‘House Of The Dragon’ Season 2 Episode 1: Highlights And Takeaways

Grief and anger are two of the most potent stimulators of negative emotions, and if unchecked, they can ruin even the strongest of minds. As the first episode of the much anticipated second season of House of the Dragon unveils its true colors in vengeful glory, it becomes understandable how these emotions manipulated so many minds, which laid the groundwork for the futility of the Targaryen civil war. The sudden, harrowing tragedy of the death of Rhaenyra’s second son, Lucerys Velaryon, was an unexpected accident for sure, but mostly it also brought a grim realization of the inevitability of the upcoming vicious conflict for the throne. As the series returns with a brand new season, a swift, despicable retaliation follows, which serves as a grim reminder of the dark depths of Westeros’ politics to the viewers. 

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Spoilers Ahead


Jacaerys Seeks North’s Aid

A solitary raven soaring above the snowy wilderness, a familiar melancholic tune of violin playing in the background, and a raspy voice uttering the significance of honor and duty signal to seasoned viewers right off that the second season begins in the North. Adhering to his mother’s command, Jacaerys Velaryon had flown to garner support for the upcoming battle from House Arryn in Vale and House Stark in Winterfell. With Lady Jeyne Arryn’s pledge secured, Jace has gone to remind Lord Cregan Stark of the oath of fealty his ancestor, Torrhen Stark, took in front of Aegon Targaryen a century ago. The two future generations of their respective houses discuss the troubling future that lies ahead, as Cregan takes Jacaerys to Night’s Watch to show another responsibility House Stark commits to, which supersedes even their commitment to the realm itself. There is death and darkness awaiting on the other side of the wall, from which House Stark needs to defend the North during the winter by keeping the majority of their forces occupied here. However, the North also knows to honor an oath, as Cregan agrees to send his forces to aid Rhaenyra’s cause. Their conversation is interrupted by the tragic news of Luke’s death, which prompts Jace, the distraught elder brother, to at once fly back to Dragonstone.

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A Son for a Son: A Bloody Retaliation by Daemon and Rhaenyra 

On the other hand, Daemon is getting increasingly furious and restless at the apparent inaction of the Blacks, and the first thing that comes to his mind is to pay the Greens back on their own terms—a son for a son. He tries to convince Rhaenys to join him to take down Aemond and Vhagar, but his wise cousin refuses to act in haste. Queen Rhaenyra has flown off with Syrax to Storm’s End, as the mother needs to face her worst fear to truly start mourning her son. Daemon is worried due to her absence as well and partially blames Rhaenys for Luke’s death, due to the fact that she didn’t annihilate the usurper king and his associates when she had the perfect chance to do so. On the other hand, Rhaenyra grieves after finally coming across the remains of Arrax and Luke. 

Lord Corlys Velaryon checks up on his fleet in Driftmark; he requests Alyn of Hull to double down on the efforts to restore his ships, as the Velaryon naval force has already started a trade blockade around King’s Landing, and more numbers will be needed in the upcoming war. Alyn provides the Sea Snake with the dagger he had ordered to be made for his heir, Luke, and shares his condolences for his loss. Corlys thanks Alyn for saving his life earlier, when he was severely injured while battling the Triarchy. 

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Erryk Cargyll finds out that Mysaria, the White Worm, is on one of Velaryon’s ships as she seeks to leave King’s Landing for good. Cargyll brings her to Daemon, who is displeased to see his old flame and lashes out at her for being in cahoots with Otto Hightower for so long, as it was her intelligence and connections that resulted in Aegon II’s swift ascension to the throne after all. Larys Strong took care of the loose ends of Hightower’s debt by eliminating Mysaria’s spy network, leading to her leaving King’s Landing for good. Daemon tries to pressurize her to reveal important intel regarding the Greens, but as of this moment, she knows nothing of Otto’s plans and machinations. 

A weary and distraught Rhaenyra returns to Dragonstone; the agony of losing Luke has aged her overnight. In front of family and associates, she utters only a single sentence, which conveys that she and Daemon agree on the opinion of taking down Aemond, and she leaves for her private quarters right after. Daemon meets Mysaria to exact the specific plan to reach Aemond undetected, and he offers her freedom in exchange for it. 

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Aegon II’s First Duties as King

On the other hand, at King’s Landing, Luke’s death has resulted in differing reactions from every other party. City Watch, under Arryk Cargyll’s command, is on high alert as they are anticipating retaliation from the Blacks. Alicent is keeping her alliances strong by any means necessary, and the king, Aegon II, is a bit flustered, even if he doesn’t want to show it. He checks up on his son, Jaehaerys, the future heir to the throne, as viewers surely realize that a fear has crept up in his mind already. In her usual foreboding cryptic remark, Aegon’s sister/wife Helaena shares her fear about rats, which Aegon obviously doesn’t understand, but during the climactic moments of the episode, viewers realize the significance of her remark at last. 

In his first meeting with the small council, Aegon initially showcases some of his irritable antics involving Tyland Lannister and later gets details about the situation of garnering more support for the Greens from the other noble houses. Learning Riverrun to be a possible hindrance, the amateur ruler at once gets the genius idea of letting the dragons lose on House Tully, much to Alicent’s dismay, who is still willing to think of a non-violent approach. Otto reprimands his daughter for her defensive mindset in a passive-aggressive way, and later, as Aemond suddenly joins the small council, Alicent’s influence in the small council feels to be noticeably lessening. Aegon later sits at the throne room as smallfolk arrive with their issues to be addressed and makes several immature mistakes, with Otto trying to course correct his grandson at every turn. Larys Strong, aka Clubfoot, later tries to sway Aegon’s mind into removing Otto from his position as the Hand of the King, perhaps to fulfill his own political ambition. It should be mentioned that a smithy, Hugh Hammer, asks for financial aid for the smiths, as building the dragonkiller scorpions has become a costly affair these days. Aegon promises them monetary help. 


The Blacks Prepare for the War

Later, Alicent meets her father in private and lets him know that undermining her in the small council might result in her sons following suit as well. Knowing full well that Alicent still hopes for peace in vain, Otto reminds his daughter that the only way the conflict for the throne is going to be resolved is through violence. n the other hand, Criston Cole and Aemond discuss future plans for securing allegiance by force, and Aemond’s disdain for his mother is revealed during the conversation. Otto later arrives to speak with his grandson in private and requests he keep his impulses checked until the time is right. As Otto rightly mentions, Vhagar and Aemond are the strongest assets for the Greens, and using them in a proper way could tip the scale of balance in their favor. 


Blood and Cheese: Who Became the First Victim of the Blacks’ Retaliation?

Before situations go beyond recovery, there remains a moment of silence and respite, and at present both sides are in that exact position. Rhaenyra and her family mourn Luke’s loss through the Targaryen cremation ritual, and on the other hand, at the Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing, Alicent too lights a candle in remembrance of her friend’s younger son. Moments like these and the complex relationship dynamics make the series unique and intriguing in the first place; even as viewers have chosen a side, the intricacies never allow them to fully commit. However, with Daemon already taking serious measures to honor Rhaenyra’s wishes, even this brief moment of respite will be cut short soon. 

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Daemon secretively reaches the gates of King’s Landing, and Blood, a Green loyalist City Watch captain, allows him to enter. Pairing Blood with a ratcatcher named Cheese, Daemon instructs the duo to kill Aemond Targaryen by sneaking into the Red Keep through Maegor’s tunnels. As Blood and Cheese venture into the Red Keep, they pass the throne room, and Aegon doesn’t even notice the duo entering as he remains busy frolicking with his associates. Moving further inside, Blood and Cheese reach the royal quarters and eventually find Helaena Targaryen along with her twin children, Jaehaerys and Jaehaera. The hired killers haven’t found Aemond, but instead they have the chance to cut the direct line of succession by killing Aegon’s son and heir, thereby also fulfilling their contract at the same time. The maniacal Cheese holds Helaena at his knife’s edge and, unable to identify her son, forces her to direct them towards him. Realizing that there is no way for her to escape, the helpless mother points them towards her son. Blood suspects a bluff on her part, but an experienced Cheese knows that the mother is indeed telling the truth. This moment, along with Daemon’s directive, is depicted differently in the books, but in the context of the series’ narrative, it seems quite effective. 

As the assassins get busy brutally dispatching the young boy off-screen, Helaena frantically rushes out of her room after taking Jaehaera with her. She enters her mother’s chambers and barges in as Alicent is getting busy with Cristan. Traumatized, shaken to her core, Helaena curls up in the ground, and as for Alicent’s questioning, she could only gather the words to convey that she has lost her son. Alicent looks on in disbelief, while Helaena’s eyes seem vacant and lifeless—and with this harrowing conclusion, the episode comes to an end. Killing a child by sending assassins isn’t the best impression of a prospective queen’s outlook, and needless to say, the Blood and Cheese incident will leave a filthy dent in Rhaenyra’s legacy. On the other hand, it will allow the Greens to gain further support by maligning the Blacks, but at the same time, it will put a question on the king’s strength as well. In the upcoming episode, the immediate repercussions of Blood and Cheese will be interesting to follow, as this leaves absolutely no scope for any chance of truce between the opposing parties and amps up the fierceness of the upcoming conflict.

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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