What Happened in the 'House of the Dragon' Season 2 Premiere?

The 'Game of Thrones' prequel returned with one of the franchise's most brutal scenes ever.

Harry Collett, Emma D’Arcy, Oscar Eskinazi
(Image credit: Theo Whitman/HBO)

House of the Dragon, HBO's hit Game of Thrones prequel, returned for its second season on June 16, finally ending 20 months of waiting from passionate fans. After the major cliffhangers left during the season 1 finale, the Dance of the Dragons is officially underway as season 2 picks up just days after the Targaryen civil war claimed its first life. Season 2 wasted no time plunging viewers into the depths of despair prompted by the conflict between the Greens and the Blacks, as one side of the war grieves an insurmountable loss as another faces their own.

There's a lot to unpack in the early days of the Westerosi war, as great houses choose sides and bodies begin to pile up. Read on for the answers to all your burning questions about House of the Dragon's season 2 premiere episode, including how the book version of that final scene is somehow even more brutal. (If needed, you can also find primers on everything to remember from House of the Dragon season 1, the season 1 time jumps, the full Targaryen family tree, or each of the living dragons here.)

Do the Starks pledge their support to Rhaenyra and the Blacks?

House of the Dragon season 2 begins with a lovely surprise: a voiceover that sounds very familiar to the Northern accents of Jon Snow and Robb Stark. In fact, it is Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor), the ancestor who currently serves as Warden of the North. In the HotD season 1 finale, Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) was dispatched to Winterfell to ask Cregan for the North's support in the Targaryen civil war on behalf of Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy), but it looks like Jace had to travel even further up, as Cregan gives him a dutiful explainer of the Wall and the Starks' duty to defend it—which includes sending members of their household (yes, even a noble) to fortify the Night's Watch.

Harry Collett as Jace Velaryon and Tom Taylor as Cregan Stark, walking through a snowy path on top of The Wall, in 'House of the Dragon'

Harry Collett as Jace Velaryon and Tom Taylor as Cregan Stark, walking on top of The Wall, in House of the Dragon.

(Image credit: Ollie Upton/HBO)

It's a fun homage to the honorable house at the center of the original Game of Thrones, and it gives an explanation of why Cregan may be resistant to send men south to fight for Rhaenyra. (As he says, "[his] gaze is forever torn between north and south," and a season of winter is approaching.) Cregan even points out that when he brought Jace's namesake (and great-great-grandfather) to see The Wall, his and his wife's dragons wouldn't even cross it. (Really wish that trait would've passed down to Dany's dragons. R.I.P. Viserion.)

Cregan's answer to Jace's request gets buried among the devastating news that's delivered by raven, but the Starks do end up promising 2,000 men to Rhaenyra's cause. (House Arryn also joins the Blacks, in exchange for a dragon to guard the Vale.) Having the Starks, and the North, on the Blacks' side is a great boon, though the North is a long ways away from both Dragonstone and King's Landing. TV fans may be cheering that the Starks are in play, but book fans know it'll take a while for them to fully enter the war.

How do Rhaenyra and the Blacks find out about Lucerys's death?

As Rhaenys (Eve Best) points out, learning of a child's death via raven is something you wouldn't wish on any Westerosi mother. We see the moment where Jace receives the news of Luke's death, but when we first see Rhaenyra in season 2, she already knows what's happened. In fact, she's lurking around the seas near the Stormlands searching for any hint of Luke's body or his dragon Arrax. Eventually a group of fisherman dredge up what looks like part of Arrax's wings (ouch) and some of Luke's clothing. Rhaenyra brings some of Luke's effects back to Dragonstone for a funeral, and both Emma D'Arcy and Harry Collett deliver some truly heart-shattering performances of grief.

Emma D'Arcy as Queen Rhaenyra, looking out over the ocean, in 'House of the Dragon'

Emma D'Arcy looks out over Lucerys' ocean resting place, in the House of the Dragon season 2 premiere.

(Image credit: Theo Whitman/HBO)

While Rhaenyra's off for several days searching for Luke's mortal remains, Daemon (Matt Smith) and Rhaenys are holding down the fort at Dragonstone. They are patrolling to help hold Corlys Velaryon's (Steve Touissant) blockade of The Gullet, which has stopped all sea travel and trade to King's Landing. Daemon is impatient to go to action, particularly wanting to conquer Harrenhaal (House Strong's castle), or go straight to the capital to kill Vhagar and her rider Aemond (Ewan Mitchell). Rhaenys wisely tells him to calm himself and wait—there's a lot of scenes of women telling impatient men to calm themselves this episode—until Rhaenyra's return. "The mother grieves while the queen shirks her duties," is Daemon's callous response. Though Daemon does remain on Dragonstone, he doesn't entirely give up on his "vengeful impulses." (More on that later.)

What are the Greens doing at the start of 'House of the Dragon' season 2?

Phia Saban as Helaena Targaryen, in 'House of the Dragon' season 2

Remember Helaena's (Phia Saban) eerie quote for later: She's scared of "the rats."

(Image credit: Ollie Upton/HBO)

From their seat in King's Landing, the Greens are facing some growing pains with the new regime. They have basic fortifications in place: Aemond patrols against threats on Vhaghar, and scorpions are set up on the city walls. In a brief loaded moment, queen Helaena (Phia Saban) says she's not afraid of the dragons, but "the rats." King Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) brings their young son Jaehaerys along to the Small Council meeting; though he is the heir, toddler Jaehaerys is too young to learn anything and keeps playing with the attendance stone and distracting Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall). Alicent is still hoping to negotiate peaceful terms with Rhaenyra, and she's still furious at Aemond for Luke's death. However, though Alicent wants Aemond to remain at a distance, Aegon insists that his brother attend the small council meeting.

The conflict at the center of the Greens' war strategy seems to be the Hightowers' advice of restraint versus Aegon's impulses of: "I have dragons, burn them all." Even though the Greens' dragons are bigger than the Blacks', Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and Ser Otto (Rhys Ifans) point out that Aegon needs to be careful and not put himself and the dragons in harm's way before the Greens have even heard back from the Westerosi houses.

Tom Glynn-Carney as Aegon II, in 'House of the Dragon'

King Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) at the head of the Small Council, in House of the Dragon's season 2 premiere.

(Image credit: Ollie Upton/HBO)

Plus, Aegon still has to run the country while he's at war, and a later Throne Room scene shows that he's too shortsighted to see how his actions can have reverberations. At one point, Alicent says to her father that they "only need to mind Aegon until the novelty of rule is spent," and once he's calmed down, the sensible pair can lead their team to victory. The hunker-down-and-fortify strategy isn't a bad thing for the start of a war, and creepy Ser Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) has wiped out all the disloyal household staff, so the Greens will be safe, right? Right?

How do Mysaria and Daemon reunite?

Remember the long-ago, peaceful days of House of the Dragon's first episodes, when Rhaenyra was still just a teenager and Daemon was her bad-boy uncle who was pissed that he was skipped over as heir? Back then (before the incest marriage) Daemon had a short-lived romance with a mistress named Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno). As he went on to wed his niece, Mysaria worked her way through King's Landing to becoming a powerful merchant of secrets known as the White Worm, who had spies in the Red Keep and gave Aegon (who went missing before his coronation) up to Otto in exchange for him closing down the child-staffed fighting pits. Unfortunately, their exchange didn't go well, and Larys burned down Mysaria's home, with the spymaster presumed dead.

Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria the White Worm, in 'House of the Dragon' season 2

Sorry Larys, Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) is the spymaster at the center of House of the Dragon's season 2 premiere.

(Image credit: Ollie Upton/HBO)

That fire was not the last we saw of Mysaria; partway through the season 2 premiere, she's found on a ship, attempting to flee King's Landing. Ser Erryk (one of the twin knights who fight for different sides in the war) brings her to her ex, Daemon, and he blames her for putting Aegon on the Iron Throne, before she reminds him, "You only blame me because your true enemies are out of reach." Daemon blames everyone: Mysaria, Rhaenys, even Ser Erryk, who barely had a chance to get away from the Kingsguard himself, let alone kill Aegon. It's obvious that Daemon's rage has no where to go... until Rhaenyra finally arrives back at Dragonstone, and says her first lines of the whole premiere: "I want Aemond Targaryen."

Who are Blood and Cheese?

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen, wearing armor and sitting on a grassy hill, in 'House of the Dragon' season 2

An angry Targaryen is a dangerous thing, especially Daemon (Matt Smith).

(Image credit: Theo Whitman/HBO)

Early in the premiere, Daemon makes his intention to kill Aemond clear, simply stating, "A son for a son." Once a plan forms in his head, he visits Mysaria in her dungeon cell and asks her for her knowledge of the Red Keep in exchange for her freedom. That night, we see Daemon travel to King's Landing incognito, where he pays a City Guard knight who hates the Hightowers to let him into the city. The pair then go track down one of the ratcatchers who works in the Red Keep, who happens to have a lot of gambling debt. Daemon pays the ratcatcher to kill Aemond Targaryen, but the catcher asks what to do if they can't find Aemond. The scene cuts away before Daemon's answer.

In the source book Fire & Blood, the two assassins are named Blood and Cheese, so I'll use the same names on the unnamed show characters for ease's sake. Cheese leads Blood into the castle, and the pair even walk right by Aegon getting drunk with his friends (what's the male version of handmaids?) on the Iron Throne. Cheese falters halfway though since he usually doesn't work in the royal quarters, but Blood (who really hates the Hightowers) spurs him on. They arrive in the room where Aemond and Criston just were, now empty, and go on to find Helaena in her room with her twins.

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole, Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen, sit in a candelit chamber in 'House of the Dragon'

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole and Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen, sit in a chamber.

(Image credit: Ollie Upton/HBO)

Daemon's instructions were clear: "A son for a son." Helaena isn't a son, but as Cheese holds a knife to her throat, he points out the twins in their beds. Blood asks which is the boy and which is the girl, and Helaena points at one of the beds. Blood thinks she's lying, but Cheese sees something in her eyes, and recognizes that she told the truth. As Blood and Cheese decapitate the toddler off-camera, Helaena scoops up her daughter Jaehaera and silently flees through the Red Keep chambers. Still silent, she makes her way to Alicent's bedroom (and runs in on Alicent and Criston having sex, which will have to be processed another day). As Alicent asks what's wrong, Helaena rocks her baby girl and says, "They killed the boy," with a thousand-yard stare.

How is Jaehaerys' death different from the show than the book?

Okay, that was a LOT to take in, but book readers know that the Blood and Cheese incident is even more devastating in Fire & Blood. The essentials are mostly the same: Daemon hires a ratcatcher and a (disgraced) Kingsguard to sneak into the Red Keep and kill one of Aegon's children. In the book, Aegon and Helaena have three children (boy, girl, boy, eldest to youngest), and the assassins ask her which of her boys to kill. Except, Helaena choses the youngest boy, Maelor, reasoning that he's just two and doesn't fully understand what's happening. Instead, Blood and Cheese tell Maelor that his mother chose him to die, and kill Jaehaerys the heir; in the years after the incident, Helaena can barely stand to look at Maelor as he grows up. All-in-all, it's an extra layer of psychological torture that TV fans unfamiliar with the source material won't have to deal with. (TV fans who are reading this, thank you for allowing me to emotionally scar you a bit.)

Why does Alicent pray during Lucerys' funeral?

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, lighting a table of candles, in 'House of the Dragon'

Alicent (Olivia Cooke) lights a candle in honor of Lucerys, in the House of the Dragon season 2 premiere.

(Image credit: Ollie Upton/HBO)

While Emma D'Arcy is the MVP of this episode for their heart-wrenching portrayal of Rhaenyra's immense grief, I'd like to spend a final moment discussing Alicent's psyche over the course of the premiere. There has been plenty of debate within both season 1's airing and Westerosi history on whether Alicent is really the evil queen at the center of the Dance of the Dragons. But House of the Dragon does a solid job humanizing the woman who became queen at a young age and who mostly just wants to protect her family.

It's clear throughout the episode that Alicent is sorrowful over Luke's death, even before she prays for him in the emotional shots intercut with the boy's funeral on Dragonstone. Like in the season 1 finale, she really wants for there to be minimal bloodshed in the civil war, and as of the premiere, she hasn't fully accepted that violence is inevitable. There may have even be a solid chance that she and Rhaenyra could have reached a place of peace in their long-dormant friendship and for the realm as a whole, before the son and the grandson's demise. Now that Blood and Cheese has happened, we'll see whether Alicent goes full vengeance, or if she still shows mercy to both sides of the Targaryen conflict.

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.