In “Second of His Name,” a little Aegon and lots of huge egos prove that House Targaryens can defeat themselves with or without the Crab.
House of the Dragon has a lot less in common with its parent show, Game of Thrones, than it seems.
Sure, both series take place in the same universe and feature at least one actor in a blonde wig riding a dragon, but that’s about it.
While Game of Thrones was a fantasy epic about a war of continental proportions peppered with supernatural threats, its spin-off is a not-so-intimate drama about a powerful family with a lot of bad blood.
It has a lot more in common with movies like Dallas and HBO’s Succession than it does with the great fantasy classics, like The Lord of the Rings… And if there was still any question about the show’s main genre, “Second of His Name” is here. to show that, in House of the Dragon, an awkward birthday party can be just as dangerous as a battlefield.
Last week’s arrangements between King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and House Hightower appear to be paying off, at least for some of the parties involved.
The king is delighted with the second birthday celebrations for his first living male heir, Prince Aegon (Jake and Rory Heard).
Queen Alicent (Emily Carey) is pregnant with her second child, and Lord Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) now has a direct line to the throne he could only dream of when he was just the Hand of the King, and not his father-in-law. -law.
The only two people who don’t seem happy about this turn of events are Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), whose claim to the throne is undermined by the birth of her baby brother, and Prince Daemon (Matt Smith). But then again, when is Prince Daemon happy?
Well, maybe he’ll find a semblance of joy by riding his dragon up the Stone Steps and burning Crab Feeder’s (Daniel Scott-Smith) men, and some of his own men, too.
No scene in the history of the Game of Thrones universe has ever made the monarchy’s disdain for its subjects as clear as Daemon throwing his dragon right on top of a poor sailor who was thrilled that the prince had come to save him. It was truly an A+ moment.
Too bad Daemon couldn’t see it, so busy he was spitting fire everywhere. Unfortunately, this attack was not enough to end the fight against Prince Drahar.
The Triarchy has retreated to the caves of Bloodstone, where Daemon’s dragons cannot reach them, and with the war dragging on for three years, the king’s rebellious brother may soon face trouble in his own ranks.
King Viserys is well aware of his brother’s plight, but he really couldn’t care less.
As in episode 1, having a baby around has blinded him to anything but partying, jousting, and hunting. And so, as one lady aptly puts it, she chooses to ignore the fact that the Crown is already at war, whether she admits it or not.
This willful blindness could cost Viserys some support from the higher houses, and this is not something the king can do without at this time.
Many lords are upset that Viserys has yet to announce Aegon as his official heir, and his very open falling out with Princess Rhaenyra in the midst of her son’s birthday quest surely didn’t help his popularity.
Rhaenyra’s anger at the king doesn’t just come from feeling threatened as heir to the throne or feeling betrayed by her former best friend.
Ever since she came of age, all the lords of the realm have been filling her father’s mailbox with marriage proposals, and now Rhaenyra has to deal with unwanted attention from men like Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall), who approaches at her with that Lannister swagger we all know so well.
It’s her talk about the wonders of Casterly Rock and how burdened her family is that leads Rhaenyra to start a scene and then storm out of her brother’s party with Ser Criston (Fabien Frankel) in tow. And the poor girl has yet to hear of Lord Otto’s plan to marry her off to Prince Aegon!
Heated arguments and gross marriage proposals aside, little Aegon seems to be having a very auspicious birthday, at least for a while.
Some of the king’s scouts return to camp with news that a white deer has been seen in the woods.
Before the dragons took over the land, the beast was considered the king of the forest.
His sighting therefore bodes well for the young prince, and Lord Otto does not miss this opportunity to hint that the king should make the boy his heir as soon as possible. Unfortunately, however, when the king’s men return with a stag for Viserys to kill, he is not a white one.
Whether out of disappointment or sheer weakness – let’s not forget the king’s health problems – Viserys has a hard time bringing the animal down. Perhaps he would be glad to know that his other son saw the white deer in the woods and decided to let it go.
So, it’s a bittersweet note that the hunt for Aegon comes to an end and the royal family returns to the Red Keep.
The event has made it much clearer that the lords are unwilling to accept Rhaenyra as queen now that the king has a male heir, and Rhaenyra will not give up her position without a fight.
King Viserys has to choose between appeasing the houses that keep him in power or preserving his relationship with his daughter.
Last week, the king proved to be a man led by his heart when he chose to marry Alicent over Lady Laena (Nova Fouillis-Mosé).
At the end of this episode, he makes another risky and emotional decision and assures Rhaenyra that no one will supplant her as her heir. And although he reminds the princess that it is her duty to marry, he also allows her to choose the best man for the position of king consort.
This is far from the only game-changing decision King Viserys makes in “Second of His Name.”
Receiving a cry for help from Lord Corlys’ (Steve Toussaint) brother Vaemond (Wil Johnson), the king finally agrees to intervene at the Stepping Stones.
The only person who isn’t happy about His Majesty’s entry into the war is, guess what, Prince Daemon. In fact, he is so distraught that he almost kills the poor messenger who brought him the news of Viserys’s departure from King’s Landing.
Perceiving his brother’s actions as a threat rather than a helping hand, Daemon takes things a step further to give him and the king’s forces a show of strength.
In the heat of battle, he goes after the Crab Man into one of Bloodstone’s caves and drags out the top half of his enemy’s body, intestines sticking out for all to see.
It is disappointing to lose Prince Drahar so suddenly. Ever since his appearance in the closing seconds of Episode 2, fans have been dying to know more about this cruel and mysterious figure.
His mask and greyscale warped features added an even greater aura of menace to the terrifying portrait Lord Corlys had been painting since Episode 1.
Alas, that was all there was to Crabfeeder Prince, the much-heralded new threat to the Seven Kingdoms.
At least we can be sure that the Crown does not need external enemies to break out in war.
Daemon’s claims of power grow stronger, and it’s only a matter of time before Aegon and Rhaenyra truly do battle for the Iron Throne. And, as the late King Jaeherys (Michael Carter) foresaw, the only force that can bring down House Targaryen is House Targaryen itself.