House of the Dragon – Season 2 Episode 2 Recap & Review

Rhaenyra the Cruel

Episode 2 of House of the Dragon season 2 begins with the aftermath of the young prince’s death. The palace is emptied out, while King Aegon smashes the model buildings in his study, cursing out his enemies and declaring war on Rhaenyra and the other Targaryens. As for Aemond, he examines the bedchambers and finds a coin.

With the search on for our villainous pair, Otto convinces Alicent not to be shaken by his act but to remain steadfast. Otto believes that some good may come of Jaehaerys’s death yet. For now though, Aegon is livid, and some of that anger is levelled at Criston Cole. After all, he should have been looking out for the family but he was in bed with Alicent.

Aegon’s anger soon turns to the Gold Cloak, who has been captured with the child’s head in a sack trying to flee through the city and out the gates. Aegon wants to kill him and be done with it, but Otto and the others decide a more tactile approach is better. Specifically, rooting out a potential serpent lying in wait.

Otto comes up with the idea of parading Jaehaerys’s body around town in an open coffin, as a way of boiling anger in the streets and using him as a martyr. Simultaneously, they can keep up tradition and escort him to the dragon pit. That way, it would move the people to their cause and waver support for Rhaenyra after seeing this.

Otto believes this is the perfect political pawn to use – if only they can have a little time to sow the seeds they need across town.

Meanwhile, Larys shows up at the prison with a bag of tools for torture. It’s not really needed though, given our Gold Cloak immediately blabbers, pointing out that Daemon hired him. Larys promises he won’t hurt him… but of course the same can’t be said for Aegon. The King himself shows up at the prison cell, and immediately beats the man down after learning he worked alongside a ratcatcher.

As this information is divulged, the royals head out on their procession around the city. Alicent and Helaena ride together, and they seem to have the sympathy of the people. At the same time, word reaches Rhaenyra of what’s happened to Jaehaerys.

Rhaenyra believes they need to send ravens to deny this, doubling their guard in Dragonstone and Driftmark. The thing is, she’s unaware of Daemon plotting all of this, and it has done massive damage to their cause. All the while, Daemon sits and keeps his mouth shut.

In private, Rhaenyra speaks to Daemon and learns of his vengeful quest. He wipes his hand of responsibility, claiming it was a “mistake”. Him telling the Ratcatcher that “any blood will do” in his hate, has done immeasurable damage to Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne. She goes on to question his loyalty, wondering whether he’s just trying to get her inheritance.

The docile Daemon suddenly pounces, swatting his cup across the room before facing Rhaenyra. His words, claiming it’s “their” throne speaks volumes, as Rhaenyra questions whom he really serves. Daemon has selfish tendencies and she believes he’s using her as an excuse to do as he wishes. “You’re pathetic,” She finishes, as Daemon points out he made a mistake.

Daemon slips away, seething, flying out on his dragon to Harrenhal, while Rhaenyra tasks his daughter, Baela, with keeping watch on Moontower to find out what the Hightowers are planning next. Time is of the essence, and they can afford no mistakes now.

Speaking of mistakes, after the procession Criston Cole is wracked with guilt. He knows there’s no absolution but he does confirm to Alicent that he’s kept his mouth shut about their affair. In fact, he decides to throw his weight around with the rest of the King’s Guard that morning, deciding that they need to uphold their “purity” and “fidelity”.

His salty demeanour and ironic comments are levelled at Ser Arryk, whom he commands to get up and change his muddied cloak immediately. He even questions Arryk over loyalties and where he was when Jaeharys was killed.

Criston Cole continues, deciding it’s on Arryk to restore the pride of the Kingsguard. In order to do that, he’s sent on a suicide mission to kill Rhaenyra at Dragonstone. And he’s to do this alone, and deceive those on Dragonstone that he is, infact, Erryk.

Aemond believes Daemon is afraid of him and there’s a pretty intriguing shot of him above in the foetal position, showing that underneath all the posturing, he’s actually still that same child he was before. Equally as intriguing though is a conversation between Rhaenys and Corlys, whom we catch up with in bed together.

Rhaenys has sympathy for Daemon (a little anyway) and knows what he’s going through. She questions whether there may be a claim for the crown between him and Rhaenyra in the future, given she knows how hard it is to let the crown pass over you. Of course, Rhaenys herself had to watch this happen.

Mysaria (The White Worm) is brought before Rhaenyra and questioned over her part to play in all this. Given she’s simply a messenger, she wipes her hands and cleverly calls herself a “prisoner”.

It’s a clever opener, given she points out that Daemon promised her freedom for the two names she uttered. Rhaenyra stares her down, unblinking, until Mysaria looks away.

Mysaria explains she had big plans to try and claw her way up through society to become equals to men like Otto Hightower and Daemon but she knows that’s not possible. Not really. She scoffs, pointing out she may as well “have stayed a whore” for all her posturing and becoming the White Worm.

It’s a fascinating chat between these two women, who know the feel of betrayal from men but are standing at very different places. Despite that, they do have some in common and Rhaenyra perhaps senses this from their conversation. Having heard all of this, she eventually decides to let her go… but out of the realm and to Myr, by way of Pentos.

Back in Kings Landing, the King makes a big statement. He has all the ratcatchers hung from the rafters, and although he does find the one responsible, he also has numerous innocents hung too. This action, which wasn’t given the greenlight by Otto or the Council, has massive ramifications.

All that good will done with then procession has now been seemingly undone by him murdering innocent people and hanging them for all the town to see. With wives and children there to weep and curse his name, Otto calls Aegon a fool for what he’s done.

That comment earlier from Otto about weakness has clearly got under Aegon’s skin, and he’s used Criston Cole’s own bitterness and need to prove himself as a way of trying to better himself.

Otto himself is exasperated when he learns Arryk has been sent over to Dragonstone on his quest. Otto curses them both, pointing out incredulously how outlandish these schemes are and how they’ve besmirched Viserys’ dignity. “Fuck dignity. I want revenge,” Aegon says. “My father is dead,”

There’s a slight pause by Otto before he utters: “He is, and we are the poorer for it.” And as the pair stare one another down, Otto chuckles bitterly before throwing doubt over how Aegon came to be King.

This action comes back to bite him though, as Aegon decides to be rid of Otto as the King’s Hand… and it’s given to Criston Cole instead. While this is going on, Arryk manages to get into Dragonstone, although Mysaria, having been given her freedom, notices him coming up from the boats below and contemplates whether to get someone’s attention to alert them over what’s happening. We’re not actually shown this but there’s enough here to suggest Rhaenyra’s moment of kindness, could be reciprocated here too.

Anyway, Arryk makes it up to Rhaenyra’s chamber and lets himself in, immediately drawing his sword. Just as he does, Erryk shows and the two brothers square off. But which is left standing at the end? It’s seemingly Erryk, who apologizes to Rhaenyra before dropping on his sword and asking for forgiveness, killing himself in the process.

The plan is inevitably a failure, and Otto seethes over this while speaking to Alicent in his chamber. He won’t stand around and watch the council make fools of themselves. Alicent suggests he leave to Highgarden while she herself will talk to Aegon. She’s hoping to talk him around when he calms down.

As they talk, Alicent points out she’s sinned… but Otto doesn’t want to hear it. Whether he knows that she’s been sleeping with Criston Cole or not is unknown at this point, but as she leaves, she sees a very different side of Aegon. Instead of the angry, vengeful King, she finds Aegon crying and crouched down.

Alicent takes her fury out on Criston Cole next time she sees him, hitting the guy… before they inevitably kiss once more. This time though, the circumstances around this have changed. Whether Alicent is using this as a way of getting a political “leg up” remains to be seen.

The Episode Review

The war is no closer to starting but we do get some important political developments across the spectrum for both sides. Whether Mysaria actually alerted the guards to Arryk showing up is not known right now, but the way this is framed, it almost seems like she did, given Erryk bursts back into the chamber just in time.

The themes around vengeance and grief are prevalent here, although one could argue the whole plot revolves around this. We see Daemon’s grief manifest through anger, while Aegon can no longer be controlled by Otto, who overplays his hand. This is, perhaps, poetic given that’s exactly what he loses.

His foreshadowing that Aegon will lose everything is on point, and feels like it’s hinting toward a much more dramatic series of twists to follow. However, this show’s strength lies in its dialogue and characterisation, both of which are on-point here.

Otto’s conversation with Aegon is probably the best example of this, although Rhaenyra and the White Worm’s chat about power and how women fit into all of this, is another stand-out too.

Through all of this, there might not be a whole lot of actual plot development forward, but the characterisation more than makes up for it.

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