The Rings of Power Finale with Writer Gennifer Hutchison + Andor Eps 4-7 & House of the Dragon Ep 9 | Crooked Media
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October 21, 2022
X-Ray Vision
The Rings of Power Finale with Writer Gennifer Hutchison + Andor Eps 4-7 & House of the Dragon Ep 9

In This Episode

On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight forge some rings! In the Previously On (2:02), Jason and Rosie start by catching up on Andor – analyzing fascism, insurgency, and how bad guys think of themselves – before moving onto Rings of Power (20:51) to consider the season one finale. Staying in Middle Earth for the Hive Mind (55:23), Jason and Rosie are joined by Rings of Power finale co-writer Gennifer Hutchison to discuss that Sauron reveal, why she loves fan theories, the way Breaking Bad’s Gus Fring influenced the elves, and more. Heading to Westeros in the Airlock (1:28:40), Jason and Rosie dive deep (deeep) into episode 9 of House of the Dragon, recapping and exploring coronations, conspiracies, and cages. And in Ask the Maester (2:12:03), they answer listener questions about House of the Dragon, including whether dragons f*ck, prophecy theories, and more.


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Rosie’s recent appearance on Dune Pod to discuss Legend (1985)




Jason Concepcion Warning. This podcast contains spoilers for Andor episodes four through seven. The finale of Lord of the Rings, Rings of Power, House of the Dragon Episode nine and a minor, minor, minor, minor spoiler for Halloween Ends. Hello, my name is Jason Concepcion and welcome to X-ray Vision, the Crooked Podcast, where we dive deep into your favorite shows, movies, comics and pop culture. In this episode, on the Previously On, we’ll be catching up on episodes four through seven of Andor plus we will be discussing the Rings of Power finale big stuff big stuff going on in the southlands and elsewhere in Middle Earth. In the Hive Mind, we will be discussing the Rings of Power finale with series co-writer, Jennifer Hutchinson. And in the airlock we’re going to be discussing the penultimate episode of House of the Dragon and of course, followed by your questions answered in the Ask the Maester segment. If you want to jump around, check the show notes for timestamps. And joining me today, she’s the number one. She’s the best. She writes Godzilla. She answers all of your nerd fantasy sci fi comic lore questions. She is the great and the powerful Rosie Knight. She is more powerful than the foundations of the earth. Rosie, how are you?


Rosie Knight I’m good. What an introduction from the maester himself. I feel so honored. How are you doing?


Jason Concepcion I’m doing great. And I. And I must say, a lot of we were right content today.


Rosie Knight I know. I feel like last week shout out to our listeners because like because we were having such a good conversation with Cody, the bell did not ring as much as you guys were expecting, but the bell is going to be ringing today.


Jason Concepcion Let’s bring it. All right. Let’s get let’s get started. First up Andor. All right. Let’s start with Andor streaming now on Disney Plus. Episode seven, The Announcement, written by Steven Schiff and directed by Benjamin Caron have just dropped. That picks up at the end of episode six, The Eye, after the heist has taken place, and now the news is starting to seep out into the galaxy. This is Mon Mothma not really understanding what a Rael was like planning, now understands how how serious the rebellion is. And he says to her, I think in a in a in a line that sticks with me is like, what did I say? I said there’d be no turning back once we do this. And now she’s really beginning to understand what that means. And the ISB is swinging into gear. They have egg on their face. This has happened. It happened under their noses. And they’re trying to figure out, okay, how can we figure how can we track these people? Meero has her own ideas about how to do it. And she uses like the or the Empire’s version of the Patriot Act to break numerous privacy laws in order to, like, soak up all the data from all the various sectors so that she can put together a pattern of what’s going on out there in terms of like what the rebellion is up to. And then we see Cassian back home. Just thinking about escape. He’s done his part. He’s got his credits.


Rosie Knight He’s ready to go, baby.


Jason Concepcion He’s ready to go. He’s wants Maarva to come and Bix to come with him and let’s just get out of here. Fuck this caring about things we’ve done. I’ve done the thing I needed to do, and I barely got out of it alive. And now let’s just spend that money and have fun. This show is really good. And I think the thing that has me that I can’t stop thinking about is just how absolutely radical in its message this show is. It’s like it really is a Star Wars for 2022.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion In the way that Star Wars when it came out in 1977, on top of the fact that it was this swashbuckling space adventure epic, must have felt really, really radical. Because it’s, you know, it’s this ragtag rebellion against a super empire with weapons of mass destruction. It’s basically like the American. It’s taking, like the moral clarity of the rebel. You know, this is on the heels of the Vietnam War in which we had the United States of America, the most powerful country on earth, had been expelled from from a small country using like every means at its disposal. And Star Wars took that defeat, flipped the moral calculus, gave it to the good guys, us, and let American/Western global audiences relate to the moral clarity of the underdog in a way that felt really really invigorating but also like radical. And I think this show is is doing that in much the same way. It’s it’s asking crazy questions in a Star Wars context. Like, when is it okay to like assassinate these security figures? When is it okay to do that? When is it okay to to say this has gone far enough and any means at our disposal, are good to use against the foe? I think those are fascinating questions to ask in a Star Wars context.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I also think it continues, like you say, the legacy of what Star Wars was about. It was about a small group of people going up against a fascistic superpower and collateral damage doesn’t matter. It’s heroic to blow up the Death Star no matter how many people die because you’re it’s the good of the many over the good of the few, you know. And this is doing it, but it is coming at it because A) it’s long format storytelling and B) it’s 2022 And we have a different creative team behind it. It’s coming at it in a way that is a much more ground level view of the reality and the losses that occur and the the horror of actually having to kill someone, even if it’s for the right reasons or something you believe in. Episode six, The Eye, I mean, we talked about from episodes, you know, that we’d seen from one to four, we we we thought the show was really well-made but it hadn’t like necessarily found its the messaging hadn’t hit with us in the same way when once you get to this episode six, episode seven, you know it’s episode five where you start to meet this collective of what in any other story would essentially be seen as terrorists, you know?


Jason Concepcion I mean, that’s the thing.


Rosie Knight Big thing is this is that ultimate question of do you not realize that when you are watching Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is a terrorist to the empire? You know, that is that is what we’re seeing. But we are yet to see it on this ground level way. The real losses that happen, the risks that are taken in, it’s very different. And The Eye really did an unbelievable job of of bringing that to the forefront.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, there is this. There is a, it’s a fascinating calculus. Because this show is much like, again, Star Wars, A New Hope, before it. It is a tacit admission that the messaging that many terrorist groups slash freedom fighting groups use is a unit is one that has weight. Right. It’s an admission that those things. That those are persuasive arguments.


Rosie Knight And also like who tells the story, the rebellion win, so they are freedom fighters, not terrorists? Whereas in the eyes of the empire, they are terrorists. If the empire had won, they would have forever just been told as terrorists. And the reality is a lot more complex. And I think that’s what this is really tapping into.


Speaker 2 I’ve been thinking about the fact that watching this show, maybe more than any of the other shows that are on right now, it really gets at the idea that nobody says I’m the bad guy. Like, everybody thinks they’re the hero. Everybody thinks that they are defending their homes, defending their ideals. You know, trying to keep chaos and criminality at bay. Fighting back against, you know, the powers and the forces of of of destruction. Right. Nobody says I’m going to crush all opposition. All these, like, weak, little.


Rosie Knight I’m going to help everyone is what I have to do is for the better of the world, the better of the galaxy.


Jason Concepcion Even though Major Partagaz does like say stuff kind of like this in this episode. It’s all from a perspective of, we;re, we are actually good. And that is like the way life works, which is kind of scary in the sense that. If you subscribe to that, that idea that everybody thinks their a good guy, no matter how bad the shit that they’re doing is, it really all comes down to then our perception of the world and the and how we relate to facts from different angles. And the fact that it all comes down to our perceptions. What’s right, what’s wrong, what’s just what’s not right? What’s a war, what’s what’s a rebellion? You know, what’s an insurgency and or like a just confrontation with an over powerful foe. All of that comes down to just like your belief system in the way you perceive things and your own personal emotions and and back story. That’s kind of scary in a way, because.


Rosie Knight It’s so subjective.


Jason Concepcion It makes it feel. It makes everything feel a lot more tenuous than we let ourselves feel about the world. And I think the show really captures that in ways that just like have me thinking about it all the time.


Rosie Knight And I think something that’s really interesting is there is arguably only one character in the show who does not think he’s the good guy. And it’s Cassian because Cassian doesn’t see himself as having a side. Cassian sees himself as a survivor, as someone who just needs to do what he has to do to survive, whether, you know, and we see that slightly shift at the end of The Eye, when he kills someone who he deems to be. A betrayer, somebody who might harm other people. But that doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly turned into a book, right?


Jason Concepcion He’s not like a true believer.


Rosie Knight And I think the irony is this is kind of one of my favorite fictional tropes that is also very true in real life, is like the best leaders are the people who don’t want to lead. And that’s why I think what we’re seeing now is Cassian is going to become a key part of the rebellion because he doesn’t believe he’s only good. He actually sees the moral complexity of everything that he does. And I just think you really hit on why I think the show is working, because also I think it’s very rare in any kind of Western entertainment or especially now in 2022, to have a show that poses the idea that direct action and violent action are necessary for radical change.


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Rosie Knight That is an incredibly radical idea that a lot of people have.


Jason Concepcion It’s mind blowing to watch that.


Rosie Knight In real life. So this is.


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Rosie Knight There is this, you know, these ideas of the power of imagination and what imagination can show are often very utopian. But the reality of how we get to a better place is not clean or or often nonviolent. And I think it is incredibly interesting to see that and not only see it, but in a difference from the original Star Wars, because again, many, many years later, now we feel in a very different way. And the old Star Wars, the Blasters, that the sci fi ness, the lasers, it made it feel very like, oh, a bad guy died. Oh, no, just like it’s a cartoon. Whereas in this you feel the deaths, you feel the pain, you feel the loss, you feel the cost of life. But you also see and this is something I think we’re going to see because this has all been kind of mini arcs. And I feel like you got a touch of it in The Eye, but you really get it in episode seven. Is this like the banality of evil, this kind of horrific bureaucracy.


Jason Concepcion It’s just bureaucratic.


Rosie Knight Of death and mass imprisonment. You know, we end episode seven with Cassian just getting put in prison for six years for being in the wrong place. And it’s just like.


Jason Concepcion Literally like the dumbest cop who’s just like, had it out on a power trip.


Rosie Knight And it just punched me in the stomach because that’s actually not fantastical. That’s absolutely a real thing that people deal with. And this kind of the horrific bureaucracy of of incarceration and mass incarceration and the laziness of fascism and the best way to stop people rebelling is to just imprison them or kill them, you know. And this show is really digging into that. And we talked a little bit about how. Right. But one of the things I’m most interested in is we have this ISB agent, Dedra Meero, right. Is she working for the rebellion? Because I feel like she’s just digging into a lot of secrets and getting a lot of freedom to do so. And we’ve seen a couple of double agents, but that’s my kind of main like non deeply political kind of wonder in theory as we come out of this episode.


Jason Concepcion I have not thought about that at all until this very moment. But now I do wonder, you know, because because.


Rosie Knight She’s, like actively going out of her way to dig in to this information, which seems like it’s working in the favor of the empire. But is she just finding because she’s looking for missing imperial technology, which has apparently been stolen by the rebels. Right. But that’s also very good for the rebels to know, what is missing? What do they have information about is missing? What do they not have wherever their weaknesses? I’m very interested to see. Exactly.


Jason Concepcion Interesting. I had not considered that. But now that you mention it. I wonder if there might not be something to it. Listen. Good. You know, bad characters turning good or at least gray is. That is one of the major themes of Star Wars, that kind of redemptive arc. And you do wonder if the more she sees and the more she discovers about the empire.


Rosie Knight Because she looked pretty horrified when they talked about like cracking down. You know, we’re definitely seeing more. We we got that great moment in The Eye where the the the Empire officer who’d been helping this kind of cell of rebels, another one of his officers said to him, you know, you’re going to hang for this. And he said, well, after everything, after working for you for so long and everything I’ve done, I deserve worse than that. And I think we’re in this age of seeing empire and imperial forces and imperial complicit people suddenly realizing the horrors of what they’ve actually been supporting.


Jason Concepcion You know, it’s thinking about like, when is it okay to take violent action against an oppressor? Which, again, in this with this idea that we’ve been talking about where everybody thinks they’re the good guy, you don’t have to stretch your imagination too far to know that. Like even the people that want to overthrow democracy think that they are doing that right. They think that they are the good guy fighting this oppressive government. Like that is a very familiar trope, and it’s the story that we, as people, tell ourselves all the time. I think one of the interesting things about this show, one of the many interesting things is it basically lays out the formula. Here’s when it’s here’s when it’s morally right to strike back against a foe. If they are unnecessarily brutal, if they cause the loss of rights, both ancient like natural rights, but also the law lawful rights of a people. If they are.Colonizing, invading another people’s lands and and desecrating it and, you know, taking the natural resources, etc.. And if they’re just running roughshod over.Privacy over due process, over all those kind of things.


Rosie Knight And it souned, it sounded pretty relevant.


Jason Concepcion That is that is like a rad that’s a radical formalization to put into a Star Wars story.


Rosie Knight On Disney Plus.


Jason Concepcion On Disney Plus and I it is amazing to watch and you know it’s working because I saw someone I saw a tweet going around virally. It’s like viral because people were disagreeing with it, but they were basically saying, oh, one of them it was like a got to hear both sides type tweet where it’s like, oh, you know, one of the most interesting things about this show is that it shows how both extremism as as as embodied by Cyril, but also by the.Rebels, by like terrorists are equally as bad. And it’s like.


Rosie Knight I don’t know if that’s what the show is about though.


Jason Concepcion That’s absolutely not  what it’s saying, but the fact that that’s a read that people are coming away shows the.


Rosie Knight Point is so on about that.


Jason Concepcion I completely agree.


Rosie Knight I will say the one moment that I really love because I think that is so true, right? That like it’s so about subjective reading. To us, it doesn’t feel like that because of the way that we feel about things in the way that we feel like the story is going and the fact that Rogue One is incredibly radical. But there is one moment in The Eye, that I feel like if you’re not sure where the show stands when this unbelievable just visually stunning effect of this kind of meteor shower of Aurora Borealis kind of situation and the force the the people who live in the area of The Eye, whatever is. The tie fight is just get cosmically smashed by the meteors, but the rebels get away. And to me, that is the the universe knows what the right side is in that moment. The force knows, this incredible spectacle knows. And I love that, because I do think a lot of shows and a lot of storytelling would like to couch itself in the safety of both sides.


Jason Concepcion Right. Right.


Rosie Knight But I think in this show they are telling you you can read it however you want, but this right is the right side and these are the heroes and their journey as we know it is going to lead to the heroics of these characters that you have loved for 40 years as the ultimate archetypal heroes. So, no, their extremism is not equally as bad. It’s just necessary.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. I mean, I think we we don’t think about. An adversarial relationship as a relationship per say, the same way as like a friendship or a romantic relationship is a relationship, but it is. You learn things from your enemy. Your enemy does things that cause you, like as the hero or the protagonist to react and to respond to. And it is a conversation to communicate a two way communication. And you see that in this episode when you know, the suggestion is made that maybe, hey, maybe we should too well, hey, maybe we should kill Andor. Let’s close that loop and make sure that that is closed. That is that’s something the empire would do. But it’s also. Something that radicals would do. I think it’s like a it’s, it shows you how when you’re in a fight, you react to who you’re fighting with. And it’s it is a really and it’s fun to think about. We’re going to be talking about it more in the coming weeks. Up next, more Rings of Power.


Jason Concepcion Okay, Rings of Power, the finale episode eight Alloyed, which is a reference to the particular metallurgical technique used to to forge, you know, just some cute, cute, little, cute little jewelry. Nothing. Nothing bad could come of those.


Rosie Knight Jewelry. Everyone loves it. Just a nice, nice, fun jewelry. You know, written show about rings.


Jason Concepcion Written by our guest, who we are about to welcome to the episode, Jennifer Hutchinson and J.D. Payne and Patrick Mackay and directed by Wayne Che Yip. Folks, what I mean? Wow. So first thought, let’s start with this. So we see the stranger and you know, the the wanderers are around him and they are proclaiming him to be their master. Who’s their master? There is master. Their master Sauron. And, were you fooled by it? Were you fooled?


Rosie Knight That has got to be one of the best like fake out cold opens.


Jason Concepcion It was good.


Rosie Knight The strange is there and it’s all so atmospheric. And he’s in this he’s in Eryn Galen, the Greenwood, which is also like the Murk Wood. So you got a big Tolkien location and then you have them and they come and they just sort of so seriously, you know, the dwellers like Lord Sauron and I have to say, look, my first thought was like, Oh, I guess I was wrong, but then I was.


Jason Concepcion That was exactly my thought.


Rosie Knight I got faked out. I was like, I got, and not only that, but like what I think is so fun about this is I bet that for a lot of people who don’t sit and talk about this every week for hours, it probably felt very believable. Like it was it was a huge moment. And you think, oh, did they kind of blow that magical load? But then we get to the truth of it, which is like the most sus guy on the planet a.k.a. Halbrand.


Jason Concepcion A.k.a. Halbrand. But I will say, here’s the thing. The the early fakeout and then the subsequent scene where the nomad, the dweller and the other one are like, you know, master, you’ve got to you’ve got to control your powers. Once you’ve, once you remember yourself, you’ll, you’ll feel more, you know, at one. That continued to fool me. And so in retrospect, having now watched the episode several times, again, I was willing to like let Halbrand’s increasingly sus shit go, in the intervening scenes because to your point. He just gets a little too weird with it with like, hey. Oh, well, have you thought gosh have you thought about I didn’t know crazy thought combining other metals so.


Rosie Knight I know I couldn’t believe it. Like the thing I think they do so well with the stranger stuff is that is one of the most unexpectedly kind of emotional arcs this season. And they give you that big, scary fake out and then they kind of have this those intervening scenes where they’re showing him losing control of his powers and he has to remember who he is and then he’ll find out he’s Sauron and he has to go back to ruin. And you know, we’ve talked about like the Blue Wizards. Is that who these people are? Although they usually would be people who be stopping Sauron. So these are probably like cult members and it’s really interesting. And then you get that great moment. After we’ve seen Halbrand become even more sus and just constantly be popping up, manipulating people talking about gifts, which is when I realized what they were really doing. You have that great moment where they go, Oh, wait a minute, he’s not Sauron. He’s the other one, you know. And then they say he’s a Istari, which is the Tolkien word for wizard. So that’s like a huge moment that we can kind of break down a little bit as we get to the end, because they kind of play into some very fun stuff. But before that, Galadriel, poor old Galadriel.


Jason Concepcion Wow, Galadriel, some of the choices you made in this episode.


Rosie Knight Get back, she gets back to the Elvin Kingdom. She has truly been seduced by the most handsome cast member of the Rings of Power and face to heal him. And everyone’s like, Wow, like, so glad you brought this guy back to be healed. Apart from Gil Gilad who’s like, I don’t know who this guy is, but old Celebrimbor is very happy, especially when Halbrand shows up and he’s like, Oh my God, it’s you Celebrimbor.  I can’t believe it. You are so famous.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, his head just swells up.


Speaker 3 And I thought, this guy sounds like he’s doing some manipulation, sounds like he’s charming someone and like almost instantly he’s just telling him how to forge the rings and that was just blowing my mind. I could not believe it.


Jason Concepcion Now, when that happened, when he starts bringing up the I have the alloys and then gosh you know that wouldn’t that work? That’s, that followed by the scene where Halbrand and Galadriel are out in the in the the gardens and he’s thanking her for saving his life. And trying to put her at ease, you know, and she’s right. She’s beginning to get a little freaked out and then. But but everything seems more or less normal. And then, you know, he, he puts his hand on her shoulder in a way that feels a little too familiar and whispers, you know? I don’t. But, you know, they’re talking about how Galadriel, she really believed in him.


Rosie Knight Oh, yeah. And he’s, like.


Jason Concepcion Strengthened him.


Rosie Knight And he’s like.


Jason Concepcion Pushed him to new heights.


Rosie Knight I’ll never forget. And I’ll make sure no one else will either. And I was like, Oh.


Jason Concepcion That was when at that moment, about 20 minutes in the episode, I’m like, okay, this guy’s fucking.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Well, it’s him.


Rosie Knight It’s him. He that was the one that really got me like I’ve done. We’ve talked so much about it and I’ve done so much reading and I’ve been writing so much about it that he for me, the moment I knew that they were doing it and they didn’t want us to be confused, they were saying like, This is him. He’s talking to old Celebrimbor and he says, you know Celebrimbor was like oh how, how can I, you know thank you for telling me how to forge these rings with this alloy and you know to put gold and, and silver to make it so much more powerful. And he’s like, don’t worry, it’s a gift. And I was like, Oh, my God. And it’s Annatar, the giver. Giver of gifts is here giving you a gift. So, yeah, I found that. I just thought Charlie Vickers, who plays Halbrand, is just so good in this episode. Like, it’s one of the most engrossing heel turns that I’ve seen in a long time. He. And what I really love here is something that’s so different from anything that we’ve seen before. And that kind of leans into I was on Doom Pod talking about Legend recently and something someone in our Discord pointed out that was really cool about this episode that we kind of talked about. Legend fits into like Labyrinth and like, you know, those stories that are about, like, the seduction of a young, complicated woman by evil, right? And that is very much what their story is. But they do it. They make it so much more textual because we then get this whole sequence where Sauron’s basically like look like you can lead with me, you can be my queen.


Jason Concepcion Hey, I listen.


Rosie Knight We can balance the dark in the light. We can we can make something good. And you see the shadow of the Sauron armor.


Jason Concepcion Oh, my God. I got the chills.


Rosie Knight With Galadriel at his side.


Jason Concepcion And it was. It is a very seductive deal. Hey, listen, you know, you’re both playing to Galaddriel’s ego by saying, hey, you can. You’re actually the thing that will. I want to be good. I want to be tethered to the light. You will tether me to the light, and then you will get the thing that you want, which you can’t admit that you do want. And I know that you want it. You want the power, and you’ll get that. And then we will bring peace to Middle Earth. And, you know, she’s like, well, do you mean like you mean rule Middle Earth? Yeah. Like what’s the?


Rosie Knight  He’s like same thing.


Jason Concepcion Same thing, is it not? So I must ask you, after the seduction and props to Galadriel for for rejecting that.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Why does she then not tell them.


Rosie Knight Oh, okay. So I this is the thing that I just can’t get my head around. Like, is this Galadriel’s ego.


Jason Concepcion Right.


Rosie Knight That she she has to be the one to kill Sauron, especially now.


Jason Concepcion She has to do it.


Rosie Knight That he is tricked her and betrayed her and and kind of drawn her in. I read a great theory again. Our discord has really been given the good stuff for Lord of the Rings and actually all the other, like our House of the Dragon and and Star Wars channels are always amazing. But some a couple of people that know were mentioning about how they thought that when Galadriel came back, it was actually Sauron in disguise. And I.


Jason Concepcion Interesting.


Rosie Knight Love that theory.


Jason Concepcion That’s interesting.


Rosie Knight Because suddenly Sauron’s  just gone. But they were kind of generally the conversation ended up being where I lay on it, which is it is Galadriel, but she is in this unbelievably compromised situation and we kind of end that story with her keeping this deep secret from Elrond and Elrond, having to be the one who’s going to have to solve it because she’s so ashamed.


Jason Concepcion Do you think Elrond, having read the scroll, the genealogy scroll and sure, it’s like, you know, but you can tell by the worried look on his face as the rings are being forged, you can tell that he knows from that scroll that, oh, there is there is no king of the Southlands. The last king of the Southlands died however many centuries ago. Who is this person Halbrand? He he may not know that Halbrand is Sauron, but he certainly knows that Halbrand is not the person who he was purporting to be. And also now he’s fucking gone.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Moments after Galadriel was found, like, half drowned in the river. I. I wonder what he will do next season and why they would. This is the other thing. Like, you know, Elrond has all season been like we have to tell people about what’s going on with the tree, about the loss of like we have, it’s like this. And then at the beginning of this episode when they’re, when they’re really failing to to come up with a solution to all this. He’s like, We have to we have to tell everybody what, that we failed. It would be really it would be a fascinating conflict if now having this piece of.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion Even more sensitive information that he then decides to keep it.


Rosie Knight Yes.


Jason Concepcion Because of his relationship with Galadriel.


Rosie Knight I think that’s what they’re leading to, because you get that moment where she doesn’t believe that he is Elrond. She thinks he might be Sauron, and she asks him to prove it. And then she tells him that she’s made this terrible mistake. So I wonder, we kind of already had that the episode, I think it was episode four when Elrond was trying to work out what was going on in the mines and work out what was  going on with Celebrimbor. So everyone was like, that was like Elrond is Colombo and I wonder if we’re going to get more kind of Detective Elrond but who’s also trying to save his oldest friend from because really Galadriel this has not cured her obsession with vengeance which actually brought her to this moment, which is what’s so heartbreaking. It’s actually made it far worse and far more consuming and far more isolating. So I’ll be very interested to see and I’m also interested in the timeline because this really mixes up like a lot of what we kind of knew. And in the same way, even though when we talk about House Dragon, we’re talking about what are canonically unreliable narratives, right? And different versions of history. Tolkien often changed stuff himself, so that’s kind of what we’re contending with here. But this is very interesting because like you mentioned, you know what I kind of love? I love this on a narrative level. This whole show is called, you know, Rings of Power. And the whole first season was a deep character study. And in the final episode, they were like, boom, three of the rings have been forged. I personally very much enjoyed that. But in the books, the elven rings are not forged first.


Jason Concepcion Right.


Rosie Knight They are forged as then as the last rings. They’re never corrupted by Sauron. So I’ll be very interested to kind of see. How the other rings get forged, how sour on whether he will reappear in his giver of gifts. Kind of form to other people. Whether we will see Charlie Vickers continue to be the visualization of Siren, which I think is really interesting to have a human on. But how long will that survive? You know, and it’s really interesting. I love the freedom that they’re taking with this kind of stuff. And this this leads also to the big stranger question, which is kind of the other big question of the episode. I also, by the way, just so we can say it, we said Halbrand was Sauron. So we were right.


Jason Concepcion We were we were not the only there were a lot of other people there as well.


Rosie Knight I think everyone felt it.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, we felt it.


Rosie Knight It was brilliant. Like we said, by the time we were covering the penultimate episode, we were basically like, this is too narratively rich for it to not be the case. That’s how good the writing is. This idea that you’re so consumed with vengeance that you would bring your own downfall by and by taking up with the person that you are trying to hunt down, which is so interesting. But yeah, that the timeline the timeline thing is in the canon of Lord of the Rings as we know it, the Wizards or the Istari, they did not come until the third thousand age of the the thousandth year of the third age, which is about like 3000 years after this. I think this is around 1500. So this changes that. But again, this is essentially stories told through oral history or an idea of an oral history tradition. There is no reason that wizards could not come back in the third age and people think it’s the first time they’ve ever arrived. So, you know, we see the stranger. We learn that he is good, that he is not Sauron, and he has this connection to the Harfoots, something that one of our commenters that we shouted out on the show, you know, pointed out, seemed very similar to Gandalf. And we became very we became very invested in that theory. And it does seem that that is what the show wants us to think, because as he and Nori decide they’re going to set off on this adventure together.


Jason Concepcion Yes. Yeah.


Rosie Knight And she does it with the Harfoots blessing, which is so magical. He says to her, if in doubt, Eleanor Brandyfoot, always follow your nose. And that is like a very famous Gandalf line from the Peter Jackson movies that he says to Mary in Fellowship of the Ring. So whether or not he is Gandalf, we don’t know. But they want us to think right now, that he is Gandolf.


Jason Concepcion They want us. I mean, it’s him. It’s Saruman or Radagast or whatever.


Rosie Knight I love the idea of it being Radagast just because.


Jason Concepcion That would be intersting.


Rosie Knight Nature powers. It seems like it could the.


Jason Concepcion Brown cloak.


Rosie Knight Yet but. But then again. In the age that we live in.


Jason Concepcion Right. That’s the thing


Rosie Knight I feel like Gandalf feels very natural.


Jason Concepcion It’s Gandalf.


Rosie Knight And let’s be real. Like, it’s weird. He’s he’s making friends with The Hobbit. The only thing something I think they could do potentially, that could add to that kind of really in-depth, character based narratives that kind of add this context and emotion to these characters we love. It would be very interesting if he was Saruman, and the reason that he has these similarities to Gandalf is because of a closeness that they have in the future. And Gandalf kind of learns these quotes from him or learns these behaviors or learns  this love for the for the Harfoots. But let’s be real. It’s probably Gandalf.


Jason Concepcion It’s gotta be.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion I want to back up for a second. And here is my. Here is my read on what is going through Galadriel’s mind at the end of this episode as the rings are coming out and she’s decided. Oh. Halbrand and where is he? I don’t know. But look, let’s just never deal with him again. Why?


Rosie Knight You never treat with him.


Jason Concepcion You must never  treat with him. Why? Don’t worry about it.


Rosie Knight Don’t worry about it.


Jason Concepcion Let’s focus on the ring. All right, here’s my thought. I think you’re absolutely right to focus on this centuries long feud that she has, this mission of revenge to avenge her brother and kill Sauron. And I think in her mind she understands that she’s made a terrible, terrible mistake in giving Sauron access to knowledge, to power.


Rosie Knight To to healing.


Jason Concepcion To heal and healing, not letting him die.


Rosie Knight We don’t know how powerful that was. If it’s going to affect him in the future, like his his viability of life, you know, did you make him more powerful.


Speaker 2 Introducing him to this newly discovered substance of mithril. Introducing him to Celebrimbor, their most, the elves like most fantastic genius, forging the rings with his head when all of these things are terrible mistakes. And I think that in her mind, she’s thinking, okay, well, if this comes out, very rightfully, the High King, Elrond, and everyone else will say, okay, that’s it. You’re off Sauron hunting. You’re done. You’re too close to it. You can’t do that. It’s done. Look what has happened. And look at everything that has happened. You can’t you’re too close to it. Your emotions are too hot. You can’t do this anymore. And I think, one, that’s exactly what they should tell her. And two, she’s just she won’t have that. She wants to kill him. She wants to be the one to destroy him. And that’s why she didn’t say anything.


Rosie Knight No, I think you’re totally right, because also think about it. Yeah. Isn’t this always the beginning of every, like, Colombo episode, every terrible thriller film or every the outcome of any murder mystery is like, oh, why did you kill that person? Because they knew the thing that somebody else couldn’t know. And if she can kill Sauron, nobody else ever needs to know that it was Halbrand. Because to everyone else, those are still two different people. She can get away with this terrible thing that she did and still achieve the one thing that she wants more than anything else, which is to kill Sauron. You know, I think it’s so interesting and also like I loved the the end moment where Sauron’s like walking to Mordor is like so there’s like Ro, who’s one of the great editors at Nerdist, made this mash up where it was like playing Evanescence Wake me up inside of me like it like shows the eyeball spinning, and then you pull out on him. And I was like, Okay, that was actually perfect, though. I know this is not the anachronistic needle drop, but I would have in this case, I would have allowed it.


Jason Concepcion And it’s also that wonderful like mirror image of the iconic images from the Peter Jackson films of The Eye on the Top of the Barad-dur. But now it’s his actual eye reflecting the flames of Mount Doom. It was that was.


Rosie Knight Also they had.


Jason Concepcion So good.


Rosie Knight They had a lot of fun with movie stuff. And like because also, what’s the famous line? You know, a Barad-dur: one cannot simply walk into Mordor. It’s like this mothefucker just did. He just walked right in.


Jason Concepcion To be fair, I mean, to be fair, it wasn’t full like construction still underway. It’s you not up. But I question the dweller, the nomad in the ascetic, the the the three beings who who mistook the stranger, who we believe to be Gandalf, for Sauron. Who do we think that they are?


Rosie Knight Okay, so there is like very small amount written about like basically people who worship the occult. Cults of Melkor. Cults of Morgoth, like people who worship the dark arts and wanted it to come back. And it’s very, there’s like very little written about them. But I think that is generally what people assume them to be, the people who are desperate for the dark magic or the Dark Lord to come back. I find it most interesting that they talked about like Rune, because that is a place that’s very heavily connected to wizardry in in Tolkien. So I wonder if they are we’ve seen them behave very easily. So I’m not saying that they’re neutral like burning the Harfoots, but I wonder if it’s less about an obsession with dark arts and and more about magic as a whole or wanting this magic, this powerful magic to come back. But I think that is going to be a huge part of season two, because even though he did kill them and turned them into cool like skeleton beasts and then as like they were like they look kind of like ring wraiths and then.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight You know, Saul said he and after that, you know, they transform into moths which Saul like pointed out that Gandalf has used in the past. So I think it kind of leads in.


Jason Concepcion To carry messages and stuff.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And even though those three R.I.P. to those Wizards or, you know, cult members, even though they are dead, they are surely not the only people. And I think we can assume that whatever Nori and the Stranger find in Rune or whoever they come across in the way, they will likely be connected to that trio of of strange magicians.


Jason Concepcion I wonder at what point, because, as you know, we’re seeing the stranger begin to return to himself. I wonder how that plays out over the course of the second season. Will he remember his previous life right away, or is it that or is that going to kind of like unfurl over the course of the season? That’ll be really interesting to see.


Rosie Knight I do I do wonder. I did get a slight feeling at the end of this. You remember, obviously, this is like reading the opening of Ask the Maester. You remember the end of Season one of Game of Thrones, Jason?


Jason Concepcion Yes, I do.


Rosie Knight Right, yes. So you remember the feeling, whether you read the books or not, of thinking the show was about one person, Ned Stark, and then it  wasn’t. I did get a kind of inkling that the Rings of Power may have a five. You know, we follow Galadriel. We follow that compulsion, that vengeance. And I think that is going to be a story that plays a part. But I do wonder if the bigger five season arc is following Gandalf to becoming Gandalf again, following the stranger on that journey. That’s a character people love. It’s a long term exploration. You get to bring in all these different worlds and areas of Middle-Earth. And, you know, I think a lot of people would love to see like where the shire began and things. I think that could be a way to tie it back to these stories that people already know and love. So I think that would be very interesting.


Jason Concepcion I found myself thinking about the temptation of Galadriel from the movies.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion And how it’s down to the wording and the pitch that Sauron makes her and the vision of the raft where they initially met each other. And thinking how, one, it made sense that Galadriel really wasn’t more involved in the fight during the movies, because you just you can’t. It’s righfully, whether the truth came out or whatever the case may be. I think she and maybe the people around her made the very wise decision that like, let’s keep Galadriel out of this one. That said, it feels like secrets are Sauron’s tool. That’s one thing I’ve realized from this. Everybody who is trying to keep a secret, an important secret that people should know, is ends up suddenly, whether they realize it or not compromised. Like the way again, that that moment where Sauron, where, you know, Halbrand and then Halbrand and leans in and says, you know, and I’ll make sure everybody else knows it in the bit in this way that feels confiding like, Oh, this is between you and me. And then, of course, Galadriel and Elrond have their own little promise. There’s something about that that that powers Sauron. And I, I just wonder how long Elrond can keep the secret of of what he knows about Halbrand considering all the other secrets that he knows that he has been lobbying all season long for people to know about, to share, to let other people know.


Rosie Knight No, I think you’re onto something really, really deep there. That kind of links to one of the big you know, this was an episode that so focused on Galadriel, on Halbrand, On The Stranger, on Nori, on Elrond that we’ve leave the Southlanders who are, you know, going to make this new home somewhere that’s not Mordor. We don’t see them. We don’t see Elendil, Theo, Bronwyn and we also don’t see Durin. Right, the big other major character who, we need to know how those rings are going to get forged, the Dwarven rings, and guess who has a deep secret that could easily be compromised? Its Durin who’s keeping the mining of the mithril secret from his father. I think you’re really onto something. I saw this is going to sound like a weird diversion, but I saw Halloween Ends this.


Jason Concepcion I watched it, too


Rosie Knight I’m sorry. I was a fan, but that’s because I like weird late stage sequels. I think they swung for the fences, but aside from that, it reveals something really funny, which is at one point, it seems like Michael Myers, like, gets his powers from stabbing people. Like, he’s really weak, but then he stabs people and he gets really strong. And I love this idea that for Sauron, it’s secrets. That’s what powers him up. That’s what enables him to manipulate people, to corrupt people. I think like Celebrimbor, his darkest secret was he didn’t know how to use the mithril. He’d made everyone do these terrible things. He’d he tricked Elrond. He’d betrayed people. He’d made promises. He didn’t know how to forge it. Halbrand, a.k.a. Sauron, knew how to manipulate that he knew how to manipulate Galadriel. And I think that you’re right. This notion of secrets and how you can use them to manipulate people or compromise them or take advantage of them is very key to who he is. And I so what this is that I think the other big question that season two is probably going to have to start with, Halbrand he’s wearing his cloak he’s walking through Mordor.


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Rosie Knight Very dramatic. Adar is there with these like Orc children thinking he killed this guy. At least we think so. What do you think that showdown is going to look like?


Jason Concepcion I think that that is going to be, my sense is that’s going to be a big part of season two, is this is this Dark Lord that could have been an Adar, you know, a different kind of of evil. One who honestly is more self-Absorbed. You know, like Sauron has that thing that, you know, I keep coming back to the first words of the series. Nothing is evil in the beginning. And, you know, Sauron’s pitch is a good one, which is, hey, I’m going to bring peace to this war torn land. I’m going to bring you know, I’m going to it’s.


Rosie Knight It’s the classic, right..


Jason Concepcion Stability to the chaos. Yeah, it’s like. And that sounds that sounds good. And I think as we watch the.Subtle seduction, the manipulation of various characters through this, it’s always through their desire to do something good. Adar is fascinating because Adar, obviously, not a not a good creature, not a good being, but wants primarily. It’s so it seems to just, to not be involved in the larger politics of Middle Earth. He’s not looking to like rule. You’re just looking for some real estate for himself and the creatures that he helped create.


Rosie Knight Yeah. Who, by the way, were, like, horrible victims in their own right. From what it sounds like. So I think he is such an interesting, complex person who I wonder if that will be something that enables Sauron to compromise him. Because Sauron can say, Oh, I promise, you can have the things that you want for your children. I’m sorry for the mistakes I made before, basically making the same offer that he made to Galadriel. You know, but in a different way. We can lead together. We can make a safe haven for your children, blah, blah, blah. He makes, you know, he’s the promiser. He’s the giver of gifts. He tells you what you want to hear and then, you know, takes it away. But I am just so excited. Joseph Maul is so good as Adar. Charlie Vickers is so good as Halbrand. I really want to see that moment when Adar knows that he did not kill Sauron. Unless, what if our other theory was right and they were actually in on it together because that will also be an incredible.


Jason Concepcion That is the thing. So here’s what I if they are not in it together, Adar feels like the one character in this show that strangely would be. Sauron would not be able to take him on directly because Adar, clearly, if the if he did strike Sauron down the first time. If that’s true, then the manipulate he’ll be he’ll be wise to the things that Sauron does. So if that is true, if they’re not in it together, I see Sauron picking off followers or gathering followers before really trying to challenge Adar at all. Unless, I wonder if he slips into into Mordor, as Halbrand. As another one of these humans, as another of these humans who have decided to cast their lot with Adar, you know, after being rejected by the Elves.


Rosie Knight Adar doesn’t know.


Jason Concepcion Being treated like second class citizens. Yeah, he doesn’t know. So I wonder if he goes as this kind of like, oh, I’m this lower status. I’m just like a regular human, like the rest of these you’re human followers. And slowly, slowly, slowly begins to, like, take him down from the inside. That way I wonder I wonder if it’s going to be something like that. Because Adar will be, you know, whether or not Adar believes that he’s fully finished off Sauron, and if indeed again, that is true. You have to feel like he’d be very sensitive to any kind of hint that Sauron would be back.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah, I totally agree. And did you. Was there like a moment now that you’ve watched it a few times, which is obviously what we always have to do to make sure we’re like, is there a moment that really stands out from the finale? Is that like Big Wow moment that kind of you think is going to stick with you?


Jason Concepcion Oh, God. You know, see it’s it’s weird, but like. The two moments. One, Seeing Galadriel and Sauron’s reflection in the water. We’re using the full armor and she stick because again, I got to admit, you know who Sauron is. You know what he wants, you know what he’s going to do. But at the same time. That sounds good. And from from Galadriel’s perspective, it must have been, even though she’s filled with just a burning desire to kill this man. It must have seemed tempting because now you can just be done with this. And so that was chilling. And then second, and then seeing the rings. Seeing the rings. One, get forged. And two, when they were done with the jewels set in that how beautiful they look the way you can look at them and know who is going to own which ring. Almost like they seemed to embody the personalities of the of the three characters who are going to have them. That, for me were the moments. What about you?


Rosie Knight Yeah, the for me, I love like a dark seduction story. And definitely, like, especially when I was younger and I didn’t necessarily understand how analogous most villains were to like fascists. I definitely was like a bad. I was like, Oh, I like the bad guys. Like, Oh, this, like, you know, Kylo Ren, that wasn’t one of mine. If I was like 15, it would have been. But like that kind of archetype. I loved that moment because like you said, they played it so well. One, the visual is chilling.


Jason Concepcion It’s chilling.


Rosie Knight Two, I just love the way that Sauron sells it. He makes it so believable, he makes it so tempting. And for a minute you were just like, Well, maybe that would be safer for the elves. Maybe there’s a version where he doesn’t do what he did before. And that’s that’s really powerful.


Jason Concepcion Well, up next, let’s talk to Rings of Power writer, Gennifer Hutchison. Now. We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Gennifer Hutchinson, one of the writers behind Lord of the Rings, Rings of Power and one of the writers of the series finale, to the program Gennifer, thank you so much for joining us.


Gennifer Hutchinson Hi. Thanks for having me.


Jason Concepcion This is so exciting. I guess, first of all. This is obviously show has been years in the making. What is it? What does it feel like now that the episodes are out? Season one In the books, this multi-year process has come to its natural stopping point, at least for this chapter. How do you feel?


Gennifer Hutchinson I feel it’s such a complex feeling because yes, it felt like forever. It was almost four years to the day that the rooms start like that. It premiered from when the room started. Yeah. And it was the secret to feeling like I’ve been doing work. Please, I know there’s stuff happening, but it felt like such a relief. But then it felt like it just went by so fast. Like. So that was also the thing. No, it’s amazing. It’s wonderful being able to talk about, you know, what the story was and and not have to keep secrets. I didn’t even tell my husband anything. And so I can actually talk to him without making sure I’m really locked down, you know?


Rosie Knight So yeah. And you talk about that. I mean, obviously we’ve just been talking about the finale, which, you know, came out last week and was just so wonderful and kind of really answered a lot of the questions in a way that felt very satisfying. So when it comes to building in those secrets, you you wrote episode two, you introduced Halbrand. What was it like crafting that journey and then keeping it a secret for, you know, for years?


Gennifer Hutchinson It was, it was, I loved it. It was really fun. And I’m so excited that I got to introduce Halbrand and then introduce Sauron. Like it just it worked out so well to be able to, to write both those scenes, the first scene with Galadriel and then the reveal scene with Galadriel and really hold those kind of, you know, together in my heart. And then it was just about really crafting Halbrand’s story through the season and making sure that we were really understanding who Halbrand was. And it felt like this is a real person, a real guy. But then also, if anybody goes back and watches the season again, knowing he’s Sauron that, you can see and be like, okay, this is Sauron and what are these decisions he’s making? Does this make sense for who he is at the time? You know, because you don’t want it to be like, wait, Sauron would never do that, you know? And so it was really a balance, you know, we had a few POV scenes that was just him and that was really tricky, making sure that it felt right for both characters. Yeah.


Jason Concepcion A line that really stood out to us and it’s the first line in the series is Nothing is Evil in the beginning, which felt like the theme of this series and in a lot of ways. How, when did that idea emerge of oh, we’re going to show how even the most evil thing, can start with a sincere instinct to try and do some something good?


Gennifer Hutchinson Yeah. Yeah. Pretty early on, I mean, you know, the sort of where Sauron is in the second age until he pops up, you know, and says, let’s make some rings, you know, he talks a little bit. It’s right. It’s a mystery. It’s a mystery, really. And it talks about after the war, you know, he repented, but he was also prideful. There was that mix between him within him, and then he kind of disappears. So it was really about like, what is the story that we can tell about this character that is more that is more complex than I am a bad guy and I want to do bad things. And we talked a lot about the concepts of, you know, good being a choice, you know, something that you choose to do with each decision, not something that you are. And the same goes for bad. And so really when we were crafting his story, that was really a thing that we were thinking about a lot, sort of good as a choice. It’s who you choose to be. Which was also mirrored in, you know, Nori and the Stranger and kind of what she says to him. And it was it was nice to play that out. I always love that complexity of you’re right. Like nothing is evil in the beginning and nobody is only good or only bad. There’s always some complexity in there.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And the really wonderful reflection of Halbrand’s story that you got to explore this season was Galadriel, who I just the writing with the two of them. I mean, we got to the the penultimate episode and we were just like, it’s too narratively rich for him to not be Sauron at this point, because like she, she’s been so consumed by this need for revenge that she has welcomed in evil to her door. And she is, you know, become that corrupted elf that Adar kind of spoke to and told her that she was. Could you sort of talk about the intertwined journeys? Because that balance of making both characters completely engaging in their own rights, but having to have them as reflections of each other is must have been such a difficult balance to strike.


Gennifer Hutchinson It was, but it was also really great to have both of them have really distinct journeys and points of view that that weren’t really in service of each other but but were, you know, intertwined. You know, so much that Galadriel was like, how do you what happens to you after that much war, that much loss? You know, the you know, I mean, now we would say PTSD, like like how how do you stop? And really, that was her journey of like, how do I stop? And kind of reaching a point where it’s like, is it an external thing or is it an internal thing? And that struggle. And Halbrand’s character was really about, I’ve given up. That’s how I like. That’s how I stopped. I just I’ve checked out. I’ve run away. That’s it. And she’s you know, he’s running away. She’s running toward. And so finding a way that they’re kind of helping each other on that journey, like like he’s helping direct her focus while she’s, you know, kind of like pulling him back into the world. Yeah, not, you know, maybe not a good idea, but like so so it was it was making sure that they really are coming from kind of opposite places. But the core of like what they’re dealing with is like they went through this, this incredibly long, devastating war from different sides. And how would they how would they react differently to that?


Jason Concepcion Galadriel’s choice after her temptation in this episode is so fascinating to unpack in that. Why does she decide in that moment to not be, you know, and when Elrond’s’s like where’s where’s Halbrand? Oh, listen, we just can’t ever deal with we’re not treating with him ever again, if he does show up. By the way.


Rosie Knight Don’t worry about it. It’s done.


Jason Concepcion Let’s move on. Let’s keep it pushing you guys. Take us into. We have our own ideas, mostly related to her centuries long obsession with getting revenge and how important that is to her and and her possible feeling like, well, if I tell people what happened, I won’t be able to get that revenge because they will say, well, you’re off, you’re off Sauron duty from now on. But what it would take us into her into her thinking in that moment, you know, as she’s watching these things being forged, you see, where they’re under the direct influence of this person who she now knows to be the dark Lord and not telling people.


Gennifer Hutchinson Yeah, I just had this image of, you know, like, turn in your badge and your gun. You’re off the case. Yeah, she’s definitely the back. Yeah. So I think obviously, I think so much of it is open to people’s interpretation. I love people bringing their own read into things. For me, a part of it really is her feelings. One, of what does she do? Like complicity and like guilt and shame and and, you know, like questioning everything about herself. But that’s also kind of in contrast to, I think that she still has that feeling of like, I have to be the one to fix this. It really it really mirrors what Sauron is saying of like I can I’m the one who can fix the world with you. Like, there’s a reason why that’s tempting, tempting for her, because she really believes, like, it’s my responsibility to fix this, and I have to. I can’t necessarily let other people into the inner workings, you know?


Rosie Knight Yeah. And you just mentioned, like, kind of the way people read into the show and the interpretation. You’ve said before that like your sweet spot as a writer is creating opportunities for fans to theorize and engage. And obviously with this show, this was like the ultimate version of that. I mean, I was covering it at IGN. So every week I’m coming up with stuff. You had so many different readings, so many people coming up with theories, trying to work things out and just engaging with the show in a really passionate way. What was that like for you?


Gennifer Hutchinson I very gratifying. I mean, I’m a huge fan of so many works and particularly genre works, and there are so many things that I would watch or read and or play. And I what I was getting out of it was not necessarily what the people who made it intended, but created a space to like really connect in a way that was personal for me. So seeing people be able to do that with a show that I was part of is is wonderful. Like, so much of what I do is wanting to connect to people and make people feel seen and not alone. And when people are, you know, some of it is I’m just coming up with theories, but there’s also a lot of it of like, you know, the relationship between Poppy and Dorian and really reading kind of their own life into that. And I love that stuff. And then the like, Who’s Sauron? And who’s this person? Who’s that? That’s just fun because I don’t know. I love talking to my friends about theorizing about shows that I watch. So the idea that, like, people are having fun doing that, you know, like that added value of the show, it’s like it’s not just watching the show, it’s also you get to talk to your friends about it. Like, I think as a writer, I mean, why why else would we do this?


Jason Concepcion Yeah. Thinking about, you know, the the kind of feeling that Lord of the Rings, both books, including The Hobbit and the movies, of course, give people. This show was so adept at really capturing those core feelings of friendship, you know, whether it’s the Harfoots or whether it’s Elrond and Durin, that feeling of adventure. The feeling of your choices really mattering, like making the hard choice and not the easy choice. And that and that mattering how how much did you talk about and think about like boiling those kind of things down into, you know, the kind of elemental pieces that you would then kind of lay down in the show so that it felt. Because it really just feels so of a piece with with the books and the movies.


Gennifer Hutchinson Yeah. Which we obviously, you know, we read from the books every day and we were all heavily inspired by the movies as well. It was it’s I remember early on, like really when we came in, you know, saying, you know, what is what is Lord of the Rings mean to you? You know, what is when you think about a story, what kind of story would you tell in this world? And then really coming up with so many people are like, you know, really the related, the friendships and, you know, even the smallest among us can can change the world. And which to me is really the core so much of what talking say was saying and really wanting to lean into that, you know, his work was so inspiring, you know, so heavily influenced by his time, particularly in the war and those relationships he built with with his, you know, comrades. And really bringing that in was important. That feeling of like those connections you make with people in, like the hardest times. You know, the times when everything seems lost is really that hope and connection comes through our friendships and our relationships with each other.


Rosie Knight Yeah. That’s one of my. I was such a huge fan of The Harfoots and kind of. I remember the first episode, the moment that really got me was with the food and the Blackberries, those cozy parts of of Tolkien are such an important part to so many people. What is it like? You know, Jason talked about boiling it down and the importance of getting it right. How is it to balance these things that feel so tonally different? The slow moments, the the food, the coziness, the friendship, the smaller, what seem to be smaller stakes with the arrival of Sauron, with these kind of epic adventures, men falling from the sky, how do you go about balancing these kind of different vital parts of the story?


Gennifer Hutchinson Well, my favorite stories are always the ones that feel like even in these fantastic worlds, because I said as I said, I’m a big genre fan, that feel kind of of the of our world, that feel grounded. And I always say that, like, even in the worst times in my life, there’s always been light. There’s always been, you know, like just something really funny happens or like a meal or like some, some moment of connection. So for me, it really was like, how how would life feel? You know, like, it’s not just one thing, it’s all these things. And also, you know. When you’re doing something super intense, like you need that breather, you know, like something comforting, something like core that that that everyone can kind of relate to more. You know, the elves are there. They’re are so, you know, bird’s eye view of everything. And so having Harfoots and I would say having the dwarves as well and the human and even the humans, where it’s much more of like a focused kind of world is really what helps ground it. I love Stuff’s You that’s like kind of tonally, you know, you move around and having having worked on my previous show Better Call Saul, that does a lot of tonal shifts as well. It’s very much a storytelling and and more personal stories. And so I felt uniquely suited in that regard as well.


Jason Concepcion Thinking about your your career from the Breaking Bad, The Strain, Better Call Saul. Now, Rings of Power. Rings of Power has such a specific kind of a melody and rhythm to the language. All all you know, whether it’s the elves, the humans, the dwarves, whoever they all have, it’s such a specific music to the way they speak. How did you go about capturing that? And was there a moment where you’re like, okay, I think I think we’ve got it. I think we’ve. I think it feels like Tolkien.


Gennifer Hutchinson Yeah, it was very that was maybe one of the most challenging parts, because I’ve always written contemporary for the most part, and I my dialog style is very like plain spoken, grounded, you know. And so that was definitely hard for me. The way I really attacked the script was writing it kind of in plain language in the first go through. So I had the meeting down and then getting finding my way into those voices. And then once Patrick and JD, you know, were giving us the pilot script and really giving us the example of kind of where that dialog sweet spot was, that gave us more of a target to hit. And that was constantly evolving as the show went on. It’s funny, there was a moment where I felt like I had kind of lost something and this is going to sound silly. But with the elves, the inclination with the elves, the temptation is just make them sound very fancy all the time. And and but but but that can be essentially meaningless. And it made me think of when I was first writing Gus Fring on Breaking Bad because I would write him overly formal. And that was the first note I got was like, that’s not that’s not who he is. And I realize it’s not that he’s super formal, it’s that he doesn’t waste a word. And, you know, and the elves, they say a lot of words for sure, but there really is intention behind everything they’re saying. And I started like thinking of Gus when I would write the elves, and it helped me kind of reach that, like, because he was also working from like an overhead view of the world, like he was a long term planner, you know, as the elves are. And that really helped me unlock that. Obviously, they don’t sound the same, but the vibe was very like it was. It allowed me to feel like, okay, maybe I can actually I think I could do this. And it started to click in more.


Rosie Knight Speaking of unexpected like transferable skills from the world of like Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, those are stories like which a lot of the heart of them and the kind of the investment comes from these unexpected relationships and friendships that kind of define the arcs of the characters. Was that something that you felt helped you when it came to shaping some of the relationships that we see in the show? Because the ones that have really broken out are those unexpected, Stranger and Nori, Elrond and Durin, obviously. Not, there’s a tradition of that and Lord of the Rings. But in the canon it’s unexpected. They’re not supposed to be friends. Galadriel And Halbrand. Was that something that you kind of felt like you were unexpectedly suited to as well?


Gennifer Hutchinson Yes. And it’s funny because, you know, Nori and the Stranger and Elrond and Durin, you know, I also introduced Elrond and Durin storyline into and those were those were like my most comfortable places to be when I was writing it. And those actually flowed for me really naturally, you know, the way the way those especially Poppy and Nori. Like that, just me and that’s just me and my best friend. So, yes, in a lot of ways, yes, in a lot of ways. I totally brought so much of that character work and the relationship work from that world, from the sort of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul world of taking like looking just like a step deeper into those relationships and finding ways of like. As you said, how do people who are very opposed seem very opposed? What’s the what’s the common thread between them and how do you find that? I just love character and doing like kind of deep dives on character and being able to do that in this world was really nice, the moments that we were able to do that because it is a show and not movies. It did make me feel like, Oh, okay, here I am. This is this is my skill set, bringing it over. Like I could do the other stuff too. But this is really such a comfortable place to be is is just figuring out what makes them tick and the true like strength of friendship and how strong those feelings are. You know, sometimes even more than romantic relationships.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion And that really, I mean, all of that stuff rings so true.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Watching the show. I think people sometimes who who, you know, watch TV and, you know, see the credits roll, maybe don’t understand how collaborative a storytelling form television really is. So like, as you’re in breaking story, you’re writing the scripts and then all of a sudden your your cast starts coming in how does it begin to change as you begin adding this amazing cast of talented performance to this production?


Gennifer Hutchinson Yeah, it is. It is always a fascinating part of the process of like a thing that’s left in your head and your or your, you know, the writer’s room had this sort of collective group kind of sending it out into the world and and having it be put on his feet. It’s always I it’s always a, a great part of the process when the actors come in because they bring that interpretation and because they’re focused really solely on one character, you know, they’re they’re able to really kind of like get into them and and sort of bring that point of view into it. And you learn sort of the rhythm of the way that they talk and kind of how they embody that character. And it definitely informs what you’re writing. You know, when we wrote Season one, we had not really cast people. And so going forward, when you’re writing in season two and this is like all shows, you’re able to hear them, you’re able to like visualize the actor in that place. And it makes it easier to to write them because you know who you’re writing. And that’s been every show you start to just hear them in your head as opposed to being like, What would this person say here? It’s like you hear that actor, you know, telling you.


Rosie Knight And so of like I guess the not of as a natural extension on that, how does it feel? You’ve had this thing that’s in your head, you see, you know, production, casting. How does it feel when a moment say, this is a moment we were just talking about a lot when we were told about the finale. But, you know, you write a moment that is so vital, like when Sauron shows Galadriel what their future could be, this him and his armor, her standing next to him. We’re both, like obsessed with that moment. What did it feel like for you? You write it. The show is made. How does it feel to see it come to life within the context of the world when you see the finished episode?


Gennifer Hutchinson Amazing. It’s it’s getting to see the show in its final form because even if I saw cuts, obviously not everything was on screen yet because there was so many wonderful visual effects work to be done. It it was incredible. I feel like the what you know, the directors and all of the artists and craftspeople on the show and everybody who worked on the show, they just brought such an amazing level of work and and interpretation and just life to the show. So seeing those things and how much, you know, obviously you have a vision in your head and then when you see it and it’s like so much better than you could have ever imagined. That’s it. That’s incredibly gratifying. And that and especially that scene with that final confrontation and that shot that you talk about, which when I’m like not worried about posting spoilers is going to be my Twitter banner because it’s such a such a beautiful it’s such a beautiful shot and encapsulates what he’s what we were trying to do, like, I think visually. There you go. That’s the story we’ve always talked about the reflection. And he would show her. That was that was in the story we were telling in the script. But to see how they pulled it off is is a totally different thing. And I. Every episode that I watched, I felt that seeing them and being like, oh, my God, look at Kazad-dum. Like, look at these, they’re like, look at this. Look at these costumes. You know, like, you just you just feel in that world and and, you know, it’s it’s so gratifying. And it just it made me very happy.


Jason Concepcion Take us into the stranger fake out, because it is so well timed.


Rosie Knight And so good.


Jason Concepcion It it just seemed to have such a it’s anticipatory energy understanding that okay, by now the fans, the audience is going to be in a fever pitch wondering who these who these two men are, Halbrand and the Stranger. Wondering which one of them might be Sauron. Take us into the decision to to throw that curveball in essentially at the top of the episode.


Rosie Knight So it’s such a great cold open.


Gennifer Hutchinson I know. Yes. So what I like about that kind of structure is that I feel like it really is serving the Stranger’s story and it has that sort of added bonus of being that red herring of like, Oh, wait, I guess he saw it. I mean, I’m sure a lot of people were like, it’s too early in the episode like this. Like, there’s no there’s no way. There’s no way. But what it does is it really serves to me, it serves the Stranger’s story of them saying, like, you know, his story is such a mirror of Halbrand, Sauron that, you know, like you’re bad, you’re bad, you’re a danger. That’s what he’s been worried about. Am I a danger? Am I peril? And then these these mystics say, you are you’re you’re you’re Lord Sauron, you’re a bad guy. And so you see him kind of absorb that. And then in that, in that moment with Nori and the Harfoots, when they come to rescue them and she has that thing of like, no, you choose, you choose who you are. I feel like if you hadn’t had that moment at the top of the episode where it was like confirmation, you’re the bad guy, then I don’t think that necessarily would have worked as well. And then it just has, like I said, that sort of added bonus of throwing you off a little bit. But no, I thought I really, you know, because, because Galadriel is telling Halbrand you’re a good guy, you’re a good guy, you know, and then he’s like, Yeah, I mean, am I? So, so. I think it works. I think it works really well. And then you start the episode with the Stranger being Sauron, and then you end the episode with Halbrand saying Hey, I’m Sauron.


Rosie Knight So yeah, it’s such a great reflection in such an enjoyable moment. And I love it because you mentioned that you’re like, you know, a lot of people know like Prestige TV, it’s too early. But to me it reminded me more of like especially like British TV in the nineties where if there was a cliffhanger, it would usually just be answered at the beginning of the next episode. Even like the Batman 66 like show is like, you can’t make people wait too long, but that’s not the world we live in now. But I was really fun. You know, we’re talking about the Stranger. Let’s talk about so we learn that he is not Sauron. Great journey for him. Love that. And you know, we hear the whisper of he’s the other one. We hear Istari, this idea of a wizard. Could you talk a little bit about his journey with Nori as it will go on when they go to Rune and kind of just talk about what you’re most excited about for the Stranger?


Gennifer Hutchinson I am really excited about the things I’m really excited about or kind of the way we’ve structured his story, where we’re discovering who he is as he does, as opposed to having that knowledge and then he figures it out. I love learning along with the character, so I’m really excited to kind of do that as as he goes forward and I am so excited about it going to Rune, which really has not necessarily been explored, you know, that much before and then definitely I’m really excited about is really Nori. You know she’s on and she’s wanted to be on an adventure. She’s on an adventure now. Like, what is that going to look like for her? You know, it’s that classic thing of like, you got what you wanted, now what? And so having the privilege to be able to explore that now what, is is really exciting.


Jason Concepcion Well. Gennifer, thank you so much for joining us. This has been a fantastic conversation and congratulations on a fantastic show. A really wonderful show.


Gennifer Hutchinson Yeah, well, thank you.


Rosie Knight We’re such big fans. We’re so glad you came to join us and we can’t wait to see more. So thank you. Some can’t.


Jason Concepcion Wait.


Gennifer Hutchinson Thank you. Thanks for having me. This was so much fun.


Jason Concepcion Thank you to Gennifer Hutchison. Up next, House of the Dragon episode nine.


Jason Concepcion [AD]


Jason Concepcion We’re stepping out of the airlock and into the small council chamber where, you know, not nice things are afoot. We’re here to talk about House of the Dragon Episode nine The Green Council, written by Sarah Hess and directed by Clare Kilner. Folks, the King is dead. Long live the King. R.I.P. to King Viserys. Day breaks.


Rosie Knight R.I.P. to that man.


Jason Concepcion R.I.P. to that man. Word is kind of trickling out amongst the household staff. A young page tells Alicent’s handmaiden. And Talia, she goes and tells the queen. The queen quickly tells Otto. And he’s like, Immediately he swings into action. He wants to know who. Who knows? And all of a sudden, Alicent breaks this little bit of news. Oh, yeah. The last time I saw him. He said that Aegon, Aegon should be king. Otto doesn’t ask which one. Otto doesn’t ask okay, well, he wasn’t the most lucid guy, considering, like, he was on the edge of death for X amount of years and also, like, doped to the gills on milk of the poppy could he have been talking about any one of the numerous other Aegons throughout history? He just is like, good, great. We’re running with that.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And he doesn’t he doesn’t be like, oh, it’s very interesting that you were just the only person there. In fact, he must just think his luck has come, that in that moment, he just thinks everything is working in his favor. Because as we quickly find out, as always, this motherfucker has been planning.


Jason Concepcion Well, that’s that’s the point I wanted to make, too. I saw a lot of people saying. Like, oh, this is this is like a plot point out of like Three’s Company with this kind of comedy of misdirection and miscommunication. I agree that there is something of that. But I also think. Do you really think that if Alicent had never heardThe whole Aegon babbling from the dying king, that Otto would have just been like, Oh, forget all the plans we’ve been laying for decades and years. Let’s just call it all off and we’re not going. He would have gone with it. Anyway, this little thing is just one small little other piece that he can then use to argue that this is all legit. The King said so there were no witnesses. That’s absolutely true. And there are multiple Aegons alive right now. But


Rosie Knight He means this one.


Jason Concepcion Take my word for it.


Rosie Knight Yeah. No, I actually think I you know, I am I am quickly becoming a true Alicent apologist. And I, I just think that the way that they have treated her in this show and given her so much more context and meaning, is actually really just so wonderful. And Olivia Cooke is so great.


Jason Concepcion She’s great.


Rosie Knight Bringing her back to life. And I think this episode actually does a lot of really great work. To show that while it seemed it may have seemed kind of like, oh, you know what? Now Alicent doesn’t you know, she’s not a bad person because she thinks that the prophecy and that is really just a small plot point for Alicent that adds conflict to her story and changes the reasons that she pursues the things she pursues. Because as we find out in the small council meeting, this was always going to happen.


Jason Concepcion Always going to happen.


Rosie Knight It’s always going to happen. It’s just now there’s a tiny part of Alicent’s brain that believes it’s what’s supposed to happen.


Jason Concepcion Small council is hastily assembled. Otto has a strict no and no one in no one out rule. I want to shout out just very quickly the master of ships, Tywin Lannister, who is a dumb motherfucker. You know, it’s like the King has looked dead. He’s got no arm. He’s got one eye. He’s like, can’t breathe. He’s been in bed for years.


Rosie Knight The fact that he’s survived 20 years is a miracle.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. You get called to an emergency meeting early in the morning and you’re like, Hey, what’s happening? Why did you get. Come on. You know what’s happening. Don’t. Don’t be obtuse. Anyway, Otto is like, Hey, so we grieve for Viserys, but it’s time to get down to business. After Otto has just shared Alicent’s interpretation of Viserys’, his last words. Tyland says, Then we may proceed now with the assurance of his blessing on our long laid plans. And now this is a great moment because you realize as Alicent is realizing now, how long these plans have been in motion for. You’re realizing that Alicent really is this naive. You forget that she’s been put in this position since she was a child.


Rosie Knight Yep.


Jason Concepcion It, Otto is her protector. The person who she trusts. It is just now. Just now that she realizes. Oh, wait a second. They’ve been hiding things from me. They’ve been planning things that I have no idea about.


Rosie Knight Yeah, this episode is an awakening for Alicent, and I wish I hadn’t have taken this long, but there is some really brilliant stuff here where we just learn about how she has been manipulated and abused and exploited by every man around her for as long as we can imagine. And there’s only one person who will be real with her this episode. And it is Rhaenys and it is a really great moment when we get to it.


Jason Concepcion Oh my God, one of the best speeches in the entire show. Lyman Beesbury, Master of Coin.


Rosie Knight Only real one. Only loyal man.


Jason Concepcion Only the only real one in the building. Lyman Beesbury. I will not have this, he says, and he calls Aegon an imposter. Points out that, Hey, remember when the realm swore fealty to Rhaenyra in the fucking throne room? He tears to ribbons the claim that the king at the last minute on his deathbed, with no witnesses except the the boy’s mother, changed his mind. He’s he had years and years and years to change his mind. And now he changed his mind. Get out of here. Grandmaster Orwyle is trying to get him to settle down. But Lyman continues, beginning to now, to wonder darkly if the king was murdered.


Rosie Knight Honestly fair.


Jason Concepcion It’s very honestly fair and it’s and it’s clear, I think, to The Greens now that Beesbury is going to be a problem, so Criston Cole murders him. Smashes his head into the table, into his little marker ball and R.I.P. Lyman Beesbury. It was wonderful to see this this, this integrity. Too little, too late. But Beesbury throughout the season has been, like, asleep at meetings, not really understanding what’s going on behind, like talking about a topic that they moved on from 10 minutes ago and it’s fucking great to see him in his final moments, standing toe to toe with all these very powerful people and speaking truth to power. It got him killed. But fucking R.I.P. to Lyman Beesbury, a real one.


Rosie Knight He was a real one,  pour one out for Lyman. And also we will say again I’ve been saying I am the nut if if there’s a million Criston Cole haters is on this earth, I am one of them. If there is only one Criston Cole hater on this earth, it is me. And if there’s no Criston Cole haters,  it’s because I’m dead. Like I hate this guy.


Jason Concepcion The only thing I want from Criston Cole is his skincare routine. Because everybody’s aging and everybody in King’s Landing is aging. But him hatred has like somehow he’s kept him young. Commander Westerling draws his sword on Cole. Criston draws his sword on Commander Westerling and says, I’m not going to allow vile slanders against Queen. Nobody mentioned the Queen.


Rosie Knight The Queen’s literally like sorry, he didn’t say anything about me like please shut up and just take your sword away.


Jason Concepcion So Cole stands down, but you can see on Westerling’s face that he’s like, Oh shit, this is not going the way I thought. The debate continues. Now Alicent understanding what has been afoot begins to make her presence felt. She’s like, Okay, what are we going to do with Rhaenyra? Otto was like, Oh, we’ve got to take a prisoner. And you know, we’re given the opportunity to bend the knee. Alicent is like you know, she’s never going to bend the knee. So what happens then? And it’s now that she realizes, Oh, my father is plotting to have Rhaenyra, Daemon, and all their children murdered.


Rosie Knight The thing that he very heavily manipulated poor old Alicent into believing would happen to her. He was just reflecting his own behavior. It was just him.


Jason Concepcion He never.


Rosie Knight He wanted to do.


Jason Concepcion She never thought about the flip side. That if we must seize power so that Rhaenyra and her children won’t kill me and my children. She didn’t understand that. Conversely, that means when we seize power, we will have to kill Rhaenyra and her children. But of course, Alicent doesn’t know what to do next. Tyland is like okay, so what do you want to do, Queen? And Alicent doesn’t really know. Otto definitely knows. And he says and it’s a chilling moment. He says, okay, Ser Harold, I want you to go to Dragonstone at once with your best guys, and I want you to kill Rhaenyra, Daemon and everybody there very quietly, as quietly as you can, and then it will be mission accomplished. Westerling thinks about this for like a half a second, and he’s like, Nope, I’m there’s no king. I’m the commander of the Kingsguard There is no so until such time as there is a king, I don’t have a job, so I’ll see you later. And he leaves. Again, shouts to Commander Westerling for showing some integrity.


Rosie Knight I was going to say, in my opinion, took him too long. But you know what?


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Rosie Knight I am excited to see this happen. I am excited to see where we may see him pop up. I have fond memories of the small moments he spent with Rhaenyra before. I hope that he may see fit to fix his ways and go and make the corrections to his behavior. But it’s a great moment when he takes off his cloak.


Jason Concepcion One of the few good moments for the kingsguard in this series and in the stories writ large. Alicent, Otto go to find Aegon that. Apparently the new king, he’s not in his room. Princess Helaena doesn’t know where he is. Alicent has a private moment with his daughter, breaks the news, and then Helaena says there’s a beast beneath the boards. But of course, no one really understands the importance of this.


Rosie Knight And Helaena, like she is grabbing her up and saying, like, please.


Jason Concepcion It’s unclear to me that Helaena truly understands what she’s saying at any given time. That said. If she doesn’t know herself, the meaning of what she is saying, maybe it conmes to her in some kind of vision. Some. Yeah. The you can tell in the desperate desperate tone that she has. The way she grabs her mother’s hand, that she knows that it’s important. Otto approaches Ser Erryk, the Kingsguard, who’s been Aegon’s sworn shield for for some time now. He’s like, Where’s Prince? Erryk doesn’t know. He says, I want you and your brother to go in the city. Find Aegon. Don’t tell anybody especially the queen, what you’re doing. You find the king, you bring him to me. Meanwhile, Princess Rhaenys wakes up in a room and she finds that she’s locked in. She looks out the window and sees the household staff being rounded up. You have to imagine at that point the wheels must be turning and she must understand, like, what is probably happened. Criston Cole, everybody’s favorite, breaks the news of Aegon’s disappearance and of Ser Erryk’s mission to Alicent and Aemmond. Alicent then says, okay, Criston Cole, take it. You need to go find Aegon before Erryk does take Aemmond with you. Because Aemmond, of course, knows everything that his brother has been up to. Later in the throne room, Otto has what lords and and ladies are were apparently in the in the Red Keep at this time gathers them together. And probably specifically the ones that that are there that pledge their fealty to Rhaenyra in the past or at least known to be Black loyalists. And he says, okay, so we’re crowning Aegon today and everybody has to swear fealty to him. And to renounce Rhaenyra, who’s who’s going to do it? Most do it. Which I get it. This is, you know, that you’re going to be strung up in the courtyard if you don’t do it. But if you don’t. House Fell remains on its feet. Lord Caswell eventually kneels, but then we see later that he’ll try and escape and get word to Rhaenyra. Meanwhile, we see an underground fight club where Erryk and Arryk know are kind of like touring around. They know that Aegon likes to spend his time there. It’s a horrific place where kids apparently fight to the death. And one of Mysaria’s agents comes and says, you know, apparently makes contact with them and tells them, hey, my my boss has some information for you. Also, we see that there are Targaryen bastards down there in the dungeon. One of them probably Aegon’s. Probably the one we saw.


Rosie Knight And Erryk says there’s probably a lot more of Aegon’s bastards.


Jason Concepcion Now, keep that in mind, because as this war pops off, dragon riders are going to become necessary. And suddenly these. These orphans who have Targaryen blood could become very valuable.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And also, they’re going to be if they survive these fighting pits, they’re also going to be incredibly battle hardened. They sharpen these kids teeth. They sharpen their fingernails. They have them just clawing at each other. It’s it’s horrific stuff. And we see Aegon’s bastard who we see presumably is about four years old. But these these are like babies. It’s really horrific stuff. And this is when. Erryk and Arryk start having the really important conversation about Aegon not being the right person to be king.


Jason Concepcion Here’s something that I found noteworthy. The closer you are to Aegon, right? Obviously, like. Erryk as his sworn sworn has had a front row seat to Aegon’s you know, various doings over the however many years. The closer you are to him, the less likely you are to want to support the guy. I think that is very, very, very credibly telling. Listen, I’ve I’ve been up close and personal with this guy, and it can’t be him. And that is a really, really interesting conversation. Later. Alicent goes to see Rhaenys. This is after watching the silent sisters prepare the king’s body and. She asks for Raney to support. She makes a really good pitch, she says, like, listen. You can have a drink. Mark, Jeff. Mark will go to your daughter’s. Like, everything will be fine. Just support us. Like that’s what we need. And, Rhaenys, it’s unclear what side Rhaenys really is going to come down on, but she says at this time, listen, the word of my house is not fickle. And also left unspoken here is the fact that, like though Rhaenys and Corlys have had their disagreements, they’ve been a very strong partnership in terms of decision making for these years. And Corlys is alive. He’s not dead. So the time has not come for her to take that position and make these decisions in his absence. Alicent then makes a pitch to the heart. She’s like, Listen, you should have been queen. And in a different world, maybe, you know, maybe the realm would accept a woman as ruler. But she says, we do not rule, but we may guide the men that do gently away from violence and sure destruction and instead toward peace. And then Rhaenys says something that is stuck with me, which is you don’t. You’re in prison and you don’t see it. You know, you’re doing everything to serve all these men, your son, your father, your husband. And you don’t want to escape from your prison. You just want to build a window. You just want to put a window in it. And I was like, So damn.


Rosie Knight Good. And Rhaenys’s just sells it because I know that she does believe that Alicent means that she thinks she could be queen. Like, there’s there’s a moment of connection there where there’s this understanding. And then after Rhaenys says that brilliant truth, which I think is the scale.


Jason Concepcion Very, very true, very, very apt.


Rosie Knight And we learn even more so that it’s not just her family that has been exploiting Alicent. And, you know, that she’s kind of shaping the world for these different men. It’s also other grotesque men as well. But what I love is Rhaenys leans in to her and says, Have you never pictured yourself on the Iron Throne? And Olivia does such a great job in that moment that you honestly, like, don’t actually know. Like, is Alicent actually that naive that she has never done it?


Jason Concepcion I think so. I think so.


Rosie Knight Or does she? And they they do such a great job just sticking on Olivia’s face as she thinks about, Oh. You know, and that is just such a good scene.


Jason Concepcion I have to say, that scene really made me appreciate Cersei Lannister. Now, Cersei is a terrible person. Awful, brutal, ruthless murderer, torturer. A terrible, evil person. But. She was very clear eyed about the way this world worked. And she didn’t pussyfoot around with appearances and how people might feel and wondering, Oh, will the realm accept this? That was what people expected of women she knew. And so when she went to seize power, she just did it.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion She when she had power. Unlike Alicent, who has power, but is trying to, like, wield it softly through other men, through. Through the men in her life, through other people. Cersei just said I’m wielding power. I’m going to wield power in my own hands. I’m going to do it. I’m going to tear up this order that Ned Stark is trying to trying to give me. I’m going to I’m going to just do the things that people don’t expect women to do. They don’t expect them to act this directly. And if Alicent had that with her current moral compass, I know probably be a better world.


Rosie Knight Honestly, I wonder. I’ve been thinking a lot about the choices they made to build out Alicent, which I do love. I do wonder if they were worried that it would be hard to not just make her a Cersei-like, if she was like a real conniving, power hungry person. But I would love to see a little bit more of that. The self-determination and violence that needs, because you know that you can rule better than everyone else. And we always know that ends badly. But you know what? Sometimes in Game of Thrones, while you need it and it’s funny, you should bring up Cersei because there is a moment at the end of this episode that I do understand that we are going to talk about. But like in that moment I was just thinking like Cersei would never. Cersei.


Jason Concepcion We will talk about it. We will talk about that. Let me just say, as a quick aside. It’s just quickly talk about Cersei, I, having spent so much time thinking about these characters. It makes sense that Cersei would have this very jaundiced but also clear eyed understanding of the way the world works, because she has, since she was a child, had a secret that, if it was discovered, could lead to the most direst of consequences. And so she is just a very, very keen and clear eyed observer of human nature, of the way things work, because she has always thought and had that radar up for any hint that she might be discovered.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion So that’s how I always thought about Cersei. Anyway, Otto now goes to meet with Mysaria after Erryk and Arryk bring the Hand the message. Mysaria is still French. She says she has Aegon hidden somewhere in Flea Bottom. And for his return, she asks for an end to the systematic abuse of children in Flea Bottom, the fight clubs that the gold cloaks ignore. That they are bribed to ignore. Otto gives his word that he looks into it. And I just want to say that. On the one hand, this is so frustrating for Mysaria, but it’s also feels very true to a kind of two to a kind of character that. That I have known and interacted with, a kind of person who hates, quote unquote, the system. Mysaria is a true revolutionary. Like, kind of like Rhaenys in that sense. She’s not saying, like, Oh, we’re going to reform this, you know, this feudal system that we live by like around the margin. She’s saying, no, I want everything overturned. I want freedom and peace for the children of Flea Bottom. Things that absolutely no one is ever going to give to her. And she mistakes the fact that the system is broken and her hatred for the system. She’s unfortunately conflated her hatred of the system with mis with underestimating the way this world works. Because had she really understood what she had and how this world works, she would never have just given Aegon up for a promise that they would fix the fighting kids, for the kids.


Rosie Knight She went to the wrong person. It’s ironic.


Jason Concepcion She went to the wrong guy.


Rosie Knight Alicent is ironically the person who probably could have been emotionally.


Jason Concepcion Exactly.


Rosie Knight Charged into making this decision, one, because it’s her son, and two, because she probably would think the Flea Bottom abuse is a horrific. But also like babe if Aegon his king they never happen. And this is the guy who goes there.


Jason Concepcion He goes there.


Rosie Knight He is the number one fan. You should have just killed him. He’s like.


Jason Concepcion You’re asking him to close down his favorite club. He’s not going to do that.


Rosie Knight It’s not happening.


Jason Concepcion And to give and to give him over without any kind of collateral at all.


Rosie Knight I mean, you could have just some gold at least, and you could have got those kids out of there.


Jason Concepcion So unfortunately naive. Not to mention the way that when she says there’s no power but what people allow you to take. This again, very revolutionary statement of people power in a world in which the small folk, the people, the common people don’t mean anything to the to the people who rule right there other than as an engine for, for their economies, to till the fields and fucking make the food and etc.. When she says that to Otto and makes him promise to like look into the, to the abuse of children in Flea Bottom and he says he says that and to remember that like there is no power but what the people allow you to take, he says, Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll remember. And he says it in that ominous way that you understand. He means I will remember you. And once I have the king back, I’m going to take revenge.


Rosie Knight Yeah, exactly. He’s like, I can’t have somebody who thinks who even thinks that they have control over the people. Because, as we all know, this is the nature of revolution. There are always far more people than there are rulers. There’s a reason that nowadays we call it the 1%. If everybody worked together and wanted to change things, they could. So you can’t have a leader. He’s telling you, I’ll remember because I’m going to kill you. But guess what? It doesn’t even have to do that. It doesn’t even have to make the effort.


Jason Concepcion So they find the prince.In the great Sept. He’s delivered after a fight outside the Sept. He’s delivered to the Queen.


Rosie Knight Sorry, Otto.


Jason Concepcion Sorry, Otto. Alicent then goes to see Otto. She finds him sending letters. He understands that that she has the prince. He pitches family unity in the transition to come. Alicent is like no, reluctance to murder is not a weakness. I have Aegon. We will now proceed as I see fit. And that means offering terms to Rhaenyra that she will actually accept so we can avoid war. And that’s what Viserys would have wanted. And you know, that’s what Viserys would have wanted. Otto was like, This is your letting your friendship with Rhaenyra cloud your judgment. And Alicent just runs over that. She’s like I’m putting my people in charge. Criston Cole is the new Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Aegon is going to be anointed tomorrow. I’ve set it all up. We’re going to do it in the Dragon Pit because we want everybody to see it. He’s going to wear Aegon the Conqueror’s crown. He’s going to have the sword. He’s going to have the whole thing. Now, this is a very telling moment and I think one that is subtle but just hammers home what has been one of the central themes of this season, which is this patriarchy, both obvious and subtle, like ingrained in kind of the way it surrounds everybody. She’s giving these orders like a queen. Like a ruler. Like Someone in charge. And when that happens in this episode, when a when a woman is giving orders, specifically Otto, in this case reacting to it, they don’t react as if a Ruler has given them orders. What he does is he deflects and immediately moves the conversation to something he’s more comfortable with, he says. You look so much like your mother in certain lights. Instead of Yes, Your Grace. I heard you. I follow you. And it felt like such a regal and relatable moment because he’s not. Able to be comfortable with the idea of a woman ruling. We’ve seen it in everything he’s done up to this point, and that includes his own fucking daughter. Can’t he can’t be subservient in this moment, even though it’s the fucking queen. Yeah.


Rosie Knight And it’s so well delivered. Rhys Ifans is so good. We all knew we wanted him to come back. It was so great to see him come back. It’s really creepy, too, because now she’s old and his. And the mother was like his lover. There’s so much to it.


Jason Concepcion Infantilizing.


Rosie Knight It’s infantilizing. It’s creepy. Not only that, I think the saddest thing about this is that Alicent is giving all these orders and telling how it’s going to go. But the saddest thing is she is just enacting the plan that Otto wanted.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight Like, yeah, sure. Maybe she’s going to say Don’t kill Rhaenyra. But Otto doesn’t care. Like she is putting Aegon on the crown, she is usurping the throne. It’s really sad because even in this moment of power, she is actually still just being manipulated by her image.


Jason Concepcion It’s so it’s so internalized the way this system works. I mean Rhaenys’s was exactly right. You’re not trying to destroy the prison. You want to live in the cell, but have more views. Yeah, that’s it. Larys comes to see Alicent. He’s Boo and he’s very excited because he has some intel and he knows that it’s something that Alicent is going to want to hear. And we now discover the price tag of such information. It is Alicent has to degrade herself, has to show her feet to this man.


Rosie Knight Yes. Directed by Quentin Tarantino.


He pleasures himself. Yes. And Larys tells Alicent, okay, Otto found Aegon first because of Mysaria’s web of spies. Alicent’s lady in waiting is one of her agents, and Larys suggests assassinating Mysaria. Now, let me see your feet. Now this again is on the one hand, on surface level, right? This is shocking. It is surprising, you know, considering in the books, the historians, the fictional historians are always wondering oh, what what made the enigmatic Larys Strong tick? What was it that motivates him? Now we know, right. On the other hand, on a deeper, like really more substantial and real level. The fact that he feels comfortable doing this is another expression of how deeply misogynistic and patriarchal this society.Is. Because even though he has much less power in real terms than her, he could order. She could order his tongue out and his head cut off. Tortured to death. His fucking house destroyed, like she could order it all. But he understands that. In this world. Men have the men have the power. And this is how, this is the relationship we have, no matter how powerful you are. I can still get you to do this thing that I want. You know, it’s.


Rosie Knight That is really the fetish, honestly.


Jason Concepcion That is really the fetish. It is the power. Yeah, it’s the power.


Rosie Knight It all ties in. This is such an interesting episode for Alicent because it shows that the way the Otto treated her and sold and used to essentially just established every relationship she would ever have with men, whether it was personal or business. She almost doesn’t seem to realize that she could just kill Larys. She could literally kill him. He could, he could tell her the information and she could kill him.


Jason Concepcion That’s right.


Rosie Knight How long has this been going on for? Is this what she was doing when she went there for the dinner, or is this something he did later because he’d killed those people and he said it was in his her name. Also, you know, we get a couple of moments, this episode. That seemed to confirm or at least imply that Criston and Alicent have been having a sexual relationship or at least in some kind of romantic relationship. You know, she says, for all the love you have to me as your queen, and she’s like right up close in his face when she sends him to go and get Aegon. So, first of all, boo to Criston, because you’re a hypocrite. What about sleeping with Rhaenyra? Like chill out.


Jason Concepcion I hate that guy so much.


Rosie Knight Also like another situation where she’s essentially been manipulated. She gave Criston his. She let him keep his honor while dishonoring him by apparently being in this relationship she met. She’s now giving him more power, all these things when he hasn’t he has not been a loyal or good person. You know, he did. He murdered Lyman Beesbury just in the council chambers. He’s a wild card. But men have the power. She. She thinks she is using him as a tool. And really, she is once again being used. And it is just fu. It’s heartbreaking stuff, man. And Olivia just makes the character so much more complex than a victim. It’s more just like a in a really interesting expression of, like, internalized misogyny and the way it kind of manifessts.


Jason Concepcion She’s making. She’s acting in a way and according to the choices that she thinks she has without. You know, again, to Rhaenys’s point, without fully understanding how much power she has like she will come she will come to regret putting Aegon on the throne. She will. She just will. She will. Only later, this is me theorizing, she will only much later truly understand how much power she gave away in that moment. And she thinks like, Oh we’re going to. I’m going to. I’m his mother. I’m going to influence him. This shit is out of your control. Already now it’s out of your control, but it’s going to be almost completely out of your control as soon as he’s crowned. And the irony is she could literally sit on that throne as Queen Regent if she wanted to, orjust queen. That’s the funniest thing. She is currently the most powerful person in the hall. She could say.


Jason Concepcion Otto you’re under arrest, you’re under arrest. You go, let’s call a great council and get the realm to vote on it.


Rosie Knight Now it’s Rhaenyra and it’s Daemon, and we’re all going to find a way to rule together. It probably wouldn’t last very long, but as we know, most of the Targaryen rulers do not last very long in the history. So you could have at least giving it a try, babe, but instead give it to Aegon. Oh, my God, you’re an idiot. He’s a sociopath. And they do such a brilliant moment of showing. The horror is what he could potentially see coming up.


Jason Concepcion So it’s the moment of Aegon’s ascension. Sir Erryk springs Rhaenys from her room saying, I’m not going to let this usurpation stand. We see in a quick snippet that Lays’s men have hit the White Worm’s headquarters and it’s in flames, although we don’t see a body. So I.


Rosie Knight Mysaria, she is not falling for that.


Jason Concepcion She slithered away. Rhaenys and and Erryk are kind of rushing through the city. But then they get caught up in the crowds that are heading to the Dragon Pit. They’re being herded there really by other city watch guards because they want as many people to see this as absolutely possible. So Rhaenys ends up in the Dragon Pit. Meanwhile, Alicent and Aegon are riding there in there in their uber carriage and Alicent is again here. Here is that moment again. Right where Alicent, as the queen, is telling Aegon what she wants. She’s saying, listen, we’re not going to make war against Rhaenyra. We’re going to try to make peace. I want you to rule with mercy. And then Aegon’s just like, do you think Dad loved me? It’s like we’re talking business.


Rosie Knight Literally.


Jason Concepcion Pull your pants up and understand that it like a lot has been done to put you on the throne today. We need to talk business right now. Not work through your fucking daddy issues. But of course. And it’s interesting as well that Aegon sees through all this. He’s like, Listen. My dad. First of all, I could tell he didn’t like me. And second of all, he could have changed his mind about who he wanted to be his heir any time over the last 20 years. He never did. He never did. Now, he did it in with his last breath.


Rosie Knight And in a in like a good, like, scary, sociopathic moment. The only thing that he seems to interest him or make him feel like it’s worthwhile is when he gets the Cat’s Paw blade and he’s just looking for.


Jason Concepcion It’s that feeling of power.


Rosie Knight It’s the feeling of power. We get to see him have it again in a moment. And it’s it’s all it’s all going to end badly. You just know it.


Jason Concepcion It’s going to end quite badly. So Aegon is anointed king. Criston Cole puts the fucking crown of the conqueror on his head.


Rosie Knight How is that his job?


Jason Concepcion Pretty wild stuff. Aegon drawers, Black Fire from its scabbard. He holds it aloft. The people. It’s, to be fair, a very, very mild applause that breaks out.


Rosie Knight And you can see in his eye he still. Yeah, he feels that little moment of power when he’s, like, pumping it.


Jason Concepcion Very excited by it. And it’s phallic too.


Rosie Knight Yeah. Yeah.


Jason Concepcion The whole thing. The symbology is.


Rosie Knight Realizing that he is like now the most powerful man on earth, which as like a regular rapist is probably like the best feeling in the world.


Jason Concepcion And then here is the moment. Boom.


Rosie Knight Boom.


Jason Concepcion The, the floor explodes. Untold scores of people fall into the hole, are crushed by the kind of explosion of rubble and rock and cloud of dust that comes up. As  Meleys, Rhaenys’ Dragon, emerges from the hole. She’s on the back of it. It, it the dragon looks at everybody on the on the dais there. Rhaenys locks eyes with with Alicent and mainly roars, but no flames and then escapes. She could have ended it right there, but she doesn’t. We should talk about this. Let’s start there.


Rosie Knight Cersei would have said Dracarys. They would have got Dracarys’d.


Jason Concepcion Cersei would have said Dracarys. Now here is my. I’m as frustrated as anyone, and I’m sure Daemon and Rhaenyra are going to be absolutely beside themselves. That said, Cersei would have done so, because to do it, would have immediately made her queen.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion Right. Rhaenys is in a much more complicated position. She does that, and it doesn’t necessarily end the war. The Hightowers have a huge fucking army that they can call and they’re not going to just lay down. And so, she’s in this place where? Okay, I do this. I start a war. Is it my war to start? Justin, do people see me as a hero or a villain?


Mm hmm.


Which side wins? I’ve done my job by escaping. And what comes after that is really like above my pay grade now. I again, if it was Cersei, Cersei would have done it because immediately she’s queen. If Rhaenys does it, it’s kind of unclear what happens. We would think that the war would be over and certainly the leadership would have been decapitated. But again, House Hightower is not going to just fucking lay down. The supporters of the Greens are probably not just going to lay down. And Rhaenyra still has the problem of lots of dragons, not a lot of riders, not a lot of footsoldiers to take this country. I don’t know. It’s complicated though, but it is. It’s self rushing because you’re like, just fucking do it.


Rosie Knight Just do. I can do it. I love, I love I love Olivia Cooke. And I feel a lot of empathy for Alicent, but I was still like, Please, just burn them. Even Helaena, who I’m like, I’m like, justice for Helaena. But even but I think you raise a really, really good point. Also something that I think is kind of hard when we think about it in Game of Thrones, Thrones term, obviously, like we think about Cersei blowing up, you know, the Sept and everything and and we think about but the other thing like you made a great point, right? This isn’t really a world where it’s just like Denaerys on a dragon and everyone’s going to bow down to you because you have a dragon.


Jason Concepcion That’s not going to happen.


Rosie Knight Right. If Rhaenys kills them, there’s just other dragons. Like, it’s not like she the Hightowers are not going to be like, oh, no, like, yeah, dragons. Like they’re going to be like, well, you just killed our whole family and ended our one claim, and we know the Hightowers are desperate.


Jason Concepcion And you’re kin slayer now, too.


Rosie Knight Well, that’s what I was going to say. I think the history books I actually think the two things that you hit on that I hadn’t really thought about until this conversation is the history books. How are you remembered? That is such a huge part of this.


Jason Concepcion It would have been brutal.


Rosie Knight And it would have been.


Jason Concepcion Ruthless, you know,  towards her.


Rosie Knight Her or the royal like whatever it would be like in tight the Targaryen slayer. You know, that was also you know, like you said, not only did you kill a king, but you killed your kin, which is like the worst thing you can do. And then on top of that, she still has family that she loves who would immediately be put in danger by that choice. And I think that is a very interesting feeling. I think, if I’m not mistaken, in the post credits behind the scenes stuff, one of the creators of the show also mentioned like, they they really felt like it was something that was a mother looking on a mother and being like, I wouldn’t I don’t want to kill your children. Like, I’ve been through that. Like, I don’t want to I don’t want you to have to go through that. But I do. I think you touched on some really good things. I think this idea of legacy and how you would be remembered and then the reality of what that would have been and how it would have actually ended up playing out is so different to that kind of cathartic, classic Game of Thrones ending where you just read Wedding or you just like kill a bunch of people, right?


Jason Concepcion It’s like. It’s like Jaime Lannister, right? He did the most heroic thing he had ever done in his life by killing Aerys, the Mad King, right. That was that was an absolutely that was the right thing to do.


Rosie Knight Unquestionably. Like he saved so many lives.


Jason Concepcion Saved so many lives, became a true hero, the one that he didn’t always pretended to be the kind of like hero that they sing songs about. And he was treated as a pariah for his entire life.


Rosie Knight And a joke.


Jason Concepcion A joke.  Broke his oath, killed the king. No one trusts him. No one like here is the most good thing he has ever done and no one will ever give him the credit for it. He’s seen as a truly evil, bad thing that he did.


Rosie Knight I think that, I know it’s not, I just I think about that episode with him and Brianne so much in the tub talk when he tells her for the first time, the truth.


Jason Concepcion It’s So incredible.


Rosie Knight That is just one of the most heartbreaking scenes on TV and it’s so good and I love that really speaks to why I think is one of the best things that House of the Dragon is carrying over from Game of Thrones, which is this idea of having characters who do terrible things but who are complex and who are human and who are not two dimensional and who can exist on the side of both right and wrong and disgusting and noble. And I feel like they’re really bringing that in a very interesting way. But I am like so interested to see. I love Rhaenys. I am like.


Jason Concepcion I think she’s my favorite character.


Rosie Knight Make her a queen, like, I am here for it, give her justice. But like, I want to know how that plays out because I feel like.


Jason Concepcion Me too.


Rosie Knight That in its own. That could have been a ball episode in its own, but we’re about to go into the finale. So like, how does it play out?


Jason Concepcion If her next stop is Dragonstone. Right.


Rosie Knight Yep.


Jason Concepcion Bringing the news of what has occurred. They’re going to say, okay, how did you get out? Number one. Number two. And. And then you just flew away.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion You know, there’s going. There’s going to be some kind of a reckoning, and she’s going to have to answer for that. But again, I think that her position is a lot more complex.


Rosie Knight I think so, too.


Jason Concepcion Than it appears to be.


Rosie Knight Okay. I want to ask you one question, and this is going to be a classic. Me asking you a question you can’t answer, because I’m not going to be specific because I don’t want to do any spoilers. But I’ve enjoyed so much reading about the histories and reading stuff. How closely in the finale do you think that they’re going to stick to what we know of the books and what happens after Aegon is is anointed?


Jason Concepcion I mean, it’s been pretty much on book.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion Up until now, obviously, the dragon coming out of the Dragon Pit is nowhere in the books. And you have to imagine that that’s not them filling in details. That’s an add, right? That’s not something that actually happened. But the historians ignored because you would imagine that’s pretty hard to ignore a dragon bursting out of the ground.


Rosie Knight There would at least been rumors about that would at least like one funny song.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. You know that that news is getting out. So I have to imagine that’s an add, but but overall. I think it’s going to be I think it’s going to be pretty much what we know from the books.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I’m very excited.


Jason Concepcion With a lot of color added.


Rosie Knight Yeah. To see what plays out.


Jason Concepcion Up next, more House of the Dragon and Ask the Maester.


Jason Concepcion And to celebrate, we’re going to answer your questions. Here we go.


Rosie Knight William asks, Are dragons asexual?


Jason Concepcion This is a very interesting and important question. And the books disagree and the various historians and observers of dragon biology and history throughout the throughout the books disagree on as well. Some of our fictional sources seem to suggest, and I personally believe, the Dragons are gender fluid and the gender changes as the need arises. So if there’s not a lot of dragons in the world anymore, need more eggs, all of a sudden the dragon is female and vice versa. Here is Maester Aemmon Targaryen from Feast for Crows, quoting Ceptin Barth, he says, quote, Dragons are neither male or female. Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other as changeable as flame. Other figures in the books disagree with this. For instance, Syrax, Rhaenyra’s Dragon is referred to as a she-dragon by various fictional historians because the Beast has been known to lay eggs who have been seen laying eggs. Therefore, she dragon. Subscribers to the binary gender theory of Dragon Biology basically say if it lays eggs, it’s a she. If you never saw it lay eggs, it’s a male. It’s very simple. All that said. And I think this is important. There are no sources that mentioned dragon sex or the act of a male dragon fertilizing dragon eggs. And you would  imagine that something like that would be incredibly hard to miss. Therefore, I lean to the gender fluid theory of dragons and also their magic that just makes sense.


Rosie Knight Magically lay an egg when you need to lay an egg.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And also very Jurassic Park.


Jason Concepcion I completely agree.


Rosie Knight Jeff asks, Is it possible that Maester Aemmond or Brendan Rivers knew about the Aegon prophecy? A recurring theme. Let’s talk about it.


Jason Concepcion A recurring theme. So we’ve covered this before, but I love talking about it.


Rosie Knight It’s so much fun.


Jason Concepcion But like, let’s just catch it up and specifically drill down on Brendan Rivers, The Blood Raven, a.k.a. the Three-Eyed Crow, one of the famous bastards of Aegon the fourth, Aegon the Unworthy and Maester Aemmond, the man who could have been king, but decided to pass. So after the death of King Maegor in 233, a great council was called to decide the next ruler.  Aenys Blackfire, son of Daemon Blackfire, leader of the first Blackfire Rebellion, and the person who basically launched multiple rebellions that caused multiple rebellions against the Targaryens to happen, all under the banner of Blackfire Rebellions, wanted to attend to put forth his claim. He’s a Blackfire, but also like Daemon Blackfire had, you know, has Blackfire the sort of kings and Aegon the Fourth really liked him. And everybody seemed to think he would have been a good ruler had he not been a bastard, although he was legitimized. And so Aenys is like, Let me come to King’s Landing and put forward my claim since we’re all voting on this. Brendon Rivers, another of Aegon’s bastards, key figure in Westerosi politics. And Maekar’s hand said sure, absolutely come through Aenys. That would be great. Now, important to mention, Brendon was a pivotal figure all throughout the Blackfire rebellions. He his heroic efforts at the Battle of Red Grass Field helped turn the tide and helped ensure a loyalist victory. He put down the second Blackfire Rebellion, basically on his own accord, arresting Daemon Blackfire, the second, who is, by the way, a dragon dreamer. Much like he had that Targaryen gift for prophecy as chance would have it, managed to arrest him before. So, you know, the Pretenders plans could be fully realized. And then Brendon dueled Aegor “Bitter Steel” Rivers for a second time during the climactic battle of the third Black Fire Rebellion, when that force was attempting to put Haegon Blackfire on the throne. Then when Haegon Blackfire surrendered, he was then dishonorably beheaded on the battlefield after giving up his sword. A No, no but it’s heavily suggested that that happened probably on Brendon’s orders. And then Brendon Rivers also argued for Aegor Rivers execution, but he was overruled and then Aegor later escape. Now, I say all that because when Aenys Blackfire arrived for the Great Council, you know, thinking, great, I’m going to have my chance. I’m going to say my piece. I’m going to have my chance to be king maybe. He was then arrested and illegally dishonorably beheaded in the fucking dungeons, right? KING And probably again on Brendon Rivers orders. We know this because King Aegon the fifth, as soon as he became King, one of his first acts was to arrest Brendon for the murder and have him sent to the wall as part of the group that included Maester Aemmond, brother of the Now King. Now important context. Aegon the Fifth’s reign began in the middle of a very, very serious winter. And as we’ve talked about before, any king who knew about the prophecy, any person who knew about the prophecy, would view winter in it with alarm. Would be like, Oh shit, is this the one right? Now more important context. The realm had just been through numerous rebellions that threatened to not just topple the Targaryen dynasty, but if you believe in the prophecy put the entire world at stake. Now, thinking about that, cast these events in different lights. What if Brendon’s two dishonorable executions of Blackfire pretenders with the attempted third execution of Aegor Rivers weren’t just, he’s like a fierce Targaryen loyalist, but desperate measures taken to neutralize threats to the entire world. He’s doing this because he knows if they win, the world is done. The white walkers win. Interesting point. People were surprised at Brendon River’s rise to hand of the King under King Aerys, but apparently it was due to quote his interest in arcane lore and ancient history which was shared by King Aerys. So, and again people were surprised at how it went. Brendan Rivers Really? I would explain it this way. What if Rivers, knew about the prophecy and not just knew about the prophecy, but maybe rediscovered it, after the knowledge of it had been lost. Right. And that’s why Aerys trusted him. Under this theory, Aegon the Fifth, who would know about it right then sends his brother Aemmond and cousin Cousin Brendan to the wall in the middle of winter, not as prisoners, you know, sent to the wall in order to head off a potential rebellion in which usurpers use Aemmond as like a focal point to like, you know, threaten Targaryen rule. But as scouts, like forward scouts, to keep an eye on the enemy. And we know, of course, that Brendon Rivers then goes beyond the wall to get an even closer look at the white walkers. So basically, yes, I think, I think Brendan Rivers knew about it and I think that’s why Aegon the fifth, sent Aemmond and Brendan to the wall because he wanted people he trusted as close to the enemy as possible.


Rosie Knight Okay, Jeff, thank you for asking that. Yeah, because that is definitely almost indebt theory on this ever. And this is either going to be the ultimate we were right bell ring or.


Jason Concepcion I wonder.


Rosie Knight HBO is just going to call up Jason to write this inevitable story because I was engrossed. That is like, that’s so good. Okay. Jake asks, Is it common for a third son to be sent away, like Daeron the Daring?


Jason Concepcion Right. So this comes on the heels of confirmation from George R.R. Martin and Co-Showrunner Ryan Condal that Daeron the Daring, the third son of Viserys and Alicent, rider of Tessarion, does exist. We just didn’t see him and he’s living in Old Town, just chillin. Yeah, this happens a lot, you know, like one, because it’s important for houses who are in alliance to foster deeper connections with each other. Remember that part of like the the the prehistory of Game of Thrones was the relationship between Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon and the fact that they both fostered at the Vale under Lord Aeron. And that’s how they became close friends, right? So this is just the way it and it doesn’t even have to be the third son. It could be any son really. But most often it is the son who is not the heir at the second and third sons who are sent to either be a cup bearer for this person or go squire for this Lord, or do this, you know, go to this place. But it’s all in service of, you know, there’s no television. There’s only ravens. This is all in service of fostering deeper connections and and future alliances with various important families throughout the realm. That’s why weddings take place in the way they do. And that’s why these royals, young royals, are sent off in the way that they are.


Rosie Knight Casey asks, If we are watching the Targaryen dynasty at its height, why are there so few Targaryens?


Jason Concepcion There’s actually a lot, Casey. We have Rhaenyra, Viserys, may he rest in peace. Their children, Jace, Luke and Joffrey. Of course, there’s Aegon, Aemmond, Helaena and Daeron. Shouts to Daeron for existing. We have Rhaenys Targaryen, we have her children, Laeonor and Laena. Of course, Daemon Targaryen. His children Baala and Rhaena. Plus any number of Targaryen bastards who are running around in King’s Landing in various other places. So there’s actually, like a lot of them right now.


Rosie Knight Jonathan asks, Why doesn’t Rhaenys kill the greens?


Jason Concepcion I think, yeah, we we answered this. I think the answer is but I but again I’m sure that this is a choice that not just frustrates the audience, but will frustrate people in this world who feel like What the fuck?


Rosie Knight Kangana asks, Why does it seem like so many names are repeated within a generation?


Jason Concepcion Well, I mean, this is like this is what happens in our real world. There have been 11 King Edward Kings of England. Right? You know how many? It’s three Charles is now. Several Henrys.


Rosie Knight Many Henrys.


Jason Concepcion Many, many Henry’s, you know. And if you go to France, there were 16 Louis. This is, this is a world in which the symbols of power are very, very important for for stability and for people to understand who the ruler is. And one of the ways you do that in a in a world in which many of the population are not going to able to read, they’re not like reading a newspaper. They don’t know anything. All they know is King Aegon. They’ve heard stories about King Aegon the Conqueror. And therefore, if there’s another King named Aegon. Perfect. That’s the king. That’s all I know. That’s all I need to know. And again, it’s a reflection of kind of like the way names are doled out in our real world over the course of history. This just happens.


Rosie Knight And Duran asks, I’m so glad that you asked this, because I think this is actually one of the nicest moments in the show. I’m very interested to hear Jason’s thoughts on that now that Viserys has passed, what is the legacy of his reign in the book?


Jason Concepcion The books, if we were to take the books as the history, as written by the people who, you know, viewed the source material and had the stories come down to them in later decades, then what is passed down in history is that Viserys was essentially a weak king. And it’s a much more you know, if we take the books to be truly the historic text, then Viserys is viewed much less generously than he is in the show. And the show, again, as we’ve said, he’s a nice guy.


Rosie Knight He yes, he seeks they call him Viserys The Peaceful. That seems like that going  to be the name.


Jason Concepcion He loved his family. He was more or less honorable. He made some bad choices and he wasn’t as strong as he could have been at certain times. But he’s more or less a good man. And honestly, like if you would have. You know, reality traveled him to like a democracy in the 20th century and made him a politician, he’d do quite well. Yeah. You know, as a leader. But in this world where, like ruthlessness and strength are kind of prized and and any other kind of form of of leadership is looked at side eyed. You know, I think that, unfortunately, the thing that will come down through history is that Viserys was a weak king who couldn’t take a strong stand between The Greens and The Blacks when he could have done so. And I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but it’s reductive. It doesn’t get at all of him, but basically that he was weak.


Rosie Knight Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, especially as his chosen heir was not the heir that ended up going after him. That says that in itself defines a lot of his his kind of reign. Okay. 8Liv asks Where did the White Worm hide Aegon? Was this just an everyday average Sept for before Baelor’s sept was built?


Jason Concepcion This is called the Great Sept and it’s actually built on the same hill that will eventually be home to the great Sept of Baelor. But and it was, you know, obviously the the kind of holy meeting place before the great Sept of Baelor. But it’s very, very lightly mentioned in the books. There’s barely any any mentions mentioned mention of it. In terms of like average everyday septs, many castles, including the Red Keep, are going to have their own septs and stuff where often the the royal family would go about like their kind of like daily every day prayers and things like that, folks. Don’t forget to catch up now before. This Sunday’s finale of the new HBO series House of the Dragon. This Sunday on HBO, Max. And don’t forget, last Ask the Maester is going to be next week. Send your questions to Big thank you to Gennifer Hutchison and of course, to Rosie Knight for co-hosting this podcast. Rosie, what do you have to plug?


Rosie Knight You can find me @RosieMarx on Instagram and Letterboxd. I have a ton of pieces coming out. You can read My Lord of the Rings finale recap, which was at IGN, which I had a lot of fun with. I have a ton of cool stuff coming out about superheroes and all that sort of rad things that I usually write about obviously here every week. And I will have cool comic book news coming soon, though I don’t know how soon, so just keep an ear out for that.


Jason Concepcion Catch the next episode of X-ray Vision on October 28th and of course subscribe to the show on YouTube. Follow @XRVPod on Twitter and check out the discord to meet and hang out with lots of other X-ray Vision fans. And Rosie and I would love to hear from you. Join the conversation there. Don’t forget to send your House of the Dragon queries to And we love, love, love. We love them. We love your five star reviews. Here’s one from Tim. Love this show so much. Rosie and Jason’s show is infectious. Thank you so much. I not only understand the shows, they recap so much better after listening to their pod, but hearing their joy over little Easter eggs lifts my spirits.


Rosie Knight Oh, it’s what we love.


Jason Concepcion We love to hear that. X-ray vision is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Chris Lord and Saul Rubin. The show is executive produced by myself and Sandy Girard. Our editing and sound design is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Delon Villanueva and Matt DeGroot provide video production support. Alex Reliford handles social media. Thank you Brian Vasquez for our theme Music. See you next time. Bye.


Jason Concepcion Ay Mike, this is Histoff from Mareen. I’m a little sad today, Mike, because I just want to pay tribute to somebody I’ve always respected. You know, I grew up in Maeen that’s over in Essos and, you know, we didn’t have a lot of access to the stuff that you guys have in Westeros, like Westeros radio, you know, all that kind of stuff. We had to get it second hand. But one of the things that really got me through as a young person is the the books of Lyman Beesbury, Ser Lyman Beesbury, they call them the Bees, and books like Rich King, Poor King and Bees’ G’s, A Guide to Wealth in Westeros. Though they really got me through a lot of hard times, Mike. Lyman Beesbury is a great guy, a lot of wisdom in that in that head of his. And it was just a real shame to see it smashed on the on the small council table like that in such a disrespectful way. I didn’t think that was right. I thought, you know, somebody should do something about it. But that’s neither here nor there, Mike. So I just wanted to pour one out for Lyman Beesbury. Very a great guy, a great thinker, a really good author and, you know, one of my one of my childhood heroes, Mike So I’ll take my answer off the air. Thank you.