The ninth episode of each season of Game of Thrones was traditionally the biggest and grandest episode of that year's Westerosi offering. The fire on the Blackwater, the undead nightmare at Hardhome, the infamously brutal Battle of the Bastards; the list of ninth episodes of Game of Thrones reads like an IMDb highlight reel.
In keeping with tradition, the penultimate episode of the first season of House of the Dragon, The Green Council, kicked off the Dance of the Dragons in spectacular, albeit slightly lower key, fashion as the Hightowers strike the first blow. This is not a conflict fought on the battleground, but behind the scenes of the Red Keep as the usurpers frantically bid to consolidate their status in the new political world.
Viserys is barely cold in his grave before the insidious family launches their bid to seize power on the foundation of the lie told by Alicent and they do not reveal the King is dead until their foreboding plan is in place. Does the deluded Queen even believe her own words? Her son most certainly does not - painfully aware that his own father couldn't stand him - but Aegon still finds himself being proclaimed Viserys' successor as Criston places the Crown of the Conqueror on his greasy blonde hair.
Poor Viserys. He did the sensible thing by dying and avoiding this mess; the absence of the guiding hand and reassuring presence of the King is already being felt keenly. More ominously? If events are to play out as they do in Martin's canon, the worst has yet to come when Rhaenyra and Co. return in next week's finale.
10. Down - Wickedly weird Larys
Well, that was traumatizing.
This week's episode saw arguably House of the Dragon's grossest moment to date. Bear in mind, this is a show that has featured incest, children slicing each other's eyes out and a man who nails people to posts so he can watch them be devoured by crabs.
Nonetheless, the revelation that Larys Strong has a foot fetish, evidently influenced by the loathing of his own deformed foot, was genuinely disturbing. What made the news borderline therapy-worthy was the discovery that Alicent seemingly pays for Larys' loyalty and information by allowing the despicable schemer to sexually gratify and pleasure himself to the sight of the Royal Feet.
Is this legitimately necessary? Viewers were introduced to Larys as a monstrous, Machiavellian schemer of the highest despicable order; people who hire a group of criminals, slice out their tongues and have them burn his brother and father alive are typically foreboding enough as it is. The appalling lengths that the younger Strong have already been revealed and made him a truly abominable character in the making, without having to resort to something that ultimately feels like a cheap attempt to disgust audiences.
The iconic villains of Game of Thrones - Joffrey, Ramsay, Cersei to name - weren't iconic because of some perverted sideshow, they were perfectly nuanced antagonists with a uniquely poisonous brand of their own. Considering Larys clearly has the potential to live up to his own particular brand of evil, this plot line feels like an inexplicable step in the wrong direction for his villain arc.