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Episode Review: House of the Dragon 2x1 - "A Son for a Son"

Welcome back to the blog readers. Boy oh boy, do I wish I had this blog when the first season of House of the Dragon (2022-) was on in August-October of 2022. The first season of this show was utter perfection, and was a superior first season than that of Game of Thones (2011-19). Everything from the action to the story to the characters (oh the characters!) left me salivating at the mouth for the next episode (Side note, let me know if you want me to fully review the episodes of the first season and he season as a whole.) With the premiere of the second season, titled "A Son for a Son," written by Ryan Condal and directed by Alan Taylor, would we be in for the same exhilarating story we had in the first season? Stick around to find out.


NOTE: I will be using spoilers for my thoughts, so DO NOT read ahead if you have not seen the episode.

 

As I previously stated, the first season of House of the Dragon was utter perfection, something that cannot be replicated in the slightest. My anticipation has been absolutely through the roof, and I really hoped that this premiere would deliver. And I want to tell you all right now that this episode is fantastic. The writing is impeccable, the acting is on another level, and the twist at the end of the episode will have a lot of people talking long after the season is over in August.


First off, I want to emphatically praise the performance of Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen, and ask why the fuck they did not win, or even were nominated for, an Emmy. Their performance in the first season finale was one of the most gripping and powerful performances I have ever seen in the Game of Thrones world and they deserved it. With that being said, make it up to them and nominate them for this year's Emmys, because they did it again. Rhaenyra is suddenly the most intriguing character on this show again, and she only has one line of dialog (something that I will praise until the day I die), and that line of dialog ("I want Aemond Targaryen) is so fucking powerful. D'Arcy's performance in the scene when Rhaenyra discovers the remains of her son and his dragon literally gave me full body chills, as did the scene when she was talking to her other son about Lucerys' death.


Matt Smith needed something to wash away the stink of Morbius (2022), and the role of Daemon Targaryen is just what the doctor ordered. Smith does a phenomenal job of making Daemon lovable yet despicable at the same time. You love how fiercely dedicated he is to his niece-wife (incest is the name of the game in this series) but you hate how far he is willing to go to defend her. You can see it in the scene he shares with Rhaenys, where they have conflicting methods on how to go after the Greens. And the decision he makes at the end of the episode will go down as the shot that will officially begin the Targaryen civil war, also known as the "Dance of the Dragons." More on that later because I want to individually talk about it.


Next, I want to talk about the performances of Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower. I will talk about them together because I want to talk about the scene they share and how gripping it is. First off, what to say about Alicent Hightower? I know that she is going to feel partially responsible for the death of Lucerys, and Cooke does a brilliant job of showing her coldness towards Aemond (who seems cold to the matter himself) over what happened. This culminates in a scene where she lights a candle for the young boy while Rhaenyra is holding a proper funeral for him. Also, why are you banging Criston Cole? Haven't you been through enough already? Next I want to talk about dad. Rhys Ifans has been brilliant as the manipulative and calculating Hand of the King Otto Hightower. In this episode, he is definitely looking to manipulate Aegon (who is surprisingly trying to be a good king, in my honest opinion) into being the king he wants him to be, while necessitating the need for the war against the Blacks. And his conversation with Alicent was so fucking meaty. The two discuss the impending civil war, with Otto understanding that nothing can be done, but Alicent is trying to find a way to prevent it from happening, something her father tells her is too late. The death of Lucerys will trigger war and Alicent must come to understand that she is partially to blame for this.


Before I talk about the end of the episode, I want to take a minute to talk about the overall story of the episode. The whole realm is in a collective understanding that war is inevitable due to the aforementioned death of Lucerys, and they are getting themselves ready. Over in Winterfell (a location all too familar to Game of Thrones fans), Cregan Stark is looking ahead in preparation while he pledges his support to the Blacks. As does the fleet of Corlys Velaryon, who are seen mobilizing their forces in support of Rhaenyra. As all this is happening, Aegon is bringing his son (who is a baby by the way) into council meetings and preparing him to be king, possibly in the event that Aegon is killed in the conflict. Mysaria the White Worm, who had been arrested by the Blacks for spilling dirt to the Greens, is given another chance to make things right with Daemon, which leads us to the final 20 minutes of the episode.


Now we get to the final moments of the episode, where Daemon makes a decision that will throw the whole realm into a spiral. He is able to get passage into King's Landing, and is able to bribe a city watch guard and a rat catcher to sneak into the castle and kill Aemond. But you kind of figured that that did not happen, and something terrible did instead. Upon not finding Aemond, the pair turn their sights to Aegon's son Jaehaerys and decide to kill him instead, leaving his mother (and everyone watching) shocked and leading to her discovering the affair between Alicent and Criston. This is going to be a massive ripple in the events leading up to the war, and may be the blow that starts it. I imagine Aegon is going to blow a gasket next episode once he discovers what has happened, and will personally declare war himself in my opinion. I also want to turn my attention to the piece of human shit that kicked the dog. I warned you when I first saw that dog that nothing better happen to him and you tested my patience. I hope you are the first person to die in this war, and I hope that death is extremely long and extremely painful, because you absolutely deserve it, you fucking bitch.


The first episode of the second season of House of the Dragon is a riveting return to Westeros, with more engaging character depth, more groundwork laid, and the spark that will blow this war to the next level. Thank you all for reading, and I will see you for the next post.

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