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Worst Decisions Made By Otto Hightower In House Of The Dragon

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Viserys Targaryen Otto Hightower and Jason Lannister in House of the Dragon.

Highlights

  • Otto Hightower’s obsession with power and politics led to familial discord and the eventual war of kin in House of the Dragon.
  • By pushing his daughter Alicent and grandson Aegon into positions of power, Otto caused irreparable damage and dishonor to House Targaryen.
  • Otto’s relentless politicking, fueled by personal ambition, contributed to the downfall of House Targaryen and plunged the realm into war.

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Dowager Queen Alicent’s father, Otto Hightower, is a morally complex character in House of the Dragon. Directly responsible for igniting the war of kin, Otto began his tenure at the Red Keep serving Old King Jaehaerys, and later, his grandson, Viserys I as Hand, per House of the Dragon. He is the second most powerful man in the realm by virtue of his office.

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Otto brought his daughter, Alicent, to court and later used her as a pawn to acquire a bigger stake in the monarchy. He ruled in Viserys’ stead while the king rotted away in his last years and replaced him with his blood, his grandson – Aegon II. Yet, Otto never achieved the status he so wanted and Alicent estranged herself from him by the end of House of the Dragon season 1, thanks to his poor decision-making.

1 Taking Away Alicent’s Agency

The Younger Iteration Of Alicent Felt Trapped In Her Role As Queen

A younger Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon.

Alicent and Otto had an emotionally distant relationship because he denied her the care and affection that she needed after her mother passed away. Otto’s obsession with politics hurt his happiness and his relationship with Alicent. As a result, she found herself alone, praying to the gods for comfort at the Sept. In House of the Dragon season 1, episode 2 “The Rogue Prince,” Alicent admitted to Rhaenyra:

Mine own father doesn’t know the language of girls either. When I wish to talk with him, I know that I must make the effort.

By House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4 “King of the Narrow Sea,” Alicent was Viserys’ wife, and she had given birth to Aegon and Helaena. She felt increasingly alone and trapped in her role as Queen, and wished to rekindle her friendship with Rhaenyra. She was mildly jealous of Rhaenyra’s freedom and resented the trappings of her position because of Otto’s overwhelming presence in her life.

2 Relentless Politicking

Pushing Aegon As Heir Cost Him And Everyone Else

Otto Hightower sits with the small council in House of the Dragon.

Once Alicent bore the King his firstborn son, Otto knew it was time to get his daughter to change his mind. First, he convinced Alicent, saying the war of succession was imminent because the realm wouldn’t accept a queen and that Aegon’s birthright was being stolen. When dismissed as Hand, Otto ominously prophesized to Alicent:

The time is coming, Alicent. Either you prepare Aegon to rule, or you cleave to Rhaenyra and pray for her mercy.

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Rhaenyra, on the other hand, judiciously proposed to fix the family rift through a marriage between her heir, Jacaerys, and Alicent’s only daughter, Helaena. But Alicent, who continually feared Rhaenyra, dismissed her because she was a victim of her father’s brainwashing. Otto’s words triggered a strong sense of mistrust in her, and she was never the same again.

3 Listening To His Brother

Hobert Hightower Exacerbated The Crisis

Hobert Hightower clapping for Aegon in House of the Dragon.

Otto’s older brother and the Lord of Oldtown, Hobert Hightower, was a more persistent bully who coerced his younger brother “to make him [the King] see it…” Otto had given up on the idea that Viserys would name Aegon heir until Aegon’s second nameday. Yet, he walked up to Viserys and proposed to betroth Rhaenyra and her two-year-old brother, Aegon, in the tradition of House Targaryen. When the King wouldn’t listen, Otto sold Alicent the dream of becoming Queen Mother:

Do you not want your son to be king?

Hobert Hightower wanted to secure the interests of House Hightower vis a vis other Houses in the realm. He pressed Otto to stay firm, who, in turn, poisoned his daughter’s mind. This set into motion a chain reaction resulting in serious problems for the realm.

4 Reporting Rhaenyra And Daemon’s Exploits To The King

Endured A Massive Loss

Rhaenyra and Daemon watch a street performance in House of the Dragon.

Daemon flew to King’s Landing after being crowned as King of the Narrow Sea but gave up the crown to King Viserys. The brothers’ reconciliation harmed Otto’s interests, and he knew something had to be done. The same night, Otto received the news that Daemon had sneaked Rhaenyra out of the Red Keep into the Street of Silk. He chose to report everything he had learned to the king, hoping Daemon would be banished, and Rhaenyra disinherited:

Daemon and Rhaenyra were seen together… in the bowels of a pleasure den. Coupling.

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Viserys didn’t take the news well and ended up dismissing Otto, fearing the man was no longer impartial. Otto’s worst mistake was to enter the King’s bedchambers quite like a gossipmonger and he was sent away from the capital as a result.

5 Corrupting Alicent’s Mind

Otto Ignited The War Of Kin

Alicent and Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon.

In the end, it was Otto who engaged in pure fearmongering and hate-mongering to push his daughter’s faction (the Greens) to wage war against Rhaenyra’s faction (the Blacks). With Lucerys Velaryon and Arrax’s deaths in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 10 “The Black Queen,” the realm has been cast into war. The Blacks will strike back, and the Greens will ready their counter-response.

Otto is directly responsible for everything that happened after Viserys’ death. His dishonorable tenure as Viserys’ Hand is marred by self-interest and everything he did, he did to maximize power. Thousands will die, House Targaryen will be weakened and dragons will perish in the upcoming warfare in House of the Dragon, all thanks to Otto’s scheming.

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