Rhaenyra, meet your new mommy.
As House of the Dragon’s second episode gets underway, not even six months have passed since Queen Aemma’s bloody, futile death. But nearly everyone in King Viserys’ orbit spends most of the episode buzzing in his ear, telling him how he must remarry — and soon — with one adviser even offering up a very young daughter as a potential bride.
If you’ve read Fire & Blood, you already know who is chosen to become the new queen. But let’s all run through the highlights of Episode 2 and find out/relive it together, shall we? (And once you’re done, check out our chat with Olivia Cooke and Paddy Considine, then ponder our burning questions about a certain Episode 2 scene.)
CRABBY BADDIE | You might’ve missed it in Episode 1, seeing as how we were meeting everyone for the first time, but Lord Corlys was very worried about a tyrant known as the Crab Feeder amassing power across the sea somewhere, someone who is known for leaving his victims to get nibbled to death by relentless crustaceans. Well, we see evidence of such torture at the very start of this week’s hour, though the action quickly moves back to King’s Landing, where Corlys is really mad that four ships (one of which was his) went down thanks to the aforementioned far-off threat in the Stepstones, and madder that Viserys doesn’t seem to care much.
“I want to seize the Stepstones by force, and burn out this Crab Feeder,” the Sea Snake announces. But Viserys doesn’t want to start a war with the pirates, who are backed by the Free Cities. Corlys is annoyed even further by the fact that Daemon decamped to Dragonstone, took it by force and is holding it via the strength of the City Watch, and Viserys hasn’t made a peep.
Hightower doesn’t like Corlys’ disrespectful tone, and tells him so, but Viserys doesn’t seem bothered. He’s sent envoys to Volantis and Pentos to try to talk peace, and he has ships and men ready to deal with the situation. “You have dragonriders, Father,” Rhaenyra pipes up from the corner. “Send us.” But no one takes her seriously — though everyone assembled seems to think it quite amusing that she has a thought and opinion on the matter — and so Viserys asks Ser Harrold to take the princess to help choose someone to fill a vacancy in the Kingsguard: After all, the new knight will be tasked with keeping her safe.
WELCOME TO THE KINGSGUARD, SER CRISTON! | One by one, the candidates are marched before Rhaenyra, who seems supremely bored. She interrupts the proceedings to ask if any have actual combat experience, so Ser Harrold summons Ser Criston Cole, aka Hot Dark-Haired Knight from the tournament in the premiere. She learns that he achieved his knighthood after putting in time as a footsoldier, and that seems to seal it: “I choose Ser Criston Cole,” Rhaenyra happily announces. Otto points out that the other knights are better choices, from alliance standpoints and such, but she shuts him down, and that’s that. Also, I should probably mention that Rhaenys watches the whole thing with [insert Beaches “Otto Titsling” voice] a great deal of innnnnterest.
Upstairs, Viserys shows Alicent his model of Old Valyria, answering at least one of my questions from the premiere when he tells her that he reads the histories and provides the plans, but “the stonemasons build the structures.” He asks how Rhaenyra is doing (apparently she and her dad don’t talk much in the wake of the queen’s death), but Alicent encourages him to reach out to her himself. “You do have an easy way about you, Your Grace,” she says. Then he not-so-subtly tells Alicent not to mention their conversations to her best friend, which is not. troubling. at. all. — especially in the very next scene, when Rhaenyra complains about how the small council is already trying to marry off the king, and Alicent is all, “Would it be such a bad thing if he remarried?”
The girls are in the sept, and Alicent suggests that Rhaenyra light a candle and pray for her mother, as a way to feel closer to her. So she does, and it brings her to tears. Aw, poor kid. Alicent quietly says that when she wants to talk with Otto, she has the make the effort, and Rhaenyra smiles, clasps her arm and thanks her.
IN WHICH CORLYS AND RHAENYS MAKE THEIR MOVE | Meanwhile, Viserys, Corlys and Rhaenys meet, ostensibly to smooth over the harshness of the small council meeting earlier but really so the couple can once more make a case for the king to wed their daughter Laena and unite the two remaining great Valyrian houses. Corlys reasons that the family that has dragons and the family that has the world’s largest fleet should be “bound in blood,” which would be a sign to everyone that the crown hasn’t been weakened by recent events. The king doesn’t say much in response, but he also doesn’t say no.
The king’s hand (not to be confused with the hand of the king) is MUCH worse since he cut it in the premiere, and the maesters resort to submerging the appendage in a tray of maggots in order to try to save his pinky finger (which is blackened with decay). And since he’s gotta pass the time anyway, he raises Corlys and Rhaenys’ proposal with Hightower while he waits. Otto is not into the idea. The Grand Maester supports it, if for not other reason than keeping the royal baby factory in operation. Which is a valid idea, until Viserys and Laena go for a walk and she is an actual CHILD. (Side note: I know we saw her in the royal box at the joust, but my brain was like, “Surely Corlys and Rhaenys have another daughter who’s, I don’t know, past puberty?” THEY DO NOT.) To his credit, the king is almost as uneasy with the whole thing as I am.
And when Rhaenyra and Rhaenys talk about the matter, we quickly find out that they do not have a warm-and-fuzzy relationship. Rhaenys reminds Rhaenyra that “the order of things” is that Viserys will remarry, he’ll likely have a male heir, and the men of the realm will consider that male heir their ruler. “When I am queen, I will create a new order,” the teen shoots back, bringing to mind Daenerys’ “I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel” pronouncement in Game of Thrones and making me love the kid even more than I already do. Rhaenys brings up the point that the realm had the chance to have a queen back in the day, and passed. “They denied you, Princess Rhaenys, Queen Who Never Was,” Rhaenyra says. “But they bent the knee to me and called me heir to the throne.” Did someone say “dracarys?” Because that was a BURN. But the elder princess is cool and composed as she tells Rhaenyra “men would rather put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne. And your father is no fool.”
DAEMON VS. RHAENYRA | Later, during an intimate meal in his quarters, Viserys tells Alicent about the Laena plan. Then she gifts him a mended stone dragon — which he’d broken when it accidentally dropped earlier it the episode — and he’s genuinely touched. Otto interrupts to tell the king there’s an emergency small council session: Prince Daemon stole a dragon’s egg in the dark of night, leaving behind a note announcing: a) he’s taking a second wife (Mysaria), b) they’re expecting a child, and c) they’re going to put the egg in the cradle, as is House Targaryen custom. Oh, and he’s invited Viserys to the wedding, which will take place in two days. Chicken or fish, my lord?
As the council argues, Rhaenyra asks the dragonkeeper, in High Valyrian, which egg her uncle took. Turns out, it belonged to Dreamfyre — the same egg they’d chosen for Baelon’s cradle. Viserys instantly wants to go to Dragonstone to drag his brother back himself, but Hightower says he’ll go instead.
So he does, and meets Daemon (carrying the egg) and Mysaria on the bridge. Otto orders him to vacate Dragonstone. Daemon notices the new Kingsguard member behind him and pretends to forget his name. “Perhaps my prince recalls when I knocked him off his horse,” the young knight replies. (Ha!) There’s a lot of shouting about treason and whores, then Daemon dares Otto and his men to come and take the egg. Swords are drawn on both sides. And then the dragon that Daemon and Mysaria rode at the end of the premiere appears behind him, causing Otto to have his men sheath their weapons. But THEN the mists around the bridge start to ripple and Rhaenyra appears on Syrax (!), landing behind Hightower and his group.
She ignores the Hand’s order to go home, then marches up to Daemon and — in High Valyrian — demands that he vacate Dragonstone, which is (on paper, at least) hers. Also? Mysaria is not pregnant. “If you wish to be restored as heir, you’ll need to kill me,” she says, returning to English. ”So do it, and be done with all this bother.” He doesn’t. Instead, he chucks the egg at her, turns and walks away. Then she places the egg in a warmer, mounts her dragon, and flies home.
Inside, Mysaria is NOT pleased: the whole wedding-and-preggo thing was news to her. Plus: She swore a long time ago never to have her life put in danger by having a child. Even worse, she fears that though the king night show Daemon mercy should the need arise, he would not hesitate to kill a “whore” carrying a Targaryen baby. We learn that Mysaria has been bought and sold several times over, from the time she was a child, and “most of my years have been spent living in terror.” She doesn’t want gold or power, but to be liberated. “Liberated from what?” he asks. “Fear,” she says.
ALLIANCES OF ALL KINDS | When Rhaenyra gets home, Viserys is ripped to find out what she’s done. “You’re my only heir. You could’ve been killed!” he says, staying on brand. “I retrieved the egg without bloodshed,” she tells him calmly, an accomplishment she’s not sure Otto would’ve been able to do alone. As her father tacitly acknowledges the truth of her statement, it lowers the temperature of the conversation a little, making space for an honest conversation about how they’re both still really mourning Aemma and how they both know that he’s got to remarry.
“You are the king, and your first duty is to the realm,” Rhaenyra says, more sympathetic to her dad than we’ve seen her since the queen’s death. “Mother would have understood this, just as I do.”
The next morning, Viserys calls his small council to order and announces that he’s decided to take a new wife. And Corlys, I wouldn’t look quite so triumphant if I were you. Then we see Rhaenyra realize that Alicent is standing by her father’s chair, and… yep: Meet your new stepmom! After Viserys says he and Alicent will be wed before spring’s end, Corlys stomps out and Rhaenyra blinks back tears before following him.
Next, we see Corlys talking to someone about how his family had to scratch their way into wealth and power via hard work, that nothing was given to them. “I’ve always thought of you and I as having been made from the same cloth,” he says to the person sitting across from him… and it’s Daemon! “We’re both men who’ve had to cut our way through the world.” They’re meeting at Driftmark, seat of House Velaryon. He fills Daemon in on how Viserys doesn’t want to stop the Crab Feeder, but that stepping into that fight is how Daemon can show his power. And as flashes of the violence in the Stepstones are intercut with the men’s conversation, it seems like Viserys’ brother is contemplating taking up Corlys’ proposal.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!