House of the Dragon Episode 2 review: A reminder of Game of Thrones’ greatest strength

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The feuds of politics and blood thicken in House of the Dragon Episode 2, a heady dose of dialogue-driven storytelling that brings depth to the debris surrounding the impending civil war.

Has there ever been a TV episode with higher stakes than the House of the Dragon debut? A few obstacles, to name a few: the bitter memory of Game of Thrones; the high-fantasy dueling hype for The Rings of Power; and a $20 million budget to respond amid the elimination of content from Warner Bros.

One man renewed our affection: Ramin Djawadi, the returning composer who simply used a few notes from his old theme, and the magic was back.

After the gory spectacle of the premiere, from “gratuitous public brutality” to one of the most horrific birth scenes ever put on screen, Episode 2 recalls Game of Thrones‘ greatest strength: the episodes that some would consider “filling” or “boring”, when cataclysmic.

Spoilers for House of the Dragon Episode 2 to follow…

House of the Dragon Politics Becomes Clearer in Episode 2

After the very first title sequence (it’s just the Targaryen sigil with two parts of the old theme), we open to a beach marred by carnage; crabs crawl over rotting corpses and restless, groaning souls. It cuts to a council meeting, where Viserys (Paddy Considine), Otto (Rhys Ifans), and the others are discussing who will fill an empty Kingsguard slot.

Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) bursts in, demanding that Viserys wage war on the Stepstones – an area of ​​lawless land disputed by the Free Cities – over a “Crabfeeder” that is inflicting critical damage to his fleet. He also criticizes the king’s lack of action on Daemon (Matt Smith), who has since taken over the seat of Dragonstone and ruled it for six months without concern.

When Rhaenyra suggests sending Dragonriders to the Stepstones, she is pushed aside to go choose the new Kingsguard, where she deliberately ignores Otto’s advice and chooses a soldier with combat experience.

Grief and anxiety still hang over House of the Dragon

Six months may have passed since Episode 1, but its events are raw. As Viserys mourns Aemma, Corlys and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) urge him to remarry, as it will strengthen his reign. There are two problems: they want him to marry their 12-year-old daughter, Lady Laena (Savannah Steyn); and Otto Allicent’s daughter (Emily Carey) has been tasked with charming him into an offer of marriage.

Game of Thrones was not afraid to tackle taboos and disgusts; lest we forget how the first episode ended in incest. Luckily, Viserys doesn’t seem at all interested in marrying Laena, even when she emotionally reveals that her mother told her she didn’t have to “put him down” until he was 14.

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra remains on her toes, despite the loss of her mother and a brother she has never seen. One of the episode’s strongest moments is a short conversation between Rhaenyra and Rhaenys, with the latter princess urging Rhaenyra to never sit on the Iron Throne, despite being named heir. “Your father is not stupid,” she tells him, desperate to make him aware of the sexism inherent in any Westeros dynasty.

The first dragon dance, an obvious marriage and an unlikely team

Smith’s scene-stealing prince doesn’t appear much in episode 2, only appearing after stealing Baelon’s egg and returning to Dragonstone. Otto visits her with a small army, with tensions almost reaching a boiling point; Daemon thinks he’s the rightful heir and Otto thinks he’s a brat.

HBO

Daemon confronts Otto in Episode 2.

Next, Rhaenyra hurtles through the clouds onto Syrax, just as Caraxes looks ready to rain fire on the bridge. She walks past Otto and comes face to face with Daemon, asking him to stop “all this trouble” and kill her if he wants the throne. After standing up against Otto, this actually causes Daemon to stop, and he retreats to the castle and returns the egg.

Rhaenyra’s actions anger Viserys, who points out that she is his only heir and that their line could easily be wiped out. However, just as things stabilize between them, Viserys makes a big announcement: he’s decided to remarry, but it won’t be Lady Laena – he’s chosen Allicent, Rhaenyra’s best friend.

Shortly after, angered by Viserys’ dismissal of his daughter, Corlys takes decisive action to oppose the king and asks for Daemon’s support in tackling “problems in the Stepstones… our chance is not given.” , it must be done.

House of the Dragon ignores fears of boredom and delivers

Game of Thrones ditched what made it great in the end. Spectacular episodes like Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards were once earned, not expected, and shock was found in searing words and betrayals, not just death.

House of the Dragon Episode 2 offers the same vital, in-between storytelling that made its predecessor a television titan. The show has already taken off, but now its wings are spreading.

House of the Dragon Episode 3 will be available on September 4 in the US and September 5 in the UK.

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