Rhaenys almost massacred way more people in House of the Dragon Episode 9


The penultimate episode of House of the Dragon, “The Green Council,” ends with the coronation of Aegon II Targaryen. The ceremony is interrupted by Rhaenys Targaryen when she burst through the floor on her dragon Meleys. She stares down Alicent Hightower and the greens, who are crowning Aegon against the wishes of the late King Viserys, before flying away.

Her actions are framed as merciful, since she doesn’t fry the greens, but there’s a problem there: the Dragonpit is packed full of townsfolk, and Rhaenys almost certainly kills a lot of them on her way out. It didn’t sit well with me at all that the episode tried to sell Rhaenys as just and fair even as she massacres a bunch of peasants.

And apparently it was originally a lot worse. Speaking to ScreenRant, VFX supervisor Mike Bell said that, in the original version of the scene, it was clear that Rhaenys killed “thousands” of innocent people on her way out:

[The coronation in episode 9] was changed a little bit. Especially when Rhaenys exits, because we initially had shots where she exits and plows through thousands of people. And it was just like, “Well, that’s not really into the feeling of the character. There’s definitely a feeling like, “Is it okay that she’s just going through all this crowd?” We went high and then reduced it down. But in all that dust, there’s also people flying and somersaulting. I think if you paused it, you might be able to count them. It’s hundreds, maybe thousands.

Rhaenys Targaryen: Merciful, heroic war criminal

While I really enjoyed House of the Dragon as a whole, I thought it made a few missteps and that this scene was one of them. I don’t think it’s consistent with Rhaenys’ character for her to massacre any group of civilians, big or small. I don’t like that her interruption takes away from what should be a moment for the greens, and I don’t like that her slaughter diminishes the tension of the final two episodes, where both sides are trying to avoid drawing first blood and looking like the bad guy. It’s nice that they realized they needed to tone things down after the fact, but honestly, I think the real solution would have been to nix this idea in the writer’s room.

But c’est la vie. Onto House of the Dragon season 2! Or, if you’d like to wallow with me and grouse about season 1, you can go here:

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