Phia Saban as Helaena Targaryen in House of the dragon season 2 episode 1

This ‘House of the Dragon’ Deviation From the Book Makes Helaena’s Story Even More Tragic

In HOTD, even a simple corridor can have a deeper meaning!

House of the Dragon season 2 has only just begun and already important characters are dropping like flies. In episode 1, “A Son For A Son,” the Blacks had their revenge when Daemon orchestrated the murder of King Aegon II Targaryen and Queen Helaena’s young son, Prince Jaehaerys.

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Known among book fans as Blood and Cheese (based on the nicknames of the two people that committed this act), this was a highly anticipated moment that has been a long time coming, since season 1 when we kept spotting rats all over the Red Keep. 

While overall the episode has been well received, there were many fans who thought deviating from the book’s version of Blood and Cheese made the whole sequence underwhelming. One of the major changes from the book version was that Queen Alicent wasn’t in the room with her daughter Helaena when her grandson is murdered.

Helaena Targaryen played by Phia Saban, is held at knifepoint but what is likely to be either Blood or Cheese

In HOTD, however, while Blood and Cheese are killing Prince Jaehaerys, Queen Helaena takes her daughter, Princess Jaehaera and runs out, along a long corridor, then down a flight of stairs, and into another part of the castle, straight into her mother’s room. She barges in, still in shock, on Alicent and Ser Criston Cole having sex. Helaena barely notices as she crouches down on the floor and says, “They killed the boy.”

Now it might just seem like a reasonable thing for the terrified Helaena to do at that point. Since her husband is clearly known to wander off in the night, her mother was the only one Helaena could feel safe with at that point. It’s fair to ask why there were no guards stationed outside her room. Her son was the King’s heir. And back when Rhaenyra was the heir, didn’t she have Ser Criston of the Kingsguard stand outside her door guarding her?

But here’s why I think the writers wanted Helaena to run all the way to her mother’s room. It’s because it is actually a parallel to something from season 1 and it makes for some great storytelling.

You’ll notice that the room Alicent is in with Ser Criston is Rhaenyra’s room from season 1. So now, Ser Criston, who was all about slut-shaming Rhaenyra for staining his white cloak by breaking his celibacy oath, etc, is flouting his morals once again, in the same room he did it before!

But why did Alicent move to Rhaenyra’s room? Well, after Viserys’ death, Alicent is now the Dowager Queen. Her daughter Helaena, married to her son King Aegon II, is the Queen now, and living in Alicent’s old room. 

Rhaenyra Targaryen holds her newborn son Joffrey and stands with Laenor Velaryon in episode 5 of House of the Dragon

Now, remember in season 1 episode 5, when Rhaenyra has just delivered her son, and Alicent demands to see the baby? Rhaenyra takes her newborn son Joffrey and walks all the way to the Queen’s room, leaving a trail of blood behind her from childbirth? 

So in House of The Dragon season 2 episode 1when Helaena, clutching her baby, runs from her room to Alicent’s room, she’s actually tracing the same route that Rhaenyra did, only in reverse, once again leaving blood behind her from the death of her son. What’s more, Ser Criston is present during both those scenes!

When they said a son for a son, the parallel wasn’t just losing a son, but also symbolised actions coming back to haunt us in unexpected ways. 

Well, that scene was no Red Wedding, but colour me impressed with this detail!

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Jinal Bhatt
Jinal Bhatt (She/Her) is a staff writer for The Mary Sue. An editor, writer, film and culture critic with 7+ years of experience, she writes primarily about entertainment, pop culture trends, and women in film, but she’s got range. Jinal is the former Associate Editor for Hauterrfly, and Senior Features Writer for Mashable India. When not working, she’s fangirling over her favourite films and shows, gushing over fictional men, cruising through her neverending watchlist, trying to finish that book on her bedside, and fighting relentless urges to rewatch Supernatural.