Recap: ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Continues To Pull No Punches in Episode 2

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: June 24, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 Recap - Twinsanity
Otto (Rhys Ifans) and Alicent (Olivia Cooke) in House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 2




House of the Dragon reiterates the brutality of the coming war by killing even more characters in needlessly horrible ways.

You know House of the Dragon is a grim show because in the Season 2 premiere a child got his head cut off. But you know it’s a really grim show because in Episode 2 that child’s death is intensely debated in terms of how it might best be leveraged for political gain. It’s as much a critique of PR spin and marketing as it is an hour of shrewd fantasy toing and froing, though it is, to be fair, that as well.

Here’s Where We’re At

So, here’s where we are. In the premiere, Daemon Targaryen paid two idiots named Blood and Cheese to assassinate Aemond Targaryen, but they completely misinterpreted the instruction and just lopped the head off the nearest silver-haired child they found, which happened to be the son of Aegon.

This was able to happen for several reasons, virtually all of which matter in this episode: One, thanks to a network of Red Keep spies presided over by Daemon’s former bae Mysaria; two, thanks to a general level of incompetence and fractiousness stemming in large part from the Realm’s division between two contesting heirs to the Iron Throne; and three, because Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, was in bed with Alicent, which nobody is supposed to know about.

Mixed Reactions

House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 Recap - Twinsanity

In his grief, Aegon even forgot to brush his hair

Needless to say, the beheading of a tiny royal baby prompts various reactions, some rather extreme.

Aegon, for instance, goes ballistic. He’s adamant about going to war immediately, completely sure that Rhaenyra is to blame, but Otto cautions against it. He has a better idea, which is to parade the kid’s body through the streets of King’s Landing in an open casket so that the common folk can see what their so-called Queen has been getting up to in her off hours.

Okay, the word “better” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there, but it’s certainly the most politically advantageous approach since it’ll drum up support for the Greens and create hostility around the Blacks, or at least that’s the idea. Everyone reluctantly participates and the whole thing’s miserable.

On Dragonstone, Rhaenyra is appalled to learn the news, and even more so when she realizes it was Daemon who hired Blood and Cheese to carry out the act. Now, in Daemon’s defense, he did instruct them to kill Aemond, but he also has a history of sadism for sadism’s sake, so Rhaenyra doesn’t believe him when he says he was quite particular in his instructions. The argument causes a rift between the two of them and Daemon leaves.

The Rat-Catcher Purge

House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 Recap - Twinsanity

The Red Keep rat-catchers all regretted going to work that day

In the premiere, I expressed some obviously too-hasty sentiments that Aegon, despite some worrying sexual and child pit-fighting peccadilloes, is alright and is mostly just young and lost and naïve. Episode 2 of House of the Dragon Season 2 does try to further this idea somewhat by including scenes of him sobbing alone and such, but it also reiterates pretty strongly that he’s an impulsive nutcase who is inevitably going to plunge the Realm into civil war as soon as possible.

For instance, once Aegon learns from Blood that Cheese was a Red Keep rat-catcher, he has all of the rat-catchers hung from the keep’s walls, in full view of King’s Landing’s populace. Just like that, his lust for revenge has squandered any political advantage he might have earned from the funeral march.

Otto goes ballistic when he discovers this, and Rhys Ifans delivers one of my favorite performances in this or Game of Thrones on the back of it. I hate Otto, obviously, but to see such a steadfastly calculated man just come completely undone with annoyance at the sheer stupidity of this arrogant boy-king is just great fun.

It does backfire, though, since Aegon strips him of his Hand of the King role, as Larys implied he should in the previous episode. His idea for a replacement is a bit unexpected, though – Ser Criston Cole, who has impressed the King with a harebrained scheme to assassinate Rhaenyra on Dragonstone.

Twinning And Losing

House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 Recap - Twinsanity

Erryk/Arryk is shocked to see Arryk/Erryk on Dragonstone

So, check this out.

In a nice thematic mirror of the premiere’s assassination plot, Criston sends Ser Arryk to kill Rhaenyra by posing as his twin brother Erryk, who you’ll recall had defected to the Blacks in the previous season.

It’s a deeply stupid plan, and the episode treats it as a bit of a circus. For one thing, Mysaria, who has just been freed from Dragonstone as a favor from Rhaenyra, spots Arryk literally the second he arrives and sends a word of warning back inside. Erryk rushes back and gets into a fight with his brother, while Rhaenyra watches on in horror and confusion about who’s who.

As it turns out it doesn’t really matter since both brothers end up dead and Rhaenyra doesn’t. Erryk kills Arryk (I think?) and then falls on his sword in disgrace.

This is not going to be a pleasant season, is it?


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