House of the Dragon Season 2, episode 4 recap: Dragon battle!

By Gen Terblanche8 July 2024

House of the Dragon Season 2, episode 4 recap: Dragon battle!

We’ve been waiting for the big dragon battle and here it is in all its horror in House of the Dragon Season 2 episode 4. After Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) bypass the Green Council and King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) to focus their forces on gaining control of the Crownlands to cut off Dragonstone while raising an army, Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) returns to Dragonstone in time to send Rhaenys (Eve Best) and her dragon Meleys to defend Lord Simon Staunton’s (Michael Elwyn) key strategic castle, Rook’s Rest. Bypassed, Daemon (Matt Smith) gets bogged down by nightmares at Harrenhal, while King Aegon’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) ego wrecks everyone’s plans when he crashes the dragon battle on Sunfyre.

House of the Dragon Season 2 on Showmax

What happened in House of the Dragon Season 2, episode 3

A petty border dispute in the Riverlands turned into the first battle of the Targaryen civil war, with the Blackwoods supporting Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and the Brackens supporting King Aegon. Ser Simon Strong (Russell Beale) surrendered Harrenhal castle to Daemon (Matt Smith), who claimed it not as Rhaenyra’s consort, but as a Targaryen prince in his own right, while Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) set off to secure Harrenhal with a small team of knights. And despite the Black Council pulling at the leash to go to war, Rhaenyra consulted with Rhaenys (Eve Best) and Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) before slipping in to King’s Landing to speak with Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) face to face. But while Alicent realised she’d misinterpreted Viserys’ dying words, she also told Rhaenyra that it was too late to stop the war.

Need a refresher? Read the full House of the Dragon Season 2 recaps for: episode 1, episode 2 and episode 3. Also read the 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.

An inconvenient castle

House of the Dragon Season 2 on Showmax - With An Inconvenient Castle

Still stuck at Harrenhal, Daemon sees young Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) on the Iron Throne, and he beheads her after she accuses him of trying to destroy her because Viserys loved her more than he loved Daemon (based on Daemon’s realisation that Viserys shared the prophecy of the Song of Ice and Fire with Rhaenyra, but never with Daemon while he was Viserys’ official heir).

During another haunted night, Daemon follows himself (or Aemond) through the ruins until he finds himself in the kitchen confronting Alys Rivers (Gayle Rankin) again. Alys mockingly asks Daemon whether he wants Harrenhal for himself to spite his wife because they’re bickering, and Daemon drinks the potion she gives him.

Ser Simon Strong (Russell Beale) reveals to Daemon that the Greens have taken the castles of Roseby and Stokeworth in the Crownlands (as Aemon and Ser Criston strategised in episode 1), moving to recruit infantry, and tripling Ser Criston’s forces within two weeks, instead of marching directly for Harrenhal. The move threatens Rook’s Rest, the seat of Simon Staunton, one of the key advisors on Rhaenyra’s Black Council.

Lord Oscar Tully (Archie Barnes), grandson and heir to the decrepit Grover Tully, Paramount Lord of the Riverlands, meets with Daemon at Harrenhal but reveals that he can’t speak for Lord Grover, and Lord Grover, who’s barely clinging to life, cannot speak for himself. The impasse conveniently excuses the Tullys from having to pick sides, leaving Daemon to fall back on the Blackwoods to raise his army. But a later meeting with Ser Willem Blackwood (Jack Parry-Jones) reveals that the Blackwoods will fight for Rhaenyra only if Daemon burns all the Brackens.

A dirty hint at Driftstone

At Driftmark, Corlys (Steve Toussaint) steps in when he finds Rhaenys thanking Alyn of Hull (Abubakar Salim) for saving him, while taking a long, hard look at Alyn’s face in that “whose baby are you?” kind of way). After brushing off Corlys’ objections and telling him that he owes Alyn a promotion, Rhaenys announces that she’s going to Dragonstone to bring the Black Council back to heel in Rhaenyra’s absence … and not a moment too soon! Ser Alfred Broome (Jamie Kenna) is still throwing his toys when Corlys arrives to back up Rhaenys’ right to lead in Rhaenyra’s absence.

Seizing the Crownlands

House of the Dragon Season 2 on Showmax - Seizing the Crownlands

Ser Criston’s men defeat the men of House Darklyn, and Ser Criston orders the defeated Darklyn men to join King Aegon’s forces or die, before he beheads Ser Steffon’s (Anthony Flanagan) father, Gunthor Darklyn (Steven Pacey) in front of them. Moving on, Ser Criston tells Ser Gwayne that they’ll head North East, and not North West to Harrenhal as the Black Council might expect … or, as it happens, as Aegon has ordered.

At King’s Landing, Aegon rips into Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) for “letting” Daemon take his castle … until Larys points out that Harrenhal will be nothing but a drain on Daemon’s resources, keeping him from Rhaenyra’s side and giving Ser Criston time to amass a superior ground force. And Aemond reveals that Ser Criston is marching on Rook’s Rest next and that once they have it, they will effectively have cut off Dragonstone by land. When Aegon contronts Aemond for conducting the entire war behind his back, Aemond answers in High Valyrian that Aegon has had more pressing matters to attend to like deciding on what he’d like to be called, or elevating his cronies to the Kingsguard.

And he dares Aegon to tell his council a better strategy, if he has one. Aegon not only doesn’t have a strategy, he barely speaks high Valyrian, undermining himself as a Targaryen, a battle leader, and a king.

A pregnant pause for Alicent

House of the Dragon Season 2 on Showmax - A Pregnant Pause for Alicent

Alicent skips out on the Green Council to have Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan) brew an abortifacient tea for “one of the ladies”, and when Larys tracks her down, she claims she has food poisoning. Sensing Alicent wavering, Larys drops a pointed question about why Viserys supposedly changed his mind about his heir and tells her, “No matter how suited he thought Rhaenyra for the crown, the voices of history, as you say, would have told him how the realm would react to her succession.” Alicent admits that both Aegon and Rhaenyra’s supporters will believe what they want, and that “The significance of Viserys’ intentions died with him.”

Later when Aegon walks out of his council in a huff, ignoring the Lannisters’ warning that they’re running out of money and food for the dragons, Alicent tears a strip off him as his mother and one-time Queen herself, and she advises Aegon to do exactly what is needed of him: shut his mouth, let better men do their jobs, and say nothing. It’s the last straw for Aegon’s brittle ego.

The battle of Rook’s Rest

House of the Dragon Season 2 on Showmax - the Battle of Rook's Rest

As Ser Criston rallies his troops to attack Rook’s Rest by day, regardless of the possibility of dragon attack, Rhaenyra arrives back at Dragonstone to an exasperated council. Rhaenyra announces that she has met with Alicent and that peace is no longer an option; she must win her claim or die. Between Rhaenyra, Rhaenys and Jacaerys (Harry Collett) they realise that only Rhaenys and her dragon Meleys have the experience and firepower to defend Rook’s Rest. And as Rhaenys prepares for battle, Simon Staunton and his men prepare to hold off Ser Criston, and Aegon prepares to ride out on his own dragon Sunfyre without permission, Rhaenyra tells Jacaerys, as her heir, about the Song of Ice and Fire and Aegon the Conqueror’s dream.

Ser Criston orders his men to keep the dragon’s attention divided as they attack the castle. And Aemond is about to bring his dragon, Vhagar, out of hiding in the woods when Aegon comes bumbling into the battle on Sunfyre, horrifying Ser Criston. Forced to turn his strategy on its head, Ser Criston sends the Targaryen soldiers racing into battle to support their king. But as he does, he realises that Aemond has now also gone off book, and is nowhere to be seen.

Rhaenys and Aegon go head-to head in a vicious, clawing, burning dragon duel in the sky above the battlefield. But as Meleys is making a snack of Sunfyre, Vhagar rises out of the woods, and Aemond gives her the order to blast both Sunfyre and Meleys with flame, sending Sunfyre plummeting into the woods, screaming. With Sunfyre down, Rhaenys sets Meleys to attack Vhagar and Aemond. But Vhagar, who’s around three times the size of Meleys, grabs hold of her and roasts her like a rotisserie chicken as the two spiral toward the ground together, landing and knocking Ser Criston unconscious. In an eye-popping shot, Vhagar scatters and squelches soldiers as she rises to her feet to take wing again, eventually rising up from behind the castle and seizing Meleys by the throat and killing her and dropping her out of the sky, crushing Rhaenys beneath her, smashing part of the castle, and creating a breach in its defences.

Ser Criston regains consciousness to the horror of a battlefield scoured by dragonfire. As the surviving forces continue the attack on the castle, he sets off to find King Aegon, only to see Aemond has beaten him to it. Aegon lies half charred and whimpering under the remains of his drying dragon. And Almond leaves Ser Criston to stare while he walks away with the King’s dagger.

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