Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Episode 9.
One of the biggest questions at the end of House of the Dragon Episode 9 is why Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) chooses not to kill Alicent and Aegon. After misinterpreting Viserys’s last words, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) does everything she can to crown her son, Aegon, as the king with the realm’s support.
Despite trying to win over Rhaenys, Alicent has no power of persuasion over the Queen Who Never Was. So, she instead imprisons Rhaenys. However, Rhaenys has many allies, and with their help, she escapes into the dragon lair. There, she takes her dragon, Meleys, and together they erupt through the floor of the great hall during King Aegon II’s coronation. So why didn’t Rhaenys kill Alicent and Aegon then and there?
Rhaenys could have killed Alicent and Aegon in ‘House of the Dragon,’ but chose not to.
Rhaenys flies out first and foremost to escape imprisonment, but also to inform Rhaenyra of Viserys’s death and Aegon’s seat. Not only that, but she also makes a clear statement against Alicent. Rhaenys makes it very clear whose side she’s on in this impending familial war, and in doing so, she has the chance to shout “Dracarys” and burn Alicent and Aegon to the ground.
The act of power and loyalty, flying through the ground on Mereys is not in Fire & Blood, and if it had been, Rhaenys likely would have killed Alicent and Aegon. Now, everyone is talking about why Rhaenys didn’t just make the move and take out her cousin’s family. She has no incentive to keep them alive… or so it seems.
There are many reasons why Rhaenys didn’t kill Alicent and Aegon, but one stands out as the most likely.
One major reason Rhaenys didn’t kill Viserys’s family outside of her own motivation is simple plot armor. If she had killed Alicent and Aegon in that moment, there would be no Dance of the Dragons, and no further story to tell. But as a character, there are many reasons she could have made that decision. Perhaps seeing the thousands of people “loyal” to Aegon and his claim made it clear that she couldn’t kill them without suffering the consequences of treason against the crown.
Even if Rhaenys did kill Alicent and Aegon, Aegon’s children or Aemond could then claim the throne, so it may not have prevented any bloodshed, and could have spurned more lives than necessary. But when it comes down to it, it seems like the showrunners added this to the story because it looks very cool. It turns Rhaenys into the true queen she always should have been, and her restraint and clemency becomes even more noble.
So whether Rhaenys’s motivations were out of fear or foresight, her decision not to kill Alicent and Aemond gives us the story we’ve been waiting for.
Tune into the finale of House of the Dragon on Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. on HBO.