House of the Dragon S2 episode 2 recap: Heads and hands off

By Gen Terblanche24 June 2024

House of the Dragon S2 episode 2 recap: Heads and hands off

The Greens fan the flames of hatred against Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) as a baby killer by parading the corpse of little Prince Jaehaerys through the streets of King’s Landing in House of the Dragon Season 2, episode 2. Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) sends Ser Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittensor) to pose as his twin, Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliott Tittensor) to assassinate Rhaenyra. Daemon (Matt Smith), now in disgrace with Rhaenyra, flies off in a huff. And King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) fires disapproving granddad Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) as Hand of the King. 

What happened in House of the Dragon Season 2, episode 1

Prince Jacaerys (Harry Collett) won the support of Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor) and Lady Jeyne Arryn (Amanda Collin) for Queen Rhaenyra. Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) replaced all of Queen Alicent’s (Olivia Cooke) household staff with his own spies, and laid the groundwork for getting Aegon to turn against Otto Hightower. After Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliott Tittensor) captured Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) while she was escaping from King’s Landing, Daemon (Matt Smith) promised her her freedom in exchange for contacts who’d carry out his assassination plot against Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell), while Rhaenyra searched for the remains of her son Lucerys and his dragon, Arrax, following their fatal encounter with Aemond and his dragon Vhagar in the Season 1 finale. But Daemon’s assassins bungled things when they butchered King Aegon’s little son and heir, Jaehaerys, instead. 

Need a refresher before we get into it? Read the full House of the Dragons Season 2 episode 1 recap, House of the Dragon Season 1 recap and a House of the Dragon Season 2 Who’s Who

Stream House of the Dragon Season 1-2 on Showmax now. New episodes Mondays, express from the US.

Episode 2: King’s Landing throws a parade

As the Kingsguard searches for Jaehaerys’ killers, Aegon smashes Viserys’ model of King’s Landing (including the pieces Alicent brough to Viserys when he was mourning Rhaenyra’s mother), while Aemond realises that he, not Jaehaerys, was the real target. Lord Jasper “Ironrod” Wylde (Paul Kennedy) stokes Aegon’s paranoia, and Ser Cristen squirms when Aegon asks him where he was during the assassination. But when Larys captures the guardsman “Blood” (Sam C Wilson) at the city gates with the little prince’s head in a sack, Blood immediately exposes Daemon as his employer and the ratcatcher “Cheese” (Mark Stobbart) as his accomplice. After Aegon whacks a mace into Blood’s head, he orders the death of every rat catcher in King’s Landing. 

Otto ignores the need for diplomacy with Aegon, calls him weak and, against Aegon, Alicent, and Queen Helaena’s (Phia Saban) pleas and wishes, Otto arranges for Jaehaerys’ remains to be paraded through the street and orders Alicent and Helaena to take part, but bans Aegon explaining that, “The realm must see the sorrow of the crown… best expressed through its most gentle souls. The king himself must be spared”. A crier walks at the head of the procession, announcing, “Behold the work of Rhaenyra Targaryen”, proclaiming Rhaenyra the pretender to the throne, kinslayer, and defiler of the innocent. The little prince is draped in cloth and crowned but his face is left open so people can see that his head has been stitched back onto his body. And Helaena panics as the grief stricken crowd rushes the royal carts when they get stuck in a pothole.

Daemon keeps his mouth shut

The Black Council at Dragonstone reports on the assassination to a horrified Rhaenyra, telling her that the damage to her cause is immeasurable. Even her own Council seems to doubt her protests, but Rhaenyra and Rhaenys both spot the smug look on Daemon’s face. Rhaenyra privately takes him aside to question him and tells him, “You have wounded me. Weakened my claim to the throne, my ability to raise an army, my standing among my own council.” And she accuses him of pursuing the throne for his own sake, since he has gone his own way both when she has been in labour, and when she has been grieving. 

Daemon retorts, “Your father was a coward who knew I was the stronger son…You were raised at his side. Do you believe that he made you his heir because of your great wisdom, because of your virtue? Or did he merely use you as a tool to put me in my place because he was afraid of me?” Rhaenyra retorts, “He was not afraid of you, Daemon. He could not trust you. Anymore than I can trust you.” The fight leads to Daemon flying off on Caraxes in a huff, to either claim Harrenhal for Rhaenyra to redeem himself, or to claim it for himself and make his own bid for the throne.

Criston Cole picks a fight

In the Red Keep, Ser Criston is wracked with guilt as he watches Aegon and Helaena mourn, and the household dismantle the dead prince’s bed. He tells Alicent that there is no absolution for what he has done. Ser Criston then picks a fight with Ser Arryk Cargyll over his filthy white cloak, gives a massively hypocritical speech about honour, and questions why Ser Arryk was not in the royal nursery the night of the murder, only to have Ser Arryk turn the question on him.

 Their argument sets the Kingsguard scattering. But the moment they’re alone Ser Criston reveals his true agenda for picking a fight and “banishing” Ser Arryk: he wants Ser Arryk to go to Dragonstone impersonating his twin, to kill Rhaenera and “restore his honour”. 

The Smallfolk

When Aemond needs comfort, he goes to the posh brothels of King’s Landing, where he nestles in the lap of his favourite courtesan and brothel proprietor Madam Sylvi (Michelle Bonnard) and tells her, “I do regret that business with Luke. I lost my temper that day. I am sorry for it. They used to tease me because I was different.” 

Cannily, she drops a word in his ear, warning him, “I must remind you that when princes lose their temper, it is often others who suffer. Smallfolk, like me.” At King’s Landing, Hugh Hammer (Kieran Bew), the blacksmith who petitioned King Aegon to pay the blacksmiths in advance in episode 1, and his wife Kat (Ellora Torchia), fret over their sick daughter. And Kat notes that with war coming, prices are soaring as the rich have started to hoard supplies and food. 

And at Driftmark, Alyn of Hull (Abubakar Salim) complains to his shipright brother Addam (Clinton Liberty) that Lord Colrys (Steve Toussaint) has not asked him to rejoin his crew, but notes that things are about to get ugly because a real war is brewing. Later, Addam finds a crab while he’s digging for clams, possibly foreshadowing the resurgence of the Triarchy.

Arryk vs Erryk 

Still a prisoner, Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) visits Rhaenyra, who questions her about her role in Daemon’s botched assassination order. After listening to Mysaria, Rhaenyra decides to honour Daemon’s promise to give her her freedom. And good thing she does, because while Mysaria is making for the harbour, she spots Ser Arryk coming up from the docks and, having just seen “him” in the castle, and having met the twins together, she sets off to raise the alarm. 

Ser Arryk easily gains access to Rhaenyra’s quarters and secretly locks one of her doors so she can’t escape, then swaps with her guardsman. But as Ser Arryk is raising his sword to kill Rhaenyra, Ser Erryk, alerted by Mysaria, storms in to challenge him and an epic – and epically confusing – duel breaks out between the two, claiming the war’s next two victims. 

Otto gets fired … again

At King’s Landing, there’s weeping and wailing as the Smallfolk find out that King Aegon II has hanged all the royal ratcatchers, including Cheese. Otto is furious with Aegon and accuses him of throwing away the goodwill that they clawed back by displaying his son’s corpse and the queens’ tears. 

So he practically foams at the mouth when he finds out that Aegon and Ser Criston also sent Ser Arryk to assassinate Rhaenyra behind his back. When Aegon is unrepentant, Otto tells him that his father was right not to make him heir, and laughs at Aegon for believing the story about Viseryss death-bed wish! Big mistake. Huge. 

Aegon orders Otto to give his badge of office, the Hand of the King, to Ser Criston. And Aegon’s words, “You were my father’s hand, not mine,” parrot what Larys told him in Season 2, episode 1. 

It’s all about who you can trust.

Footnote: The Black Council

HOTD is stingy with proper introductions. So on the Black Council we have: Rhaenera at the head of the Council table with her back to the fireplace. To her left: Rhaenys Velaryon, Lord of Stonedance Gormon Massey (James Dreyfus), Alfred Broome (Jamie Kenna) of House Targaryen, Simon Staunton of House Staunton (Michael Elywn), and Steffon Darklyn Lord commander of the Queensguard (Anthony Flanagan). To her right, Daemon, Bartimos Celtigar the Valyrian (Nicholas Jones), Maester Gerardys (Phil Daniels), and Queensguard Lorent Marbrand (Max Wrottesley). 

Stream House of the Dragon Season 1-2 on Showmax now. New episodes Mondays, express from the US.