Why House of the Dragon’s Otto Hightower Remains a Threat

When HBO’s House of the Dragon began its political game for King Viserys’ Iron Throne, it wasn’t surprising to see his more qualified brother Daemon angling for power along with Corlys Velaryon. As the war to take the Stepstones illustrated, they didn’t think Viserys was strong or cutthroat enough to lead Westeros. Rhaenyra being deemed successor further complicated the matter because the other lords of the realm weren’t totally sold on a woman ruling.

However, there was one other key player involved in this power struggle: Otto Hightower, the King’s Hand. He was a lot more subtle, making moves so that his daughter Alicent would marry Viserys. While Season 1, Episode 4, “King of the Narrow Sea” involved Otto being punished for his scheming, he’s not completey out of the picture yet.

Otto knew what he was doing when he had Alicent comfort the king following Queen Aemma’s death. He hoped once Alicent was made queen, she’d bear male heirs and by extension the Hightower bloodline would sit on the throne. But he never made it obvious to his king that he wanted a bigger say in the ruling of Westeros — until the over-ambitious Otto exposed Daemon and Rhaenyra’s time at a brothel, sullying their name. While Viserys would banish Daemon for his betrayal and promise his daughter to Corlys’ son Laenor, he took the information personally and fired Otto on Rhaenyra’s insistence.

However, Otto still has Alicent and her son Aegon to use as trump cards. Sure, he might be excommunicated from the palace now, but Otto can continue to manipulate his daughter, reminding her that he was cast aside for reporting the truth and protecting the crown. By poisoning her against Rhaenyra, Otto can push Alicent to convince Viserys that Aegon should lead.

But the impending civil war is making Alicent more aware of what it takes to survive the royal court. She does have her husband’s ear since she helped him through a tough time. So once she reminds Viserys that Rhaenyra and Corlys’ clan — both parties who have disobeyed the king — are liabilities, the kingdom could end up in Hightower hands. It would simply be a different Hightower accomplishing the same goal.

Alicent would keep the strength of their Hightower bloodline going, fully cognizant of how the children she sires will be viewed by others eyeing the crown. While Littlefinger died at Arya Stark’s hand and never got to see the fruit of his labor in Game of Thrones, Otto has a protective, mindful Alicent to do his dirty work — which means that despite having no power himself, he’s still very much a problem for Viserys and the rest of House of the Dragon’s characters.

House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. on HBO and streams on HBO Max.

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