Here we are, only two more episodes, and it is the end of Season 1 of House of the Dragon. The series based on the universe created by George R.R. Martin is just one of the best shows of 2022. It is without a doubt one of the truest triumphs in the medium this year. From the moment it began, the series had to fight the disappointment that was left on people’s minds thanks to the end of Season 8 of Game of Thrones. The show’s announcement and the premiere were met with skepticism, but soon the series proved to be more than meets the eye.
Right now, we are talking about Episode 9, and the conversation has made a 180º turn. The show is not some curiosity right now, but it is the show that saves a franchise, taking every single element that made Game of Thrones so good and polishing it into something more subtle and lethal. House of the Dragon is very different from Game of Thrones, it is run by different people, and it is using a different style. So, for some, it might be a surprise that Episode 9 isn’t the big turning point or big spectacle moment that Episodes 9 of Game of Thrones used to be.
It is scary because some people believed that Episode 9 of this season, titled “The Green Council” was going to be like another Battle of the Bastards or another Blackwater. Instead, it is just the first part of a two-parter ending that will conclude in episode 10. I hope expectations like this don’t hurt the episode because it is just as good as the rest of the season, offering some truly amazing performances and developments that will ripple from here to the end of the show. This is it. This is the moment when everything went to hell.
“The Green Council” is not focused on a battle or Dragons, but in a similar way to Episode 9 of Game of Thrones, the episode chooses to center on a specific group of characters. In this episode, we focus only on the characters who make life in King’s Landing and how they react to the news that King Viserys is dead. There are some important changes here and there for some characters, but what happens can only be described as a desperate move to retain power. Everybody is fighting against one single enemy and yet, they manage to be divided in their goal. It isn’t pretty to look at.
Episode 10 will definitely focus on the other side of the conflict, the one headlined by Rhaenyra. The next episode is called “The Black Queen” for very good reasons. In general, episode 9 is an enormous display of restraint and storytelling mastery. One of the sides being so divided in itself adds many layers of complexity that are often not found in many TV shows, but here the political scheming goes a long way. It is terrifying to see how something can fall apart in seconds.
Even when episode 9 doesn’t have a big battle, it has a couple of very shocking ones, especially one towards the end that will mark the direction of the show in ways that might not be so apparent right now. People will be left baffled by what they are seeing, and some others will be left excited and will come rushing to tell everyone that this is the best episode ever. The truth is in the middle. The episode takes a bold choice of focusing only on a group of characters, but this leaves it open for major criticisms until we see the end of the season next week.
While the narrative takes a turn into more experimental territory, the visuals and the production values remain the same. Seeing King’s Landing in all of its glory is truly wonderful. The Dragon Pit becomes a big place for this episode, and it truly tells us that the Seven Kingdoms were something much smaller and pathetic by the moment Robert Baratheon took the Iron Throne. It is here that we see the start of the fall of House Targaryen, a fall that will extend for hundreds of years until Robert’s Rebellion will put it out of its misery.
Some characters that have been in the background get to shine a bit more in this episode, and some others begin their character arcs for the rest of the series. A fan-favorite, Aemond, starts a long climb to become the badass he will end up being, and some others also get to have their own scenes. It is great to see that background characters also have opinions and things to say by themselves. We can expect a lot more examples like this in the next episode.
Episode 9 of House of the Dragon breaks the tradition of having a huge battle-centric episode. Instead, it goes deeper into the politics and the consequences of them as we get ready to start what is going to be one of the deadliest wars in the history of Westeros. It might not be an emotional episode like it was Episode 8, and yet, it serves as the perfect preamble for what is going to be season 2 and beyond.