The King is dead! Long live the…King? Queen? Someone else?
Yes, King Viserys the Peaceful is no more. He has hung up his mask, breathed his last, and shuffled off this mortal coil. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. And he is the only one peaceful or resting.
Moments after his final breath, the various factions in the castle start jockeying for position. Alicent is awoken with the news from her maid. She runs to tell her dad that Viserys’ dying wish was for Aegon to be king. (It wasn’t, but since there are a dozen Aegons, Alicent honestly believes it was.) He’s skeptical, but since it benefits his family, he’s willing to overlook any doubts. Otto wants to keep the death under wraps until he can secure Aegon’s path to the throne. The castle is on lockdown, loose-tongued servants are rounded up, and Rhaenys is locked in her room.
The small council is on board. Even though the lords all pledged fealty to Rhaenyra, that was 20 years ago. She’s been living at Dragonstone and away from court for years, so she has few remaining allies in King’s Landing. In fact, the council is happy to have an actual reason to pass over Rhaenyra, so they don’t have to make one up. Alicent is appalled to find out that Otto and much of the small council have been plotting this for some time now. Lord Beesbury, the master of coin, is also shocked. He denounces them all as thieves and traitors and he’ll have no part in it. Criston rather vigorously forces him back in his chair. A little too vigorously, since he cracks his head open on the desk. Well, at least now the council is unanimous!
Criston then refuses a direct order from his commander to remove his cloak and sword- since he just murdered a guy – by snottily replying he is only defending his queen from threats. Remember when we thought Criston was cool? Man, that seems like ages ago…
Alicent is even more appalled at Otto’s plans for the princess. He wants to have Rhaenyra put to death. Fewer challengers to the throne mean fewer fights and smooth sailing for Aegon. Oh, and her kids. And Daemon, too, just to be safe. It might be a little messy, but it’s a small sacrifice! And they need to act fast. Rhaenyra and family just left the keep last night and don’t yet know Viserys is dead. He orders the commander of the King’s Guard to go take care of it, but Harrold Westerling refuses. You see, he’s the commander of the KING’S guard. And if there is no king, there is no one to give him orders. He leaves his cloak behind and exits. And excellent work, using grammar and fine print to get out of regicide.
Alicent does not want Rhaenyra murdered, since she is certain her late husband would never want his daughter, brother, and grandchildren dead. This sets off a race to find Aegon since whoever finds him can tell him what is to be done about Rhaenyra.
However, there’s a slight hitch. No one can find him.
Sister-wife Haelena hasn’t seen him. He’s not in his room. He’s not anywhere in the keep. Otto tracks down his King’s Guard, Erryk, to ask where he is. He doesn’t know either, but he has some strong suspicions Otto sends him and his twin brother Arryk out to find him, and only bring Aegon to him, no one else. Alicent sends loyal Criston out to find him with instructions to bring Aegon straight to her, and Aemond comes along to help.
Aemond leads Criston to the brothels since that was where Aegon took him the last time they came out of the keep. After remarking on how much Aemond has grown (for real), the brothel madam says she hasn’t seen him Aegon in years. He’s into weird kinky shit now. Kinky stuff that his King’s Guard Erryk knows all about, He and Arryk head to a fighting pit, where orphan children have their teeth sharpened and their nails filed to points and then told to go kill each other for the amusement of the crowds, And, look, I know we’ve had a good solid run of child marriage and cousin humping, but this is dark even for GoT. Erryk is disgusted that someone so debauched that he would happily cheer on ten-year-olds in baby Fight Club is going to be king. There’s still no sign of him, but one of Mysaria’s agents finds them. She knows where Aegon is and will tell only the Hand.
Back in the castle, Alicent has come to talk to Rhaenys, who is understandably pissed about being imprisoned in her room. Alicent tries to get her on board with the new plan of succession. What has your loyalty to Rhaenyra gotten you? Laena and Laenor are dead, she bore you bastard grandchildren, Corlys is mortally wounded and still grasping at the throne. Then she tries to sweet talk her. We both know that you, Rhaenys, should’ve been queen. Viserys would’ve been happy as a country lord, hunting and reading histories. Rhaenys is not impressed. All your scheming and you only serve different masters – your husband, your father, and now your son. All you are asking for is a fancier window in your prison cell. Has Alicent really never pictured herself on the Iron Throne, wielding power for herself? (Yes, Rhaenys! Smash the patriarchy!)
Otto takes a break from murdering lords still loyal to Rhaenyra who won’t bend the knee to Aegon and goes to meet with Mysaria. She heard through her network that Viserys had passed, so she did the neighborly thing and tucked Aegon away for safekeeping. She could have easily killed him, but she’s nice like that. All she wants is for Otto to end child exploitation in King’s Landing. No more child fights, no more child sex trafficking. Otto says, sure, I’ll get right on it. He seems totally sincere!
Mysaria points Erryk and Arryk to the church of the Seven and they find Aegon moaning underneath the altar. Good, leave him there, where he can’t rape anyone. They drag him out but are intercepted by Criston and Aemond who yoink him away after a brief sword fight. Aegon cries for his brother to let him run away on a ship, but Aemond is tired of his whining.
Back in Alicent’s chambers, she meets Larys, who has spent the episode lurking and spying. He tells Alicent all about Mysaria’s spy network (which includes her own chambermaid) in exchange for some longing glances at Alicent’s feet. (In a scene that Quentin Tarantino would consider a little over the top, he proceeds to fondle himself as she rolls off her stockings and puts her feet up on the table.) He can of course help her out. If the queen bee is eliminated, then the drones will fly without purpose. Alicent sighs and says that sounds like something he can take care of. It’s one of the trademarks of the Game of Thrones to show how power corrupts. It was only a few episodes ago that Alicent was shocked, shocked!, that Larys would ever think that she wanted him to kill for her. Now, it’s just, fine, finish wanking to my ankles and then go murder someone because it will help my dickhead of a son ascend to the throne. Later on, we see a hooded figure walking away from a burning building, so I can assume that he’s carried it out. Guess those kids are going to be stuck in the fight pits, huh?
Rhaenys is still trapped in her tower until Erryk (I think) comes to save her. He drags her out of her room, through the secret passages of the keep, past the bodies of those who would not bend the knee to Aegon II, and out to the streets. She wants to get her dragon, but Erryk (yes, pretty sure it’s Erryk) wants her to get out of Dodge before Otto and Alicent realize she’s gone and possibly murder her. But as they try to get to the port, they get swept up in a crush of people. The city watch is herding everyone into the Red Keep to witness the glorious coronation of Aegon, Second of his Name, Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, yada yada yada.
Aegon has had to be dragged here by practically everyone – his mother, his brother, Criston, Otto, etc – and he really does not want to be here. He pouts the whole ride, and Alicent has frankly had enough of his crap. Aegon does perk up a bit when his mom tells him he’ll get Aegon the Conqueror’s cool black sword, though.
As the crowd is shoved into place, Otto announces the sad news. Viserys is dead. But rejoice! For he has picked Aegon as his successor. The crowd greets this news with scattered applause. And I do wonder just how much your average peasant would care about changes in royal lines. Life in Flea Bottom looks pretty rough, and I doubt it would make much difference if Rhaenyra or Aegon sat on the throne. Still, everyone is awfully quiet all through the ceremony. It reminded me of Jeb Bush’s infamous “Please Clap” moment on his doomed campaign for president.
The crowd does start to come around as Aegon thrusts the sword, Blackfyre, into the air like he was fist-pumping at a Black Sabbath concert. The crowd is just getting into it when…
During the coronation, Rhaenys slipped away and managed to get to the dragon pits. She collected her dragon, Meleys, and is bursting through the cathedral wall, just like Donkey at the end of Shrek. Apparently, Alicent’s nice speech did little to persuade her to change alliances. Meleys roars and stomps around, scattering terrified peasants everywhere. (See what I mean? These poor people are going to get stomped by whoever is on the throne.)
Rhaenys and Meleys approach the altar, where the entire Hightower-Targaryen clan stands. Meleys gets nose-to-nose with Alicent. Alicent flinches, sure she is about to be burned along with her family. Meleys opens her mouth and… just screams at her, real loud, like Pee Wee Herman just said the magic word. Rhaenys glares at Alicent, then flies away, presumably to warn Rhaenyra of what is to come.
Now, I cannot quite figure out why Rhaenys didn’t just Dracarys everyone and save us all a lot of trouble. Perhaps she still wants to be queen and thinks her best shot will be to pick up the pieces after Rhaenyra and Aegon kill each other. Perhaps she wants Alicent to think about what she told her – stop serving men and start serving yourself. Still, it’s a bit of a mystery.
I’ve been a little slow to warm to this show, but the last couple of episodes have really felt like the best of old-school Game of Thrones. The end of the time jumps has let us spend more time with the characters and see their relationships and resentments develop. The pacing has been great and the plot turns are building on character beats. It’s a thrill to see this show finally click on all cylinders and peak as the season comes to an end.
It was a smart choice to focus entirely on the Hightowers-Targaryens this week. And it looks like next week’s finale will be all about Rhaenyra’s response. And also more dragons. Can’t wait!
Rating: 5 out of 5 – I considered docking half a star for the foot stuff, but the ending made up for a lot.
Who’s the Worst? – After many weeks of almost getting this prize, it’s time to reward the shitbaggery of Ser Criston. Great work, murdering an old man!
Line of the Week: SKEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Courtesy of Rhaenys’ dragon, Meleys.
Runner up: Aegon: Do you love me?
Alicent: You imbecile.