House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 2 review: Vengeance runs wild as tragedy evens out | Web Series

If we learnt anything from the first episode of season two of House of the Dragon, it is that there would be bloody consequences in the aftermath of young Jaehaerys’ death. The immediate declaration of war could be predictable in the wake of such violence, but this is not just a battle to even it out between the Blacks and the Greens. The relentless, absorbing follow-up in episode 2 contains that indulgence. The grief might be personal to the royals, but blood is spilled everywhere, impacting even those who survive outside the gates. (Also read: House of the Dragon’s latest episode climax was far worse, more horrible in the book. Here’s how)

Olivia Cooke and Phia Saban in a still from episode 2 of House of the Dragon season 2.
Olivia Cooke and Phia Saban in a still from episode 2 of House of the Dragon season 2.

The second episode, clocking in at 72 minutes, is an hour-long rumination on the grief and anger boiling on both sides of the Dance of the Dragons. Written by Ryan Condal and directed by Claire Kilner, it begins right after the death of Jaehaerys, which sets the Greens into a frenzy, as King Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) is quick to declare war. Alicent (an excellent Olivia Cooke) processes the grief and horror like a slow wound, hurting with guilt at the same time.

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“The Gods punish us. They punish me,” she says. It is decided that both Alicent and Helaena (Phia Saban) would accompany the decapitated body of the child in a kind of a funeral procession that would assemble the sympathies of the kingdom and unite them in grief. What follows is a standout sequence in the episode, vividly shot by cinematographer Alejandro Martinez and a stirring score from Ramin Djawadi.

Elsewhere, as the blame falls on Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), she realizes that she cannot trust her own kin. She has a stunningly furious exchange with Daemon (Matt Smith), who admits it was a mistake but still, the blood was spilled. Up until now, they were united in their approach. Now, she is left to defend for herself, that she would never give her approval for the death of a child, having lost her own son.

Meanwhile, Arryk is sent to Dragonstone with orders to kill Rhaenyra. There is no illusion to the fact that these bloody paths of revenge wreck havoc on the lives of those who do not share the royal blood. People are scared and suspicion looms large. Prices hike three times over. Then, the king orders the killing of all the ratcatchers, and hangs their body for public display. As actions and their consequences flow out of reach because of the cold immaturity of the men in position of power, it is the women who suffer in their privacy. “When princes lose their temper, it is often others who suffer — small folk like myself,” is the line that best encapsulates the impact of this episode.

Which then brings viewers to the climax of the episode, which is all clashes and kicks, swords and declarations. The men make the most outright mistakes and take the most dangerous decisions. It adds up to one of the most brutal and compelling moments of the season so far, once again reminding the reasons why the show continues to transfix.

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