‘House Of The Dragon’ episode two recap: picking a new queen

**Spoilers for 'The Rogue Prince' below**

And so we find ourselves back in Westeros, for another George RR Martin epic. Strap in, everyone – there’s going to be a lot of blood; a lot of wigs; and a hell of a lot of dragons.

After a suitably dramatic first episode, the Game of Thrones sequel House of the Dragon had established that King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) wanted a male heir so desperately that he asked the doctors caring for his pregnant wife Aemma (Sian Brooke) to perform a caesarean section on her as a last-ditch attempt to get the baby out, even if it were to almost certainly kill her. Tragically, not only did Aemma die but so did the male child, minutes into his life.

So far, House of the Dragon might as well be called Succession. The opening episode was fixated on the Targaryen royal line and the obsessing from all sides about who might help it continue to flourish.

House Of The Dragon
Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) has designs on the Iron Throne for his daughter. CREDIT: Sky/HBO

And so, in episode two, things are largely the same. We open with the seafaring Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), member of the king’s small council, angrily telling a reluctant Viserys that the kingdom should be in the Stepstones, fighting a lunatic they call the Crab Feeder (because he nails his victims to posts and lets the crabs have a free dinner). Young Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), the king’s daughter, suggests sending dragons, a creature with which she seems to have a real connection. She is sent off to choose the latest knight for the King’s Guard, and we sense a spark between her and Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), the man she selects.

Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), the daughter of Otto (Rhys Ifans), the Hand of the King, works her magic with both Rhaenyra and Viserys, manging to subtly engineer a conversation between the two so that they can grow closer. “I want him to see me as more than his little girl,” Rhaenyra tells Alicent in a room filled with approximately 38,000 candles.

Viserys, meanwhile, is being offered potential wives on a plate – some of them outrageously young. Lord Corlys and his wife Rhaenys (Eve Best) say that the Velaryons and Targaryens should join, and offer their daughter Laena (Savannah Steyn) as a prospective future queen. She’s 12 years old. “I would give you many children of pure Valyrian blood,” she tells Viserys on a walk, parroting her father.

House Of The Dragon
Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) makes a bid to reclaim the initiative. CREDIT: Sky/HBO

Shortly after Viserys bonds with Alicent when she gives him a model dragon to replace the one she watched him break, news reaches court that Daemon (Matt Smith), Viserys’ wayward brother, has stolen a dragon’s egg and says that he will put it in the cradle of the baby his second wife gives him. Otto stops Viserys going to Daemon in Dragonstone, travelling himself instead. When he arrives, Daemon affirms that he is declaring war, and swords are drawn. It looks dark for Otto and the king’s men until Rhaenyra turns up on a dragon and talks Daemon down. “If you wish to be restored as heir, you’ll need to kill me,” she tells Daemon, who returns the egg and slinks off.

Though he may not wish her to see it, Viserys is proud of Rhaenyra for helping him avoid bloodshed. And now less distracted, he is ready to stop the endless chattering by announcing his choice as wife. To the fury of Lord Corlys, he chooses Alicent, with whom he does seem to share a genuine bond. “This is an absurdity,” Corlys says, furious that his 12-year-old daughter won’t be marrying an old man. He storms off – and, it turns out, to meet Daemon by the fireplace in order to plot together to wage war in the Stepstones. Things could be about to get rather messy…

Alicent Hightower
Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) is another potential new queen for Viserys. CREDIT: Sky/HBO

Key quotes

  • “You are the king… but I do not envy you.” This line from Otto Hightower to Viserys says much about the heavy weight of the crown: in order to prevent riots, the king has to choose a new wife shortly after he has lost his last.
  • Rhaenys to Rhaenyra: “I understand the order of things. I’m not sure you do.” Characters like Rhaenys, used to doing things as they should be done, do not understand girls like Rhaenyra – people who do not ‘know their place’ and want to subvert expectations.
  • Rhaenyra: “When I am queen I will create a new order.” Will Rhaenyra ever be queen? This is a self-confident and portentous line from the heir to the Iron Throne, signalling a potential shift in tradition if she becomes ruler…

‘House Of The Dragon’ is available from 2am every Monday on Sky Atlantic and NOW


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