House of the Dragon season 2 episode 2 recap: Rhaenyra the Cruel

Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 2
Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) (Image credit: HBO)

This House of the Dragon season 2 episode 2 recap contains spoilers. The aftermath of Prince Jaehaerys' death has far-reaching consequences in King's Landing and Dragonstone, as tempers fray and blood runs hot. Meanwhile Ser Otto Hightower clashes with his grandson, King Aegon, on the best way forward and his daughter Alicent Hightower is consumed by guilt over her actions on that fateful night... 

US viewers wanting to keep up with the epic fantasy series need to be signed up for either HBO or its streaming service Max. HBO can be added to traditional TV packages or live TV streaming services as a premium add-on channel, including YouTube TV. Or you can sign up for Max as a standalone streaming service (though also available as an add-on channel on some platforms).

In the UK, with the show airing on Sky Atlantic, a Sky TV subscription is necessary to watch House of the Dragon. Episodes are also going to be available to stream on-demand on Sky Go and NOW TV.

“Traitors and villains..” 

House of the Dragon season 1 pulled few punches, with scenes like Rhaenyra’s stillbirth scraping the bone, yet after a six year-old was beheaded in the opening episode, the second seems to be going down the same path. Mercifully, that macabre moment took place off screen.

That was of no consolation to King Aegon II, who’s understandably beside himself with grief and fury at the loss of his heir. His mother Alicent Hightower is also in agony, not least because she was carousing with Ser Cristan Cole — who should have been guarding the royal chambers — when Jaehaerys was killed.

Yet while Aegon rages, his grandfather and Hand, Ser Otto Hightower, clearly has no time for his histrionics. “You’re already seen as weak,” he tells the young King, suggesting they use Jaehaerys' death as a chance to paint Queen Rhaenyra as a monster. It’s a good plan, yet Otto may well come to regret losing his patience with Aegon. Speaking to a Targaryen King in such a way rarely produces good results.

Aegon is unwilling to have his son’s body “dragged through the streets like a dog,” in a large funeral procession, which is admirable, but principle and pragmatism are rarely the same thing in Westeros. Despite her instincts as a mother, Alicent knows her father speaks the truth, although bitterly regrets that her daughter Helaena must take part - almost as much as she regrets that when Helaena fled the scene of her son’s murder, she walked in on her and Ser Cristan. 

'You have weakened me, I can not trust you Daemon...'

The funeral procession is a fine illustration of the rampant imbalance between the sexes in Westeros. While Helaena and Alicent are forced to restrain themselves as they walk through the fire of their own grief, in the dungeons Aegon indulges his uncontrollable desire for revenge against the man who slew his son.

News of Jaehaerys’ death also causes consternation in Dragonstone, yet it’s not long before Rhaenyra realises which of her advisors was behind the depraved act. When she confronts Prince Daemon he denies that Jaehaerys was the intended target, but we all remember the dark look he gave to the rat-catcher and Rhaenyra doesn’t believe him either.

“Have you used me as a tool to grasp at your stolen inheritance?” she asks him, before hinting at the darkness he keeps “sheathed inside himself like a blade”. It’s a fine scene and one that exposes all of Daemon’s weaknesses. Duplicity is not always a failing in Westeros, as players like Littlefinger used to demonstrate, but if you’re going to be a liar you need to be an adept liar, and in truth Daemon has seldom been able to outmanoeuvre anyone by wit alone. As allies go, he’s limited.

Ser Cristan Cole (Fabien Frankel) and Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and Prince Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell)

Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and Ser Cristan Cole (Fabien Frankel) (Image credit: HBO)

'There is no absolution for what I’ve done'

With guilt gnawing away at him, Sir Cristan Cole seeks out Ser Arryk Cargyll and begins pouring it all over him, lashing out with accusations about the night Jaehaerys was killed, which he knows he should face. After invoking the treachery of Ser Arryk’s twin, Ser Erryk, he commands the knight to travel to Dragonstone and use their likeness to get close to Rhynaera and kill her. It’s a bold and unhinged move from Ser Cristan, who’s reaching for redemption in under a sea of pain and guilt.

Elsewhere, Prince Aemond finds a sympathetic shoulder to mull things over upon at the local brothel. As the warrior who sits astride the most deadly weapon in the whole of Westeros — Vhagar — he has a burgeoning sense of self-worth and the thought of Daemon sending assassins against him does little to douse those flames. He admits he regrets the ‘business’ with Lucerys Velaryon, but is that only because it has led to his nephew’s untimely death? 

'I wish to spill blood, not ink...'

At Dragonstone, Rhaenys and Lord Corlys discuss Prince Daemon and the wider struggle for power. "Devotion has never sat well with him," she says as they consider his predicament while he flies to Harrenhal to raise an army for Rhynaera. She’s not wrong about that and the struggle many men in Westeros feel when following the orders of a woman.

Meanwhile Rhaenyra questions Daemon's former paramour Mysaria, to gauge her worth. In a world of entitlement and rigid class structure, she’s an entrepreneurial mover who built her own house only for the Hightowers to burn it to the ground. “For too long I made it my aim to be of consequence, but now I see that was the wish of a child,” she says, knowing none of the masters she has served will ever accept her truly. But has she found something of a kindred spirit in Rhaenyra?  

Ser Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittensor)

Ser Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittensor) (Image credit: HBO)

At King’s Landing, Aegon has had all the rat-catchers murdered, including the gambler who snuck into the Red Keep. Ser Otto believes it’s a mistake and finally vents the full spleen of his frustration, calling his grandson an idiot. He’s played the man rather than the ball though, as the killing of a few innocent rat catchers is well within the norm in Westeros, yet the most regrettable aspect of his outburst is his dismissal as the Hand. It’s clear Ser Otto was used to a relatively easy life as the advisor to Viserys, a far more temperate and sensible King, and has struggled to adjust to life under someone more impetuous. However his failings could cost him - and the realm - dearly. 

“He was right about you,” says Ser Otto after invoking memories of Viserys, before hinting that he knows full well that his father never meant for Aegon to become King. And what will Aegon think if he discovers what his new Hand — Ser Cristan Cole — was doing on the night his son was killed? 

Ser Otto tells his daughter he will return to Old Town, yet Alicent urges him to head to High Garden to shore up the Tyrells, in the hope that he might be able to return one day. He tells her they can still prevail as long as they hold fast, yet it’s clear the guilt from the night of Jaehaerys’ death is beginning to weigh terribly upon Alicent. Otto tells her he doesn’t wish to hear of her crime, yet it could prove an invaluable tool for removing Ser Cristan, if he could manage the blow back upon his daughter. Although how long she can contain the truth is in question and if her dark secret is discovered while he's away there could be serious trouble.

'You betrayed us brother...'

Rhaenyra keeps the word of her house and allows Mysaria to go free, yet as she heads to her ship, she spies Ser Arryk heading up the cliffs towards Dragonstone. Realising what this means, she turns back and repays Rhaenyra’s mercy almost immediately by alerting Ser Erryk to his twins’ dark scheme.

Rhaenyra’s servant arrives just in time to save her and after defeating his brother in the ensuing struggle, Ser Erryk falls on his sword. It’s a sad end for both men and a terrible waste of a priceless asset for the Greens - and the Blacks. We can only presume that Erryk killed himself because he knew the Blacks had no way of knowing whether he was a loyal servant or an assassin, yet it’s a very quick end to what could have been an intriguing plot line. 

House of the Dragon season 2 continues on HBO on Sunday, June 30 in the US and on Sky Atlantic on Monday, July 1 in the UK. Each new episode will air at the same time weekly. You may already have HBO as part of your cable plan but if not, several live TV streaming services offer it as add-on packages. Sling TV, DirecTV and YouTube TV offer it, if you pay a little more each month.

If you don't need to watch House of the Dragon season 2 live, then you can catch it on demand using the streaming service Max, which costs $9.99 per month for its basic tier or $16.99 per month for its ad-free one.

Each episode of the new season of House of the Dragon will hit Max after it airs on HBO. The first season of the show is also all on Max for you to watch.

Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.