‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Premiere Recap: Rage Unleashed in ‘A Son for a Son’

‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Premiere Recap: Rage Unleashed in ‘A Son for a Son’

In the world of Westeros, the Targaryen name has historically carried a ton of weight and power throughout the realm. Though the family is in shambles when House of the Dragon returned on Sunday night, its debut episode, A Son for a Son, reminds us some oaths will be kept — no matter what. 

HBO rolled out a mega campaign to fuel the upcoming war between Team Green and Team Black, signifying that the prequel series will set TV screens ablaze with tension, monstrous acts of violence and of course, dragons. As we revisit King’s Landing and Dragonstone, prepare to meet a lineup of new characters who will play pivotal roles in “Dance of the Dragons,” and the battle for the Iron Throne. 

Step into the family feud with our recap of season 2’s premiere episode below, and don’t forget to read our refresher on season 1. Be warned: Spoilers ahead, and it may be a little too early to choose sides in this drama.

Read more: Snag a Week of Max for Free to Stream House of the Dragon and Much More

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Getty Image/Zooey Liao

Winter is coming in the North

An overhead shot of a bird soaring from the woods over coastlines, mountains, knolls, and to a stone stronghold lands in the North. A narrator explains the meaning of duty and sacrifice, and how the North owed a great duty to the Seven Kingdoms — since the days of the first men. Since the days of old, “We have stood as guardians against the cold and dark.” It’s the Night’s Watch. Under his ancestor, King Torrhen Stark, one in 10 men was to be chosen to fortify the watch. It’s an honor and duty for those who serve the North. The North must stand ready, as winter is coming, he warns. 

two men dressed in cloaks in snow in house of the dragon two men dressed in cloaks in snow in house of the dragon

Cregan Stark, Lord of Winterfell, speaks with Jacaerys Velaryon.

Ollie Upton/HBO

We meet Cregan Stark who’s explaining their ancestral duty to Jacaerys. The prince brings up the oath made to King Viserys and how unity in the kingdom is under threat. Cregan says his duty’s torn between North and South. He’s worried about guarding the wall — especially in the winter. Even dragons refused to cross the wall, and Cregan asks Jacaerys, “Do you think my ancestors built the wall to keep out snow and savages?” and the prince soon learns it keeps out death.

Cregan offers his graybeard force. As they chat, Cregan is handed a message from the queen, and he looks at Jacaerys. Clearly, it’s news about Lucerys’ death. 

Grief and anger at Dragonstone

Jacaerys is away, but things are happening back at home. A dragon lands at Dragonstone; it’s Rhaena.

Daemon is ready to kill Vhagar and tries to convince Rhaena to double-team with him. “A son for a son,” he says. Rhaena advises him not to act on vengeful impulse. Daemon retorts that if she’d acted on impulse, she would’ve ended Aegon and his line, referring to the season 1 finale moment when she and her dragon burst through the floor during his coronation and refused to roast them all. 

For a moment, we see Queen Rhaenrya, who’s looking out to sea from a cliff. Her face is rife with anger, sorrow and guilt.

Corlys is shown walking to the docks — using a cane. He sees ships getting cleaned up and readied, and another new character is introduced: Allyn Hull.  Allyn briefs him on the ships’ status, but their conversation is awkward. This guy is who dragged Corlys out the sea, bringing him to safety when he was sick in season 1. He says he’s indebted to Allyn.

man at the docks looks at corlys velaryon in house of the dragon man at the docks looks at corlys velaryon in house of the dragon

Meet Allyn, a seafarer in House of the Dragon, season 2.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Fear at King’s Landing

Things cut to King’s Landing with Vhagar soaring in for a landing. The army is told to stand down, demonstrating they’re ready for an attack from Team Black at any given moment. Inside the castle, Aegon is in his chambers looking for his heir to give him “king” lessons. His sister-wife Helaena says she’s afraid — not of the army, but of the rats. It’s not obvious what she means by that, yet. 

Elsewhere in the palace, Alicent and Criston are being extremely intimate before they go meet with the council. They get dressed and scurry to the meeting where her dad, Otto Hightower, says letters to the North are unanswered. However, Prince Aemond’s pact with the Baratheons in the Storm Lands should solidify their allegiance. There’s a problem though, as Rhaenyra’s blocked the Gullet with Corlys’ sea fleet. The council is also figuring out that “Princess Rhaenyra” doesn’t want to negotiate. 

Because her blockade is affecting how things roll in King’s Landing, they need help from the Lannisters and Hightowers to break it. They need the River Lands help as well, and Aegon says he’ll just use Vhagar to burn everyone who doesn’t side with him. Alicent tries to deter that, and with a glare toward Aemond, says Vhagar must stay at King’s Landing to prevent Rhaenyra’s retribution for her son’s death. 

After the meeting, Larys Strong, the sneaky manipulator, shares with Alicent that he’s killed her old staff and handpicked new people for her. He’s the original Littlefinger in every way. 

clubfoot looks toward someone with conniving look on his face in house of the dragon season 2 clubfoot looks toward someone with conniving look on his face in house of the dragon season 2

There’s no reason to like this Larys Strong guy. 

Ollie Upton/HBO

Lucerys is honored and revenge is afoot

Rhaenyra and Syrax land on a beach where people found a dragon wing. In a tragic scene, she finds Lucerys’ clothing is wrapped up the net and wails — as does Syrax. Her pain is palpable.

At King’s Landing, inexperienced King Aegon struts into the throne room where he begins to hear the townspeople’s petitions. The first bemoans his flock being taken ahead of winter, and the king wants to return the man’s sheep but Otto advises against it. He said people should tithe livestock to feed dragons for war. Aegon protests but Otto — ever controlling — says no.

Next is Hugh, a blacksmith who asks for an advance so they can buy iron to make weapons. “Our victory depends on the efforts of the small folk,” says Aegon and grants the man’s petition. Otto doesn’t like it. Clubfoot (Larys Strong) pulls Aegon to the side to plant doubt in his ear about Otto. They both want to control Aegon but he’s convincing the kid that his grandfather is a bad idea, and he should be “The Hand” instead.

Alicent, who’s also under Clubfoot’s influence, argues with her father about him undermining her during council meetings. She also justifies Aemond’s psychopathic behavior by saying Luke was never punished for slashing his eye. Bah.

Plotting ratchets up at Dragonstone when a crew finds Mysaria, the White Worm, stowing away on a ship. Daemon confronts his former lover about selling secrets to Otto. She says she goes with the highest bidder and is sent to the dungeon. He then confronts Ser Erryk about working for Otto. Erryk once again pledges his loyalty to Rhaenyra and admits that the Hightowers turned he and his twin brother against each other. Daemon walks out and heads to the war room.

Rhaenyra enters the room where everyone’s gathered around the Painted Table. They all give updates, and the only thing she says is “I want Aemond Targaryen.” Understood.

Daemon visits White Worm in the dungeon and she doesn’t budge. He then makes an offer for her knowledge in exchange for her freedom. We find out later that she accepts. 

Jacaerys approaches his mom in her private chambers, giving her a report about who’s helping, including Lord Cregan who’s pledged 2,000 men. He can barely get through it and starts sobbing as talks to his queen/mother. The family will lay Lucerys to rest. 

Back at King’s Landing, Alicent lights a candle at an altar, and hesitates to say Lucerys’ name. At the same time, Rhaneyra and the family light the pyre for her son. She tosses in what she found on the beach — Lucerys’ cloak — but the young Joffrey has small a toy which he throws in the fire to honor his big brother.

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Rhaenrya, Jacaerys and Joffrey mourn Lucerys at a funeral pyre.

Theo Whitman/HBO

Blood and Cheese enter the fray

At dawn, Daemon arrives on the shores of King’s Landing in a disguise. He bribes a guard who hates the Hightowers to take him inside. He speaks with the castle’s rat catcher, and attempts to hire him as a hitman for Aemond. We already know this won’t work out how everyone thinks it will, but he accepts the gig.

Aemond and Criston are in the prince’s room talking about war strategy, and Aemond complains that his mother and grandsire are being too cautious. He wants to be more aggressive, but Criston says his mom has a soft spot for Rhaenyra.

Criston departs as Otto walks in, and grandpa already knows how Aemond feels. He tells him Vhagar and Aemond are a powerful team, but he needs to chill because other factors are at play. To nail that point home, he tells him his brother doesn’t know how to keep his impulses in check.

aemond and criston sit and plot at the castle in house of the dragon aemond and criston sit and plot at the castle in house of the dragon

Two peas in a pod: Prince Aemond and Ser Criston.

Ollie Upton/HBO

A tense scene unfolds as we follow the rat catcher who’s in the tunnels with a dog and another guy he’s hired out to do the job. In A Song of Ice and Fire books, this pair is known as Blood and Cheese, two unscrupulous assassins. They climb into the castle and end up in the throne room where they overhear Aegon and his friends talking smack and brainstorming. The king is obviously distracted. After a squabble about not being allowed upstairs where the royals are, the two hitmen creep up into Aemond’s quarters. 

With the prince nowhere to be found, they lurk. But they can’t find any royals except the sister-queen and Aegon’s kids. The rat catchers put a knife to her throat and debate over killing her kids. They force her to point out which one is the male heir, and she tells the truth. In a horrifying turn, they cut the child’s head off.

Helaena runs out the room traumatized and heads to her mother’s quarters where she’s having relations with Criston. Though it’s not Aemond, a son for a son is what is delivered.  

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