rhaenyra jaceyrs and the youngest all looking out at westeros
(HBO)

‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Is What Fantasy Storytelling Is All About

The Game of Thrones era is back and better than ever with House of the Dragon and season 2 does not disappoint. The series, which focuses on the history of the Targaryens, throws us into a war for the throne in season 2 and the tension makes it delicious.

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Season 1 ended with the death of Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Alicient (Olivia Cooke) not recognizing that Viserys was saying, on his death bed, that Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. In a final battle for Rhaenyra’s right as the eldest of Viserys’ children, Rhaenyra’s son Lucerys dies in a battle against Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) and his dragon Vhagar. All this sets the tone of the beginning of season 2.

Right out the gate, there is pain weighing on everyone. Rhaenyra lost her son and her throne in the same breath, Alicient has no real relationship with her family, and Daemon (Matt Smith) doesn’t quite know where he fits in this world. They are all still struggling with the death of Viserys and this new world under Aegon’s rule.

Grief is a constant theme throughout this season, the inability to cope in a healthy way is a family trait. No one knows how to let themselves feel one way or another. Instead, they just see rage against each other and it results in this feeling of a ticking time bomb.

Season 1 of House of the Dragon was excellent but there was a lot of history to get through in order to get to the war that fans of Fire and Blood know all about. Season 2 immediately gives us so much to unpack, and we’re able to spend time with these characters without a time jump looming over us.

The pain of what was lost weighs on the Targaryens

alicient looking at candles on house of the dragon
(HBO)

Ryan Condal (the sole showrunner this time around) found a way to bring a slow-burning fire to Westeros again but with even more riding on the shoulders of the Targaryen family. They have the power of fire on both sides of the war and the fear threatens all of King’s Landing.

I watched the first four episodes of the season and each has the anguish of loss permeating every character’s motivation. Rhaenyra lost a father, a child, and a kingdom. Daemon lost a brother and his child. Alicient lost a husband and a friend and started a war. All of this plays into their actions and continues the Targaryen and Hightower way of not speaking to each other but instead, taking brash steps against each other to fix their pain.

In a way, the rushing of season 1 helped season 2 feel more personal. We got to spend time with these characters when they are at their lowest and it informs how we, as an audience, feel watching the Targaryens battle each other. With moments of remembering that Rhaenyra is Aegon’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) sister and that this death and destruction is among siblings.

It doesn’t come across as an easy war for anyone involved and there are moments where we can see the strong faltering. But season 2 really benefits from the series spending a lot more time in one time of these characters’ lives. Instead of jumping around and hoping the audience keeps up, we get to see what death and pain look like for each of them and how they react to that grief.

The first four episodes set us up for a season that isn’t holding back. For now, we’re in the thick of it with Rhaenyra trying to take back what is hers and it is phenomenal to wach.


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.