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House of the Dragon – Season 2 Episode 1 series review: Returning ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel Takes off in Style

A still from 'House of the Dragon' Season 2 Episode 1

A still from ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Episode 1 | Photo Credit: Theo Whiteman

There are shocking things aplenty in A Son for a Sonthe first episode of the second season of Dragon HouseThis prequel to the violently popular Game of Thrones, based on George RR Martin’s series of fantasy novels, is also based on a Martin novel, 2018’s Fire and BloodThe novel tells the story of the House Targaryen and the civil war — the Dance of the Dragons — that brought the once powerful house to its knees.

Picking up immediately after the events of the season 1 finale, we join Jacaerys (Harry Collett) at his meeting with Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor) in the North — the Starks are back with their warnings of the winter that is coming. Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) — who had sent her eldest sons Jacaerys and Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) across the seven realms to garner support for her claim to the Iron Throne — is grieving the death of Lucerys, who in the shocking finale of Season 1, was killed by Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) and his dragon Vhagor.

Matt Smith in a still from 'House of the Dragon' Season 2 Episode 1

Matt Smith in a still from ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Episode 1 | Photo Credit: Max

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra’s uncle-husband Daemon (Matt Smith) wants “a son for a son.” It is this that leads to the horrific slaughter of a toddler at the end of episode 1, indicating even more reason for the friends-turned-foes Rhaenyra and Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) to go to war, however much they wish to avoid it .

House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1 (English)

Creators: Ryan Condal

Runtime: 54 minutes

Cast: Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, Olivia Cooke, and Rhys Ifans

Storyline: The battle lines are drawn with a grieving vengeful mother on one side and a frightened, determined one on the other

Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Alicent’s father and Hand to her husband, King Viserys I, has the unbridled ambition that Macbeth could have used with no milk of human kindness curdling in his veins. The episode shows the Sea Snake, the head of the rich and powerful house of Velaryon, Corlys (Steve Toussaint) recovering from a pirate attack, while Daemon holds Rhaenys (Eve Best), Corlys’ wife, responsible for all that has gone wrong with their house.

Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) having sex with Alicent is one of the jaw-dropping moments of A Son for a SonThe common-born Lord Commander of the Kingsguard hooking up with the dowager queen, and what it tells about the two, promises to make for great dinner conversation. Alicent scrubbing a spot on her shoulder brings ‘Macbeth’ back once more. Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), the brothel dancer with a dodgy accent and Daemon’s former squeeze — who became a spymaster (mistress?) called the White Worm — is back but in a rather bad temper.

Olivia Cooke and Fabien Frankel in a still from 'House of the Dragon' Season 2 Episode 1

Olivia Cooke and Fabien Frankel in a still from ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Episode 1 | Photo Credit: Max

Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney), occupying the Iron Throne, brings much-needed lightness into the dark proceedings. He wants to help the great unwashed and even promises the sheep back to a shepherd before Otto tells him the sheep are needed to feed the dragons when war comes. He also promises to pay the blacksmith as long as he keeps making those Scorpions — the only weapon that can bring down a dragon. He takes umbrage to being called Aegon the magnanimous, insisting that no one would know its meaning, preferring Aegon the generous.

Daemon, who throughout the episode is chomping at the bit to go to war, orders the rat catcher Cheese (Mark Stobbart) and Blood (Sam C. Wilson) to kill Aemond of the glittering eye. That Blood and Cheese are horrid is underlined by the fact that they kick the dog (was it a terrier?; they are great ratters by the way) who was only trying to help. They decide to take the easy way out when they come upon Helaena (Phia Saban), Aegon’s sister-wife (these incestuous Targaryen I tell you!), in the nursery. Instead of doing the sensible thing, they present her with a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ situation and also a way of a possible come back from the assassination.

From that mesmerising tapestry-themed title sequence to a gruesome climax scene, A Son for a Son is riveting. The dragons are magnificent, while the towering castle rooms where every kind of horror is being plotted and dispensed are par for the course. There is a lot to like about this first episode, including Rhaenyra’s Dragon Syrax comforting her in the face of her quiet, uncompromising grief and at finding Arrax’s broken wing and Lucerys’ clothes — his clothes mind you not the body…

House of the Dragon streams on JioCinema with fresh episodes of season 2 dropping every Monday till August 5

David Dass
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