A true case of no twins in “House of the Dragon,” season 2, episode 2

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A true case of no twins in “House of the Dragon,” season 2, episode 2.

The Red Keep is in disarray! The king’s heir has passed away! The assassins Blood and Cheese have made off with Li’l Jaehaerys’s head, so all that remains of him is now known to exist, and the guards are gathering everyone. They should run to the now-empty royal barn and close its doors, according to this logic.

Enraged, King Aegon lashes out at the late King Viserys’s intricately carved replica of Old Valyria, the Targaryen ancestral home. Aegon demolishes a symbol of his line’s past in response to realizing that his future is doomed. You, My Grace, are living in the present.

After discovering the secret door that Blood and Cheese used to enter the room where he and Criston Cole were plotting, Aemond picks up a coin that appears to have symbolic meaning, though I have tried rewinding it multiple times and still have not been able to figure out what it says.

Stay up-to-date this summer: recaps will air on Sunday evenings following each episode’s conclusion. Watch the premiere of the new season of House of the Dragon and all of the previous season’s recaps here on NPR.

Our Otto is predictably upbeat, saying, “Some good may yet come of this.” A true goblet-half-full guy, that Otto. Alicent is devastated by the news and throws blame on herself, implying that the gods are punishing her for something she had the good sense not to mention to her father (read: Cole’s White Cloak is more of an Ecru Cloak these days).

Aegon is enraged and foaming at the Small Council, accusing everyone and even Criston Cole, who informs the king that he was “abed,” but not what he was doing or with whom he was doing it. Lord Larys then shows up with the news that they have caught Blood red-handed (and platinum-headed).

Otto suggests that by organizing a funeral procession through the streets of King’s Landing, the smallfolk will be able to witness firsthand the cruelty of Rhaenyra, and that way, Aegon will be able to turn the public against Rhaenyra while also winning over the people and the Great Houses that are still on the fence. That Citadel extension course in marketing is really helping.

Though neither Alicent nor Helaena are particularly excited about the idea, they agree. During the procession, the wagon containing Jaehaerys’s body hits a pothole because, despite Aegon II’s constant announcements of Infrastructure Week, nothing ever gets done. The wagon rocks back and forth, jostling Jaehaerys’s tiny body. If, at this point in the proceedings, you were certain that Jaehaerys’s precious little noggin was going to come loose and bounce down the street like a platinum-haired soccer ball, then A. You are a bad person, and B. Come sit here alongside me.

Aegon still strikes Blood in the face with a mace, though Blood quickly admits that Daemon hired him and a ratcatcher to kill Aemond in the Red Keep’s dungeon. (In the book, Blood endures thirteen days of torture before being “allowed to die,” so we are spared that subplot, at least.)

“Errors occurred.”

At the Painted (But Actually Not Painted, Technically Glowing) Table on Dragonstone, Rhaenyra receives word from her advisors regarding Jaehaerys and her accountability; she is legitimately shocked, but Rhaenys the Always Right isn’t; she shoots an accusing glance at Daemon, who sidesteps her sharp and perceptive gaze. Rhaenyra is a little slow to pick up on things, but she eventually understands.

Alicent (Olivia Cooke), Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Aegon Ii (Tom Glynn-Carney), Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), Ironrod (Paul Kennedy), And Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan).


Rhaenyra confronts Daemon in private regarding the murder. In an effort to place the blame elsewhere, he noticeably declines to reveal to her what his precise instructions were for Blood and Cheese in the event that they were unable to locate Aemond. (You may recall that prior to him giving those directions, the show cut away from that scene.) He is untrustworthy, self-centered, and so on—just a few of the many flaws she begins to list. It is about damn time; this guy has more suspicious activity than the Kremlin on May Day.

Daemon is not amused by this. Snarling, he throws his goblet across the room and backs Rhaenyra into a corner because he knows how to get what he wants. However, Rhaenyra is not having it. She finally tells him that she sees him for who he really is. He still feels resentment towards King Viserys for having chosen Rhaenyra over him, and he has persuaded himself that Viserys made this choice because he knew she would never be able to eclipse him in the same way that Daemon could. Rhaenyra corrects him, saying that Viserys mistrusted him just as much as she does now. When she calls him pitiful, he storms off.

Even though Daemon was putting Rhaenyra in physical danger, Emma D’Arcy controlled this hilarious scene. This is so that Rhaenyra, who has access to a broader range of emotions than Daemon, can write and perform with greater nuance. As a character, Daemon remains trapped in Underwritten Perma-Smirk mode; hopefully, Matt Smith will have more material to work with as the season progresses.

Matt Smith As Daemon And Emma D'Arcy As Rhaenyra.

Daemon (Matt Smith) and Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy).

Baela is called to Rhaenyra’s rooms. The Player’s Scorecard Time: Daemon had two children with his former spouse, Laena Velaryon, who committed self-immolation by dragonfire in the previous season. Baela is one of them. (Aemond is currently riding Laena’s dragon, Vhagar.)

Rhaeyra gives Baela the assignment to ride her dragon, Moondancer, and watch over King’s Landing while staying high enough to avoid their weapons.

We get a few scenes establishing that both Criston Cole and Alicent feel guilty about Jaehaerys’s murder, given that they were both in, let’s say, a compromising position when it happened. They decided to take a break.

Cole lashes out at Ser Arryk because he is sexually frustrated and filled with guilt. A heated exchange of accusations ensues as he accuses Arryk of neglecting his duty. Cole assigns Arryk the meekly task of breaking into the fiercely guarded Dragonstone in order to kill Rhaenyra, using his disobedience as a pretext. What changes this Mission? Into an Impossible Mission: Arryk being able to pass for his twin brother Erryk is, of course, extremely unlikely.

Given that Baela and Jacaerys are engaged, discussing their father issues on Dragonstone is a great way for them to get to know one another better. Both of his fathers are acknowledged by Jacaerys: his biological father, Harwin Strong (“They called him Breakbones”) and his dad-on-paper, dear queer Laenor (“He had a weakness for cake,” which, hell yeah, he did!”).

where an attempt is made in vain to provide Aemond with some depth

This is your weekly, network-mandated Brothel Scene, ya filthy animals. We interrupt this episode to remind you that this is an HBO production of Game of Thrones.

When Aemond goes to see his favorite prostitute, he tells her that he is sorry for killing Lucerys. This must be another instance of the show attempting to give its characters some depth, which is something I would usually find admirable. (As I previously stated, Matt Smith’s Daemon is in dire need of additional layers—he is a major narrative piece.)

However, the show has already attempted to justify Aemond’s deadly act, so this one really does not sit well. Remember how the first season finale made a point of portraying Lucerys’s murder as a deliberate, disobedient act by Aemond’s dragon Vhagar? It seems like the writers do not know the difference between humanizing a villain (a good thing!) and thinking they need to excuse them (very bad!). This is evident in the scene where Aemond complains that Lucerys used to tease him because he was different. Put an end to the platitudes and pop-psych justifications! Come on, Aemond, just be Aemond!

Hugh the blacksmith, who demanded payment from King Aegon for the armor and weapons he forged in the previous episode, has a brief scene with us in King’s Landing. The payment has still not arrived, and because of Queen Rhaenyra’s blockade of the bay, he has to deal with an ailing child and a wife who is having difficulty putting food on the table. I realize it seems arbitrary, but Hugh’s thread will be embroidered into the “Die, You!” Tapestry soon enough.

Cut to: the island of Driftmark, home of House Velaryon. Alyn the sailor, whom we met last episode, greets his brother Addam, a shipwright. They discuss the war, and Addam mentions that Lord Corlys, head of House Velaryon, “owes you. He owes us.” Hunh. How about that. Sure, it seems like they’re introducing a lot of non-noble randos for us to follow all of a sudden. I wonder what that’s about. (I mean, I don’t, because I read the book.). But you should.)

Clinton Liberty As Addam And Abubakar Salim As His Brother Alyn.

Addam (Clinton Liberty) and his brother Alyn (Abubakar Salim).

Ollie Upton/HBO

Cut to: Pillow talk between Corlys and Rhaenys, both of whom worry about Daemon’s ambition. They mention that he’s left Dragonstone on his dragon Caraxes to try to capture the stronghold of Harrenhal in the Riverlands.

Speaking of Dragonstone: Rhaenyra is pondering over a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore in a spiffy new season 2 set. She summons Mysaria from the dungeons and asks about her role in Jaehaerys’s murder. Mysaria gives Rhaenyra a version of the spiel she gave Daemon last week: I’m a leaf in the wind, I go where the money is, etc. She mentions that Daemon promised her her freedom, but Rhaenyra is unmoved. Mysaria, who knows how to read a room, mentions that the powerful men of the Seven Kingdoms have never seen her as a person. This, as intended, lands with Rhaenyra, who sees a bit of herself in Mysaria, down to the scar she still carries from her own stint as Daemon’s lover.

On the beach of Driftmark, Addam spies Seasmoke, the dragon once ridden by the dearly departed Laenor (who, let’s remember, is not dead, just… departed). The beast seems restless. Foreshadowing? More like five-shadowing.

In King’s Landing, we meet yet another random, lowborn dude that we’ll see a lot more of in the weeks ahead. (His name’s Ulf; clip and save for your records.) For now, we follow him through the streets until he stumbles across a grisly scene: by order of King Aegon, every ratcatcher in the city has been hanged by the neck. And yes, Cheese is among them, though the birds have pecked enough holes in him that it’d be more accurate to call him Emmentaler at this point.

Let’s give the boy a Hand

In the Red Keep, Otto storms in on Criston Cole and King Aegon, bitterly berating them for ordering the mass execution of innocent citizens. He fumes to a tipsy, uncaring Aegon that the king’s brutal action has just squandered all the goodwill that Jaehaerys’s funeral procession earned them.

It’s good to see Rhys Ifans let off the leash in this scene—gone is Otto’s static pose of sage and sober-minded concern, replaced by the fury of man who can no longer stomach serving someone as weak as Aegon. Otto gets to spit words like “idiot,” “fool,” “thoughtless,” “feckless,” “self-indulgent,” “ill-considered,” and “trifling” and throws his whole body into it. For my money, though, it’s Ifans’s hilarious, slow-burn reaction to hearing about Criston Cole’s Erryk vs. Arryk plan that’s the high point of this episode.

Otto Hightower, Played By Rhys Ifans.

Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower.

Ollie Upton/HBO

“I wish to spill blood, not ink!” whines Aegon, which is a line straight from the book, but it’s a good ‘un. He tells Otto to surrender his status as Hand of the King and names Criston Cole as Otto’s successor. Otto leaves, but not before letting on that he’s always known that Viserys never really named Aegon as his successor. The fact that he accompanies this revelation with a rich, sneering, villainous chuckle? Icing on the cake. That Laenor had a weakness for. That cake.

On Dragonstone, Rhaenyra decides to keep Daemon’s promise and frees Mysaria. On her way down to the docks, however, Mysaria spots a disguised Ser Arryk Cargyll making his way up to the castle. She pauses.

Arryk easily Splinter-Cells makes his way into the castle (it’s all about timing the guard’s movements and shooting out the security cameras). He tells the member of the Queensguard stationed outside her bedchamber—Ser Lorent Marbrand, if you’re scoring at home—that he’ll take over. As soon as Lorent is gone, he enters her room and advances on her.

And promptly gets interrupted by his brother, Ser Erryk Cargyll. They fight.

The funk soul brothers, check ‘em out now

As epic throwdowns go, Cargyllbowl is no Cleganebowl. But then, how could it be? That matchup was looming for years, and it pitted one character we’d come to know enough to dearly love against another we knew enough to dutifully loathe.

By contrast, these beardy brothers haven’t clocked nearly enough screentime to truly register, separately or together. Still, it’s a solid fight, and it places Rhaenyra in more danger than the book version does. But ultimately, Erryk defeats Arryk. The victory is fleeting, however, as a remorseful Erryk throws himself on his sword. Which is stupid and pointless but, you have to admit, metal AF.

Back in the Red Keep, Otto is doing the Seven Kingdoms equivalent of packing up his desk into a cardboard box from the supply closet—you know: picture frames, succulents, a couple of Dilbert strips. He’s still angry, cursing Aegon and Criston for their foolishness. Alicent agrees, mostly. Her eyes dart guiltily as she avers that Criston, at least, is loyal, so you know, there’s that.

Otto says he’ll return to Oldtown, home of House Hightower, where Alicent’s youngest son, Daeron, awaits.

WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP NEW CHARACTER ALERT WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP. No, you’re not crazy. This is the first time we’ve heard mention of Daeron on the show. Daeron’s a teenager who’s been in Oldtown acting as a squire to the head of House Hightower. He’s got a (very young) dragon named Tessarion, and they’ve both got a role to play in this story. I don’t know if he’s going to show up this season, but at least we know he officially exists in the world of this show now.

Alicent urges Otto not to go to Oldtown but to Highgarden, home of House Tyrell. (Odds of Daeron showing up this season are shrinking.) She assures Otto that she can talk some sense into Aegon, and he seems to believe her because clearly neither one of them has been watching this show.

In fact, when Alicent does try to go to Aegon’s chambers for some of that sense-talking, she finds him weeping—alone, grieving, frightened, caving under the pressure. She leaves.

In her bedchamber, Criston is waiting.

Parting Thoughts

  • Rhaenyra, Rhaenys, and Rhaena. Daemon, Aemond. Jacaerys, Jaehaerys. And now, with this episode: Daemon, Daeron. I know George R.R. Martin has pointed to English history—all those Edwards and Henrys—to justify so many characters having such maddeningly similar names. But then a thing like Daemon-Daeron comes along and it starts to seem like he’s just goading us.
  • House of the Dragon focuses on the noblemen and noblewomen of the Seven Kingdoms. But that means it’s missing something Game of Thrones had in spades—the perspective of the commoner. Don’t get me wrong, all this palace intrigue is fun. But I’ve been missing the earthiness and ego-puncturing humor of characters like Bronn, Davos and Sandor. This episode seems intent on course-correcting that, tossing Alyn and Addam and Hugh and Ulf in the mix.
  • I know I’ve already praised it, but Rhys Ifans’s incredulous take upon hearing Cole’s plan was iconic. Jack Benny-level. He should take it on the road if Westeros has a vaudeville circuit.
  • How we feeling about the pacing this season? I figured we’d be in the thick of it by now. But then Alyn’s still all “War is coming,” and I realized I’m comparing the book, which is a faux-historical account, to a dramatized TV series, which seems in no particular hurry to get to the wildfire factory


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Ahmed Mainul

My self Ahmed Mainul Mondal, and I'm the founder of the hospitality career profile website. I'm writing blogs and news posts as per user preferences.

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