House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 Recap: Sibling Rivalry

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Spoilers below.

Death seems to follow twins on House of the Dragon. In last week’s season 2 premiere, the poor victim was King Aegon’s son Jaehaerys, who was slaughtered in his crib by assassins hired by Daemon Targaryen. While his sister Jaehaera survived, carried in a hurry by their mother, Helaena Targaryen, another sibling duo this week was not so lucky.

The episode opens with the frenzy following Blood and Cheese’s murder of Jaehaerys. Frightened maids carry bloody sheets out of the chambers, and the castle staff scatters through the halls in terror. Meanwhile, Alicent Hightower, grandmother of the slain child, is weeping in her father’s room. She feels guilty—“The gods punish us, they punish me,” she says through sobs—but can’t say why. (We, however, know that it’s about her relationship with Criston Cole. The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard was in bed with her last night, unable to protect her family from the intruders.) She grieves not only for her grandchild, but also on behalf of her children, Helaena and Aegon, Jaehaerys’ parents. But Otto, the Hand of the King and ever the politician, assures Alicent: “Some good may yet come of this.”

Aegon is in a grievous rage. He is the king! His son is his legacy! He’s smashing the model of the Red Keep in his room and throwing various items across the room. He wants to declare war. He wants his revenge on Rhaenyra, whom he is sure is behind all of this.

Aegon doesn’t want to be seen as weak, but unfortunately it’s too late for that. After his hasty coronation and a dragon’s escape from the dragonpit (thanks to Rhaenys), citizens might be suspicious of, even spooked by, his reign. Some might even wonder whether Rhaenyra would be a better fit for the crown after all, Otto says. To ensure that doesn’t happen, Otto proposes holding a public funeral for the child, so they can see with their own eyes the damage Rhaenyra has done and just how badly the Hightower-Targaryen has been hurt. It would “do more for us now than a thousand knights in battle,” he says.

Aegon, understandably, doesn’t want to parade his dead child in the streets, but with a little convincing from his mother, agrees to the spectacle. Lord Larys informs the council that a gold cloak has been captured while attempting to flee the city with Jaehaerys’ head in a sack.

Alicent also meets with her daughter, Helaena, not only to inform her of the funeral plans, but also to try to keep her quiet about what she saw in Alicent’s room last night (read: her in bed with Criston). But Helaena is too distraught to take that to heart. As the mother and daughter take part in a funeral procession for Jaehaerys, Larys questions Blood in the castle dungeon, who easily gives up intel. He reveals that Daemon hired him and his accomplice, a rat catcher, for the job. Aegon steps in to inflict his vengeance.

Meanwhile, above ground, the funeral spectacle is working. Men declare that this atrocity is the work of Rhaenyra Targaryen, and the townspeople are moved by the family’s grief. But, yikes, the carriage carrying Alicent, Helaena, and the boy’s body gets stuck, and what ensues is an anxiety-inducing sequence as the guards try to shake the vehicle loose while the crowd swarms the royal family.

house of the dragon

Theo Whiteman//HBO

Over in Dragonstone, Rhaenyra is shocked to hear of Jaehaerys’ death and that she’s blamed for it. She’s also surprised to see the men around the table assuming she would arrange such a thing—surely a woman grieving the death of her son would plan a similar act in revenge, they think. But, no, it’s because she has lost her child that she wouldn’t want to inflict that same pain on someone else, especially innocent Helaena. With one look across the table, Rhaenyra can tell that Daemon was behind the whole ordeal.

She confronts him when they speak separately. Not only did his scheme result in the decapitation of a child, but his vengeance on behalf of Rhaenyra only weakened her standing and makes her look worse to potential allies. She gets to the heart of the matter, essentially asking him: Do you really accept me as your queen and ruler, or are you just grasping at whatever power you lost when I was made Viserys’ heir instead of you?

She calls him pathetic, and Daemon leaves on dragonback for Harrenhal. His daughter, Baela, is ordered by Rhaenyra to keep watch on King’s Landing with her dragon Moondancer. As for Daemon? “He must follow his own path,” Rhaenyra says.

house of the dragon

Theo Whiteman//HBO

Like Alicent, Criston Cole is tormented with guilt. He visits the twins’ room and sees Jaehaerys’ mattress soaked with blood. He tells Alicent there’s no absolution “for what I’ve done.” So, he overcompensates to try to make things right. He orders Ser Arryk to kill Rhaenyra in Dragonstone. How? By posing as his twin brother, Erryk, of course. (Cue the TikTok sound: “No one’s gonna know. How will they know?”) If Arryk doesn’t go through with it, his authority to King Aegon will be questioned. Unfortunately this twin has no choice but to pull through.

Jace and Baela share a sweet moment on Dragonstone, bonding about their fathers. She says of Daemon, “Sometimes I think I hate him,” while shooting a crossbow. Jace remembers Laenor, Baela’s uncle, teaching him to how to fish, and Hawin Strong, his biological father, of being gentle, yet fierce. The person he can’t stop missing, however, is his brother Luke.

house of the dragon

Theo Whiteman//HBO

Aemond, surprisingly, is also thinking of Lucerys. That night in a brothel, he tells a sex worker, “I do regret that business with Luke. I lost my temper that day. I am sorry for it.” The woman reminds him that when princes lose their tempers, it affects everyone else, especially the small folk and working class people. Take the blacksmith Hugh, for example, who told King Aegon in last week’s episode that supplies for the crown’s weapons are becoming too expensive to make. In a scene in his home this week, his daughter is sick in bed and his wife gripes about food beginning to grow scarce and pricier, due to the blockade on King’s Landing by Rhaenyra’s forces.

Remember Alyn, who served in Corlys Velaryon’s fleet? Now meet his brother, Addam. He encourages Alyn to ride again with the Sea Snake once his ship is repaired, but Alyn is hesitant of the dangers of war. We also get a glimpse at Corlys’ pillowtalk with Rhaenys. In bed, the couple wonders whether Daemon can handle being in Rhaenyra’s shadow, and whether he can secure Harrenhal for her.

In Dragonstone, Mysaria meets with Rhaenyra and admits that she gave Daemon the names of two assassins in exchange for her freedom, which she hopes Rhaenyra can give her now. Rhaenyra realizes she looks familiar: Remember in season 1, when Daemon told everyone he would marry Mysaria and that she was pregnant with his child? (Sike, it was all a big prank!) Rhaenyra knows that Mysaria trades secrets of the Red Keep and wants to use her as an asset. She won’t set her free just yet.

Back in King’s Landing, Aegon has hung all the rat catchers (including Cheese) in King’s Landing—very publicly—after hearing that one of them assisted in his son’s murder. What he thinks is a show of great power could actually turn the public away from him; now there are citizens in the street mourning their sons, brothers, and husbands, knowing full well that the king is responsible for their deaths. Otto is furious, and he’s only more disgusted when he learns of Criston Cole’s plan to send Arryk to kill Rhaenyra. Aegon fires his own grandfather as Hand of the King and replaces him with Cole, who is just as surprised as his predecessor.

house of the dragon

HBO

Rhaenyra finally agrees to let Mysaria go, but on her way to the harbor, she sees Ser Arryk arriving to Dragonstone. Something’s not right.

Just as Cole predicted, Arryk has no trouble getting into the castle posing as his twin, but once he finally reaches Rhaenyra’s chambers, his brother intercepts him before he can kill the queen. The twins draw swords and brawl right by Rhaenyra’s bed. They also trade emotional words between blows. “We were born together,” one says. “You parted us! But I still love you brother,” says the other. In the end, Erryk kills his brother, but is consumed with shame. He asks for Rhaenyra’s forgiveness, before falling on his sword and taking his own life.

Otto decides to return to the Hightower seat of Oldtown, where Alicent’s other son, Daeron, lives. (Wait, another son!?) She instead advises her father to go to Highgarden to campaign for House Tyrell’s allegiance. Perhaps Aegon will calm down and give Otto a chance to return later on. Alicent wants to take this opportunity to confide in her father about her relationship with Cole. “I have sinned,” she tells him. But Otto replies, “I do not wish to hear of it.” (In other words, “No ❤️”)

After finding Aegon weeping in his room, Alicent spends another (rather physical) night with Criston Cole, now Hand of the King.

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