HBO’s House of the Dragon has offered multiple perplexing character choice in want of additional dissection. From Laena Velaryon’s suicide to foot fetishes, season 1 of the Sport of Thrones prequel collection is absorbing in additional methods than one. The most recent episode — episode 9 — noticed Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, aka The Queen Who By no means Was, take her flip within the highlight.

Let’s talk about that massive ultimate scene with the Princess and why she selected to not burn a sure household to cinders.

Warning: Spoilers forward.

Why did not Rhaenys burn the Hightowers?

Regardless of having been imprisoned by the Hightowers, Princess Rhaenys chooses to spare their lives — for now. After escaping her room with the assistance of defected knight Erryk Cargyll, Rhaenys finds herself swept up in Prince Aegon’s coronation ceremony. She slinks away as Aegon receives the Conqueror’s crown, managing to descend beneath the floorboards and reunite together with her red-hued she-dragon Meleys. Rhaenys and Meleys then burst by means of the floorboards, sending the ceremony into chaos.

Dealing with down the Hightower clan — together with Queen Alicent, her father Otto and her son Aegon — Rhaenys has the chance to finish the Hightowers’ reign for good. All she has to do is say “Dracarys,” the Excessive Valyrian (language of the previous Valyrian Freehold) phrase for “Dragonfire” and order Meleys to breath fireplace. As an alternative, Meleys lets out a deafening shriek. Rhaenys shares a significant look with Alicent, who’s standing protectively in entrance of Aegon, earlier than she and Meleys fly off.

Let’s permit the co-showrunners to elucidate why Rhaenys selected to spare the Hightowers. Here is what Miguel Sapochnik says in HBO’s Inside the Episode featurette about creating the large second for the character:

“We actually wished to be sure that there was meat on her character. Rhaenys was not passive, and it felt this was an extremely beneficial second to — slightly than have her simply bear witness to one thing — be capable to participate in it. However her ethical standpoint grow to be the rationale for inaction slightly than motion.”

Here is what Ryan J. Condal says about Rhaenys’ motivations behind sparing the Hightowers’ lives.

“She is aware of if she units fireplace to that dais, she ends any chance of conflict and possibly units peace all through the realm, however I feel most likely would not wish to be answerable for doing that to a different mom. And it is a complicated alternative and one that folks would possibly dispute or have an issue with, however that is the selection Rhaenys makes in that second. We see her busting out, and being the one which’s going to take the information to Dragonstone of the coup and of Rhaenyra’s throne being stolen. And it was a fantastic, you recognize, nice heroic second for her character.”

Condal is correct in pondering this can be a controversial character choice from Rhaenys. Would not she finally wish to dutifully serve her chosen facet by destroying the opposition?

Let’s take a look at her interactions with Alicent within the lead as much as assist clarify her motivations.

What do Alicent and Rhaenys say to one another earlier than the coronation?

Midway by means of episode 9, Alicent pays Rhaenys a go to in her quarters, the place Rhaenys was being held prisoner. She informs Rhaenys of King Viserys’ passing, and Rhaenys rapidly ascertains that Alicent is usurping the throne from Princess Rhaenyra.

Alicent explains she got here to Rhaenys to ask for her help. Alicent argues that Home Velaryon’s alliance with Princess Rhaenyra has solely introduced misfortune. Rhaenys’ daughter Laena is lifeless. Her son Laenor is apparently dead. Rhaenyra’s heirs are of questionable non-Velaryon heritage. Solely Rhaenys’ husband Lord Corlys Velaryon cares in regards to the Iron Throne and he is additionally doubtlessly on his deathbed after a six-year journey to conflict.

Princess Rhaenys and Queen Alicent facing each other inside a large room

Princess Rhaenys and Queen Alicent have an enlightening dialogue.

Ollie Upton/HBO

“The phrase of my home just isn’t fickle” — is how Rhaenys responds to all of this. Her home is pledged to Rhaenyra, so they may stay fiercely loyal.

Alicent then surprises Rhaenyra together with her final, determined plea:

“No. However, pricey cousin, you greater than any soul alive perceive what I say now. Princess Rhaenys, I beloved my husband, however I’ll converse the reality we each know. You need to’ve been queen … The Irone Throne was yours by blood and by temperament. Viserys would’ve lived his days a rustic lord, content material to hunt and examine his histories, however… right here we’re. We don’t rule. However we might information the boys that do. Gently… away from violence and certain destruction and as an alternative towards peace.”

Rhaenys is astute once more, seeing by means of Alicent’s phrases and realizing that Home Hightower wants her dragon to overmatch Rhaenyra. That is the one method Rhaenyra might be inspired to barter and keep away from conflict.

Rhaenys says Alicent is wiser than she first believed, however reproaches Alicent for her continued service to males.

“And but you toil nonetheless in service to males. Your father, your husband, your son. You need to not be free however to make a window within the wall of your jail. Have you ever by no means imagined your self on the Iron Throne?”

Evidently Rhaenys understands Alicent greater than the opposite method round. Seeing Alicent on the coronation ceremony, standing in entrance of her son, Rhaenys may need determined to think about Alicent. She may need believed Alicent would do her finest in guiding her son on the precise path. Rhaenys, taking management of the scenario, chooses an ethical stance in opposition to violence and destruction and as an alternative believes there could be a approach to peace.

Rhaenys additionally is aware of that, if she sticks with Rhaenyra, their facet continues to be extra highly effective. Even when Rhaenys retreats now, her facet stands an excellent likelihood of successful any ensuing wars. Mainly, Rhaenys guidelines.

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