House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 4 Recap: Rough Landings

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Spoilers below.

Rhaneys Targaryen recently told Rhaenyra that there is “no war so bloody as a war between dragons,” and this week, we begin to see how so. As the greens and blacks continue to grow their armies for the looming civil war, things finally come to a head on Rook’s Rest as armies and dragons clash with one another, just like a good ol’ Game of Thrones battle episode. And, in classic GoT fashion, survival is not guaranteed and the casualties are brutal.

But first, ghosts. Daemon continues to be tormented in Harrenhal, this time with another vision of young Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock again!). He thinks they’re in the throne room, and she taunts him in Valyrian. He beheads her, but her severed head keeps talking. “This is what you wanted, is it not?” she asks.

house of the dragon

HBO

He’s awaken by Lord Strong, who informs him of their opponent’s movements: The castles of Rosby and Stokeworth have pledged their armies to Aegon with little resistance, and now Criston Cole’s army might be headed to Harrenhal. Daemon hopes he can find support in House Tully’s armies, but Lord Grover’s teenage son, Oscar, won’t order them to march while his grandfather is on his deathbed.

Meanwhile, Rhaenys has a very interesting first meeting with Alyn of Hull. It’s like she knows something is up with him. But she can’t stay long, because Baela has called her back to Dragonstone.

In King’s Landing, a cup of tea—meant to induce an abortion—is delivered to Alicent Hightower’s room. (It looks like Criston Cole got her pregnant.) But something else is also on her mind: After her surprise encounter with Rhaenyra in last week’s episode, when she learned the real meaning of Viserys’ final words, her doubt has started to grow. “Do you believe Viserys wanted Aegon to succeed him?” she asks Grand Maester Orwyle. There’s no way to know, he tells her. Once he leaves, Alicent drinks the tea, clutching her stomach.

house of the dragon

Theo Whiteman//HBO

The council on Dragonstone, on the other hand, is wondering where Rhaenyra is. (In case you forgot: She was sneaking into King’s Landing to speak to Alicent.) Corlys has to remind them that there is more to be done than “grouse and claw for power.”

While Rhaenyra is MIA, Cole and the green army are coercing House Darklyn into bending the knee for Aegon. Those who refuse are beheaded, including their leader, Lord Darklyn. Instead of heading to Harrenhal next, they change directions.

It looks like they’re headed to Rook’s Rest instead, a small castle on the coast that would cut off Dragonstone by land. Aegon is furious that he was not informed of this plan and that they lost Harrenhal to Daemon. He’s even angrier that his brother, Aemond, and Larys Strong seem to be plotting without him. But what can Aegon do? It’s not like he has any better strategies in the works. After the tense meeting, Larys pays Queen Alicent a visit and notices the drunken tea. He seems to be catching onto her and Cole’s relationship. (Time check: Did anyone else realize it’s only been weeks since Viserys’ death?)

Back at Harrenhal, Daemon is haunted by another vision: a figure who looks like Aemond wandering the halls, who turns out to just be Daemon in Aemond’s hair and eye patch. He finds the eerie Alys Rivers whipping up a strange concoction in the kitchen, licking blood off her fingers. Apparently, she inherited maester duties after the last one fled in the night. She tells Daemon that Harrenhal has been haunted for ages, in part due to the heart trees on the property and used throughout the castle. She already knows about the nature of his sleep and his rocky relationship with Rhaenyra. She offers him a drink from her suspicious cup to help him sleep.

When Daemon takes a sip, the next thing he knows, he’s in a meeting with House Blackwood. His stupor is still barely wearing off; he mistakes one of the servant girls for his first wife, Laena Velaryon. Despite the strange meeting, the Blackwoods can still promise their armies to Rhaenyra—if Demon and his dragon can bring justice to the Brackens first.

house of the dragon

HBO

Aemond leaves his council meeting simply due to boredom (imagine doing that at work!) and complains to his mother that the people around him, from his brother to his Hand to his council, don’t care about what he thinks. Alicent seems like she has to keep herself from laughing. “What thoughts do you have?” she asks him. “Do you think simply wearing the crown imbues you with wisdom?”

She reminds him that the men at his council are more experienced than him, and it would do him good to study them. It seems like after Rhaenrya’s Song of Ice and Fire revelation, Alicent is realizing putting Aegon on the throne isn’t what it she’d hoped it would be. She digs into him further, saying he isn’t half the king Viserys was: “You should humbly be seeking our opinions and council. You have know idea the sacrifices that were made to put you on that throne.”

So what should Aegon do, then? “Simply what is needed of you: nothing,” Alicent responds, shutting him right up.

Rhaenyra is finally back from her side quest in King’s Landing, still wearing the septa garb she used as a disguise. Of course her council thinks what she did was insane, but she needed to know for sure that a peaceful settlement was not possible. After last-resort negotiations with Alicent failed, she’s ready to accept that her side should face Cole on the battlefield as he heads to Rook’s Rest and inches closer to Dragonstone. They need to send a dragon to show their strength. Her son, Jacerys, offers to go, but after what happened with Luke, Rhaenyra won’t allow it. Instead, Rhaenys offers to go with Meleys, their largest dragon with war experience. As both sides ready for battle, Rhaenyra continues tradition and tells Jace, her heir, about the Song of Ice and Fire, just like her father did with her.

rhaenys house of the dragon

HBO

Cole’s army advances on Rook’s Rest with the hopes of garnering Lord Staunton’s army and loyalty—but wait, Aegon has battle FOMO. He will not do nothing as his mother advised; instead, he armors up, hops on his dragon, Sunfyre, and joins the ranks himself. Mind you, they have no idea he’s coming.

What they are expecting is for a dragon on Rhaenyra’s side to meet them in battle. When Rhaenys and Meleys fly over Rook’s Rest, startling the green army, Cole has his men send a signal. Apparently, Vhagar and Aemond are hiding in the forest, waiting to attack. But first, Aegon jumps in, to everyone’s surprise. Cole uses his arrival to motivate his troops: You better fight hard now that your king is here with you!

But the most interesting part of the battle is airborne. Aegon and Sunfyre chase Rhaenys and Meleys, and the two pairs wrestle in the air above the castle. Then, enter Aemond and Vhagar. Aegon first thinks his brother is coming to save him, but he seems to attack him instead. Vhagar blows fire at the two other dragons, leading Sunfyre and Aegon to fall from the sky. Rhaenys and Meleys seem to be safe, but instead of heading home, they turn around and attack the green troops. Vhagar, however, grabs Meleys by the neck and kills her. When her eyes close, Rhaenys takes this as her signal: It’s the end for her, too. She lets herself fall with her dragon, and the two come crashing onto the ground beneath them.

house of the dragon

Theo Whiteman//HBO

But wait, what about Aegon? Criston Cole searches for his king on the scorched battlefield and finds his fallen dragon in a forest clearing. Aemond is there, drawing (or sheathing?) his sword. “Where is His Grace?” Cole asks. Aemond points ahead with a Valyrian steel dagger he finds on the ground. The smoke clears, revealing Aegon, unconscious on the ground beside his badly hurt dragon.

Is he alive? Is he dead? Cole doesn’t know. He just drops to his knees in shock.

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