The most recent episode of Game of Thrones, “The Bells,” was both the highest-rated episode of the show… and the worst-reviewed. It’s been that kind of season: gigantic viewership, muted reaction from critics and fans alike (although everyone agrees that the acting has been great). Most of the fandom bellyaching, including a ridiculous petition to “fix” season eight that has nearly 500,000 signatures, will go mute if David Benioff and D.B. Weiss turn in a great series finale, but it might be too late — in fact, many of the show’s issues date back to seasons ago, when a book-only character wasn’t introduced.
His name is Aegon Targaryen. No, not that Aegon Targaryen, but the other Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell who goes by “Young Griff” to conceal his identity. He made his debut in the fifth book of George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons, as another contender for the Iron Throne. It was an interesting wrinkle to throw in there, considering Aegon was purportedly murdered by Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane during House Lannister’s Sack of King’s Landing. Is “Young Griff” actually Aegon, or is he “fAegon,” a clumsy portmanteau of “fake” and “Aegon”?
We’ll have to wait until The Winds of Winter is published to find out for sure, because the character sure as heck isn’t going to appear on Thrones. And that, according to a user on the Free Folk subreddit, led to “99% of the show’s problems.” It’s a convincing argument because, as boss-92 writes, the exclusion of Young Griff resulted in the “Dorne plot [being] butchered,” “character assassination of Varys” (the Spider claims he swapped baby Aegon with another child to smuggle him to safety), and “no meaningful opposition for Daenerys in Westeros, hence we got three (!) ambushes at sea by Euron, Rhaegal getting sniped, and Cersei getting the [useless] Golden Company.”