Aegon Had the Rat Catchers Killed in 'House of the Dragon' For This Reason (SPOILERS)

The rat catchers were a casualty of the Dance of the Dragons on Season 2 of 'House of the Dragon.'

Sara Belcher - Author

Jun. 23 2024, Published 10:01 p.m. ET

Queen Helaena crying in 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO

Spoilers for Season 2, Episode 2 of House of the Dragon ahead.

Season 2 of House of the Dragon starts with a bang, kicking off the Dance of the Dragons with the beheading of Aegon’s heir, Prince Jaehaerys. Following the murder of Lucerys Velaryon by Aemond Targaryen, Daemon moves to have Aemond killed in retaliation, only for Blood and Cheese, the two assassins hired by the royal, to behead the young prince instead.

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Before this unfolds, Queen Helaena warns her husband that she's nervous "Not [about] the dragons. The rats." Though King Aegon initially brushes it off as her being a bit peculiar, he quickly seeks vengeance on the rat catchers for the death of his son. But who are the rat catchers? Let's break it down.

Queen Helaena in Season 2, Episode 1 of 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO
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Who are the rat catchers?

Those who work in the sewers under the Red Keep keeping the rat population under control are called the rat catchers. They are typically poorer citizens of Kings Landing, just like Cheese was, taking the job to make their living.

As they work in the sewers under the palace, the rat catchers are often incredibly familiar with the tunnels and potential secret entrances to the royal quarters. This was why Cheese was an integral part of the assassination plot and why Daemon sought him out for hire.

Though there's some allusion that the "rats" are part of team black and plotting against the throne, there's no evidence in the show (or in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire) to suggest that they're anything more than poor workers in King's Landing.

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Tom Glynn Carney as King Aegon in 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO

Why did King Aegon have the rat catchers killed?

At the start of Episode 2, Aegon makes it clear that he's looking to seek vengeance for the death of his heir. He immediately said that he wanted to have Rhaenyra killed in retaliation, despite the cautioning of Alicent and the rest of the Small Council.

Before the episode is half over, Aegon has used his power as king and had all of the rat catchers killed. Outside the palace walls, the bodies of every citizen who works as a rat catcher hangs, their bodies displayed as a warning.

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The citizens of King's Landing close to those who worked in the sewers under the palace openly weeped at the bodies, and the dog of one of the men who beheaded Jaehaerys wined as he saw his owner among those hung.

Aegon made it clear that even though he didn't have all of the information, he was more than willing to use his position of power to slaughter those he saw as a potential threat to his throne. The young king has only been on the throne for a short while, but he's already been compared to Joffrey Baratheon, who sits on the Iron Throne generations later.

House of the Dragon airs every Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on HBO and Max.

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