House of the Dragon Episode 2 still avoids action and is mostly talk

Omoleye Omoruyi
…in the second episode, we see a growing suspenseful plot – a dragon ride towards the scheming that characterises “Game of Thrones”.
Lord Lyonel Strong and King Viserys
Lord Lyonel Strong and King Viserys – House of the Dragon episode 2

When we reviewed episode one of “House of the Dragon“, we mentioned that the conversations are not as classic as we had with Cersei Lannister or Tyrion Lannister. Well, episode two has been watched, and that opinion stands.

However, in the second episode, we see a growing suspenseful plot – a dragon ride towards the scheming that characterises “Game of Thrones”. The end of this episode – the conversation between Daemon and Lord Corlys – raises hopes of a political atmosphere that will push you to buy more popcorn for the next episode and the next until the prequel is over. Though that conversation is far too expository, it sets up the series’ first proper martial conflict.

It was never my brother’s strongest trait, being king,” Daemon intones. 

In case you missed our review of the first episode, read it here. In that episode, we talked about the reception, the characters and their place in the story, and the plot itself. This time, we are making it spicy and talking about the place of women in the old order and now.

Episode 2 – Recap

King Viserys names his new queen and it is the unexpected.

It’s been six months since the events of the first episode, and exposition unfolds swiftly in the opening minutes of tonight’s outing. Highlights:

  • Lord Corlys Velaryon reports violent attacks on maritime shipping lanes from the Stepstones, a chain of islands populated by bloodthirsty pirates and sellswords. Four ships have been lost, including one flying his own banner. Leading the attacks is Craghas Crabfeeder, a man known for feeding his enemies with crabs. 
  • The King rejects Lord Corlys‘ petition to attack Crabfeeder and stop his activities. Lord Corlys believes King Viserys‘ perceived weakness is partly responsible for Crabfeeder’s brazen attacks. 
  • Meanwhile, a member of the King’s Guard has died and a replacement is needed. Viserys tasks Rhaenyra with choosing the replacement, but she finds herself unimpressed by the candidates’ lack of combat experience. She chooses Ser Criston Cole, who bested Daemon during the last tournament.
  • Daemon forcefully takes a dragon egg to ire the king. Otto Hightower leads a delegation to retrieve it, but Rhaenyra – a dragon rider – intervenes to prevent bloodshed.
Ser-Criston-Cole- in House of the Dragon ep 1
Ser-Criston-Cole- in House of the Dragon ep 1

Rhaenyra is aware she’s not being taken seriously. She shares her discontent with Alicent, saying she wishes her father would see her “as more than his little girl.” She’s also aware of the council’s efforts to get King Viserys remarried so as to get a male heir.

Corlys and his wife, Princess Rhaenys, are among those with succession in mind. They propose that Viserys marry their pre-teen daughter Laena (Savannah Steyn) to unify the Targaryen and Valyrian houses, to show there is a strong future – Targaryen dragons linking up with Valyrian fleets?

Define show of strength again.

King Viserys and Laena Velaryon
King Viserys and Laena Velaryon

But Viserys‘ “date” with Laena makes him uncomfortable.

This being a “Game of Thrones” prequel, we will soon see the story relax into battles and sex, betrayals and political scheming. But for now, everything is setting up for an epic story.

So far, House of the Dragon has been less violence and bloodshed.

Our thoughts

It is only two episodes of “House of the Dragon,” but we experience a King Viserys who has lost sight of the fact that no power can compete with House Targaryen’s dragons.

As a strong head of state but one that is empathetic, Viserys leaves a lot to be desired. As his troublesome brother Daemon observes, Viserys is not the one for the throne.

Episode 2 reminds us of the politics of succession in contemporary times, even though the monarchy system is almost out of existence.

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra and Daemon seem to be reliving the show’s leanings toward incest – A romantic spark we saw in episode one and is likely to come up again knowing that Rhaenyra is the only one that can stop Daemon from acting violently. She smiled after her work was done with him. We would argue that incest is no longer a major phenomenon, but the show is set centuries even before the main show itself.

Yet, “House of the Dragon” episode 2 doesn’t quite have the same storytelling goods that the show’s premiere did. This doesn’t extinguish the show’s hopes of being a worthy heir to the Iron Throne though.

At least, House of the Dragon’s depiction of Dragonstone is visually stunning and brings us to the climax of the show. But, here, Daemon – the rogue prince – folds too quickly, and the conversations don’t hold water, except when Ser Criston Cole satisfies us by reminding Daemon of the time he took him off his horse.

Rhaenyra and Daemon in Dragonstone
Rhaenyra and Daemon in Dragonstone

Truth be told, episode 2 is filled with ‘talk talk’ where the quality of the talk doesn’t even draw attention.

For instance, Viserys’ conversation with his Master of Laws, Lord Lyonel Strong, might be among the least interesting and least necessary scenes ever filmed. Except if we argue that Lord Lyonel‘s House will play a role in the wars to come.

Much of the plot relies on people in rooms talking, and the words are just off here. 

When Viserys tells his 15-year-old daughter that he does “not wish” to make them estranged, her response is “You are a king…and your first duty is to the realm. Mother would understand this. Just as I do,” instead of a more realistic “you are a king. Anything you ‘wish’ you can make happen?” Knowing she too is interested in sitting on the Iron Throne and changing the order of things as she tells Rhaenys.

King Viserys and Rhaenyra - House-of-the-Dragon
King Viserys and Rhaenyra dining

“House of the Dragon” is, however, entertaining. And the conclusion to suggests more visually dynamic days to come. The opening and closing shots of Craghas Crabfeeder looking through the destruction he hath wrought are amazing.

And one can’t help but imagine how much more beautiful they’d be if everything were consumed by Dragonfire. 

By the way, in the books, Craghas Drahar, a prince admiral of Myr, earned the title of “Crabfeeder” after feeding thousands of pirates to deadly crabs. Craghas takes charge as the prince admiral of the Free Cities – Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh – collectively called the “Triarchy.”

We hope he doesn’t die so easily like the Snow King, though. Who would not want to see a plague of crabs?

The place of women in “House of the Dragon” and contemporary society

“House of the Dragon” is a simple graphic representation of the place of women in old and contemporary society – and there are women who aid the order, ensuring it thrives.

Rhaenys

In Rhaenys‘ conversation with Rhaenyra, we are reminded that women cannot take powerful positions except when they fight blood and bones to get to it.

House-of-the-Dragon-Rhaenyra
Rhaenyra

“That is the order, and I understand that order. I hope you do too,” Rhaenys tells Rhaenyra.

We may argue that times and the order has changed so well, but there is a lingering inclination to make sure women do not attain certain heights like the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Haha! She will get only one vote…from her thumb.


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