Rhys Ifans, Olivia Cooke, Paddy Consdine, Emma D'arcy, and Matt Smith in House of the Dragon

This HOTD Theory About Viserys' Death Changes Everything

I mean, it makes sense.

by Ani Bundel
Ollie Uton/HBO

It’s rare when a monarch passes for there not to be at least a little side-eye, even when it’s long expected. There was always going to be be at least a few who wondered about the circumstances when Viserys finally died. So, was it helped along, at least a little, by the overeager Hightowers? The theory that Viserys was poisoned hangs in the air throughout House of the Dragon’s Episode 9, and it will likely remain a question among the fandom.

Warning: Spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 1, Episode 9 follow. Audiences have known that Viserys’ health has been in decline for decades. The first lesions already appeared on his skin long before Aemma’s death in the series premiere. The man who hobbled into the Throne Room in Episode 8 was practically skeletal, his mere presence was a stunning final act by a man in his last hours. His death, from all appearances, was almost overdue.

However, the moment Lyman Beesbury, Lord of Honeyholt, stood up in the Small Council and began asking if Viserys’ passing was entirely natural, viewers started questioning if he didn’t have a point. Otto Hightower had been plotting for this moment since Aegon survived the birthing process. With almost the entire Small Council on his side, Otto revealed his plans to send the White Cloaks to take the lives of everyone in Dragonstone to secure Aegon’s spot on the throne were already set into motion. The only one more shocked than Beesbury about Otto’s plans was Alicent, who could believe this all was happening.

Ollie Upton/HBO

But although Alicent seemed utterly innocent in all this, that doesn’t mean Beesbury might not have been right about the cause of Viserys’ death. Alicent’s father had been happy to let his daughter feed her husband glass after glass of “milk of the poppy” (aka opium) while he ruled the kingdom. But how much was she feeding him, and was it only milk of the poppy? Did she ever stop to ask?

Considering Alicent revealed herself to have been stunningly unaware of her father’s machinations, she could have been giving Viserys poison and never even noticed. After all, if Otto’s in charge, then the maesters answer to him, not Viserys. Alicent didn’t question why the maester recommended such a large dose; she just assumed it was in Viserys’ best interests.

By the time Viserys refused milk of the poppy, he’d already been deeply weakened by months of bedridden life. However, he was remarkably lucid and seemed perfectly able to have been in charge the whole time, albeit in pain. Alicent may not have knowingly poisoned her husband, but Otto was likely manipulating things behind the scenes to keep the king weak. In doing so, the Hightowers may have hastened his departure from the Iron Throne in their rush to get Aegon on it. Whether the truth of the matter will ever come to light remains to be seen.

House of the Dragon’s Season 1 finale airs on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.