House of the Dragon is about to steal Game of Thrones' best trick

House of the Dragon’s penultimate episode promises to be its most impactful yet.

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Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) wears a green dress in House of the Dragon Episode 8

At this point, saying that things are about to go very wrong in House of the Dragon is stating the obvious. The HBO series clearly established that King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) was the only person capable of maintaining peace between the Hightower and Targaryen sides of his family. House of the Dragon Episode 8, however, ends with Viserys’ passing.

Consequently, the teaser trailer for House of the Dragon Episode 9 makes it clear that the HBO series’ next installment will likely be its most explosive. This means Season 1 is also on the verge of reviving one of Game of Thrones’ earliest and most effective tropes.

Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower and Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon Episode 8.

Ollie Upton/HBO

The Penultimate Episode — The first few seasons of Game of Thrones were defined by tragedy and brutality. Seasons 1 through 3 even made it a tradition to deliver its most gut-wrenching twists in the ninth episode of each season. Those installments featured Ned Stark’s beheading, the Battle of the Blackwater, and the Red Wedding.

Game of Thrones abandoned that practice after its third season. Rather than continuing to let its penultimate episodes be the most shocking or tragic, Game of Thrones chose to turn them into the most set-piece-centric installments of the season. That trend began with Episode 9 of Game of Thrones Season 4, “The Watchers on the Wall,” and continued through the show’s divisive second-to-last episode, “The Bells.”

House of the Dragon seems primed to bring back the trope that defined Game of Thrones’ earliest — and arguably best — years.

House of the Dragon Episode 9, “The Green Council,” is set to begin in the immediate aftermath of King Viserys’ demise. It will therefore bring the largely unspoken conflict between Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) and Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) to the forefront of the show.

The episode will see Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and her father, Otto (Rhys Ifans), decide whether they will honor King Viserys’ wishes and allow Rhaenyra to inherit the Iron Throne. Unsurprisingly, the teaser trailer for Episode 9 implies they have no intentions of letting that happen.

Those who have read Fire & Blood, the 2018 novel that inspired House of the Dragon, know that the events of “The Green Council” will set the stage for the entirety of the show’s central Targaryen conflict, better known as The Dance of the Dragons. House of the Dragon Episode 9 is therefore set to be the Season 1 installment where, well, everything hits the fan.

Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Episode 8.

Ollie Upton/HBO

The Inverse Analysis — Game of Thrones’ first three seasons are some of the best the show delivered. That’s partially due to how they were structured. Now, with only two episodes left, House of the Dragon Season 1 seems to have adopted a similar structure.

House of the Dragon Episode 9 will likely be the most important and memorable of the series’ debut season. Some viewers may not like the predictability, but there are far worse tropes that House of the Dragon could have stolen from Game of Thrones than its forgotten Episode 9 rule.

New episodes of House of the Dragon air Sundays on HBO.

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