House of the Dragon episode 9’s original plan for Aegon’s coronation scene proves how badly the Dragonpit escape failed Rhaenys’ character.
WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1 and George R.R. Martin’s book, Fire & Blood!The original plan for Aegon’s coronation scene in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 9 proves the show failed Rhaenys Targaryen’s character. One of the most epic yet morally shocking moments in House of the Dragon season 1 was when Rhaenys made a grand escape from the Dragonpit on Meleys. After being held captive in King’s Landing, Rhaenys interrupted King Aegon II Targaryen’s coronation by crashing through the Dragonpit, which sent the area into disarray and killed numerous civillians. Rhaenys spared Alicent and Aegon by only making her dragon Meleys screech at them, after which time she flew to Dragonstone to join Queen Rhaenyra’s Black party.
According to VFX supervisor Mike Bell, Rhaenys’ big entrance at Aegon’s coronation was originally a bit different. The plan for House of the Dragon episode 9’s ending would have visibly depicted the carnage caused by Rhaenys and Meleys, confirming she was going to “plow through thousands of people” in this scene. After deciding that the murder of thousands of innocents didn’t align with Rhaenys Targaryen’s character, Aegon’s coronation scene was adjusted so that her exit from King’s Landing was higher above ground and the number of casualties was reduced. However, this ultimately didn’t change the shocking effect of the House of the Dragon scene.
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HOTD’s Aegon Coronation Plan Makes Rhaenys’ Dragonpit Scene Worse
While House of the Dragon’s changes tried to make Rhaenys’ exit appear less intentionally gruesome, it still made the character’s actions worse. Even without directly showing her plowing through the crowd of innocents, she still did kill hundreds, if not thousands, of King’s Landing’s civilians. The bodies of innocents were seen flying, somersaulting, and frantically running away from the dragon as they were unexpectedly killed, whereas Rhaenys carefully avoided harming the powerful Greens on the platform. The adjustments were completely ineffectual in erasing the perception that Rhaenys Targaryen unabashedly massacred thousands.
The full carnage may not have been depicted on-screen in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 9, but it’s still implied that an outrageous number of commoners were killed at Aegon’s coronation. The changes were meant to make Rhaenys Targaryen appear less brutal and more caring and cautious with the lives of the people, so House of the Dragon’s failure to accomplish this impression makes the scene and character depiction even worse. By unintentionally hurting Rhaenys’ characterization, House of the Dragon’s Dragonpit scene is essentially an example of reckless shock factor. Consequently, the original plan for Rhaenys arguably would’ve been a stronger character choice that rationalizes her deadly exit.
How Rhaenys’ King’s Landing Scene Will Be Important In HOTD’s Future
The repercussions of Rhaenys’ Dragonpit massacre will continue to bear importance on the horrifying Dance of the Dragons. While Rhaenys still showed restraint in this scene by sparing the Greens and supposedly killing as few commoners as possible, the Queen Who Never Was will be a fierce warrior during House of the Dragon’s first big battles. She may also feel that she made a mistake by not taking down Aegon and Aemond in King’s Landing, as they’ll be the ones who soon ambush and kill her in House of the Dragon’s war.
More importantly, Rhaenys’ King’s Landing scene sets up an even more chaotic moment at the Dragonpit. When Rhaenyra takes the Iron Throne from Aegon, civil unrest and riots break out, leading to the Storming of the Dragonpit. After the Targaryens and their dragons once killed countless civilians in this location, the civilians banded together to attack and kill the dragons. The Storming of the Dragonpit sees the deaths of the Targaryen dragons Syrax, Morghul, Shrykos, Tyraxes and Dreamfyre. Considering the brutal carnage at Aegon’s coronation, the Storming of the Dragonpit was a crucial way for the masses to exact revenge on the Targaryens in House of the Dragon.