DISCLAIMER: This recap of the House of the Dragon episode “The Green Council” has spoilers. Prepare for fire and blood, and proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, dragonriders! House of the Dragon‘s penultimate episode, “The Green Council,” thrusts Team Green into the spotlight as they endeavor to usurp the Iron Throne from its rightful heir. Olivia Cooke and Eve Best are the episodic MVPs, but you already knew that without my saying. While it’s a tall order to outshine last week’s stellar outing and Paddy Considine‘s award-worthy performance, episode nine is a tense, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat hour of television, laying the groundwork for what’ll be an explosive, full-throttle Dance of the Dragons.

Ready to delve into “The Green Council”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with the empty corridors and halls of the Red Keep right at daybreak. A young boy tracks Talya (Alexis Raben) in the kitchens and whispers in her ear. Talya informs Alicent (Cooke) about Viserys’s passing. Alicent orders her to tell no one before rushing to her father’s chambers. 

Then, Alicent tells Otto (Rhys Ifans) that Viserys disclosed with his dying breath that he wished for Aegon to succeed him on the Iron Throne. Of course, we know Alicent misconstrued what her late husband said. Although, admittedly, I think she’s being wilfully obtuse at this point. She knows Viserys harbored no love for their son. 

Alicent Hightower crosses her arms in front of her while wearing an emerald green dress in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 9, "The Green Council."

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — Season 1 Episode 9, “The Green Council” — Pictured: Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower. Photo credit: Ollie Upton/HBO.

Later, Alicent and Otto assemble the small council early to share the news. We see Ser Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall), Grand Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan), Lord Jasper “Ironrod” Wylde (Paul Kennedy), Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson), Criston (Fabien Frankel) and Harrold Westerling (Graham McTavish) are present. After dropping that bombshell, Otto rallies the council to act quickly so they can secure Aegon as king. It’s here that Alicent learns of the long-term machinations brewing before her eyes. You know, without her consent.

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Otto believes they must kill Rhaenyra, Daemon and their family on Dragonstone. Alicent puts her foot down, vehemently ordering the council to refrain from committing murder. She hopes Rhaenyra will cooperate of her own accord without anyone resorting to slaughter. Beesbury, a staunch Rhaenyra supporter and someone who’s known Viserys the longest, doesn’t buy that the late king would suddenly change his mind. He believes the whole affair reeks of treason and theft. We’ve always supported Lyman Beesbury in this house!

Unfortunately, Beesbury doesn’t make it out of the council room alive. Criston orders the older man to sit while forcefully pushing him into his seat. Criston pushes so hard that he kills Beesbury. In Fire & Blood, Septon Eustace claims that Criston shoved Beesbury into his chair and opened the latter’s throat with a dagger. This scene roughly adheres to that account, save the dagger bit. 

Lyman Beesbury stands at the small council table in the Red Keep while looking angry in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 9, "The Green Council."

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — Season 1 Episode 9, “The Green Council” — Pictured: Kurt Egyiawan as Grand Maester Orwyle and Bill Paterson as Lord Lyman Beesbury. Photo credit: Ollie Upton/HBO.

Next, Harrold withdraws his blade, thrusting it in Criston’s direction. Harrold orders him to remove his cloak and stand down. However, Criston’s empowered by a blinding desire to serve Alicent at all costs, so he responds by brandishing his sword. Harrold reminds Criston that he’s the Lord Commander. Alicent persuades Criston to lower his blade. Harrold tears off his white cloak and storms out, refusing to heed anyone but the king. As of now, nobody is filling that role. 

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Later, Alicent finds Helaena (Phia Saban) in her quarters with Jaehaerys and Jaehaera. She asks Helaena about Aegon’s whereabouts, but the latter doesn’t know where he is. Alicent tries to tell her daughter about Viserys’s death, but Helaena repeats a phrase we’ve heard her say about the beast beneath the boards. Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) saunters into Helaena’s chambers and learns of the news about his father. 

Alicent Hightower clasps her son Aemond Targaryen's forearms while looking up at him in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 9, "The Green Council."

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — Season 1 Episode 9, “The Green Council” — Pictured: Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen. Photo credit: Ollie Upton/HBO.

Meanwhile, Otto dispatches Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliott Tittensor) to find Aegon and to take his brother Arryk with him. Once they find the future king, they’re to bring him to Otto and only Otto. They also must disguise themselves while out in the city. Shady! Then, we see Rhaenys (Best) waking in her bed to the sound of someone locking her doors. Realizing she’s trapped, Rhaenys tries to find a way out. The servants of the Red Keep, including Talya, are ushered into the dungeons. Presumably, to avoid the spread of Viserys’s death. Larys (Matthew Needham) watches in silence while this happens.

Alicent asks Criston to travel outside the Red Keep in search of her son. Aemond volunteers to travel with Ser Crispin, claiming he knows where Aegon would go. Then, we see Aemond and Criston walking through King’s Landing in disguises. Aemond explains that Aegon used to take him to the Street of Silk so that the former could “get it wet.” Criston rattles about respecting women like The Mother, but that sounds like baloney coming from him. 

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The pair ask a local brothel madam if she knows where Aegon is, but she claims he hasn’t frequented her doorstep in years. While Criston turns away, she looks at Aemond and comments on his growth. Something tells me she’s seen her fair share of Aemond (and little Aemond). Meanwhile, Otto informs the gathered lords and ladies in the throne room about Viserys’s death. He asks them to swear fealty to Aegon. We see most of them kneel in obeisance, but a few refuse to bow, reminding Otto about their vow to Princess Rhaenyra. They’re escorted to the dungeons promptly. 

Rhaenys Targaryen wears a black velvet gown while standing in her room and looking suspicious in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 9, "The Green Council."

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — Season 1 Episode 9, “The Green Council” — Pictured: Eve Best as Rhaenys Targaryen. Photo credit: Ollie Upton/HBO.

Erryk and Arryk (Luke Tittensor) wend their way through the crowded alleys of King’s Landing while donning brown cloaks. They stop at a fighting pit in Flea Bottom featuring children with sharpened teeth and nails brutally beating each other to, presumably, death. This part is pretty book accurate. While Aegon isn’t present, the two Kingsguard knights and identical brothers find themselves at a moral crossroads. Erryk is no fan of Aegon, while Arryk reminds him that he’s served the future king all this time without complaint. 

Jayne (Nina Barker-Francis) approaches the knights and persuades them to visit her lady, the White Worm. She knows where Aegon is. Naturally, this knowledge comes at a price. Ergo, Mysaria wants to confer with Otto. Meanwhile, Aemond vents his frustrations regarding his older brother to Criston. Aemond legitimately wants to sit on the Iron Throne. He toils away at his studies and swordwork. Yet Aegon gets the Seven Kingdoms handed to him on a silver platter. Criston empathizes with Aemond. 

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Next, Lord Caswell (Paul Hickey) is caught trying to escape the Red Keep on horseback. Larys brings Caswell to Otto. The lord insists he wasn’t departing to relay the news of Viserys’s death to Rhaenyra. Otto doesn’t believe him, so he sentences Caswell to death. Before Larys leaves, he offers his services to Otto. What a grimy, crummy little weasel. Alicent watches while the silent sisters prepare Viserys’s body for a traditional Targaryen funeral. After they scamper off, she tearfully places his crown atop his corpse. Alicent breaks down at that moment. 

Then, Alicent visits Rhaenys, and without the former uttering a word, she knows Viserys is gone. Alicent wants to ensure that Rhaenys won’t side with Rhaenyra. She urges her cousin to throw her support behind Aegon, even playing the “you should’ve been queen” card. Rhaenys shoots back that Alicent plays her part to the whims of the men around her. There’s no real power in that. Eve Best, you are a goddess. She serves it up in this scene.

Ser Harrold Westerling stands in his full armor with a hand on his sword while looking suspicious in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 9, "The Green Council."

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — Season 1 Episode 9, “The Green Council” — Pictured: Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling. Photo credit: Ollie Upton/HBO.

Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) sits with Otto, who’s cloaked, and the Cargyll brothers. Criston and Aemond spy them from afar. After receiving her payment, Mysaria offers Aegon’s location, but on one condition: the king must abolish pit fighting with children in Flea Bottom. They’re just kids! Otto agrees to her terms. Side note: Someone on the show needs to decide on a concrete accent for this character. It’s all over the place. 

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The Cargyll brothers find Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) stowed away where Rhaenyra and Alicent prayed together after Aemma’s passing. He throws a temper tantrum like a petulant child, refusing to go with them back to the Red Keep. They chase him outside, where Criston and Aemond lie in wait. Criston draws his sword again (this problematic b has gotta go), aiming it at Arryk. Erryk watches from afar, steering clear of the confrontation. While Arryk and Criston duke it out (because Criston wants to deliver Aegon to his queen and not give Otto the upper hand), Aemond tries to restrain Aegon. 

Ser Erryk and Arryk Cargyll walk through a busy street while wearing brown cloaks in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 9, "The Green Council."

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — Season 1 Episode 9, “The Green Council” — Pictured: Luke Tittensor as Ser Arryk Cargyll and Elliott Tittensor as Ser Erryk Cargyll. Photo credit: Ollie Upton/HBO.

Aegon reminds Aemond that he doesn’t want to be king. He’s well aware that he’s not suited for the role. He pleads with Aemond to allow him to sneak off on a ship so he can sail far away from Westeros. Arryk stands aside (Erryk disappears) and lets Criston and Aemond deliver Aegon to Alicent. Meanwhile, Alicent has a life-altering conversation with her father. She accuses Otto of playing her like a puppet — his chess piece to move about the board as he sees fit. Finally! Open your eyes, girl.

She reminds her dad that she has Aegon, so they will proceed with her plan. Alicent will send her terms to Rhaenyra on Dragonstone and offer the latter the chance to back off quietly. Oh, the Black Queen will not go gentle into that good night. 

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Later, Larys reveals his findings to Alicent, spewing vague metaphors and cloaked language about Alicent’s safety. The White Worm’s informants are everywhere. He does mention Talya as one of her spies, though. Throughout this exchange, we see Alicent remove her socks so that Larys can jerk off to the sight of her feet. That’s his payment — he’s got a foot kink. Someone introduce this man to Quentin Tarantino. Y’all, I’m not sure I needed to see this scene. If you need me, I’ll be washing my eyeballs with soap. 

Next, Erryk sneaks into Rhaenys’s room and breaks her free. The pair leave the Red Keep undetected. Rhaenys begs Erryk to take her to the Dragonpit so she can depart on Meleys, but Erryk informs her that it’s too dangerous. They must flee via the Blackwater Bay. Then, we see one of the brothels on fire courtesy of a cloaked figure. I’m assuming Larys sent someone to destroy the White Worm on Alicent’s behalf. 

Aemond Targaryen stands in a black hooded cloak with a brick wall behind him in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 9, "The Green Council."

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — Season 1 Episode 9, “The Green Council” — Pictured: Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen. Photo credit: Ollie Upton/HBO.

Once day breaks, we see throngs of people bustling toward the Dragonpit. Rhaenys loses Erryk in the melee. Meanwhile, Alicent and Aegon ride to the latter’s coronation in their carriage. Aegon sulks in the corner, despondent. Even when Alicent mentions Viserys’s last words, Aegon doesn’t believe he’s meant to be king. That is until Alicent reveals Viserys’s Valyrian steel dagger. Aegon will also acquire Blackfyre, Aegon the Conqueror’s sword, before ascending to the Iron Throne. 

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While Aegon marvels at the sight of the dagger, Alicent urges him to spare Rhaenyra and her family. He must not resort to murder and violence and keep the realm as peaceful as possible. However, Aegon’s not listening to a word she says — he’s absorbed by the dagger. He asks Alicent if she loves him. She calls him an imbecile. This moment was kinda funny. I still loathe Aegon, but I cracked a smile here.

Then, we see the crowd flood the Dragonpit as Otto informs the King’s Landers about Viserys’s passing. Rhaenys watches in secret, taking care to conceal herself from prying eyes. Otto introduces Aegon as the new king. We see him walk through the crowd toward the dais. The High Septon anoints Aegon with oils and proclaims him King Aegon, the Second of His Name. Well, after Criston, the new Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, places Aegon the Conqueror’s crown on his head. At this point, Rhaenys has slipped out quietly. 

Alicent Hightower stands above Viserys's wrapped corpse for the funeral in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 9, "The Green Council."

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — Season 1 Episode 9, “The Green Council” — Pictured: Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower. Photo credit: Ollie Upton/HBO.

Aegon rises to cheers from the crowd. He whirls around to face his family. Otto, Criston, the High Septon and Alicent bow with no issue, but when Aegon’s eyes fall on his wife Helaena and brother Aemond, the duo hesitates for a moment before nodding. And they say there’s no humor in this show. 

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Aegon seems reluctant to rule until he hears the crowd enthusiastically cheering for him. Then, he puts on a show, withdrawing Blackfyre and lifting it high for all to see. 

Oh, but it doesn’t end there, folks. Suddenly, large chunks of debris fly about, sending people fleeing in all directions. When the smoke clears, we see Meleys the Red Queen storm into the center with none other than Princess Rhaenys Targaryen on her back. Badass. This entrance might be my favorite in the Game of Thrones universe. Meleys inches closer to the royal family on the dais. Alicent orders Criston to protect Helaena while she stands in front of Aegon. Aegon hunches behind her in fear as Meleys lets out a beastly roar in their faces. The beast beneath the boards! Helaena, you little dreamer!

Rhaenys makes eye contact with Alicent but doesn’t say a word. She directs her dragon out of the Great Sept and flies away, presumably toward Dragonstone. Take that, Team Green!

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Talk about an ending! Rhaenys gave her answer to Alicent without uttering a syllable. She’s full Team Black, baby! “The Green Council” does an excellent job of raising the stakes and maintaining momentum throughout. The tension never wavers between characters. I love that Alicent finally sees her father for who he is. The crux of this episode is the tennis match between Alicent and Otto, as the Targaryen infighting inspires some inner Hightower conflict. 

While “The Green Council” takes quite a few literary liberties, probably straying more from the source material than any episode thus far, I feel the changes worked. I’ve seen online whispers of folks complaining that the series smoothed some of Alicent’s edges, but I like how everyone lives in the gray. Nobody’s morally black or white. I found myself sympathizing somewhat with Aegon (although he’s still a rapist, and that’s not cool).

I felt sympathetic toward Alicent, Aemond and Helaena, who are all pawns in Otto’s game. It’s much more enjoyable when the characters are capable of good and evil. It’s truer to real life. After all, we humans contain multitudes. Additionally, this outing sets the stage for the Cargyll brothers’ tragic battle that looms on the horizon. 

This episode proves that men in this universe will always grossly objectify women (just like in the real world). The foot scene is a stark reminder of how these women fight against the patriarchy that oppresses them. 

On a separate note, I reiterate — I don’t think Alicent purposely misunderstood what Viserys said. She’s very smart. She’s using what he said as a crutch, a means of placing her son on the Iron Throne. Alicent knows he was referring to Aegon the Conqueror. This is why you don’t name everyone Aegon! 

Overall, “The Green Council” is another thrilling, captivating episode for House of the Dragon. The performances are strong (like House Strong) across the board, but Olivia Cooke and Eve Best dole out their show-best work. Bring on the season finale!

House of the Dragon drops new episodes every Sunday at 9 pm EST on HBO and HBO Max

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