The war is coming. The Dance of the Dragons viewers have been waiting for is finally here. Now all it takes is for the other side, the Blacks, to find out what their enemies have been doing behind their backs. Thanks to Rhaenys Targaryen, they’ll do it their way.

The episode begins with the aftermath of the king’s death and the decision by those close to him – Alicent and Otto, in particular – to ignore Rhaenyra’s claim to the Iron Throne and crown Aegon II as the next king. For Alicent, this is a new choice, born of a misunderstanding of the late king’s last words. For Otto, this has been a long time coming. He’s been planning and plotting for quite some time, and not only does he have a lot of people on his side, but he’s willing to kill anyone who isn’t.

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“The Green Council” ends where it always had to end: with the coronation of Aegon. Before that, the episode pits Otto against his daughter and then Alicent against Rhaenys. Alicent wins in her silent battle against her father to spare Rhaenyra and her family, though her victory can be seen as a long-term loss, but loses to a Rhaenys who could have ended the Dance of the Dragons before she even doesn’t start with a simple “Dracarys”. Compassion and overconfidence stop her, just as those things, and perhaps a distant memory of fondness for Rhaenyra, held Alice’s hand earlier in the hour.

In terms of storytelling, the decision to stay at King’s Landing and with the greens for an entire hour is both disconcerting and, perhaps, good for the show in general. The pacing of the episode is huge, and the tension is very well achieved. There’s just no one that audiences can really root for, even though there are plenty of characters that fans will understand better after this hour. Rhaenys is not Rhaneyra, but in the context of “The Green Council”, she is the one who catches both the eyes and the interest of the public. The Greens might be able to make the episode work, but they never quite manage to win over the hearts of the audience.

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Eve Best and Olivia Cooke, however, carry the episode in a way the many men around them have rarely been able to realize. Without Paddy Considine’s Viserys or Matt Smith’s Daemon, viewers can only root for women to own their own stories. Even on opposite sides of the coming war, it’s clear that they would all like the same thing. Whatever decisions have to be made in the days to come, it would be great if they were Alice and Rhaenyra’s decisions, and not the decisions the men around them want them to make.

The difference, of course, is that Team Green takes an entire episode to coalesce with a common goal that even they don’t seem to fully believe in, while Team Black is already united behind Rhaenyra. Also, they have more dragons – which is not without consequence in a war that will be dragon against dragon.

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Even the choice of colors, which follows the source material, is inspired. The greens in this episode might seem, at first glance, like the nicer or even the smarter option, but the dragon house was never about that. Rhaenyra’s black is more of House Targaryen than the Hightowers can ever hope to achieve, and that’s why it’s easier for fans to align with them. Well, that and Rhaenyra and Daemon are just better characters than Alicent, Otto and her kids. In fiction, fans rarely root for the good guys. Instead, viewers seek out characters that speak to them, whether they do horrible things or not.

“The Green Council” was the penultimate episode of this Dragon House season, that game of thrones always reserved for his greatest battles and deaths. This time, it looks like audiences may have to wait until the finale for an actual war and possible big deaths. Dragon House has already subverted expectations in other important ways – one more is not so surprising.

To see the Greens plotting to take the throne, new episodes of House of the Dragon air Sundays at 9:00 a.m. ET on HBO, with new episodes available to stream immediately on HBO Max.