House of the Dragon: Season 1/ Episode 2 “The Rogue Prince” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Six months have passed since episode 1, and it seems despite Viserys’ doing, things aren’t getting better – they are only getting worse.


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Rhaenyra praying with Alicent

Six months have passed since episode 1, and it seems despite Viserys’ doing, things aren’t getting better – they are only getting worse.

Aired (HBO) 8/28/2022
Director(s) Greg Yaitanes
Writer(s) Ryan Condal
Introduced This Episode
Laena Nova Foueillis-Mosé
Lord Lyonel Gavin Spokes
Mysaria Sonoya Mizuno

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Recap

Strained Relationships – Corlys, Rhaenyra, Rhaenys, Viserys, Otto, Alicent, Daemon, Criston

While Viserys’ reign has peace, there is not a lack of contention. Corlys, with the Stepstones no longer safe for his ships to pass through, has a desire for some type of force to counter the offensive. However, Viserys sees war as a last resort, and being that the battles would take place in or near Free Cities territory, a place the Seven Kingdoms has seemingly left untouched, he wishes to not set a precedent.

This, naturally, upsets Corlys as he is the only self-made man on the council. He didn’t inherit his riches, so to have his concerns ignored for now half a year as things escalate? He takes grand offense. But what do you expect? Viserys lets Daemon take Dragonstone, has Rhaenyra still be the cup girl, and while she is allowed to choose Criston to be the new head of the Kingsguard, even that gets pushback from Otto, who, like most Hands to the King, uses their power to further their own standing.

Case in point, Alicent is still pressing upon the King, respectfully, and taking advantage of how vulnerable he is in order to win his favor. All of which Rhaenyra isn’t aware of but Rhaenys, “The Queen Who Never Was,” need not know the intricate details of her cousin’s council or affairs to know Rhaenyra will not be queen. But, saying this to Rhaenyra is taken with an offense, and she pushes back the idea that it isn’t sexism but Rhaenys herself that led to her being rejected.

A Chance To End Things Here And Now – Daemon, Otto, Rhaenyra, Mysaria, Viserys

Daemon claiming Dragonstone can be responded to with an eye-roll, maybe even him marrying a woman, Mysaria, who is a known sex worker. However, him stealing a dragon’s egg? Never mind the one used for Viserys’ children? That is taking it too far, and to prevent Viserys, who clearly has more and more health ailments, from leaving the Red Keep, Otto goes in his steed.

As you can imagine, this is not taken well since Daemon has never cared for Otto and vice versa. In fact, all the posturing was poised to lead to battle, but then Rhaenyra swoops in, and being the only one who knows how to talk to her dear uncle, she gets the egg back. Mind you, while putting her life in danger since she is the only one standing between Daemon and the Iron Throne. However, her calling his bluff works, and while it does lead to her father admonishing her, it also proves her worth beyond ceremonial moments and holding cups.

Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) reflecting on how Daemon is putting her life at risk
“Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) reflecting on how Daemon is putting her life at risk,” House of the Dragon, “The Rogue Prince,” directed by Greg Yaitanes, 2022, (HBO)

Now, how does Mysaria feel about all this? Upset. Her reason for being with Daemon isn’t about money, power, or even a title. She wants freedom and safety, and his picking fights may help his ego but puts her life at risk. Add in while she isn’t against marriage, she is against having a child, and it makes Daemon picking her, in particular, a very strange decision that can only be explained by love.

If I Must Be Obligated, I Will At Least Be At Peace – Corlys, Rhaenyra, Viserys, Laena, Alicent, Daemon

It’s not lost on Viserys that even as King, he has obligations. While his wife’s burning flesh may still be a faint smell, and he has named his daughter his heir, that doesn’t mean he can simply be the old and single King who occasionally gets a sense of companionship from Alicent. No, he has to marry and have more children, so Corlys, a Valryian, proposes his 12-year-old daughter Laena. Someone who knows, within two years, she’d be expected to bear children.

Viserys isn’t for this idea. Laena is younger than his daughter, probably hasn’t even bled yet, and while politically a good move, Viserys doesn’t want to commit to it. That is even with the effect being bringing two great houses together and making Corlys feel far more valued than he ever has before.

12 year old Laena (Nova Fouellis-Mose) trying to remember what her parents told her to say
“12 year old Laena (Nova Fouellis-Mose) trying to remember what her parents told her to say,” House of the Dragon, “The Rogue Prince,” directed by Greg Yaitanes, 2022, (HBO)

Now, who else would Viserys marry is not Laena? Alicent. As her father hoped for, she has become close to the King, and while Viserys recognizes the recovery of his relationship with Rhaenyra will be ruined due to the relationship, if he can’t mourn in peace, he at least wants companionship which brings him peace. So damn his daughter, damn Corlys, and all those who forced this decision upon him. For once, Viserys will think of himself before his kingdom. Hence Corlys doing the same and crafting an alliance with Daemon.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. So are Corlys and his children the only Black Valryians? Considering the original show didn’t have many Black people in high positions, this potential retcon has me curious. Especially since, in a few hundred years, it seems any Black people of power are wiped out by genocide.
  2. What is it about Rhaenyra that brings out Daemon’s soft side? Is he her real father?
  3. Is Rhaenyra’s interest in Criston purely about his skills, or does she have feelings for him?
  4. Is Rhaenyra and Alicent’s relationship purely platonic in Rhaenyra’s head?

What Could Happen Next

  1. Rhaenyra beginning to question who is an ally and who is simply using her as a means to gain more power
  2. Viserys’ health becoming more of a liability and something far more difficult to hide
  3. Alicent, with a taste of power and influence, changing
  4. Corlys helping Daemon posture himself as a more worthy heir to the Iron Throne, and it reeking of sexism that his wife may not ignore

Collected Quote(s)

Proud men don’t like having to look up.
— Lord Lyonel

Review


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Highlights

Rhaenyra’s Complicated Relationships

Rhaenyra, in many ways, seems to be a cumulation of women in “Game of Thrones” TV history put into one. She is Arya Stark in terms of lacking a desire for love and marriage and preferring a life with purpose outside of what her husband deems important. Heck, Rhaenyra even mentioned wanting to be a knight. Also, in some ways, you can see a bit of Cersei in her. Yes, minus the incestual relationship and sadistic nature, but she is just as bold, just as willing to stand up to a man and call his bluff, and it is a sight to behold.

Yet, while you can see Rhaenyra’s inspirations and even call her a combination of many, you cannot deny Milly Alcock’s command of the character. It is her facing down Daemon, both challenging and appealing to him simultaneously, which makes Rhaenyra remarkable. It is standing firm that it isn’t her sex that will keep her from the Iron Throne but the lack of legitimacy her father refuses to give her. That the precedent of Rhaenys being rejected was because she wasn’t worthy, fit, or the best candidate.

Rhaenyra being a bad ass
“Rhaenyra being a bad ass,” House of the Dragon, “The Rogue Prince,” directed by Greg Yaitanes, 2022, (HBO)

Seeing the ego of Rhaenyra and her getting a chance to back it up is a pleasure. And even as you can see multiple instances of “House of the Dragon” trying to avoid the pitfalls and criticisms of “Game of Thrones,” it doesn’t seem like it is completely playing it safe. Rather, in this new era. There is a desire to recognize all the movements that have come about since the original “Game of Thrones” aired. However, at the same time, there isn’t a clear goal to ignore “House of the Dragon” exists in a different era, a different culture, and thus not everything can be progressive.

Yes, the vocal minority on social media exists and can make it seem their criticism represents a large swath of people, even the majority. But at the same time, the whole “Game of Thrones” franchise relishes in controversy, as it made the show HBO’s biggest hit. So ruffling feathers is a necessary evil for not only what can be compelling storytelling but getting free publicity as well.

On The Fence

Worries Of Whether Things Will Hold When They Age Up Characters

As of now, Rhaenyra, and in extension Milly Alcock, is driving our interest in “House of the Dragon.” Because of this, we’re worried about when the show decides to age the characters into adulthood. It isn’t clear when Emma D’Arcy is posed to take over and not just provide narration, but there is the worry that the younger version may outshine the adult one we’re supposed to accept and get used to. This makes me worry that, the longer Alcock gets to be the definitive Rhaenyra, the more of an uphill battle D’Arcy will have.

Especially considering Alicent is to be replaced by Olivia Cooke, who, based on the various trailers for “House of the Dragon,” seemingly will be quite the scene stealer.

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Rhaenyra praying with Alicent
House of the Dragon: Season 1/ Episode 2 “The Rogue Prince” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
Overall
Milly Alcock presents herself as indispensable to “House of the Dragon” as Rhaenyra challenges authority and her elders. Leaving you to wonder how much of “House of the Dragon” relies on her work and not that put into her character or the rest of the cast?
Highlights
Rhaenyra’s Complicated Relationships
Disputable
Worries Of Whether Things Will Hold When They Age Up Characters
85

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