Often, in the Game of Thrones universe, it’s the characters who exist in the periphery of the plot that ultimately have the most significant impact in shaping Westeros. Kings and queens rise and fall, but the power-hungry folks who propagate the halls of power are always scheming, ready to capitalize upon any brief moment of chaos in order to seize the Iron Throne. Even your closest allies may be crafting secret plots and have few qualms about poisoning your drink or stabbing you in the back (both literally and figuratively).
In House of the Dragon, perhaps the most important player in the current political climate of Westeros is Ser Otto Hightower. Throughout the series, he has been a powerful presence at King’s Landing, and the series’ penultimate episode revealed what many fans of the franchise had already suspected: Ser Otto’s own ambition far exceeded his loyalty, and for years he had been planning to betray House Targaryen and install his grandson Aegon to the Iron Throne.
With a civil war in Westeros seemingly inevitable, Ser Otto and the Greens will be forced to face the repercussions of their betrayal. How could Ser Otto Hightower’s storyline play out in upcoming installments of House of the Dragon?
Ser Otto Hightower Pulls the Political Strings of the Green Faction
As the old saying goes, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. At the beginning of House of the Dragon, Ser Otto Hightower serves as King Viserys’s Hand of the King. However, he is relieved of his duties upon reporting the news of a young Rhaenyra having relations with her uncle (and future husband) Daemon. However, he is eventually reinstated to the position.
His proximity to the King makes his betrayal all the more heinous. If the Greens are eventually defeated, and Ser Otto survives, he will likely be subject to a heinous execution. Seemingly every decision that Ser Otto made, from nudging King Viserys toward marrying his daughter Alicent to filling the small council with individuals sympathetic to his traitorous cause, was setting the stage for his grandson, King Aegon, to take the Iron Throne in the wake of King Viserys’ death.
Though Aegon is King, it’s clear that Ser Otto is pulling the strings at King’s Landing. The impending civil war will likely play out under his command, so Ser Otto’s various grievances will be a major factor in shaping the future of Westeros.
Now that Ser Otto, or at least his political faction, is in power, he will have many difficult decisions to make, chief among them marrying off his daughter, Queen Regent Alicent Hightower, wife to the late King Viserys, in order to secure a powerful ally in the upcoming conflict. Alicent may protest, but at the end of the day, her status as a woman in Westeros limits her say in the matter.
In “The Black Queen,” Ser Otto Demanded That Queen Rhaenyra Bend the Knee
After Ser Otto Hightower’s plan comes to fruition, there are a few loose ends left to tie up. While Queen Rhaenyra, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, is still alive, King Aegon’s claim will always be contested. In the series finale, “The Black Queen,” he brings several soldiers to Dragonstone, confronting the Blacks shortly after Queen Rhaenyra’s coronation. An enraged Daemon draws his sword, and it seems as if Ser Otto’s storyline is drawing to a close, but Rhaenyra stops a melee from transpiring.
Though it seemed, for a time, that Queen Rhaenyra would be able to keep calm and negotiate with the illegitimate usurpers, the death of her second-born son Lucerys Targaryen in a dragonback battle with her half-brother Aemond Targaryen likely put an end to the possibility of peace.
Ser Otto’s decision to march on Dragonstone and demand Rhaenyra’s surrender demonstrates a willingness to step into the fire. Now that his grandson has accidentally sparked a civil war, Otto will need to be much more cautious when confronting the Blacks. Next time, Daemon may not be quite so careful with his sword.
Many fans have cast Ser Otto Hightower as the primary antagonist of the series, and he is undoubtedly an endlessly fascinating character. He has been plotting to install his blood on the Iron Throne since the very beginning of House of the Dragon, and he always knew exactly how to play his cards. Fans may remember that he was initially supportive of King Viserys’ decision to name his daughter Rhaneyra heir. However, he clearly always had a different vision for the future of Westeros, which has now come to fruition.
It will be interesting to see how Ser Otto factors into upcoming seasons of the series.