Are you sure you want to choose your side in House Of The Dragon?

Green team or black team? Neither.

This article contains spoilers for the entire first season of House of the Dragon.

“His cause is just”. “She is the rightful heir to the throne.” “She doesn’t want to inflict unnecessary pain.” “She has dragons by her side”.

These are some of the arguments in favor of Daenerys Targaryen’s claim to the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones, and, if you need to refresh your memory, they were all upended in the show’s final episodes when the supposedly just and merciful queen used her dragon. against King’s Landing and its civilian population as a despot dropping a nuclear bomb. So should this give the subset of viewers wholeheartedly supporting the Black claim pause that the same logic also applies to Daenerys’ ancestor, Rhaenyra?


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In the weeks leading up to Sunday’s finale, and especially after the events of the episode’s final minutes, I saw more and more Rhaenyra boosters online. The feeling among many seems to be, to paraphrase one tweet, that whatever Rhaenyra does in the future will be justified. After all, the Hightowers are usurpers of Rhaenyra’s rightful claim and killed her son. Why would anyone side with them?

My rebuttal is this: you shouldn’t be on anyone’s side!

By that, I don’t mean you shouldn’t have favorites. Obviously, House of the Dragon is a work of fiction, and you can love characters who do bad things. Jaime and Tyrion were my favorite Game of Thrones characters. One raped his sister and attempted to murder a child, and the other strangled his ex-lover with chains. Daemon is my favorite character in House of the Dragon, but he killed his first wife and, in the finale, suffocated Rhaenyra, who is his niece and second wife. You may like fictional characters that are abjectly evil. Some of my favorite George RR Martin characters are war criminals.

When you’re actively looking for a side in a series like House of the Dragon, you’re missing the point. Rhaenyra has the more legitimate claim, of course, but she’s allied herself with Daemon, who’s willing to murder and harm innocent people to get what he wants. Meanwhile, although Aegon’s request is illegitimate, Alicent believes she is fulfilling her husband’s dying wish. Although Aemond killing Lucerys was unjustified, Lucerys took Aemond’s eye. There are legitimate personal grievances on both sides of the battle and, as usual with Martin’s work, good and bad are avoided in favor of a moral quagmire.

Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon both live in the inherent shades of gray of lords and ladies vying for control in a society that disregards the living conditions of anyone not born into nobility. . When the council scoffed at Samwell Tarley’s suggestion that Westeros would abandon monarchy for democracy in the Game of Thrones finale, the show made that point as clear as possible. These characters may be sympathetic, they may have been shaped by their trauma, they may have done their best to avoid hurting others. But, ultimately, their disputes are about the responsibility of a system that exists to continue to benefit people like them, and only people like them.

The characters in House of the Dragon have depths beneath those selfish goals, but those selfish goals still drive them. Stanning these characters flattens what makes them interesting. They don’t have to be good people to be good characters.

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