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This page is about the episode. For other uses, see: Rhaenyra the Cruel (disambiguation)

"Rhaenyra the Cruel"[5] is the second episode of the second season of House of the Dragon. It is the twelfth episode of the series overall. It premiered on June 23, 2024 on HBO and Max. It was written by Sara Hess and directed by Clare Kilner.

Premise[]

As Otto schemes to turn the public against her, Rhaenyra questions Daemon’s loyalty. Meanwhile, Ser Criston Cole concocts a misguided plan for revenge.[5]

Synopsis[]

In King's Landing[]

2x2 Aemond Targaryen Still

Aemond contemplates his role in what has come to his family.

News quickly spread through the Red Keep of the murder of Prince Jaehaerys, with guards seizing and imprisoning many of the castle's servants. Enraged and severely distraught over the murder of his son and heir, King Aegon II Targaryen destroys his father's model of Old Valyria, and declares war on all those responsible, even as his companions Martyn Reyne and Eddard Waters try to calm and console him. Elsewhere, Aemond Targaryen silently contemplates his part in the events of the night, ultimately stemming from his involvement in the death of Lucerys Velaryon.

In the chambers of Alicent Hightower, Otto Hightower assures his daughter that the gates of the city have been shut, and the perpretators will be quickly found. Partly blaming herself for what has happened, Alicent is inconsolable, but can't bring herself to confess to her rendezvous with Ser Criston Cole that night. Otto insists she should not blame herself and promises to make some fgood come of the tragedy

OT2 Aegon 5

Aegon listens to his Council on the best course of action.

The Green Council quickly assembles the same night. Aegon demands to know the whereabouts of Ser Criston as events unfolded, to which he lies and claims he was in bed. Lord Confessor Larys Strong enters the room and informs the council that a man was caught trying to flee the city via the Gate of the Gods with Jaehaerys's head in a sack. Aegon announces his intention to personally execute the murderer, but Otto advises restraint if they wish to obtain any possible useful information from him, and instructs Larys to interrogate the prisoner further.

2x2 Green Council Still

The Council is informed of an arrest.

Lord Jasper Wylde argues that Rhaenyra Targaryen may not necessarily the mastermind behind the assassination, but that someone among their own could be the responsible party. Otto agrees, but sees it wise to put all of the blame on Rhaenyra regardless, as that will vilify her as a murdereress in the eyes of the people, and legitimize Aegon, who many view as weak after his hasty coronation and the destruction caused by Rhaenys Targaryen and Meleys that same day.

Otto also proposes holding a funeral procession for Jaehaerys, so the people of King's Landing will see the depravity of Rhaenyra's actions and to further shore up support for Aegon. A plan is put in place for Alicent and Helaena Targaryen to take part in the procession as well, as the "gentlest" souls among the Greens.

2x2 Alicent and Helaena Still

Helaena and Alicent at the funeral of Prince Jaehaerys.

The next morning, Alicent goes to speak with her daughter and informs her of what has been decided by the Small Council. Helaena doesn't wish to take part in the funeral, but Alicent counters that they both have an obligation to the King and kingdom to perform their duties. Helaena eventually appears to relent. The procession begins, with the body of Jaehaerys on full display, as a crier denounces Rhaenyra as a kinslayer and nicknames her "Rhaenyra the Cruel". The commoners of King's Landing overwhemingly show their sympathy to the grieving family, but Helaena only grows increasingly uneasy with all the attention being thrust upon them.

S2 Aegon

Aegon II takes his vengeance on his son's killer.

At the same time, Lord Larys heads to the dungeons to personally interrogate "Blood" on what he knows of the Prince's assassination. Seeing the various torture instruments being prepared, he immediately confesses to having been aided by an accomplice, of whom he only knows his occupation as a rat catcher. Larys promises not to harm him, but adds that he cannot say the same for King Aegon, who comes into the cell with a mace in hand, and with it proceeds to beat his the murderer of his heir to death.

Back in the Red Keep, Aegon, accompanied by Ser Martyn Reyne and Ser Leon Estermont, chances upon his wife as she's ascending a stairway. However, they both struggle to find any words to say to each other, and ultimately only acknowledge each other in brief before parting ways.

Ser Criston Cole enters the bedroom of Jaehaera Targaryen, where he observes servants dismantling the former crib of her slain twin brother. Later at night time, he stands guard over Queen Alicent's chambers; when she comes to the door, nervously inquiring about whether he has talked with anyone about their actions the previous night, as a way to seek absolution. He only replies that there is none to be found for what he has done.

2x2 Criston and Arryk Still

Ser Criston and Ser Arryk "debate" recent events.

The next day, Ser Criston goes to the Kingsguard barracks to speak with Ser Arryk Cargyll, where he admonishes his underling for having his white cloak soiled with mud, and orders him to change it immediately, despite Ser Arryk's protests.

Irritated by the the conversation, and seeking to shift blame for the events leading to the infant prince's murder, Ser Criston demands to know what Ser Arryk was at the time of the assassination. When he responds that he was guarding the King himself and inquires the same of Ser Criston, also questioning why no one was guarding Queen Heleana's private chambers, the Kingsguard Commander angrily shouts that his brother, Ser Erryk Cargyll is a traitor to the Crown.

Criston further insists that the actions of his twin have brought dishonor upon himself and the Kingsguard, and he must therefore restore it, by going to Dragonstone and striking down Rhaenyra Targaryen herself. Ser Arryk points out the massive flaws in the plan, but is ultimately forced to relent when Ser Criston threatens to publicly question his loyalty to the King if he does not go through with the endeavor.

Aemond spends the day in a brothel in the Street of Silk, where he's revealed to have been the night of his nephew's slaying, and shares with Sylvi that he's actually somewhat proud his uncle Daemon considers him such a foe to have sent assassins after him. Despite her sexual advances, Aemond only seeks emotional comfort, and admits to regret having caused his nephew Luke's death back in Shipbreaker Bay. Sylvi is glad to hear it and reminds him that's it's often the small folk who suffer when Princes lose their tempers.

2x2 Hugh and Kat Still

Hugh and Kat discuss living conditions in King's Landing.

Elsewhere in the city, the blacksmith Hugh returns home to care for his wife, Kat, and their sick daughter. They discuss the advance payment he recently secured from the King, as well as the Blockade of the Gullet, which has caused price increases, and the regretful rise in people trying to take advantage of it to earn their fortunes.

The next morning, Aegon orders the execution of the Red Keep's entire complement of rat catchers (including Cheese), having their bodies hanged from the Red Keep's walls, to the shock and horror of the smallfolk. An appalled Otto storms into Aegon's chambers and demands an explanation. Aegon blithely admits to ordering the mass execution, since Blood named one of the ratcatchers as his accomplice but couldn't identify the guilty one, to which Otto furiously brands Aegon an idiot. Criston rebukes Otto for his disrespectful tone, but Otto stands by his denunciation of his grandson, as Aegon's actions have destroyed any goodwill and sympathy the Greens gained from the smallfolk following Jaehaerys's murder (along with Otto's hard work to win it, for which Otto castigates the King as ungrateful and thoughtless), and ensured the Great Houses backing Rhaenyra who might have wavered will stand firm with her now that they've seen Aegon is just as cruel and vindictive.

Aegon fires back that he wishes to "spill blood, not ink," insisting that at least he and Criston have acted in response to his son's murder, as opposed to Otto's "wailing and currying favor with the fishwives", to which a wary Otto asks what Criston has done. He is outraged to learn Criston has despatched Ser Arryk Cargyll to infiltrate Dragonstone disguised as his twin and assassinate Rhaenyra, and berates the pair of them for carrying out such an ill-considered plan without bothering to inform him or the small council, calling it an impetuous act that will diminish them in their enemy's eyes. Otto bitterly compares Aegon to his late father, ruefully noting Viserys's judiciousness, forebearance and dignity, compared to his spiteful, petulant son. Aegon dismisses the comparison, insisting he cares about vengeance, not dignity, and remind Otto his father is dead. Otto agrees, noting the realm is poorer for the loss, and bitterly notes Viserys was right about Aegon being unfit to be King. When Aegon retorts Viserys named him King on his deathbed, Otto sneers "Is that what you think?", and turns to leave.

As he opens the doors, however, Aegon orders him to remove his badge of office as Hand of the King, insisting Otto was his father's Hand, and to give the badge to Criston, much to the latter's shock. Otto scoffs that Aegon wouldn't dare to replace him, but Aegon makes it clear he's serious, and that Criston Cole will be his "steel fist" of a new Hand. Otto scornfully hisses that Aegon will regret this decision, throws his badge at Cole's feet and leaves as Aegon informs him he is dismissed from court.

In private with Alicent afterwards, Otto rages that Aegon and Criston are both impetuous young men who need to be kept in check. Alicent tries to defend Criston's loyalty to her son but Otto insists both of them are acting now out of a desire for vengeance against Rhaenyra, rather than the good of the realm. Alicent insists Aegon is merely lashing out from grief at his son's death, but Otto refuses to remain at court now he has no further place there to witness Criston and Aegon destroy his carefully laid plans, insisting he will return to Oldtown to mentor Alicent's youngest son by Viserys, Prince Daeron Targaryen. Alicent instead urges him to go to Highgarden and ensure House Tyrell and their bannermen support the Greens, promising that she will speak to Aegon when he has calmed down and arrange Otto's return to court. Otto assures Alicent that so long as they hold to their plans, they will prevail and bring forth peace. Alicent briefly tries to confess to her father her sins (namely that she was in bed with Criston at the time of Jaehaerys's murder) but Otto gently silences her. Returning to her chambers, Alicent notices Aegon crying for his son in his room. She briefly contemplates going to comfort him, but withdraws instead, clearly aware he would not welcome her presence. When Criston comes to her room a short time afterwards, despite her reservations, she gives into her emotions and has sex with him again.

On Dragonstone[]

S2 Black Council

The Black Council ponders their next steps.

Elsewhere, in Dragonstone, Rhaenyra Targaryen is shocked when informed by Maester Gerardys of Prince Jaehaerys's murder and that she is believed by many to be the responsible party. Lord Bartimos Celtigar expresses his belief that the news will cause immeasurable damage to the image of the Blacks at a critical time. Ser Alfred Broome interjects that it would only be natural for an aggrieved mother to seek revenge for the loss of a son, but Rhaenyra immediately shuts down the suggestion, voicing that she bears no ill will towards Helaena. As Rhaenyra glances towards Daemon Targaryen, she suddenly realizes who the true culprit likely is.

Speaking with him in private, Daemon confesses to his wife of having arranged the killing of Aemond Targaryen through Mysaria, but denies having set the target as anyone other than him. Rhaenyra grills her husband on what he instructed the assassins to do if Aemond could not be located, and accuses him of being untruthful due to his previous stated desire of wishing to spill Hightower blood, but Daemon once again dismisses having said anything else, insisting he is not at fault if his assassins took matters into their own hands.

OT2 Rhaenyra & Daemon 2

Daemon and Rhaenyra speak in private.

Pausing for a moment, Rhaenyra comes to the conclusion that she cannot trust her husband, and never truly has in full before, with his recent actions only serving to damage her image and standing. Daemon angrily responds that he's always faithfully served before, crowned her himself, and is about to depart for Harrenhal to raise an army in her name, but Rhaenyra counters that he sought to lead the war response to the Greens' coup alone, while she was undergoing the miscarriage of their daughter. He also undermined her when she met with Otto to at least consider the Greens' peace terms, to which Daemon shouts back she was foolish to even consider Otto's treasonous lies.

2x2 Daemon and Rhaenyra Still

Daemon is made to leave once again.

The argument circles to Daemon having been passed over for succession to the Iron Throne in favor of his new wife, which Rhaenyra accuses Daemon of still not having let of go of, and of using her as simply a tool to gain back his lost power. He strongly denies it, but expresses his view that his brother only chose Rhaenyra as his successor because he didn't want his heir to outshine his legacy, denouncing Viserys as a coward who refused to spill the blood necessary to achieve the greatness he aspired to, a weakness Daemon insinuates Rhaenyra shares. The discussion ends with Daemon admitting that the death of Jaehaerys was a mistake and storming out of the room, leaving Rhaenyra in tears.

Baela Targaryen sees her father as she's about to enter Rhaenyra's chambers, but he doesn't speak a word. Rhaenyra asks Baela to take her dragon, Moondancer and head to King's Landing to keep a watch on the comings and goings of the city, though asking her to take caution and adding that their side can afford no further mistakes. When Baela asks about her father, Rhaenyra simply answers that he must choose his own path now.

S2 Rhaenyra Aegon and Viserys Still

Rhaenyra looks after her and Daemon's children.

That evening, Daemon departs Dragonstone astride his own dragon, Caraxes, making for Harrenhal to rally the Riverlands to the Blacks' cause. Rhaenyra watches her children, Aegon and Viserys, play with one another as she takes in everything that has happened.

Rhaenyra has Ser Steffon Darklyn bring Mysaria up from her cell to interrogate her about her part in Jaehaerys's murder, as well as her involvement in the Greens crowning Aegon. Mysaria admits her regret in aiding the Greens in their plans following their attempt on her life, which she believes was Otto retaliating against her for extorting him, and insists that she gave Daemon the name of two of her agents for his plans in exchange for her freedom from captivity, asking Rhaenyra to honor her husband's word. Rhaenyra, recognizing Mysaria from their previous meeting is reluctant, as Mysaria's spy network could be either an asset or a threat to her campaign, but Mysaria insists she has no interest in betraying Rhaenyra, her experiences with Daemon and Otto having destroyed her wish to be a person of significance. Rhaenyra demurs and has Steffon take Mysaria back to her cell.

2x2 Jace and Baela Still

Jace and Baela bond over their departed loved ones.

On the cliffs of Dragonstone, Jacaerys Velaryon observes Baela practicing shooting with a crossbow. They briefly discuss Daemon and reminisce about Laenor, Baela's uncle and Jacaerys's father figure, before Baela asks about Harwin Strong, Jace's true father. Baela reassures Jace that his father loved him, and he in turn admits to missing his late younger brother Luke.

The next day, Rhaenyra goes to Mysaria's cell, accompanied by Ser Erryk. While she admits she doesn't trust the spymistress, Rhaenyra agrees to honor Daemon's promise to release her, on the proviso she takes passage aboard the Corwyn, a ship of the Velaryon fleet due to sail for Pentos by way of Myr. Mysaria thanks Rhaenyra for her freedom, and Rhaenyra instructs Erryk to let Mysaria gather her things and then have someone escort her to the harbor. On the way down to the harbor however, Mysaria recognizes Arryk Cargyll amongst the passengers disembarking from the Corwyn, and alerts her escort.

Arryk manages to fool the guards on the castle gates into letting him into Dragonstone, and makes his way to Rhaenyra's private chambers. Finding Ser Lorent Marbrand of Rhaenyra's Queensguard outside on guard duty, he pretends to be Erryk, and offers to stand the guard duty himself. Once Lorent has left, Arryk slips into Rhaenyra's private chambers, finding only the Queen and her handmaiden, Lady Elinda Massey inside. Rhaenyra initially mistakes him for his twin, until Arryk draws his sword and apologizes, insisting he had no choice. Before he can attack Rhaenyra, Erryk (having been alerted to his brother's presence) bursts in and draws his own sword. Erryk begs Arryk not to go through with his plan, but Arryk denounces his brother as a traitor and moves to attack Rhaenyra. Erryk places himself in the way and a brutal and savage duel ensues. As the brothers battle with blades and fists, Rhaenyra dives for cover, shouting at Elinda to find Ser Lorent and raise the alarm. Ser Lorent, dressed in his bed clothes, bursts into the chamber, sword in hand; he moves Rhaenyra to safety, but unable to tell the brothers apart, urges Rhaenyra to identify Erryk so he can help his Sworn Brother. Bloodied and wounded, Erryk manages to gain the upper hand, fatally wounding Arryk. Freeing his blade from his brother's corpse, wracked with guilt at his kinslaying, Erryk begs Rhaenyra for forgiveness, then throws himself on his sword.

On Driftmark[]

2x2 Addam and Alyn Still

Alyn and Addam of Hull, reunited.

After many months at sea fighting in the War for the Stepstones, Alyn of Hull returns home to Driftmark, where upon disembarking the ship Sea Snake, he's met by his younger brother, Addam of Hull. They speak of the former's rescue of Corlys Velaryon, which saved his life, and the rewards that may come of it, but Alyn states he wants none of it, as he senses a dangerous war brewing in the horizon.

In High Tide, Corlys and his wife, Rhaenys Targaryen, lie together in bed, as they discuss Daemon flying away from Dragonstone in a time where his aid may be needed, and the possibility of him challenging Rhaenyra for the Iron Throne in the future. Rhaenys remarks that the thought of the Crown looming over one's head so closely is a powerful one, but that as long as Daemon retakes Harrenhal for his wife, all might yet be forgiven.

Appearances[]

Main page: Rhaenyra the Cruel/Appearances

Firsts[]

Deaths[]

Cast[]

Starring[]

Co-starring[]

Notes[]

Quotes[]

Corlys: "I mistrust this silence. Daemon flies when we most need his hand at the oar."
Rhaenys: "Devotion has never sat well with him. Where he goes, he wishes to be his own master."
Corlys: "He is the king consort."
Rhaenys: "But he is not the king."
Corlys: "And neither am I, but I manage."
— Corlys and Rhaenys
"I'll kill them! I'll kill them all! Traitors and villains! They dare strike at me! I am the king! I am the king! Traitors and villains! Fire from the sky. This is war! I declare war! I declare war!"
―Aegon II, upon hearing of the murder of his son Jaehaerys
"I wish to spill blood, not ink!"
―Aegon to Otto Hightower
"I do regret that business with Luke. I lost my temper that day. I am sorry for it."
―Aemond Targaryen

Behind the scenes[]

General[]

  • On December 6, 2023, George R.R. Martin shared his thoughts on the rough cut of this episode, as well as the previous one:
"The highlight of the trip, though, had to be the sneak preview that Ryan gave me of the first two episodes of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, season two. (Rough cuts, of course). Of course, I am hardly objective when talking about anything based on my own work… but I have to say, I thought both episodes were just great. (And they are not even finished yet). Dark, mind you. Very dark. They may make you cry. (I did not cry myself, but one of my friends did). Powerful, emotional, gut-wrenching, heart rending. Just the sort of thing I like. (What can I say? I was weaned on Shakespeare, and love the tragedies and history plays best of all)."[6]
  • With a run time of 69 minutes, this episode is the longest of the television series so far.
  • The episode title derives from the name Rhaenyra is called by a herald during the procession of Jaehaerys Targaryen.

King's Landing[]

  • There is a dialogue error in the council scene at the beginning of the episode: Otto Hightower says that young Jaehaerys was "my grandson" - when the boy's father Aegon is his grandson, and Jaehaerys is his great-grandson. Otto even pointedly says Aegon is his grandson during their last scene in the episode. It's possible that the line was originally either "my great-grandson" or "my daughter's grandson": it's unclear if the word was omitted by the actor, editing, or the script itself.
  • Alicent is a grandmother at age 35 because both she and her daughter Helaena were pressured into marrying very young for political reasons:
    • Alicent and Rhaenyra were roughly the same age at the beginning of Season 1, thus Alicent was married to Viserys when she was 15 years old (soon after the end of the second episode). Following three major time skips, 20 years passed by the end of Season 1.
    • Aegon was born when only one year after Alicent was married, so as a 16 year old she struggled to be a mother to him when she was just a child herself.
    • Alicent was heavily pregnant with Helaena when Aegon turned 2 years old, so she was born roughly around when Alicent turned 18 (baby Helaena is then seen in the fourth episode of Season 1). Thus Helaena is only about 17 years old in Season 2 (played by the 25 year old Phia Saban). The Greens pressured Aegon and Helaena to have their own children as soon as possible, because having his own heirs would bolster Aegon's claim to the throne: the twins Jaehaerys and Jaehaera are about 4 years old now, meaning Helaena gave birth to them when she was only 13 years old.
  • The public, open-casket funeral progress for young Prince Jaehaerys was invented for the TV series, as it does not appear in the book. Ryan Condal admitted it was specifically the idea of this episode's writer, Sara Hess.
    • Multiple major reviewers said that Jaehaerys's funeral progress reminded them of the Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, with the royal family's mourning put on public display. In the behind the scenes video for the episode, director Clare Kilner stated she actually did directly base the tempo of the funeral progress on the televised funeral of Princess Diana.
    • Jaehaerys's corpse during the funeral progress is actually a custom-made dummy, made by using a high precision digital scanner on the child actor.
    • In-universe, Jaehaerys's head wasn't "stapled" back on, though from a distance the connections might look like metal: the behind-the-scenes video says the Silent Sisters sewed it back on with wide gold-spun thread. The props makers even researched medieval stitching patterns for accuracy.
    • The funeral progress was filmed on-location in the streets of Caceres, Spain. The city council shut down several city blocks for the shoot.
    • In the behind-the-scenes video, Kilner explained she had the whole funeral progress filmed at double framerate, so she could pick and choose which parts to shift into slow motion in the final version.
    • Kilner said that she personally requested that the funeral progress be led by a man beating a large drum, because her intention was to edit it together in match cuts with Aegon beating Blood to death with a mace (in the final version this cut only happens once, not a montage of Aegon repeatedly hitting him).
  • Otto Hightower, disgusted by his king's conduct, removes and throws his badge of Hand of the King at Aegon's feet, similarly to what three other Hands would do many years later, to express their disdain of their respective monarchs:
  • Aegon's lines to Otto, "Spill blood, not ink" and "My new Hand is a steel fist!" are quotes from the book.
  • Aegon's angry exclamation "I am the king!" could be a reference to the same line said by Joffrey Baratheon in "Mhysa;" in response, Tywin sharply said "Any man who must say, 'I am the king' is no true king."
  • During the council scene, Aegon refers to Jasper Wylde, the Master of Laws since late Season 1, as "Ironrod" - this is the first time that his nickname has been spoken aloud in the TV series. His allies claim he is called "Ironrod" due to his strict adherence to justice and legal principles, while his enemies claim it is a ribald reference to the large number of children he has fathered and his allegedly large genitals.
  • According to the Inside the Episode, the moment when Aegon pauses as he passes Helaena on the stairs was meant to be poignant tragedy, not ignoring her: she is the only other person who can understand the full pain of losing the child they had together, and he does genuinely want to say something empathetic, but due to his emotionally stunted upbringing he struggles to think of something to say then goes without a word. This generational dysfunction is echoed throughout the episode: Otto doesn't know how to comfort Alicent, and later when Alicent sees Aegon weeping by himself she doesn't know what to say either, so she doesn't try to comfort him. Not having received words of comfort in situations like this throughout his, Aegon in turn doesn't know what to say to Helaena.
  • Hugh the blacksmith's wife tells him that food prices in King's Landing have already tripled due to the Velaryon blockade. He is surprised the city could be running low on food so soon (given that the blockade has been in place for only about two weeks and the land-based supply lines are still open), but she explains that anyone who can afford to has been hoarding food since the blockade began, thus the poorest of the city who didn't have extra coin are already suffering. Also consider that while he doesn't have extra money, Hugh is a skilled laborer, meaning the poorest in the city (such as the slums of Flea Bottom) are probably suffering even worse already. This directly parallels what happened in the main novels during the War of the Five Kings, when the royal fleet sided with Stannis Baratheon (also based on Dragonstone), and he used it to blockade the sea lanes into King's Landing. Those who could started hoarding food, the poorest suffered the most, and it led to rapid wartime price inflation (ACOK, Tyrion IV).
    • Martin did give different money values in the Dunk & Egg prequel novellas (about 90 years before the main novels) to indicate that they fluctuate over the centuries due to inflation/deflation cycles, but he did not for the Dance of the Dragons era (itself about 90 years before Dunk & Egg). Thus for the upcoming A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms prequel TV series, number values of money are known compared to Game of Thrones, and they are consistently about three times greater: in the book, Jaime considered 1 Gold Dragon coin a good price for a horse, but Dunk received 3 Gold Dragons and change left over when he sold his palfrey horse. Of course, this doesn't take into account that the royal mint might have simply changed the ratio of gold mixed into coins over the generations (one "Gold Dragon" from Robert Baratheon's reign might just have four times as much gold in a single coin compared to one coin from Dunk's time). Martin never gave examples for price values in the Dance of the Dragons era, however, thus the TV series adaptation has avoided giving exact figures, only ratios: Hugh's wife says food prices have tripled, but doesn't give a specific example. For all we know, "one Gold Dragon" during the reign of Viserys I could buy multiple horses, or just as easily, "one chicken" could have been worth a single Gold Dragon and the price just tripled to three gold coins for one bird.
  • Michelle Bonnard's character was simply credited as "Brothel Madam" when she previously appeared in the ninth episode of Season 1. The Season 2 credits now give her a name: "Sylvi". While this character doesn't appear as such in the book, she might be loosely based on "Sylvenna Sand" - a Dornish prostitute at a high-end brothel on the Street of Silk which Aegon (not Aemond) was known to frequent. The book doesn't mention that Aemond went there as well, or that he lost his virginity to this woman at age 13 under pressuring from Aegon.
    • Sylvi tells Aemond, "When princes lose their temper, it is often others who suffer. The smallfolk... like me" - echoing the same idea of Varys's words to Eddard: "Why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?"[8]
  • Cheese is shown to have been hanged with all the other ratcatchers. In the book Cheese's ultimate fate is a mystery, as only Blood was ever caught (and tortured for 13 days, not bludgeoned to death immediately by Aegon himself). Cheese also didn't have a dog in the book, while this episode clearly shows that the shaggy dog survived (HBO's social media accounts made it a point to highlight that he escaped the Red Keep unharmed).
    • The actor dog playing him is named Bobby, and he has appeared in film before - most prominently in Cruella (2021). Prior to his acting career, Bobby was a malnourished stray living in the streets of Cyprus. He was rescued by a charity, and then adopted by Hollywood animal trainer Julie Tottman, who has been known to put up rescue animals like him for movie roles.[9]
  • In the book, killing all of the ratcatchers that worked in the Red Keep brings up the logical question of how else to address the castle's pervasive rat infestation. Otto responds by purchasing 100 cats - and it is implied that the descendants of this cat colony continued to live in the Red Keep through the time of the main novels, such as the castle cats chased by Arya Stark.
  • During the funeral progress and later when the ratcatchers are hanged, a large archway can be seen across the road in the background: this is not CGI or a matte painting, but a re-use of the large archway which was physically constructed for the royal stadium box at the Heir's Tournament in the series premiere episode.[10]

Daeron Targaryen[]

  • This is the first episode to directly confirm that Alicent's fourth child Daeron Targaryen exists in the TV series. Mention of him was cut from Season 1, and he was only vaguely alluded to when in the Season 1 finale Daemon listed off that the Greens have "four" dragons. Both George R.R. Martin and showrunner Ryan Condal promised that he did exist in the TV continuity as well, and didn't appear in Season 1 for the same reason given in this episode: he was sent away as a ward to his Hightower cousins at Oldtown (comparable to being sent away to university).
    • The Season 1 scripts kept at the WGA archives revealed that Daeron was originally going to be introduced in dialogue in the seventh episode, "Driftmark": as Otto has just returned from Oltown after many years, Aemond asks him how his little brother Daeron is doing, and Otto says as well as any squire there. Thus in the final version, Daeron is also first mentioned by Otto - but when he is planning to return to Oldtown, not when he recently arrived from there.
    • Daeron in the book is the same age as Jace Velaryon. His dragon is Tessarion, the Blue Queen, though at the point when Viserys dies she is not quite yet big enough to ride (note that Daemons aid the Greens have "three adult dragons" but then "four" overall. Thus Tessarion is a juvenile equal or slightly smaller in size to Jace's Vermax or Baela's Moondancer.
    • Season 1 was careful to leave the door open to introduce Daeron later, by never definitively stating exactly how many children Alicent had (i.e. the writers avoiding having her say something like "I have born three children for Viserys").
  • Alicent says that Otto should go to Highgarden because House Tyrell's bannermen in the Reach are "wavering". While the Hightowers dominate the southern Reach from Oldtown, the bannermen in the north of the Reach are not amused that the Hightowers act as if all the Reach should obey them when they aren't their sworn overlords, the Tyrells are. More recently, the Greens killed Lord Allun Caswell during their initial coup in the Red Keep, and House Caswell of Bitterbridge is one of the major vassal Houses in the northern Reach.
    • In the preceding episode, Otto said he anticipated that the large Hightower army mustering at Oldtown would face little resistance and quickly arrive in the Riverlands. Apparently several other vassal Houses in the Reach - who up to this point stayed in line out of fear - are wavering now that word has spread both the Starks and Arryns have openly declared for Rhaenyra, combined with the assassination of Aegon's son making him look weak.

Dragonstone and Driftmark[]

  • Addam of Hull is introduced in this episode: in the book, he was Alyn of Hull's younger brother, but the ages seem to have been reversed in the TV series.
  • Addam mentions that he just came from "Hull", the first time this location has been mentioned in dialogue. In Season 1, the only Velaryon port referred to by name was Spicetown (apparently these scenes take place in the docks of Spicetown, as Addam came to Alyn from Hull). Driftmark island is much larger than Dragonstone, so it has more than one port-town on it (it also has a much more pleasant climate, with wide sandy beaches, unlike volcanic and rocky Dragonstone). Spicetown is located on the south side of the island, facing the Gullet, and in the shadow of High Tide castle. Hull is located on the opposite north side of the island, and grew up in the shadow of old Castle Driftmark. The old castle was the seat of House Velaryon for centuries, but when Corlys brought back immense wealth from his voyages he had a spectacular new seat commissioned to be built at High Tide. Before Corlys made his fortune, Hull and Spicetown were only modest collections of fishing villages, but the wealth and trade that came to Driftmark under Corlys's rule saw them boom into large port towns.
  • The heraldry of House Massey appears for the first time in live-action, sewn on the front of the gown worn by Rhaenyra's handmaid Elinda Massey: three spirals, one red, one green, and one blue. Elinda is herself a noblewoman, but it is common for daughters of noble houses to be honored by the royal family by taking them on as household staff. Elinda's father Lord Gormon Massey himself appears on Rhaenyra's war council. The Masseys are close allies to Dragonstone, as their lands on Massey's Hook are located nearby, and they willingly joined Aegon the Conqueror at the beginning of the Targaryen Conquest. They are also distant relatives, since Lady Alarra Massey was the maternal grandmother of King Jaehaerys I and Good Queen Alysanne.
  • Rhaenyra says that the Velaryon ship Corwyn is waiting to take Mysaria across the Narrow Sea: Corwyn was the name of Corlys's father. He predeceased his own father so he was never Lord of the Tides.
    • Rhaenyra says the ship will take Mysaria to "Myr by way of Pentos". It is unclear why they would take Mysaria to Myr, as Myr is one of the three Free Cities joined in the triple-alliance known as the Triarchy, who have been actively fighting the Velaryons over the Stepstones for the past six years.
  • Rhaenyra doesn't immediately recognize Mysaria because she last saw her 20 years ago, and only on one occasion, before the time skip after Season 1 episode 2 "The Rogue Prince". She never even heard Mysaria talk before.
  • Rhaenyra asks Mysaria how she got the scar around her neck but she doesn't answer. Presumably it is from a slave collar, as she told Daemon that she was a foreign slave taken as a child from a homeland she doesn't even remember. She was apparently treated very roughly even for a pleasure slave (the high end pillow-houses of Lys wouldn't damage their commodities like that). Mysaria actually had this scar on her neck in Season 1, but she usually hid it with necklaces or the clasp of her cloak: even during her nude scene in the first episode it was obscured by her hair and the camera angle. Apparently she stopped hiding it at some point in the 16 years between the fourth and eighth episodes of Season 1, by which time she had risen in station as an information broker and owned her own mansion: it is only visible during her brief appearance at the end of the eighth episode and then during her longer scene soon afterward with Otto in the ninth episode.
  • The behind-the-scenes video for this episode shows in detail how much Jim Clay and his production team drastically expanded the Dragonstone set. All of the individual room sets are connected by hallways, so it is possible to have a camera follow a character as they walk from the Painted Table council chamber, to Rhaenyra's private chambers, and then to the Valyrian library. This episode demonstrated this by following Arryk Cargyll from the council room to Rhaenyra's chambers, without switching between sets.
  • According to the behind-the-scenes video, the prominent Valyrian glyphs on the wall next to the door in Rhaenyra's private chambers are actually a piece of artwork. The High Valyrian glyphs, however, are just recycled from dialogue already developed for Season 1 - thus one of the lines includes words from Laena Velaryon's funeral that don't match the context.
  • The behind-the-scenes video also explained how many of the books and manuscripts in the new Valyrian library set are fully illustrated with text, because they could potentially appear on-camera.
  • Rhaenyra reads a book about Visenya Targaryen, sister-wife of Aegon the Conqueror. It was shown in Season 1 that Rhaenyra idolizes the warrior-queen, as she said that if her mother Aemma gave birth to a son she wanted to name it "Visenya", and supplementary materials confirm that she named her stillborn daughter "Visenya" as she did in the book (from the season finale). One of the details George R.R. Martin gave about Rhaenyra was that, while she was not a "warrior" the way Visenya was with a blade, she copied Visenya's hairstyle of a single large war-braid. Visenya explicitly wore her hair in a braid for the practical reason that if it was free to blow around in her eyes while riding her dragon it might hinder her in combat (the other option is to cut your hair very short, which is what Baella chose to do in the books). The prop book Rhaenyra reads about Visenya is not the same one that Shireen Baratheon looked at in Game of Thrones, as the artwork of Visenya is clearly different.

Duel of the Cargyll twins[]

  • The duel of the Cargyll twins is one of the "unreliable narrator" moments from the book, in which rival historians gave different versions of what happened. The TV series took a middle-path between their extremes, aiming for what probably happened before historians distorted it. None of the versions in the book claims that the wounded Erryk committed suicide by throwing himself on his own sword in utter anguish after killing his own twin brother.
  • The camerawork intentionally loses track of which twin is which during the duel, so the audience won't know. As pointed out in the behind the scenes video, both brothers receive similar wounds by the time other guards arrive: one does prominently get slashed in the leg, but later and with less focus during a wideshot the other twin is seen receiving a similar slash on the same side, so that it was truly impossible for Rhaenyra herself to keep track.
  • The Cargyll twins are played by the real-life Tittensor twins, while the Lannister twins Jason and Tyland are played by one actor who was digitally doubled up: the separate casting choice was made specifically because the showrunners knew that the Cargyll twins would need to fight an intense duel to the death with each other which would have been difficult to render digitally. In contrast, the Lannister twins only appear together briefly in two shots and never exchanged dialogue between themselves (at the royal hunt and later Rhaenyra's wedding).
  • Stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam worked intensely with the Tittensor twins to choreograph their duel. They trained through the choreography for 30 days, one hour each day. They performed the entire fight themselves, as the entire point was to cast twins so they wouldn't need to use a stuntman. Rather, they did all the swordwork: a stuntman was used in exactly one shot, when one of the twins crashes into and shatters the large plant vase (as there was greater chance of injury, and this would have significantly delayed the filming schedule).
  • As noted by Ryan Condal in the behind the scenes videos, George R.R. Martin's choice to have the twin Cargyll brothers duel each other to the death touches upon the archetype of civil war turning "brother against brother". As Condal says, this trope is strongly associated with the American Civil War, but it stretches back through Arthurian legend and into Antiquity: Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur features twin brothers, Sir Balin and Sir Balan killing each other in a duel; even further back to the ancient Greeks, Sophocles's Antigone begins right after a civil war in Thebes between Oedipus's sons Eteocles and Polynices, which ends with them both personally killing each other on the battlefield, grappling in a dark mirror of a brotherly embrace.
  • The behind-the-scenes video for the preceding episode gave a spoiler for the death of the Cargyll twins: when showing how Helaena Targaryen has moved into the queen's chamber, the video shows how she scribbles cryptic fragments of her prophetic visions in notebooks. While it doesn't appear on-screen in the episode, one page which the camera lingered on in full focus contained the phrase "the goose kills its reflection and dies": the sigil of House Cargyll is a golden goose. Thus Eyrrk Cargyll (the goose) killed his own reflection (his twin brother) and then died.
  • The death of the Cargyll twins leaves openings in the Kingsguard of both rival factions, which were already understaffed:
    • In the book, of the seven Kingsguard at the time of Viserys I's death, four sided with Aegon II while three joined Rhaenyra's new Queensguard. Harrold Westerling died of old age in the middle of Viserys's reign, and Criston was already Lord Commander.
    • The four who sided with Aegon were: Criston Cole, Arryk Cargyll, Rickard Thorne, and Willis Fell.
    • The three who sided with Rhaenyra were Steffon Darklyn, Lorent Marbrand, and Erryk Cargyll (in the book it was Steffon, not Erryk, who stole Viserys's crown and presented it to Rhaenyra).
    • Given that the Kingsguard is supposed to have seven members in it, both Aegon and Rhaenyra appoint several new members, though the book never lists a full seven on either side (there may have been more pressing matters). At this point in the story Rhaenyra hasn't appointed replacements yet. Thorne and Fell did not appear in Season 1, but actor Vincent Regan has been cast in Season 2 as Rickard Thorne. The only replacement who could have been appointed by Aegon this early is Gyles Belgrave.
    • Two other knights in Kingsguard armor appear when Criston Cole confronts Arryk Cargyll in the barracks, played by stand-ins (thus neither is Rickard Thorne). By process of elimination the wiki is treating them as technically representing Willis Fell and Gyles Belgrave. Aspects of different Kingsguard may have been shifted around between them (just as Steffon and not Erryk took the crown in the books), thus "TV-Rickard" might end up doing things "Willis" did in the book.

In the books[]

Main page: Differences in adaptation/House of the Dragon: Season 2#"Rhaenyra the Cruel"

This episode is adapted from the chapters "The Dying of the Dragons — A Son for a Son" and "The Dying of the Dragons — The Red Dragon and the Gold" from Fire & Blood.

Gallery[]

Videos[]

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Stills[]

Screenshots[]

References[]

  1. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON (HBO). The Futon Critic. Retrieved February 23, 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 House of the Dragon: Season 2, Episode 2: "Rhaenyra the Cruel" (2024).
  3. 3.0 3.1 House of the Dragon. HBO. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 House of the Dragon: Season 2. HBO. Retrieved June 17, 2024.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Rhaenyra the Cruel. HBO. Retrieved July 1, 2024.
  6. George R.R. Martin (December 6, 2023). A Visit to Old Blighty. Not a Blog. Retrieved December 7, 2023.
  7. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V (2000).
  8. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV (1996).
  9. The Mary Sue
  10. House of the Dragon Red Keep Set Tour | House of the Dragon | Max

Notes[]

  1. In "A Son for a Son," Daemon Targaryen and Otto Hightower mention that days have passed since Viserys Targaryen and Lucerys Velaryon's deaths. Unlike the first season, no major time jumps are expected; therefore, House of the Dragon: Season 2 takes place in 132 AC.

External links[]


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