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‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 2 Forms Daring, Dangerous Alliances

Sweet Viserys has no idea what he's set in motion.

A man with light brown hair whispers in the ear of a medieval king with long white-blond hair; still from "House of the Dragon."

"House of the Dragon"

[Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for “House of the Dragon” Season 1, Episode 2, “The Rogue Prince.”]

Something is rotten in the state of Westeros, and it’s not just dead sailors being fed to crabs.

As the generally peaceful reign of Viserys I (Paddy Considine) continues, tensions simmer surrounding the Iron Throne, and Episode 2 of “House of the Dragon” plants the seeds of discord. Initially there’s the obvious: the aforementioned crabs. Westerosi ships and sailors are in danger in the Stepstones, where someone called the Crab Feeder is — well, you get it. Not only is this visually nauseating, but it indicates trouble from the free cities of Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh, also known as the Triarchy. The free cities lie outside Viserys’ jurisdiction, but they aren’t normally killing soldiers and leaving them to roast as fish food, so something must be done.

Viserys’ inaction has Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) particularly incensed, since at least one ship lost in the Stepstones was his, but Viserys and his council insist on patience. Behind closed doors, the king is in a tight spot, facing pressure to remarry and reproduce after the tragic death of his wife six months ago. Corlys and his wife, Rhaenys (Eve Best) — Viserys’s favorite cousin — suggest their own daughter Laena (Nova Foueillis-Mosé), an actual child who is allegedly 12 but looks nine at best.

Corlys and Rhaenys aren’t just casually in the business of child marriage. They want Laena wed to Viserys (as soon as she’s old enough) to form a strategic bond between the families. The Velaryons and Targaryens all hail from Old Valyria, the land of dragons and magic that their ancestors forsook after what was essentially a volcanic eruption. Aligning their houses would show unity among the Valyrian families and amicable relations between these individuals especially, for it was Rhaenys and her son who were passed over for the Throne when Viserys was named heir to the previous king.

Elsewhere in the realms, Viserys’ brother Daemon (Matt Smith) has made himself scarce on Dragonstone after thinking his position as heir was sealed, only to see the title go to Viserys’s daughter, Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), thereby breaking precedent. Daemon stews with his consort Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), with whom he wants to be wed and start a family. (Daemon is already married, but will tell anyone who listens how much he hates his wife.) When Daemon steals a dragon egg from King’s Landing for his unborn (and unconceived) child, Rhaenyra herself arrives on dragonback to retrieve it.

“I’m right here, Uncle,” she says. “The object of your ire. The reason that you were disinherited. If you wish to be restored as heir, you’ll need to kill me. So do it and be done with all this bother.”

A man speaks closely with his teen daughter, both in medieval garb inside a palace; still from "House of the Dragon."

“House of the Dragon”


Daemon manages to maintain a bitter disposition while still not quite shaking the flirtatious edge of all interactions with his niece (yikes!). He would rather be down a dragon egg than named a kinslayer, so he returns it and retreats to Dragonstone. It’s a triumph for Rhaenyra, who wanted to prove her mettle as a leader since being named heir, but a slap in the face to hand of the king Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), who failed in his own diplomatic missions and watched impotently from the sidelines. Otto and Daemon realize what Viserys and Rhaenyra don’t: That while blood runs thick, House Targaryen has little to no chance of repairing these relationships.

Otto’s own plans (set in motion after the queen’s death) now come to fruition, with his daughter Alicent (Emily Carey) regularly visiting with Viserys to read him stories or watch him play with his little models. Both father and daughter know the ultimate goal of this otherwise innocent companionship — why else would Alicent be keeping it secret from her best friend, Rhaenyra? As IndieWire already noted, no one comes back from their best friend marrying their dad, and that’s exactly the path these characters are on.

Later in the episode, Viserys confirms it: He will wed Alicent in a matter of months, a decision that sends shockwaves through the High Council as soon as he announces it. Rhaenyra, blindsided and betrayed, regards both her father and best friend and then flees from the room. Corlys stews in the disrespect to House Velaryon and makes his feelings known in front of a deeply smug Otto. Viserys’ decision, intended to build bridges, burns the ones he took for granted.

And so begins what we must assume is the formal deterioration of Alicent and Rhaenyra’s friendship (not to mention Viserys’ own decaying flesh), via a marriage in which neither of them has any say. Rhaenyra has made an enemy of Otto, who is about to tie his family to the Crown. Burned one too many times by a Targaryen upon the throne, Corlys seeks out Daemon to form an alliance and address the growing unrest in the Stepstones. When battle breaks out, it will be Daemon and Corlys at the forefront of its strategy, making a fool of Viserys, his council, and his rule.

“House of the Dragon” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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