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[S1E9] For King And Country

In 2015, with Game of Thrones still in production, HBO executives approached A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R. R. Martin regarding possible successors or spin-offs to the series.[16] In November 2018, Martin stated that a "potential spin-off series would be solidly based on material in Fire & Blood."[17] Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss stated they wanted to "move on" from the franchise and declined involvement in subsequent projects.[18] By September 2019, a Game of Thrones prequel series from Martin and Ryan Condal that "tracks the beginning of the end for House Targaryen" was close to receiving a pilot order from HBO.[19] The following month, House of the Dragon was given a straight-to-series order.[20] Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, who won an Emmy Award for directing the episode "Battle of the Bastards", were selected to serve as showrunners.[21] In 2016, Condal pitched the idea of a series based on Martin's Tales of Dunk and Egg, however HBO initially passed on it.[22] Sapochnik was also hired to direct the series premiere as well as additional episodes.[23] The series begins 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones during the reign of King Viserys I Targaryen, ultimately leading to the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.[24][25] The project is a reworking of the rejected spin-off concept from Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman, on which HBO officially passed.[26]

[S1E9] For King and Country

In the novels, members of House Velaryon are generally described as having "silver-gold hair, pale skin, and violet eyes", similar to the Targaryens.[40] However, Condal and Sapochnik wanted to introduce more racial diversity with its casting.[41] Game of Thrones was criticized for lacking a diverse cast and including cultural stereotypes.[42][43] As a result, House Velaryon are portrayed as black in the television series.[44] According to Condal, Martin, while writing the novels, considered making the Velaryons a house of Black aristocrats who traveled to Westeros from the culturally diverse area of Valyria.[44] Despite initial fan criticism of the ethnicity change,[45] publications and commentators stated it helped distinguish between the large number of characters between the two families.[46][47]

Fire & Blood is written in the style of a history book authored by an in-universe fictional historian studying the Targaryen dynasty and various civil conflicts.[48] The novels of A Song of Ice and Fire, however, are more immersive, with each chapter written in a third-person limited perspective from the immediate point of view of a character.[49] As a result, some accounts of events recorded in Fire & Blood are second-hand narrations that are potentially speculative or distorted, therefore making the narrator unreliable from the reader's perspective.[50] In an effort to make the story more clear for viewers, the show writers decided to portray the book events in chronological order from a third-person perspective.[51]

Critics, fans, and publications have drawn comparisons between House of the Dragon and fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime Video. The Rings of Power is a prequel series set thousands of years before the events of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, while House of the Dragon is a prequel series set before Game of Thrones.[151] The similar fantasy genre, close release dates, and extensive fan bases were cited in articles comparing the two series.[3][152][153] Commentators and fans alike have described these comparisons as the "biggest battle in TV history".[154][155] More negative criticism from the two fan bases also included the character diversity, with some publications describing some of the criticism as racist.[156][157][158][159] Martin stated that although he hopes both shows are successful, he wants to see House of the Dragon "succeed more."[160] Lindsey Weber, an executive producer for The Rings of Power, stated that the head-to-head conflict between the two shows are "totally manufactured by the media for headlines".[155] Show co-creator J. D. Payne said the only competition he sees is with "themselves"; however, he wishes well for "anyone else working on storytelling".[161]

We begin this week with the end of King Viserys Targaryen. The old chap has seemingly been knocking on death's door for years, even back in the day when Milly Alcock was playing Rhaenyra. Queen Alicent is notified of his passing in the opening moments of the episode, and quickly seeks the council of her father, Otto Hightower.

Beesbury accuses the group of regicide, of being party to the king's passing. Ser Criston Cole takes it upon himself to handle Beesbury in an orderly fashion: By smashing Beesbury's face onto the table, killing him instantly.

While Rhaenyra and Daemon sailed back to Dragonstone after the events of last episode, Princess Rhaenys is still in King's Landing. However, earlier in the episode, we saw that her doors were locked, making her a prisoner in her own chambers.

Now, Queen Alicent pays her a visit. She informs Rhaenys that the king is dead, and asks her to support Aegon over Rhaenyra. The Velaryons' pact with Rhaenyra has meant only bad things: Laena's death, Laenor being cuckolded and then ostensibly killed. But Rhaenys shoots back that Velaryon oaths are not so easily broken.

Queen Alicent says that Rhaenys should have been made ruler over Viserys -- that Viserys was better suited to being a country lord who spent his time hunting and reading history books. Probably true, but rough. The bloke just died!

She promises to take them to Aegon if Hightower promises children will stop being used for entertainment in King's Landing. The City Watch are meant to protect the children, she argues, but they're too easily bribed into ignoring the children's plight. Hightower mouths a somewhat empty-sounding platitude about looking into it.

A sword fight ensues, with Ser Criston besting Arryk. Erryk watches on, mysteriously not coming to his brother's aid before retreating. Aegon himself tries to run away, yelling that he's not cut out to be king, but Aemond chases him down.

When Queen Alicent gets back to her chambers, she finds "Clubfoot" Larys Strong waiting for her. He has news. Alicent sits on the couch across from him, takes her slippers off and puts her stocking-covered feet on the table. Larys tells her there's a web of spies in the Red Keep, one that Otto Hightower is aware of and has left in place because it has occasionally benefited him.

Larys says he has even worse news, but stalls for a moment. Alicent sighs, removes her stockings and puts her now bare feet on the table. Larys continues, explaining that Alicent's lady in waiting is one of the spies -- and that there are more like her. To stop the espionage, they need to take out the Queen Bee, something he's capable of if the queen wishes it.

Aegon himself is not keen at all on the whole enterprise. Riding toward the ceremony with his mother, he complains that Viserys never wanted him to be king, that Viserys upheld Rhaenyra's claim, that he's only being made king because that's what Alicent and Otto want.

Alicent opens a nearby box, which houses Viserys' dagger, the one that was once wielded by Aegon the Conqueror. She tells Aegon that, once he's king, Otto Hightower will implore him to execute Rhaenyra. Alicent pleads with Aegon to reject her father, that Rhaenyra is Aegon's sister and needs to be treated with civility.

Inside the Dragonpit, Otto Hightower speaks to the people of King's Landing."Today is the saddest of days. Our beloved king, Viserys the Peaceful, is dead. But it is also the most joyous of days, for as his spirit left us, he whispered his final wish: That his first-born son, Aegon, should succeed him."

Everyone runs out of the Dragon Pit, except for the king and his gang -- including the queen, the hand and Ser Criston. Rhaenys and her enormous dragon approach them. She could burn them alive, and teases doing so by making Meleys let off a huge roar.

After being pushed around the chessboard, as she put it, she's playing a more active role in shaping events. Alicent has shown honor. She pushes Aegon for king, as she believes Viserys to have wanted, but her resolve to safeguard the princess in the process is admirable. It's Ned Stark-esque. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to end well. It's easy to see Alicent's attempts at civility to be spat back at her by Rhaenyra and Daemon who, rightfully, will feel burned by the whole "Aegon is the new king" thing.

While that may be what Rhaenys believes was the righteous or only choice, she immediately went for the nuclear option, taking any political solution off the table in what the Greens can now only see as an act of war. (For her part, Princess Rhaenyra may rightly see the very act of usurpation as a declaration of war.)

Mary enlists a mercenary to help her, which forces her to realize there are sacrifices and lives she is willing to risk to save her country. Francis embraces his role as Dauphin to lead France in a brutal battle against England, and finds a new ally in Leith. Meanwhile, as Lola grows closer to Lord Julien, she gets increasingly suspicious that he is going to betray her.

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Aegon is gone from his chamber and not within the castle walls either. Aemond and Criston Cole both head into the city together to try and find him. Time is of the essence though given twin knights Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk Cargyll are also after him, working for Otto.

After two terrible finales this week (looking at you She-Hulk and Rings of Power), House of the Dragon steps out from the smouldering ruins to deliver a tasty penultimate episode, leaving the door wide open for a bloody good finale to follow. Bring it on! 041b061a72

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