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House of the Dragon Season 2 Preview: Dancing With Dragons

King Aegon II sits in the small council chamber
Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO

The following contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 1 (created by Ryan Condal and George R.R. Martin and produced by Ryan Congal and Miguel Sapochnik)

Not since “The Dress” debate of 2015 have two colors divided the culture so significantly.

As House of the Dragon returns with Season 2 on Sunday night, the question viewers must ask themselves (as demanded by the unceasing HBO marketing campaigns) is: are you Team Green or Team Black? With the interviews and press tours and marketing campaigns coming to a merciful end, we will finally return to Westeros on June 16th to witness dragons dance, houses fall, and the inevitable backstabbing and scheming between allies and foes alike.

Queen Alicent and Queen Rhaenyra face off against one another
Photo Courtesy of HBO

It’s been nearly two years since Season 1 of House of the Dragon ended with Team Green firing the first shot that is likely to descend the realm into civil war, but much of the first season was truthfully comprised of chess pieces moving and alliances being formed, strengthened, and broken. As King Viserys might have called it, we were being “suffocated by all this f***ing politicking!”

If the glimpses we have seen from trailers are to be believed, this season will be much more about violence and revenge. Such is the way in any Game of Thrones property. A famous scene between Princess Rhaenyra and Princess Rhaenys from the second episode of Season 1 sees them discussing “the order of things.” The idea is that there is a pattern, or a choreography, to how the Seven Kingdoms work that was laid out long before either of them was there.

That conversation happened when Rhaenyra was merely an heir to the throne with no male heir yet born to supplant her. Even before any other layers of turmoil were added, Rhaenys warned Rhaenyra about what would be ahead.

“Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne.”

Daemon rejects Otto's terms to accept Alicent as queen
Photo Courtesy Ollie Upton/HBO

After more than 60 years of peace under Kings Jaehaerys and Viserys, the realm sits on the tenuous edge of a blade sharper than Dark Sister. Westeros is a powder keg ready to blow, with one single spark being all that is needed. The various factions of the Targaryens—a family known for its connection to fire—may try to resist, but we all know that at this point the realm is destined to burn.

Where Dragons Have Already Danced

It’s easy to look at the events at the end of Episode 9 and the end of Episode 10 as triggers that were pulled to start the Targaryen civil war, but in reality, the chambers were loaded long before that. Some might say Viserys choosing Alicent as his bride after Aemma died was the beginning of the end of the unified realm, especially for Rhaenyra who was not consulted about her father marrying her best friend.

Others (myself included) count Alicent’s long walk down among the lords and ladies at Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding feast as the first shot fired. Interrupting her husband’s speech while wearing a striking green dress (the color Oldtown uses to call its allies to war) was a slap in the face to anyone loyal to the Targaryen red and black.

In terms of violence, young Lucerys taking Aemond’s eye after he claimed Vhagar as his dragon could be seen as an act of unreturned retribution; something that has caused Alicent to further wade into the depths of bitterness and jealousy. She wanted immediate vengeance after the incident, but Viserys forbid it. Aemond said as much when they confronted each other in the Stormlands at the end of Episode 10—years later he still was bent on taking one of Lucerys’ eyes as justice demands.

Aemond waits on Lucerys Targaryen at Storms End
Photo Courtesy Gary Moyes/HBO

The few weak threads that held the realm together through all these events kept violence away, at least as long as Viserys was alive. Once gone, each family began their tour of securing allegiances to their house and fortifying their positions, leading to the fateful confrontation between Aemond and Lucerys when they both arrive to try and secure Lord Borros Baratheon’s banners.

The fragile peace hovering over the realm disappeared quickly when Aemond chased Lucerys through the skies while riding the behemoth that is Vhagar. When Aemond was not able to control Vhagar’s actions, the old dragon chomped right through Lucerys and his young dragon, Arrax, killing the second-born son of Rhaenrya, the named heir to Driftmark.

We see Rhaenyra’s reaction to this news as the first season ends, and it’s clear she will no longer be able to tame the dragon inside of her now that one of her children has been murdered when he arrived simply as an envoy to deliver a message to an ally. The mixed emotions of hate, revenge, and fortitude all open a door to what should be a very bloody and very intriguing Dance of the Dragons.

What’s Next on the Dance Card

As Cersei Lannister famously told Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Those words should echo in our minds as we watch what unfolds over the eight episodes of House of the Dragon Season 2. Now that it seems both Rhaenyra and Alicent are dedicated to war, there will be no easy answers or sparing of violence.

Daemon and Rhaenyra meet at Dragonstone
Photo Courtesy Ollie Upton/HBO

After Lucerys was murdered at the end of Season 1, we have quite a clue of what is to come when the new season kicks off Sunday night based on the one episode title we have so far. The first episode of this new season is entitled, “Son for a Son.” There are only so many ways to interpret that before coming to the conclusion of what is likely to happen in this season’s first hour. Those familiar with Fire & Blood, the George R.R. Martin source text of this show, know that this first episode is likely to serve up a very disturbing first course of cheese and blood.

But as with any game, there are many moves that must be made before a game is won or lost. The retribution likely to be served in the season’s first episode will undoubtedly pave the way for battles to be fought on a grander scale than we saw in Season 1. Gone are the time jumps and the confusing actor swaps that drew ire from viewers of the inaugural season. We are moving deep into war, so the pieces on the chess board now (with a few others to be added), will be the ones that take us to the endgame.

Vhagar the dragon flies above Storms End
Photo courtesy of HBO

Expect more large-scale battles similar to “Battle of the Bastards” or “Battle of the Blackwater.” Much of Season 1’s wars were waged in back rooms or small council chambers. That will undeniably change in Season 2. Most importantly, however, expect more dragons. Much of the text around this civil war revolves around the brutality of two sides who possess multiple dragons and will use them as necessary to achieve their own ends. This isn’t House of the Foot Soldiers, after all. It’s House of the Dragon.

Questions Season 2 Could Answer

  1. What will be the repercussions of Aemond directly (or indirectly) murdering Lucerys at the end of Season 1? There is a very clear answer in the book, alluded to above, but if there truly is vengeance served, what are the next steps? Rhaenyra was at least considering peace to unite the realm. Alicent offered generous terms for her to bend the knee. With those two options now clearly off the table, how soon will the realm devolve to utter chaos?
  2. Will Daemon accept Rhaenrya as the true ruler of Westeros? Daemon is clearly Team Black, but also literally had Rhaenyra by the throat when he thought she was wavering on the thought of going to war with Team Green. As one of the darkest, most complicated, and blood-thirsty characters alive at this point of the show, what is his role in beginning or escalating the next level of violence? And will he follow Rhaenyra’s command at the end of Season 1 that no decisions or actions are to be taken without her approval?
  3. How will the common folk react to Rhaenys killing hundreds (if not thousands) of them at the Dragonpit when she escaped Aegon II’s coronation on Meleys? Will the people of King’s Landing see this as a violent act committed by Team Black and further declare their loyalty to Aegon II and Team Green? The population largely seemed to approve of Aegon II when they were forced to watch his coronation.
  4. Where is Ser Laenor and will he appear again on the show? The fake death of Ser Laenor and his escape with Ser Qarl allowed Dameon and Rhaenrya to wed and combine forces of the realm’s most fearsome dragon-riders. Lord Corlys Valyron and Princess Rhaenys suspect Daemon and Rhaenyra had something to do with Laenor’s “death,” but joined Team Black anyway. What happens to the legitimacy of Rhaenrya’s rule if she is falsely married to Dameon? This is a MAJOR deviation from the books, where Laenor is definitively dead. His presence somewhere in the world not only raises the question of whether Seasmoke (his dragon) can take another ride but overall is a massive wildcard moving forward.
  5. Where are Daeron and Tessarion? Daeron is the fourth child of Alicent and King Viserys, but we have not seen him on screen yet. In the book, Daeron is serving as a squire in Oldtown and his capable dragon, Tessarion, is there with him. There has been no on-screen acknowledgment of his existence to this point, but actress Olivia Cooke stated he does exist. If young Daeron comes home with Tessarion, it would help even the inequity that currently exists between the number of dragons controlled by Team Black and Team Green.
  6. Will we get to see Alicent and Rhaenyra together at any point this season? The end of Season 1 was marked by an episode devoted to Alicent at King’s Landing followed by an episode devoted to Rhaenyra at Dragonstone. There doesn’t seem to be much reasoning ahead to bring them together, which would be a shame if we are denied that in Season 2. Their tension and confrontations with one another were some of the high points of the first season and I choose to believe Congal and Sapochnik will find some way to get them into a room together over eight episodes.

What are your predictions for Season 2 of House of the Dragon? What questions do you have heading into the second season? Feel free to leave a comment, or reach out to me on X (@CableBoxScore) and let’s chat about the most entertaining show on television!

Written by Ryan Kirksey

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