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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 July 2024

House of the Dragon S2 Ep 2: A brutal battle between brothers to slay or save Rhaenyra

House of the Dragon Season 2 is streaming on JioCinema with new episodes every Monday

Chandreyee Chatterjee Calcutta Published 24.06.24, 05:01 PM
A still from House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2.

A still from House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2. X

Just as episode one of Season 2 begins in the aftermath of Lucerys’s death, episode two begins hours after the beheading of Jaehaerys with the Red Keep in uproar as servants are being rounded up to find the killers. At 72 minutes, this is the longest episode of the show and as slow in its build-up as the first one, capped out by a brutal battle between brothers. As with the first episode, strong performances by the actors is what propels the show forward in the absence of grandstands and grisly outcomes that was Game of Thrones.

Death and diplomacy

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While Aegon is raging, understandably, about the death of his son, Otto Hightower is, as usual, trying to spin it for political gain. He insists on parading Jaehaerys’s body through the streets of King’s Landing with a grieving Queen Haelena and the Dowager Queen Alicent following behind. The aim is to villainise Rhaenyra as a child murderer and garner support for the Green Team.

Aegon on the other hand is only interested in revenge. He bashes in Blood’s head after he is caught trying to escape, but not before he cops to having a partner in crime. While Otto is trying to woo sympathy from the Small Folk, Aegon orders all the ratcatchers to be hanged, undoing the goodwill.

Cracks in the family

It is not just the Targaryens who are falling apart, there are cracks in the ranks of the Hightowers as well. Otto crosses a line with Aegon when he berates him for being a fool and going so far as hinting that Aegon wasn’t meant to be on the Iron Throne. Aegon retaliates by divesting Otto of his position as the Hand and handing it to Ser Criston Cole on the sole account of him having taken action — sending Arryk Cargyll on a suicide mission to Dragonstone to slay Rhaenyra.

On Dragonstone, the news of Jaehaerys’s beheading has also caused Rhaenrya’s council to question her involvement, much to her disbelief. But the resulting confrontation of this accusation is not between Rhaenyra and her council members but between her and Daemon, who, Rhaenrya finally understands, cannot be trusted and sends him packing to “follow his own path”. The sight of Daemon in full armour taking flight on Caraxes is one of the few magical moments of the episode.

The outsiders

Once again we get glimpses of Alyn of Hull, the seafarer, and Hugh Hammer, the blacksmith, going about their daily lives. While Alyn is urged by his brother to join the Sea Snake, we see Hugh burdened with escalating costs and an ailing daughter. Hold your patience when it comes to these two, the build-up will eventually pay off.

Brother vs brother

Ser Criston Cole, being the wimp he is, is looking for someone to blame for Jaehaerys being killed under his watch while he was burning up the sheets with Alicent, and who better than Arryk Cargyll, twin brother of defector Erryk Cargyll who serves Rhaenyra. For his apparent transgression he is asked by Criston to infiltrate Dragonstone, pretending to be his brother and killing Rhaenyra. Arryk knows it is a suicide mission, but not going is also not an option.

Arryk manages to get access to Rhaenyra’s bed chamber by striding through the castle like he was meant to be, except in one tense scene where the brothers almost run into each other. Arryk draws his sword on Rhaenyra only to be stopped by Erryk, who barges in at the right time. The ensuing battle is brutal and very quickly the audience, and those present in the scene, get confused about which Cargyll is which as one is killed and the other takes his life.

While it is nothing compared to the one-on-one sword fights in Game of Thrones, it is very much a disturbing end to a well-plotted episode.

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