HOTD episode 9 exposes the oathbreakers who support Aegon’s green party, as well as those who are risking their lives to join Rhaenyra’s black party.
WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for Fire & Blood and House of the Dragon season 1, episode 9!
House of the Dragon episode 9 focuses on the green party and their usurpation of the Iron Throne, with their actions causing a few key players to join Rhaenyra’s side instead. Following King Viserys’ death in House of the Dragon episode 8’s ending, “The Green Council” sees the green party – led by Alicent, Otto, Criston, Aegon, and Aemond – conspire to crown Aegon as King, with their treasons and crimes leading to chaos in King’s Landing. House of the Dragon episode 9’s ending truly begins the Targaryen civil war as Aegon usurps the throne from Rhaenyra (who is still unaware that such events have transpired), which effectively divides the realm between loyalty to two Targaryen factions: Aegon’s greens and Rhaenyra’s blacks.
Although Rhaenyra and Daemon are absent from House of the Dragon episode 9, a few members of the black party emerge in response to the greens’ treasons. Otto and Alicent spend much of their time in “The Green Council” trying to recruit important allies to their side, as well as executing those who declare for Rhaenyra. Two of the would-be blacks, Lyman Beesbury and Allun Caswell, defended Rhaenyra and are put to death by Criston Cole and Otto Hightower, with House of the Dragon implying that a few other lords are executed off-screen. By the end of House of the Dragon episode 9, the key figures on Aegon’s side are Alicent, Otto, Criston, Aemond, Helaena, the Hightowers of Oldtown, Arryk Cargyll, Larys Strong, the Lannisters, Grand Maester Orwyle, and Jasper Wylde. While Rhaenyra doesn’t have nearly as many powerful allies heading into the Targaryen civil war, there are still many who will join the blacks that hate the Hightowers and the greens, are loyal to Viserys’ word declaring her the heir, and will pledge their loyalty to her after making mutually beneficial pacts.
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Who Was Already On Rhaenyra’s Side in HOTD
Rhaenyra already had the power of the Velaryon fleets fiercely supporting her in House of the Dragon, as the recovering Lord Corlys Velaryon is intent on Rhaenyra’s sons inheriting Driftmark. It goes without saying that in addition to Syrax, Rhaenyra’s blacks also have significant dragon power from her Targaryen family members, which include Daemon and Caraxes, Jacaerys and Vermax, Lucerys and Arrax, Joffrey and Tyraxes, and Baela and Moondancer (Rhaena’s dragon egg has yet to hatch). Those already on Rhaenyra’s side in House of the Dragon also include Maester Gerardys, House Caswell, and House Beesbury, but she can’t rely on the loyalties of those who paid obeisance to her 20 years ago. As such, Rhaenyra and her children will need to appeal to many important houses that have yet to officially declare for the greens before the Dance of the Dragons’ battles begin.
HOTD Episode 9 Confirms 4 New Members of Rhaenyra’s Blacks Faction
Even before Rhaenyra has become aware of King Viserys’ death and Aegon’s urgent public coronation, she has already unknowingly won a few crucial House of the Dragon characters to the blacks’ cause. Largely because of the despicable actions of the greens, House of the Dragon episode 9 confirms that Rhaenys Targaryen (and her dragon Meleys), Ser Erryk Cargyll (twin to the greens’ Arryk Cargyll), Lord Commander Harrold Westerling, and Mysaria will join the Targaryen blacks faction. Considering that very few people were aware of Viserys’ death and the greens’ plans, four major characters almost immediately joining the blacks is a good sign for Rhaenyra’s fight for the Iron Throne in House of the Dragon.
In House of the Dragon episode 9, Rhaenyra’s ally Rhaenys Targaryen is locked in her room and approached by Alicent to join the greens, but rejects the alliance due to Alicent continuing to uplift the patriarchy, the Hightowers’ treasonous plans to steal the throne, and her loyalty to her husband Corlys Velaryon and their granddaughters Rhaena and Baela Targaryen. Erryk Cargyll leaves the greens after witnessing the despicable nature of the new King Aegon II Targaryen and his conniving council, even though his twin brother Arryk is still one of the greens as Aegon’s sworn protector. Ser Harrold Westerling turns in his white cloak out of his refusal to kill Rhaenyra and Daemon as well as defy King Viserys’ decree that Rhaenyra succeeds him on the Iron Throne, with his decision to abandon the greens truly being made when the violent Ser Criston Cole draws his sword at him. Mysaria was already somewhat partial to the blacks due to her former romance with Daemon Targaryen, but Larys Strong’s attempt to murder her on behalf of Alicent and Otto sealed her loyalty.
Who Else Will Join The Blacks in HOTD’s Future
The black faction may be small heading into House of the Dragon’s season 1 finale, but Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen will be able to recruit plenty more powerful figures to her side in the future. While the beloved family won’t play a major role until the very end of the war, Rhaenyra Targaryen’s black party is successful in forming an alliance with Game of Thrones’ House Stark, which also means having the loyalty of the fierce North. Lord Cregan Stark and Prince Jacaerys Velaryon form the Pact of Ice and Fire in order to seal the North’s support, which states that Jacaerys’ firstborn daughter must marry Cregan’s son Rickon. In addition to the Starks, notable families from the North that join the blacks are House Dustin (Roderick Dustin will lead Rhaenyra’s northern Winter Wolves soldiers), House Cerwyn, House Hornwood, and House Manderly.
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Another important family to join the Targaryen blacks will be House Darklyn of Duskendale, with Ser Steffon serving as the Lord Commander of the Queensguard while Lord Gunthor sits on Rhaenyra’s black council. Many of the rivermen will also join Rhaenyra’s blacks in House of the Dragon’s future, which includes House Tully, House Darry, House Frey, House Piper, House Smallwood, and the fierce House Blackwood. From the Vale, Rhaenyra will gain the support of House Arryn (her mother Aemma’s family), House Royce, and House Corbray. House of the Dragon’s black party additionally gains the loyalties of the Tarlys, Merryweathers, Oakhearts, Rowans, Celtigars, Crabbs, and Mallisters.
Later on in House of the Dragon’s war, Rhaenyra Targaryen’s black party regains some of its dragon power through the “Sowing of the Seeds,” which sees bastard Targaryens and Velaryons claim riderless dragons and fight for her side. As the Dance of the Dragons progresses, there will also be many houses that defect from the blacks to the greens and vice versa, which ultimately have significant impacts on the end of the war and the perception of its victor. It’s still impressive that Rhaenyra is able to gain so many key houses and figures to her side of the war so quickly, as the blacks are at a major disadvantage after House of the Dragon episode 9. Hand of the King Otto Hightower and the green council had been planning for the usurpation of the Iron Throne by recruiting houses to their side for decades prior to Aegon’s treasonous coronation, while Rhaenyra was initially relying on oaths made by different lords and ladies 20 years ago.