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Let’s do this House of the Dragon episode 2 review to see what House Targaryen is up to these days. The king became a sonless widower as roaring crowds cheered a spectacle of medieval bloodletting. Will the joust move from the arena to the king’s court? Our money is on absolutely.
After all, king Viserys’ choice of successor might just trigger a little palace intrigue.
House of the Dragon episode 2 review: Of grief and duty
Viserys Targaryen has a kingdom to oversee, so he takes meetings as he mourns his wife and newborn son. Here’s hoping he loses his habit of giving in to sentiment because grief and loss can make a man vulnerable.
The king aspires to extend the decades-long stability of his predecessor’s reign. Sadly a Targaryen rarely gets the things they want the most, and king Viserys desperately wants peace.
Trouble on the waters
The opening scenes of episode two take you to a sandy beach on a cloudy day. There are crabs everywhere; they’re crawling on the ground, and they’re crawling over pieces of driftwood. They’re crawling out of the mouths of sand-covered pirates that litter the ground, nailed to pieces of driftwood. This is your jarring, visual introduction to the works of Craghas Drahar, the Crabfeeder.
Craghas and his herd of crabs are a civic-minded lot who deal with the scourge of pirates with violent efficiency. King Viserys certainly seems to think so, and he says as much; to the irritation of Lord Corlys Velaryon.
Corlys Velaryon heads the royal fleet, and his private shipping interests make his house the wealthiest in all of Westeros. For him, the crab-feeder’s activities are bad for business and a real threat to the realm. While lord Velaryon pushes to resolve the problem with decisive action, Viserys adopts a pacifist stance. The king chooses extreme caution in a situation that is affecting shipping routes that are important to Westeros.
Trouble closer to home
The contenders for the iron throne start to step out of the shadows and show their intent. It’s six months since the fiery funeral of Viserys’ wife and son, and the succession matter is still thorny.
It’s evident that the idea of a female successor is still unpalatable to the nobility of Westeros. This relegates crown-princess Rhaenyra to a placeholder heir. She has her work cut out for her if she wants to take the iron throne.
The problem with our princess is that she has the capability and ambition to sit on the throne. Her personality may drive her to fight for the crown.
We see Rhaenyra choose a king’s guard based on merit instead of patronage. Her decision rubs her father’s courtiers the wrong way. She proceeds to diffuse a potentially bloody situation with the grit and courage of a great ruler. Every time her father’s advisors push her to the sidelines, Rhaenyra steps up and gets things done. The king’s hand is watching the princess with a keen, possibly reptilian eye.
The prince doesn’t take kindly to being passed over for the throne, so he takes the King’s guard for himself. Daemon also takes over the Targaryen ancestral lands (Dragonstone) and announces his wedding to his lover. Our resident troublemaker proceeds to announce the upcoming birth of his child. In celebration, he takes the dragon egg that was meant for Viserys’ now-dead infant.
These provocations lead to a standoff between Daemon’s men and the King’s hand. The tense scene unfolds in the jagged, misty heights of Dragonstone. In his capacity as the King’s hand, Otto Hightower asks prince Daemon to surrender the dragon’s egg and Dragonstone. Otto is ready to spill blood until the prince brandishes his dragon.
At this point princess, Rhaenyra and her dragon rise from the mists below as if by magic. She faces her uncle and secures the egg of contention, averting bloodshed. The king’s hand is still watching the princess with a keen eye.
Otto’s daughter knows grief, and she uses her experience to connect with Viserys. She acknowledges his loss as a father and widower. By extending humanity to Viserys, Alicent Hightower becomes a source of comfort to a king. She picks up on the things that matter to Viserys and uses the information to form a connection.
Viserys is an avid student of history, and Alicent seems to share the same interest. The king worries that his daughter is distancing herself from him, and Alicent smooths things over. Viserys has a giant stone replica of his capital, complete with a stone model of his beloved, deceased dragon. He breaks the little dragon figurine, but Alicent has the meaningful model repaired.
As a matter of duty, the king must take another wife and try for a male heir. Duty dictates that Viserys does everything he can to prevent a succession war. His advisors on the closed council agree, and Lord Corlys Velaryon has a potential solution.
Lord Velaryon proposes that Viserys marry his 12-year-old daughter. The union would join two Valerian families, which is an excellent way to maintain the quality of the Targaryen bloodline. On his end, Corlys would have access to the throne via the children born of his daughter’s marriage to king Viserys.
The union seems like a no-brainer, despite the small (giant) matter of young lady Velaryon’s age. On this premise, Viserys has a heartfelt talk with his daughter after her trip to Dragonstone. Rhaenyra agrees that the king has a duty to remarry and give the realm a suitable heir. She gives her blessing.
Lord Velaryon’s shipping empire is threatened by the Crabfeeder, which is bad. King Viserys chooses to marry Alicent Hightower instead of young Lady Velaryon, which is not good. Now Corlys has to take steps to protect his fortune, independent of the king.
He asks Prince Daemon for help in dealing with Craghas Crabfeeder. After all, Corlys Velaryon comes from a family that builds their fortune through their backbreaking effort against long odds.
What does an alliance between the king’s brother and the king’s naval commander hold in store? We find out in upcoming episodes of House of the Dragon.
An episode where the players take their positions
The contest for the iron throne is underway, and the contenders are revealing themselves. Now we watch as different players counter their competitors in a race to win a throne with sharp edges.
This House of the Dragon review finds the second episode to be administrative. The end goal of episode two is to seed the conflict that will drive the story to its climactic points. Here’s hoping that the series develops into a compelling story with memorable plot twists. We could all use the kinds of shocks that the show’s predecessor is famous for.