SPOILER ALERT: The following post contains spoilers for the latest episode of HBO's House of the Dragon.
The latest episode of House of the Dragon, “The Green Council,” is proving divisive; fans on IMDb mostly like it, for instance, but it has gotten a lot of pushback from viewers who think this was easily the worst episode of the show to date.
There are lots of reasons for that, but many believe it boils down to the script playing fast and loose with plot, character, and logic. The final climactic scene is a good example. While Aegon Targaryen is being crowned king, Rhaenys steals beneath the floor of the Dragonpit to get her dragon Meleys and the pair then burst from beneath the floor. Rhaenys stares down members of the green faction before flying away, presumably to tell Rhaenyra that Alicent and the greens are coming for her birthright.
So why didn’t Rhaenys kill the greens then and there? Writer Sara Hess gave her take to The Hollywood Reporter:
“I think she just can’t do it. It’s not her war. The fight is between these two sides and she’s kind of not in it. She doesn’t feel like she’s the one to come in and do that. But you’re right. If she had just incinerated everybody, it’s game over, Rhaenyra wins and we’re done here. But the cost is huge. I also feel like that moment, she looks Alicent in the eye and Alicent walks in front of her kid to shield him. It’s one mother to another. Rhaenys is angry, but in her previous scene with Alicent, she respected her, even if she doesn’t agree with her. So she’s not going to kill another woman like that.”
Showrunner Ryan Condal said something similar in the Inside the Episode feature:
“She knows if she sets fire to that dais, she ends any possibility of war and probably sets peace throughout the realm, but I think probably doesn’t want to be responsible for doing that to another mother.”
None of this rings true to some fans. If Rhaenys murders the recently crowned king along with several members of the Hightower family, it seems just as likely to start a war as prevent one. Moreover, the idea that she would hold back because she has sympathy for Alicent is so, well, boring. Maybe that’s part of it, but what about the prohibition on kinslaying? What about not wanting to be the one to strike first during this (relatively) colder part of the war? The House of the Dragon writers seem to want to reduce character motivations down to matters of who likes whom. It leaves little room for bigger considerations about politics and power; when mixed with the interpersonal stuff, that’s what makes these shows so compelling.