‘House of the Dragon’ Showrunner Believes Viserys ‘Does the Right Thing’ Firing Otto Hightower

TL;DR:

  • King Viserys fires Otto Hightower during House of the Dragon Episode 4.
  • Showrunner Ryan Condal believes Viserys did “the right thing.”
  • Otto Hightower’s plans could live on through his daughter, Alicent.
Paddy Considine and Rhys Ifans as King Viserys and Otto Hightower in 'House of the Dragon' Episode 4. They're facing one another, and Viserys looks angry.
Paddy Considine and Rhys Ifans in ‘House of the Dragon’ | Ollie Upton/HBO

House of the Dragon has set up another war for the Iron Throne, this time confined to the members of House Targaryen. The Game of Thrones prequel’s early episodes made it seem like Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) would be the primary contenders to succeed Viserys. However, House Hightower has also gotten wrapped up in this fight for the crown. That’s why King Viserys (Paddy Considine) fires his Hand of the King, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), during House of the Dragon Episode 4. And showrunner Ryan Condal believes he did “the right thing.”

King Viserys fires his Hand of the King in ‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 4

That’s right, House of the Dragon Episode 4 sees Viserys getting rid of Otto Hightower — a decision that feels a long time coming, considering how Otto has managed to manipulate the king.

After Aemma’s (Sian Brooke) death during the House of the Dragon premiere, Otto makes sure that Alicent (Emily Carey) gets close to Viserys. He wants his daughter to wed the king, just as he wants her children to sit upon the Iron Throne. Every move Otto makes is toward that goal. And during episode 4, he goes a step too far, telling Viserys about Rhaenyra and Daemon’s tryst in the brothel.

Not only does he anger the king with his sentiment, but he gives himself away — making it clear that he’s had Rhaenyra followed and that he’s interested in ruining her reputation. Rhaenyra brings up this fact when her father confronts her. And realizing Otto doesn’t have the realm’s best interests at heart, he decides to remove him as Hand of the King.

It’s a better way to go than Ned Stark (Sean Bean), but it’s a low point for the characters and their friendship. Of course, Viserys makes the best call he can — and showrunner Ryan Condal stands behind his choice.

Ryan Condal believes Viserys did ‘the right thing’ firing Otto Hightower

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During HBO’s Inside the Episode for House of the Dragon Episode 4, showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal unpacked Viserys’ fallout with Otto Hightower. They confirmed that Otto’s actions come from a place of self-interest. However, Condal also noted that the man cares for his king, even as he uses him to further his own plans.

“In his mind, this amazing thing has dropped into his lap that he can use to ruin her and ensure that Aegon will, not only be named heir, but also ascend the throne,” Condal said of Otto learning about Rhaenyra and Daemon.

He added, “I think Otto wishes that anybody else were tasked with delivering the news than him. Because he really does love Viserys and loves the king and knows it’s going to destroy him to tell him that.”

And because Otto uses Rhaenyra’s error to further his own gain, Condal believes Viserys did the right thing in letting him go. As he put it, the Hand of the King’s judgment was no longer sound:

“He knows that his Hand has been corrupted. Rhaenyra did some things that maybe she shouldn’t have done, but there had to be somebody following her around in order to see them and be able to report them. And she accurately calculates that that had to be Otto, or an agent of Otto, because he’s the one that most stands to gain. And it’s Rhaenyra throwing it in his face that forces him to stare it in the eye. And then he does the right thing as king and lets Otto go, and says, ‘I can no longer trust your judgment.'”

Without Otto, Viserys will need to find a new Hand of the King to advise him. But will we see Otto Hightower in future episodes of House of the Dragon?

Will Otto Hightower return in later episodes of ‘House of the Dragon’?

House of the Dragon Episode 5 will see Otto Hightower departing from King’s Landing after Viserys’ dismissal. But will the character return later on? It certainly seems likely.

The first official photos released for the series (which you can see in IGN’s tweet above) show Otto and Alicent standing next to one another. The image features Olivia Cooke as Alicent, meaning this moment is set years in the future. That suggests Otto will return to King’s Landing in some capacity. And in the meantime, his mission will live on through Alicent.

HBO’s preview for episode 5 sees Otto telling Alicent to “prepare Aegon to rule.” We know she and Rhaenyra will butt heads over the throne in coming chapters, with Alicent likely to challenge her friend’s succession. So, even if Viserys has dismissed Otto, it’s too late to undo the damage he’s done.

We’ll have to wait and see if Rhaenyra finds a way to prevent the Hightowers from stealing her throne.

New episodes of House of the Dragon air every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

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