Why House Of The Dragon's Rhaenys Didn't End The War Before It Started, According To Showrunner Ryan Condal

The post contains spoilers for the latest episode of "House of the Dragon."

"House of the Dragon" has decided to take its cue from "Game of Thrones" and use the penultimate episode of the season for some spectacle and a big, momentous swing of the story. In "The Green Council," the big story moment is obviously the usurping of the throne by the Hightowers and installing Aegon as the new king of Westeros. For the spectacle, they looked to their bread and butter: a dragon, which bursts into the coronation with Eve Best's Rhaenys riding atop it. Because this is an episode 9, we do have this feeling that there is a strong possibility Rhaenys decides to burn the place to the ground, but her choice is to not do anything but just fly away after an intense stare down and a mighty dragon roar.

Tactically speaking, this was a terrible move. Rhaenys has the opposition to Rhaenyra, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, all lined up in front of her, and Westeros' version of a nuclear weapon sits beneath her. If she says, "Dracarys," there would be no war, and the Seven Kingdoms would have their very first queen. But co-showrunner Ryan Condal and the writers decided that inaction will actually be the big moment of the episode. I know I found myself surprised by the outcome of that confrontation, as nobody ended up dead (except for the dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent civilians the dragon killed by emerging from the ground). In my estimation, they just needed to throw in something that felt big and either didn't consider the ramifications as to why she would choose to do nothing or — worst case scenario — didn't care.

A mother's understanding

For those of us left scratching our heads after that final scene, showrunner Ryan Condal offered some words as to why Rhaenys would make this big spectacle of destroying this coronation without actually taking action on the matter. In a new "Inside the Episode" featurette on HBO Max, Condal said:

"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."

Hearing that explanation to me reads as trying to justify how they can have this big moment that ultimately would not alter the story in the slightest. That feeling is only amplified when co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik says, "We needed a penultimate scene, so we tried to come up with: What's the worst thing that could possibly happen at the coronation? And realized that it was a dragon to be let loose." That is not a decision borne out of motivation or character. That is something created to fill in a gap.

Rhaenys and Alicent do have a fairly compelling scene earlier in the episode where Alicent tries to bring Rhaenys over to her side in the usurping, but that one brief conversation cannot be justification enough to completely overturn Rhaenys' feelings about this. After all, that scene ends with Rhaenys respecting Alicent herself, not her son becoming king. These final moments reek of striving for grandeur without the proper motivation and reasoning to back it up. It's another instance of incident outweighing character.