House of the Dragon's showrunners weighed in on a controversial decision by one of the show's characters in the penultimate episode of the Game of Thrones prequel's first season. SPOILERS follow for the House of the Dragon episode "The Green Council." The episode sees Otto Hightower and his cohorts setting into motion their plan to install Queen Alicent's son, Aegon II Targaryen, as king, despite Rhaenyra being Viserys' publicly named heir to whom the lords of the realm swore fealty. To accomplish this plan, the Greens put the Red Keep on lockdown to ensure no one alerts Rhaenyra to her father's death. This includes Princess Rhaenys
"So, Rhaenys wakes up and realizes that she's a prisoner, because should she get out, the fear is that she'll go straight to Rhaenyra and tell her what's going on," co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik explained in HBO's "Inside the Episode" segment for The Green Council. Erryk Cargyll, a member of the Kingsguard who has grown wary of Aegon's depraved proclivities, tries to help Rhaenys escape the Red Keep and King's Landing only for her to get caught up in the crowd being shepherded into the Great Sept for Aegon's coronation.
But that's when Rhaenys has her moment. She slips out of the ceremony unnoticed and reemerges from below riding on the back of her dragon. At that moment, she could speak the word "dracrys" and have her dragon breathe fire on everyone involved in the ceremony, including Alicent and all of her children, leaving Rhaenyra without any challengers for the Iron Throne. But instead, she flies away to bring news of the Greens' deeds to Dragonstone.
Some viewers likely wonder why Rhaenys didn't end the coup, and thus the war to come, right then and there. Sapochnik and fellow showrunner Ryan Condal offer an explanation in the "Inside the Episode" video.
"We really wanted to make sure that there was meat on her character," Spaochnik says. "Rhaenys was not passive, and it felt this was an incredibly valuable moment to, rather than have her just bear witness to something, be able to take part in it, but her moral standpoint become the reason for inaction rather than action."
Condal adds, "She knows if she sets fire to that dais, she ends any possibility of war, and probably sets peace throughout the realm, but I think probably doesn't want to be responsible for doing that to another mother. And that's-- it's a complex choice, and one that people might dispute or have a problem with, but that's the choice Rhaenys makes in that moment. We see her busting out, and being the one that's going to take the news to Dragonstone of the coup and of Rhaenyra's throne being stolen. And it was a great, you know, great heroic moment for her character."
The first nine episodes of House of the Dragon are streaming now on HBO Max. House of the Dragon's first season finale debuts on Sunday. HBO already renewed the series for a second season.