Tensions rise between Targaryens in first teaser for House of the Dragon S2

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Written By Sedoso Feb

It’s House Targaryens vs House Hightower in the second season of HBO’s House of the Dragon.

HBO dropped the first teaser for the much-anticipated second season of its Game of Thrones prequel spinoff series House of the Dragon during CCXP23 in Sao Paulo Brazil. The eight episodes will cover the onset of civil war within House Targaryen, known as the Dance of Dragons.

(Spoilers for the first season below.)

As I’ve written previously, HBO’s House of the Dragon debuted last year with a solid, promising pilot episode, and the remainder of the season lived up to that initial promise. The series is set about 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and chronicles the beginning of the end of House Targaryen’s reign. The primary source material is Fire and Blood, a fictional history of the Targaryen kings written by George R.R. Martin.

As book readers know, those events culminated in a civil war and the extinction of the dragons—at least until Daenerys Targaryen came along. It’s King Viserys I Targaryen’s (Paddy Considine) fateful decision to name his fierce dragon-rider daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) as his heir—passing over his brother and heir presumptive Daemon (Matt Smith)—that sets events in motion. As Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best)—aka the “Queen Who Never Was,” because she was passed over when Viserys was crowned—knows all too well, “Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne.”

The first season spanned many years and made some pretty significant time jumps, which in turn required replacing the younger actors as their characters aged. Most notably, Emma D’Arcy now plays the older version of Rhaenyra. The S1 finale brought Westeros to the brink of civil war.  Viserys died, and his second wife, Alicent (Olivia Cooke), conspired with her father Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) to crown her eldest son Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) as king instead of Viserys’ declared heir apparent, Rhaenyra. (Let’s just say their approach was very typical: support Aegon or be executed.)

This kicked off a lot of political maneuvering as both sides tried to shore up support for their chosen heir in preparation for the inevitable fight. Even though she was technically the rightful heir, Rhaenyra actually seemed to be considering House Hightower’s conditions for concession—until the arrogant Prince Aemon (Ewan Mitchell), Alicent’s younger son, went after Rhaenyra’s young son, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault). Both dragonriders failed to control their dragons, and Aemon’s dragon Vhagar ate Lucerys and his dragon Arrax in mid-air. The season closed with Daemon and Rhaenyra receiving the devastating news, effectively dashing any hope of a peaceful resolution.

(Spoilers below the gallery based on events in Fire and Blood.)

Most of the S1 main cast members are returning for S2 (those whose characters survived). And we’ve got some new faces in the mix: Abubakar Salim as Alyn of Hull; Gayle Rankin as Alys Rivers; Freddie Fox as Ser Gwayne Hightower; Simon Russell Beale as Ser Simon Strong; Clinton Liberty as Addam of Hull; Jamie Kenna as Ser Alfred Broome; Kieran Bew as Hugh; Tom Bennett as Ulf; Tom Taylor as Lord Cregan Stark; and Vincent Regan as Ser Rickard Thorne.

The teaser opens by setting the stakes,  with Alicent’s father, Otto Hightower, admitting that “errors were made in the hours following King Viserys’ death,” and Alicent declaring, “The war will be fought. Many will die. And the victor will eventually ascend the throne.” So it’s definitely business as usual in Westeros. There are dragons and dragonriders, a beheading, troops gathering and getting wiped out by dragon fire, and Rhaenyra and Aemon facing off with their dragons. Clearly Rhaenyra will not heed the warning of Rhaenys:  “There is no war so hateful to the gods as a war between kin. And no war so bloody as a war between dragons.”

There is also one brief scene with Aemon’s sister-wife, Helaena, being held with a knife to her throat. It’s already been confirmed that a particularly brutal plot point in the source material will close out S2, and this looks like it might be a reference to that infamous “Blood and Cheese” incident. Blood is a sellsword and Cheese as a ratcatcher, both hired by an agent of Daemon to take revenge against House Hightower for the death of his son Lucerys.  Essentially, they force Helaena to choose which of her two young sons will be put to death. When she chooses her youngest two-year-old, Maelor, they behead her eldest, Jaehaerys, instead, and bring the head back to Daemon. That should make for a powerful S2 finale, setting up the planned final two seasons quite nicely. Here’s hoping they get to finish the story.

The second season of House of the Dragon is expected to premiere on Max in the summer of 2024.

Listing image by Max


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