‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Premiere: The Rats Are a Whole Thing

The eagerly awaited return of HBO’s House of the Dragon is upon us, and it kicks off with the season 2 premiere, plunging us back into the fiery, treacherous world of Westeros. The Iron Throne, now occupied by Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney), remains as dangerous as ever. This recap will delve into the episode’s events and highlight the intricate tapestry of power struggles and bloodshed. Spoilers ahead.

The season 2 opening credits have undergone a significant change. Gone are the mechanical contraptions tracing the Targaryen bloodline. Instead, we see elaborate embroidery, possibly the work of Queen Helaena, depicting the violent and bloody history of the Targaryen dynasty. This intricate “Die, you!” tapestry sets a grim tone for the season.

We revisit the Doom of Valyria, Aegon’s Conquest, and the Targaryen kings that followed. We see familiar faces and events from season 1, like Alicent in her green gown, the wedding of Laenor and Rhaenyra, and the schism between Aegon II and Rhaenyra that led to the Dance of the Dragons. The credits end with the dramatic scene of Aemond astride Vhagar, killing Lucerys over Shipbreaker Bay.

The episode then takes us to Winterfell, where Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) meets Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor). Jacaerys is on a mission to rally Northern support for his mother, Queen Rhaenyra. Stark promises soldiers, but Jacaerys soon learns of his brother Lucerys’ death, adding urgency to his mission.

On Dragonstone, Rhaenys returns from patrolling Team Black’s blockade, cutting off King’s Landing from supplies. Daemon urges her to attack Vhagar in King’s Landing, but she insists Rhaenyra must see her son’s body first. Rhaenys’ exhaustion, subtly shown, underscores the toll of the ongoing conflict.

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra lands near Storm’s End, the place Lucerys last departed from, signifying her grief and determination. At Driftmark, Lord Corlys inspects his repaired flagship, hinting at future naval engagements. The scene with Alyn, mentioning his brother Addam, suggests important developments ahead.

In King’s Landing, tensions rise. Aegon II is seen entering Queen Helaena’s room, who is worried about the rats infesting the Red Keep. This detail, repeatedly mentioned in season 1, hints at a deeper narrative payoff. Dowager Queen Alicent and Criston Cole share an intimate moment, revealing their complicated relationship.

The Small Council scene, where Aegon humiliates Ser Tyland Lannister, underscores the instability of his rule. The council discusses alliances and the looming threat of Rhaenyra’s supporters. Lord Larys informs Alicent about spies and her affair with Cole, adding layers of intrigue.

Rhaenyra’s search for Lucerys’ body near Shipbreaker Bay brings her face-to-face with her loss, deepening her resolve. Meanwhile, Aegon’s attempts at ruling are undercut by Otto, who prioritizes practicality over Aegon’s reckless decisions. A blacksmith’s demand for payment hints at future conflicts.

Alicent’s confrontation with Otto about Aegon and Aemond reflects their struggle to control the young king. Rhaenyra, back at Dragonstone, gathers her court and orders Daemon to bring her Aemond, emphasizing her intent for vengeance.

Daemon’s encounter with Mysaria, who sells information in exchange for freedom, highlights the complexities of their relationship and the underground networks in Westeros. Jacaerys’ return and emotional breakdown showcase the personal costs of the war.

The episode’s climax involves Blood and Cheese, hired by Daemon, infiltrating the Red Keep. Their mission: to avenge Lucerys by killing Aemond. Instead, they capture Queen Helaena and force her to choose which of her children will die. She points to Jaehaerys, and the gruesome act follows, shocking the audience and setting a dark tone for the season.

Helaena’s quick decision raises questions about her motivations. The murder of Jaehaerys marks a pivotal moment, casting a long shadow over the series. The premiere skillfully sets up the conflicts and alliances that will drive the narrative forward.

As we move deeper into season 2, the stakes are higher, and the bloodshed is inevitable. The premiere effectively re-establishes the brutal world of House of the Dragon, promising a season filled with intrigue, betrayal, and dragonfire. Hold tight, Westeros fans; it’s going to be a wild ride.


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