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'House of the Dragon' Episode 9: Alicent and the Prophecy Explained

Alicent thinks King Viserys wished for their son Aegon to be king. If only she took a second to figure out what's really going on.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
Expertise Film and TV Credentials
  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
8 min read
Queen Alicent in a green dress standing inside a large room

Queen Alicent incorrectly interpreted King Viserys' prophecy.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Episode 9 of House of the Dragon validated our worst fears about Queen Alicent. Sadly, Alicent believes King Viserys' dying wish was to have their son Prince Aegon succeed the throne. Really she should take into account all of Viserys' words, instead of hearing what best suits her family over at House Hightower.

Let's discuss everything that's been said about King Viserys' prophecy and how it's affected Alicent in the spoiler-packed section below.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen, sitting at the Small Council's meeting table

King Viserys when he was alive and mostly well.

Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO

What exactly is the prophecy (part 1)?

All the way back in episode 1, King Viserys passes a family secret onto his daughter Princess Rhaenyra -- a doomsday prophecy telling of the end of men. Let's break down what Viserys says:

"Our histories... they tell us that Aegon looked across the Blackwater from Dragonstone, and saw a rich land ripe for the capture. But ambition alone is not what drove him to conquest. It was a dream. And just as Daenys foresaw the end of Valyria, Aegon foresaw the end of the world of men."

Aegon refers to Aegon the Conqueror, the first Lord of the Seven Kingdoms in Westeros. He was the founder of the Targaryens' ruling dynasty over Westeros but, as his prophecy reveals, he also wanted to unify the land against a common enemy. His prophecy isn't to be dismissed, because before him a Targaryen, Daenys the Dreamer, had a correct prophetic dream of Valyria's destruction by fire.  And 12 years later, Valyria -- the capital of the Valyrian Freehold, a large civilization in Essos ruled by dragonriders -- was indeed destroyed by an unexplained cataclysm.

Viserys told Rhaenyra:

"'Tis to begin with a terrible winter gusting out of the distant north. Aegon saw absolute darkness riding on those winds. And whatever dwells within will destroy the world of the living. When this Great Winter comes, Rhaenyra, all of Westeros must stand against it. And if the world of men is to survive, a Targaryen must be seated on the Iron Throne. A king or queen, strong enough to unite the realm against the cold and the dark. Aegon called his dream 'The Song of Ice and Fire.'"

As we saw in Game of Thrones, this prophecy of a terrible winter comes true. An undead army of White Walkers threatens to bring a Long Night over Westeros. It's the duty of every Targaryen king (or queen) to pass the secret prophecy on to their heir so that one day all men can unite to fight the "cold and the dark."

"This secret... it's been passed from king to heir since Aegon's time. Now you must promise to carry it... and protect it."

Alicent and Rhaenyra holding hands in a large hall

Alicent and Rhaenyra's friendship briefly appears to be on the mend.


What exactly is the prophecy (part 2)?

In episode 3, at the great hunt, a drunk Viserys reveals that at one stage he had his own prophecy, but he lost faith in it. He tells Alicent that he named Rhaenyra his heir "out of love. Because I no longer believed..."

He doesn't finish the sentence but goes on to speak about how there have been many dragon riders in his line, a few of whom have been dreamers, aka prophets. He then describes what he himself has dreamed:

"When Rhaenyra was a child, I saw it in a dream ... A male babe was born to me wearing the Conquerer's crown. And I so wanted it to be true, to be a dreamer myself. I sought that vision again, night after night, but it never came again. I poured all my thought and will into it. And my obsession killed Rhaenyra's mother."

This could explain why Viserys was willing to sacrifice his love, Aemma, during childbirth -- he believed his son would be born healthy. Viserys also tells Alicent:

"I thought Rhaenyra was the way out of my abyss of grief and regret. And naming her heir would begin to set things right ... I never imagined I would remarry... that I would have a son. What if I was wrong?"

Viserys' doubt in his decision to make Rhaenyra an heir, as well as his prophecy that he would one day have a son wearing a crown, gives Alicent even more reason to believe their son Aegon is the rightful heir to the throne.

What does Rhaenyra ask Viserys in episode 8?

It's 20 years on from the events of House of the Dragon, episode 1, and a lot has happened. Rhaenyra has a brood of children and a new husband in Daemon, her uncle. She visits her father, Viserys, one night, knowing he's probably going to die soon. She's hoping to get some answers about their mysterious family secret before it's too late.

"'The Song of Ice and Fire.' Do you believe it to be true?"

"Aegon's dream."

"You told me it was our duty to hold the realm united against a common foe. By naming me heir you divided the realm."

Viserys is so out of it, drugged up on anaesthetic milk of the poppy, that he can't answer whether he thinks Aegon's prophecy, the Song of Ice and Fire, will come true.

What does King Viserys tell Alicent?

Instead, the night afterward, Viserys unintentionally gives his wife Alicent his take on Aegon's prophecy.

In a haze, on his deathbed, Viserys begins by apologizing. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." This is presumably an apology for forcing Rhaenyra, whom he thinks he's talking to, into taking on everything that comes with becoming the Targaryen heir, including bearing the family secret.

"But you wanted to know... if I believe it to be true."

Alicent, of course, has no idea what Viserys is talking about.

"Aegon," Viserys says.

"Our son?" asks Alicent, referring to her and Viserys' firstborn, Prince Aegon, who was found to have raped a young servant in episode 8.

Viserys shakes his head -- he's of course referring to Aegon the Conquerer. "His Dream. The Song of Ice and Fi -- It is true. What he saw in the North. The Prince That Was Promised." The Prince is a reference to the inscription on Aegon the Conquerer's dagger: "From my blood come the Prince That Was Promised and his will be the Song of Ice and Fire."

Alicent still thinks Viserys is talking about their son Aegon -- not Jon Snow, aka another Aegon Targaryen, aka The Prince That Was Promised.

"The Prince," Viserys continues. "To unite the realm against the cold... and the dark. It is you. You are the one. You must do this."

What will Alicent do with the prophecy?

Episode 9 confirms that Alicent believes Viserys is asking her, his wife, to ensure their firstborn Prince Aegon inherits the Iron Throne -- over the named heir Princess Rhaenyra. It sounds like Viserys is telling Alicent she is "the one" to ensure this will happen; that the "Prince That Was Promised" comes from her line. This isn't the case, though: Viserys thought he was talking to Rhaenyra.

"I saw him last night, before he … he told me he wished for Aegon to be king," Alicent tells her father Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King. "It is the truth, uttered with his own lips, his last words to me and I was the only one to hear it. And now he's dead."

Little did Alicent know Otto and other members of the Small Council had been plotting to install Aegon as King all along. To her credit, Alicent refuses to support her father's plan to kill Rhaenyra, despite that being the only way to truly snuff out any counterclaim. Besting her father in the game of thrones, Alicent takes control for once and says she's going to present Rhaenyra fair terms she can accept without shame.

"My husband would have desired this mercy to be shown to his daughter."

But Alicent was preparing her eldest son Aegon for a fight over succession. In episode 6, Alicent warns Aegon that one day he'll have to fight Rhaenyra for the throne. While Aegon would clearly prefer a life away from royal duties -- indulging in various salacious activities, including a child fighting ring -- he seems to relish the applause of his subjects in King's Landing, during the crowning ceremony inside the Great Sept. 

Aegon acts like a small child. He craves the love of his father, who chose a woman to inherit the throne over him. He wants love from his mother too, though she's been hard on him. She's been trying to whip him into shape for kingly duties. Maybe he'll accept his new place as king after all.

The thing is, Rhaenyra and Daemon also have a son named Aegon -- their firstborn child, a baby introduced in episode 8. The two Aegons could potentially be pitted against one another. As episode 7 showed, Alicent is willing to become violent if it means protecting her children.

How is the catspaw dagger connected?

In episode 1, you might have noticed Viserys absentmindedly touching an ornate dagger he carries on his belt while he tells Rhaenyra about the prophecy. This dagger again appears in episode 8, beside Viserys' deathbed when he talks about the prophecy once more.

Viserys explains the origins of the dagger in episode 4. He tells Rhaenyra that the dagger "once belonged to Aegon the Conquerer. It was Aenar's before that. And before that... it is difficult to know." Everything's connected! Aenar Targaryen was Daenys the Dreamer's father, whom she convinced to move away from the Valyrian Freehold after having a correct prophetic dream of the Doom of Valyria.

Somewhere along the way, this special dagger landed in Aegon's equally prophetic hands. The dagger is made from Valyrian steel, crucially one of the few known substances that can kill White Walkers. It plays a huge part in making Aegon's wish to prevent the end of men come true.

In Game of Thrones, the dagger was first used in an assassination attempt on Bran Stark (an assassin is known as a "catspaw"). In the final season, Arya kills the Night King using Aegon's dagger, preventing the undead from "erasing the world" as Bran explains in season 7 on the Night King's motivations.

Who's the Prince That Was Promised?

In episode 4 of House of the Dragon, Viserys says that, before Aegon's death, the last of the Valyrian pyromancers hid "his song" in the steel. Rhaenyra reads the inscription, visible when the blade is heated in fire: "From my blood come the Prince That Was Promised and his will be the Song of Ice and Fire."

As we discover in Game of Thrones, the Prince That Was Promised is Jon Snow. Jon's true name and royal lineage -- his parents are Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen -- are hidden to protect him from those seeking to annihilate all Targaryens. Jon helps fulfil Aegon the Conquerer's dream by making an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen against the White Walkers. Becoming a dragonrider, Jon helps defeat the Night King in the Battle of Winterfell, the White Walkers becoming extinct for good.

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