House of the Dragon Season 2 episode 1: A son for a son

By Gen Terblanche17 June 2024

House of the Dragon Season 2 episode 1: A son for a son

House of the Dragon is back and while advisors are doing their best to avoid war, by the end of this episode it’ll be inevitable. Blood for blood, a son for a son is a catchy saying, but nobody likes a baby killer. 

Need a refresher before we get into it? We have a 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 »

Team Black: The Wall & Cregan Stark

Aemond Targaryen in House of the Dragon S2

House of the Dragon Season 2 opens in familiar territory for Game of Thrones fans. We’re up North at The Wall, where Lord of Winterfell Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor) has just taken one in 10 of men serving his house to restaff the Wall’s garrison. So when Prince Jacaerys (Harry Collett) visits to ask Cregan to support his mother Queen Rhaenyra’s (Emma D’Arcy) claim to the throne over her younger half brother King Aegon’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) claim, Cregan – who certainly didn’t appreciate getting a threatening visit from Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) and his dragon, Vhagar – agrees to back the queen and keep his oath from Season 1. But he also shows Jacaerys the Wall and hints at what it’s keeping out, before explaining that he can only send his most seasoned warriors, his greybeards. While they’re negotiating, a raven comes from Dragonstone carrying a message about Aemond killing Jacaerys’ brother, Lucerys. 

Team Black: The Velaryon Fleet

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon S2

While Rhaenyra searches for Lucerys’ remains on the beaches around Storm’s End, back at Dragonstone, Rhaenyra’s uncle-husband and consort Daemon (Matt Smith) is tugging at the leash and demands that Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best), who’s just returned from patrolling the Velaryons’ blockade of key shipping route The Gullet, fly with him to King’s Landing to kill Aemond and Vhagar. The blockade is already taking its toll on Corlys Velaryon’s (Steve Toussaint) fleet, and at Driftmark we meet two key figures in the upcoming battles, Alyn of Hull (Abubakar Salim), the sailor who saved Corlys from certain death during the battle at the Stepstones in Season 1, and his brother, master shipwright Addam of Hull (Clinton Liberty). Alyn and Addam add to the growing stack of similarly (and sometimes even identically) named siblings in the series so Alyn = no hair, Addam = locks. 

Team Black: Dragonstone

Later, Corlys’s men and Ser Erryk Cargyll (Elliott Tittensor) find Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) aka spymaster White Worm, aboard a ship full of livestock, fleeing King’s Landing after Larys had her stronghold burned down, and they bring her to Daemon, who’s ticked off with her for letting Aegon live while she had him in her grasp, and ticked off with knight Ser Erryk for not killing Aegon himself, until Erryk reminds him that he swore an oath to protect the entire Targaryen royal family, not just the nice ones.

After Rhaenyra returns in a fury, demanding Aemond’s head after finding the remains of Lucerys’ dragon Arrax brought up in a fishing net, Daemon offers Mysaria her freedom in exchange for her knowledge about getting into the Red Keep at King’s Landing. And Jacaerys returns with news that Lady Jeyne Arryn (Amanda Collin) has pledged her support in return for a dragon to guard the Vale, while Lord Creagan Stark has promised 2 000 men. 

PS: Dragonstone is one of this season’s most atmospheric locations, thanks to its vast, dark stone halls filled with the rumbling of nesting dragons. 

Team Green: King’s Landing

While King Aegon is visiting the nursery, his sister-wife Helaena (Phia Saban) comments that she is afraid of “the rats”. As usual, he dismisses this as her being cuckoo-lala instead of bothering to ask what she means, and he encourages others to disregard her words, too. 

House of the Dragon S2 on Showmax

Petty rivalries and power plays in the king’s Small Council are at an all-time high following King Aegon’s hasty coronation. Queen mother Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and head of the Kingsguard Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) slip in late after having sex, which Alicent’s father, Hand of the King Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), most certainly picks up on. Master of Laws Lord Jasper “Ironrod” Wylde just makes sarcastic remarks and rolls his eyes at everything, and Aegon brings his son and heir, little Jaehaerys, to the Council, where his childish antics needle new Master of Coin Ser Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall). 

Otto urges Aegon to allow Grand Maester Orwyle’s (Kurt Egyiawan) diplomatic messages time to do their work (no luck yet), and reveals that the Hightowers are gathering soldiers in Old Town to march on the central kingdom of the Riverlands, where old Lord Tully is hemming and hawing about picking sides. Alicent pleads for peace, but Otto is passive aggressive about her ruining his element of surprise. And Aemond’s arrival has Aegon suggesting that they just burn the Riverlands with their dragons to bring everyone into line.

After the council, Alicent’s advisor Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) tells her that he has questioned (tortured) the household staff and rooted out any spies who were working in White Worm’s network, so he has replaced all of her personal staff with women of his own choosing. There’s nothing like taking a naked bath in front of strangers! 

Aegon is even more of a disaster when he sits the Iron Throne to hear petitions from the smallfolk and starts making generous promises, only to have Otto pull him back and explain why he will now have to retract those promises. Later, Larys pounces on Aegon’s frustration and powerlessness. After stroking Aegon’s ego, he hints that Viserys allowed Otto to control him, and that if Aegon doesn’t want a reputation as a weakling, he should pick a new Hand. 

Meanwhile in Alicent’s chambers, she warns Otto to stop cutting her off at the knees at a table full of men and scolding her like a daughter when she is a queen, or they’ll lose their grip on both Aegon and Aemond. She reminds him that they just need to control Aegon until he gets bored of being king, and they can be back in charge. Otto admits that she has a point, and that the days since King Visrys’ death have not gone according to plan. 

Team Black and Team Green: Blood and Cheese

Daemon takes a sneaky boat to King’s Landing at night, where a Gold Cloak guardsman at the gate (later nicknamed Blood, played by Sam C Wilson) recognises him as his former commander and lets him into the city. Using Myseria’s spy report, Daemon consults with a ratcatcher, (later nicknamed Cheese, played by Mark Stobbart), and offers them gold to kill Aemond Targaryen. Daemon describes Aemond as having silver hair and one eye. Vitally, Cheese asks what to do if they can’t find him and Daemon makes a facetious remark about just picking another prince. 

The same night, Aemond has a secret strategic meeting with Ser Criston Cole during which Criston advises Aemond to talk to Aegon privately and bypass the Council. Aemond tells Ser Criston that he feels Alicent blames him for the war “after she plotted with my father’s council to usurp his throne,” (an interesting comment for Rhaenyra loyalists), at which Ser Criston The Spiteful gives Aemond his insight into both Alicent (tender-hearted angel) and Rhaenyra (manipulative spider). Dude, she wouldn’t give up her throne for you, get over it! 

After Otto catches them scheming, he warns Aemond that there are pieces at play on the board that he can’t yet see. And he privately drops a big fat hint that if Aemond does as Otto advises and uses restraint where Aegon cannot, there could be a crown in his future. 

Meanwhile, Blood and Cheese enter the Red Keep through the tunnels, but there’s no sign of Aemond and Cheese admits that a different ratcatcher operates in the royal quarters. They power through anyway, and in the royal nursery, Cheese holds a knife to Helaena’s throat. Blood quotes Daemon saying, “A son for a son”, and they force Halaena to show them which of her two sleeping children is the King’s heir. They butcher Jaehaerys in front of her after she points to him (a little change from the books), and Helaena grabs her daughter Jaehaera and flees to Alicent’s quarters, where she finds her having sex with Ser Criston and announces, “They killed the boy”.

Score: Aemond and Daemon get one dead kid each.

Alliances at the end of the episode

Team Green

King Aegon Targaryen II in House of the Dragon S2 on Showmax

The Crownlands: King’s Landing, ruled King Aegon II Targaryen

The Stormlands: Storm’s End, ruled by House Baratheon

The Westerlands: Lannisport and Casterly Rock, ruled by House Lannister

The Reach: Oldtown, ruled by House Hightower

The Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers: Harrenhal, the largest castle in Westeros, ruled by House Strong

Team Black

Helaena Targaryen in House of the Dragon S2 on Showmax

Dragonstone: Ancestral home of the Targaryens ruled by Rhaenyra Targaryen

Driftmark: Ancestral home of the Velaryons and a key strategic island between Dragonstone and King’s Landing. Ruled by House Velaryon

The North: White Harbor and Winterfell, ruled by House Stark

The Vale: Gulltown and The Eyrie, ruled by House Arryn

Undeclared and under pressure

The Riverlands: Riverrun, ruled by House Tully

Dorne: the Southernmost kingdom in Westeros. Still an independent kingdom. 

The Iron Islands: Ruled by House Greyjoy

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

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