Saturday, October 1, 2022

‘House of the Dragon’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Rogue Prince”

Uncategorized'House of the Dragon' Recap: Season 1, Episode 2 "The Rogue Prince"

Previously on House of the Dragon

King Viserys suffers devastation after devastation in the pilot, losing both his wife and newborn son in the series premiere, as well as severing the already-dwindling relationship between him and his only brother. The brother in question, Prince Dameon Targaryen, loses his title as the successor to the crown (which seems like it may be up for grabs sooner rather than later) when he mocks the death of the newborn. The young princess, Rhaenyra, is named the new successor — the first girl heir to the Iron Throne. The blood and drama from the Targaryen family is back on our screens and at the height of their rule in Westeros.

“The Rogue Prince”

The second episode is set just six months following the series premiere.

We open on a gruesome scene — caused by the Crab Feeder (aka Craghas Drahar) — on the beach with fallen soldiers being eaten alive by crabs. Ser Ryam must be replaced as the Kingsguard, and all that is left is for King Viserys to choose from the options laid before him. It turns out the men on the beach were Lord Corlys’ men, three ships of his have been destroyed now, and he is demanding action. He is told that he will be compensated for both the ships and the crew, but he doesn’t want compensation; he wants to seize the Stepstones and start a war with the Free Cities — which Viserys is very much so against.

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The newly-appointed heir to the Iron Throne, Rhaenyra, offers a solution — the king has dragonriders (herself included), and they should be sent to handle the Free Cities as a show of force. Viserys dismisses the idea without actually weighing in on it at all and states that his daughter should instead attend to the appointment of the new Kingsguard, which she should choose as the knight will protect her as well.

HBO

Rhaenyra is overseeing the selection, and as her aunt, Rhaenys watches on, presented with several supposedly worthy knights to choose from for the future Kingsguard. Ser Desmond Caron is strong and steady — no. Thanked for his loyal service and moves on. Ser Rymun Mallister, an impressively mounted knight. None of the options have combat experience; hold for Ser Criston Cole, who, as a reminder, we met in the season premiere when he absolutely annihilated Prince Daemon at the tournament. Rhaenyra is impressed with his combat experience and chooses the knight as the new Kingsguard. She doesn’t want a tourney knight, she wants someone who can protect her family, and in her mind, Criston is the only option.

Things continue to get weird (to say the least) between King Viserys and Alicent, who has officially been pawned off on the struggling king as (what I assume) to be his next planned wife after the passing of Queen Aemma. Alicent offers the king advice — to approach his daughter to speak with her, but Viserys admits that he is afraid of his 15-year-old daughter. The King questions Alicent about whether or not she tells Rhaenyra about their “talks,” insisting that his daughter would not understand them.

Allicent, however, does tell her best friend about these talks. Rhaenyra is understandably upset that her mother has only been dead for half a year, and the council is already trying to marry her father off again, and to her best friend no less.

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“I know those men and how they plot in their secret councils.”

Allicent wants Rhaenyra to try kneeling in the Sept with her to attempt to connect with her own deceased mother as she does, but clearly, Rhaenyra has never done this before and is unsure what she should say in the quiet of the Sept. The result is Rhaenyra showing genuine emotion other than anger — she cries in frustration, wishing to be seen by her father as more than a little girl.

HBO

Lord Corlys apologizes to King Viserys for his earlier tenor at the Small Council. The king explains that while he values the fleet, his highest priority is to avoid beginning a war for the realm. Speaking plainly, Corlys relays that he is worried their enemies’ eyes are fixated on the Red Keep currently — the Queen has passed, a girl has been named the heir to the throne for the first time, and the King’s brother has taken the throne in Dragonstone without much effort or repercussion, and now a foreign power has established a colony in one of the most important shipping locations to the realm. Obviously, Viserys is offended by the lord’s perception of his reign. His cousin, Rhaenys, agrees with Corlys; however — the King is beginning to appear weak and at risk of an incursion.

“To elude a storm, you can either sail into it, or around it, but you must never await its coming.”

The solution Corlys offers is for the two to join families — for Viserys to wed their daughter Laena and join together the two great surviving Valyrian houses. With Targaryen dragons and the Velaryon fleet bound together by blood, the realm will see that the Crown’s strongest days await them. This is a clear medieval move — Laena would only be around 10 years old at this point in the story, but this doesn’t stop the Small Council from agreeing that this is the best solution. Even Rhaenyra agrees that this is the best decision for the realm and her father.

HBO

King Viserys refuses to marry Laena — and while it appears to be due to reluctance to marry a ten-year-old, the true reason is that in his “secret” conversations with Alicent, he has begun to develop a genuine fondness for her. His announcement that he will not marry Laena alienates Corlys, shocks and further displeases the Small Council, and puts his relationship with his daughter (which was already not strong) on the finest thread — it’s simply not good to wish to marry your daughter’s best friend.

Rhaenyra is really receiving the short end of the stick thus far, even if it is wrapped with the bow of being the named heir — she seemingly has no real supporters, no one on her side, and she is still serving drinks to the men of the high council, and (again) her dad wants to marry her best friend. While we don’t see much of him this week, Rhys Ifans’ portrayal of Otto Hightower is delightfully terrible as he takes on the role as the new Littlefinger, seemingly putting his hand into everything behind-the-scenes. Ultimately, King Viserys and Alicent are wed, much to Rhaenyra (and the entire audience’s) horror. Clearly, this is the most important event of the week that will surely spur the remainder of the season.

HBO

After half a year in Dragonstone, Prince Daemon is bored, and in much need of attention — which is decided to gain by seizing a dragon egg as his own, declaring his intent to marry his girlfriend Mysaria, and promising the egg to the child they will one day have together. The small hitch in his plan is that Mysaria hasn’t actually agreed to any of this, which she quickly reminds him of (and we love a woman in the Game of Thrones universe who is willing to stand up for what she wants). Otto displays a strength I truly don’t expect from a character like him at this point by going to Dragonstone himself to confront Dameon and retrieve the egg.

On the long, winding path to the castle now occupied by Daemon, the younger Targaryen brother and the current Hand of the Kind are squaring off, and the hatred is practically dripping off of each man. Daemon’s dragon, the Red Worm, Caraxes, crawls down from the cliffs, and we’re all expecting everything to get much more real very, very quickly. Just before Otto becomes lunch, however, Rhaenyra saves the day atop Syrax, convincing her uncle to turn over the egg, proving that trademark Targaryen inner-family connection still runs deep and true nearly two hundred years in the past.

HBO

Despite his girlfriend rejecting his idealized future and his niece essentially repeatedly making a mockery of his rightful position in the family, Daemon doesn’t have to stay discouraged for long. Wounded in a similar way, Corlys invites Daemon for a visit, and the pair devise a plan to take on the Crab Feeder together and thus increase their standing in the Seven Kingdoms.

House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max. Stay tuned with Nerds & Beyond here as we publish episodic recaps for the series.

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