House of the Dragon – S1E2: The Rogue Prince. Reaction/Review – Spoilers

It’s been a long week of processing and dissecting episode 1 and finally the wait is over. Let’s dive into episode 2.

Opening Sequence

In contrast to episode 1, we get an opening sequence in episode 2. House of Dragon keeps the theme music as the original Game of Thrones. Keeping the theme composed by Ramin Djawadi was an excellent choice for connecting GOT to HOTD. It was nostalgic and exciting, a clear signal of what to expect. The visuals on the other hand, were updated to perfection, also letting us know that this is a new story, new show.

The Targaryen sigil emitting blood which flows through the city streets, webbing and making everything turn, it was as Daemon put it in episode 1, their blood runs thick.

We saw several gears with depictions that could have been other sigils of the houses that the Targaryens control or perhaps the roles of the small council as I thought I saw one that looked like The Hand’s pin but probably the former. One gear had about 8 dragons flying, maybe fighting, probably a foreshadowing battles to come, the dance of the dragons. The city doesn’t look like Westeros, maybe it’s of old Valyria similar to the model Viserys has. One of the gears looks to have the same symbol as the necklace Daemon gifts Rhaenyra in episode 1. It all ends with the blood feeding into another Targaryen sigil with fire in the background, fitting as the show is based on the Fire and Blood book by GRRM.

Bare with me as this will not necessarily be in chronological order of the show but rather by the interactions between characters, which is sometimes out of order of the episode.

Lord Corlys Velaryon & Lord Otto Hightower

Lord Corlys’ warning of the Myroshi pirates from episode 1 is a growing concern as the episode opens with crabs ravaging the bodies of Westerosi soldiers. Lord Corlys storms into the Small Council meeting already in session. He is angry and request a show of force and Lord Otto is more concerned with displaying his own power shutting down both Lord Corlys and Rhaenyra as she is the only one to suggest an idea to send dragon riders to quell the uprising. Instead Otto suggests she be sent to do something else like selecting a new Kings Guard.

I can say one thing for Lord Hightower he is consistently annoying, manipulative and one to be watched. He seems to have complete control over Viserys’ actions as we see him getting Rhaenyra reassigned here and later in the episode, choosing to go to Dragonstone instead of the King , and highly influencing the King’s decision on who to remarry. In contrast to Lord Corlys’ attempt to offer his 12 year old daughter Laena’s hand. Suggesting that joining houses Targaryen and Velaryon would be a show of might to help fix the crabfeeder threat. It’s probably the most startling and absurd looking courtship attempt in either Game of Thrones or House of the Dragon.

Rhaenyra and Alicent

This relationship has changed in the last 6 months between episode 1 and 2. They are still friends but the dynamic seems different. Alicent seems more mature especially in the scene when she and Rhaenyra are praying as she is offering Rhaenyra advice. Likely a result of all the time Alicent has been spending with King Viserys. There is a distance in the beginning of the episode and by the end of the episode we see a full rift.

Rhaenyra and Rhaenys

Following the King’s Guard selection, which Rhaenys watched in the background, Rhaenyra and Rhaenys engage in a back and forth that reminds us that Rhaenyra is 15 and in her hubris is missing the lesson and opportunity for a great mentor in her cousin once removed. To Rhaenyra, Rhaenys comes off as old and bitter but she could possibly learn a thing or two and possibly gain a great ally. Rhaenys has been the rightful heir who was bypassed due to not being a man. As things become more clear to Rhaenyra as the season progresses I’d hope this dynamic will start to change as well.

Viserys and Rhaenyra

Viserys tries to bond with Rhaenyra and mend the distance between them since Queen Aemma’s death. During an awkward dinner in which he cuts her off several times as she tries to talk politics and provide an update of her assignment to chose a King’s Guard. She tells him that she chose Ser Criston Cole, despite Otto’s attempt to get her to chose a more recognized house. Viserys’ response was lackluster, it was almost like a parent who is not paying attention and brushes the child off with a “that’s great honey”.

Later in the episode Viserys is initially pissed at Rhaenyra for going to Dragonstone behind his back, but honestly, Viserys hadn’t even noticed she was gone in his continued neglect of her. She left and made it back and he still had to be told she’d returned because he didn’t notice. In this interaction she didn’t let him cut her off and she let him know she did what Otto could not and in that moment he seemed to have come into that she was her mother’s daughter and not a little girl anymore. She was so grown that she acknowledged understanding that he had to remarry.

Viserys’ Health
It’s only been 6 months since the last episode and Viserys looks visibly older and in poorer health. They’ve done something different with his make-up most likely intentionally to age him and allude to poor health given his constant run-ins with the throne. I can tell he’s not going to make it out of this season.

While the king gets a maggot treatment for the new cut he got during his episode 1 argument with Daemon, Otto uses this moment to remind the King he doesn’t need to marry Lady Laena as Corlys suggests or for duty as Otto puts it. Otto likes to get the King alone. The Grand Maester Mellos appeared to be offering an opposing opinion of Otto’s but the interaction seemed as though Otto and Mellos were playing good cop bad cop in a means to manipulate Viserys’ marriage decision.

Daemon & Rhaenyra

Again, Matt Smith is killing it and stealing this episode. Viserys is informed Daemon stole a dragon egg and is getting married, which Rhaenyra has to find out that it is her late baby brother Baelon’s egg. All are enraged especially Viserys and Rhaenyra. The King announces that he’s going to Dragonstone to drag Daemon and the egg back to which Otto quickly let’s the king know he won’t allow him to go, he would go instead. The control he has as hand is unsettling.

Let’s appreciate how different and grand Dragonstone looks as compared to the Dragonstone we see Game of Thrones . It is covered is smoke, I suppose because there are more dragons in this time frame and perhaps it’s dragon smoke.
Otto and Daemon meet on the stair bridge to the castle and share a few aggressive quips and we get some comic relief between Daemon and Ser Crispin Cole as Daemon jests at forgetting his name.
Swords are drawn and Daemon’s dragon Caraxes makes an appearance with a screeching roar and the fear is plain on Otto’s face. It suggests the dragons are the only thing between the powerful Westerosi houses and the Targaryens.

As Otto’s men put their swords away in submission there is another roar and the smoke and clouds move and part to uncover Rhaenyra flying out on Syrax. She circles the armies on the bridge before landing and walking through Otto and his men. Otto tried to send her home and she reminds them to back off before she alerts Syrax as she reminds Otto “…he is very protective of me”, again displaying Targaryen dragon power. She calmly walks over to Daemon and the two hash it out in High Valyrian and in an unspoken understanding of each other. She calls his bluff to take her out since he wants to be heir so badly and is able to get Daemon to stand down and return the dragon egg.

Daemon almost has a look of admiration on his face in response to her bold, brave and intelligent move. These two have a bond like no other on the show. Rhaenyra asks Daemon if he was having a baby in a dubious tone that alerted Daemon she was on to him and clued Mysaria into his lie. Which is made clearer in the following scene as we learn there is no baby nor was a wedding planned to Mysaria’s knowledge. Which suggests that Daemon was goading his brother and also attempting to get a baby dragon egg.

Small Council Announcement

Viserys meets with the small council and it’s strange from the beginning, as it is the first time we see Alicent present in a meeting. He announces that he’s to remarry, Corlys sits up and smirks and Rhaenyra nods in agreement only to hear that Alicent is the be his wife and not Laena. Both storm off in disapproval and betrayal as Otto gives a smug checkmate look.
Alicent looks her usual nervous guilty self. However, in her moments alone with Viserys she appears enamored with him.

Final scene
Corlys is seated at Driftmark and gives a speech about second sons and the history of houses Velaryon and Targaryen’s power and prestige. Initially we aren’t able to see who he’s talking to and for a quick second I thought he was talking to the crabfeeder in his outrage of Viserys’ decision not to marry Laena. However I was pleasantly surprised to see it was Daemon. He tells Daemon of their similar positioning in the world and attempts to bad talk the king and Daemon reminds him to mind his tongue. While Daemon is still protective of his brother, he takes this meeting which suggests he knows what needs to be done despite his love for his brother. I’d not been more excited for the possible Sea Snake spin-off in the works than this moment. Of course I’m also looking forward to Daemon’s next move.

Thoughts & Ratings

Game of Thrones Universe is going to be great and House of the Dragon is a great start to this world building.
Let me know how you liked Episode 2. What did I miss? Who is your favorite and most disliked characters so far? Did they change from episode 1 to 2?
Lastly, using my episode 1 rating of a 7/10 as a baseline, episode 2 is an 8.5. I felt more settled in the show than last week. The opening was exciting to see. The character building is happening and there are the beginnings of scheming , backstabbing, chess pieces moving, drama, drama, drama. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON!

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