Why House of the Dragon's Rhaenys Didn't Kill the King (Just Everyone Else)

Why House of the Dragon’s Rhaenys Didn’t Kill the King (Just Everyone Else)

House of the Dragon‘s ninth episode was on the more calm and contemplative side, until it wasn’t. After the death of Viserys, the closing of the castle and the coronation of a new king, there were certainly a few dissenting voices, and the loudest among them was Rhaenys Targaryen, the most recent Westerosian who expressed her loyalty to Princess Rhaenyra and the blacks. .

But while the motivation behind Rhaenys’ theatrical entry at the new king’s coronation isn’t hard to miss, the reasons behind her carefully intimidating departure may be. While she had the chance to make a fiery escape and end a few conflicts in a flash, Rhaenys also knew that the fate of Westeros isn’t as simple as a few burnt bodies.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 9.]

King Aegon II’s reign began with a less auspicious moment when Rhaenys Targaryen, at the height of his praise from the people of King’s Landing, smashed her dragon Meleys through the vaulted roof, no doubt crushing dozens of peasants. Meleys then approached the podium on which the royal family sat to stand menacingly in front of Aegon and the rest. Game of Thrones fans might expect the scene to end in a quick death, but Rhaenys and her dragon just leave instead of roasting the whole party. There is a remarkable reason for the reluctance.

Photo: Liam Daniel/HBO

The greatest of these reasons is practical: An entire hall of people cheered for the newly crowned king, and killing him and his host there would be regicide, regardless of who the rightful or supposed heir actually was. Sure, Rhaenyra could have stepped into the power vacuum, but The Realm’s Delight would immediately have been seen as a horror, and the Queen Who Never Was as a murderous accomplice without a shred of honor.

With a single act, Rhaenys would have thrown the entire Targaryen dynasty into a moment of deep weakness over the continent they rule. And an act of outright violence and betrayal could have sent King’s Landing (not to mention the rest of Westeros) into utter chaos. This kind of conflict is why wars are fought, and winning is only worth it if what you’re fighting for is still around when you’re the last one standing.

Aside from the political ramifications of roasting the royal family, there’s also an equally strong superstitious reason Rhaenys didn’t kill Aegon: consanguinity. According to the Westerosi tradition, no one is cursed like a kinsman, meaning that those who murder members of their own family are often ravaged by terrible tragedies and considered monsters.

When Targaryen’s full-blown civil war erupts, consanguinity will be an almost inevitable side effect, but for Rhaenys it’s possible that the idea of ​​killing so much of her own family, in such a short time, in front of thousands of onlookers, was just plain old. too much to carry. While the ultimate death and consequences of letting everyone live may seem obvious, a simple act like this proves that Westeros’ traditions haven’t all fallen away, no matter who sits on the throne – at least for now.

Even if we don’t know the exact reasons for her temporal grace, it’s clear that Rhaenys’ actions during Aegon II’s coronation were a signal of opposition to the new crown and the alleged betrayal committed by Queen Alicent, her father, and her children. . dedicated. Even though no members of the royal family died, Rhaenys’s disdain (and her likely murder of many King’s Landing citizens) are the first real shots of the Dance of the Dragons and the wider war to come.

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