House of the Dragon Episode 2 Breakdown
For a long time that the best scenes in the world of Game of Thrones frequently feature little more than well-dressed characters conversing with one another in a luxurious Hall.
When you have the ability to tell a compelling story, there is no requirement to always fall back on nonstop spectacle.
The problem with the second episode of House of the Dragon, titled “The Rogue Prince,” is that it does not quite have the same quality of storytelling as the show’s premiere did. This is an awkward hour of show that doesn’t completely extinguish the show’s hopes of being a worthy heir to the Throne…but it does dim them. The show’s hopes of being a worthy heir to the Iron Throne are dimmed as a result of this.
House of the Dragon Episode 2 Breakdown
The events of “The Rogue Prince” begin somewhere around three-quarters of a year after “The Heirs of the Dragon” came to a close. The titular rogue prince Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, has relocated to the ancestral home of the Targaryen family, Dragonstone, after storming off in an angry huff earlier in the series. Even though it is symbolically fraught, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) and his council are content to leave him to his tantrum there. Dragonstone is supposed to be the seat of the king’s true heir, but they are content to leave him to his tantrum there. However, the king is compelled to take action after Daemon reveals his intention to marry “Lady” Mysaria (played by Sonoyo Mizuno) and takes a dragon egg in preparation for their future offspring. And by “act,” I mean dispatch Rhys Ifans’s character, Otto Hightower, to the misty island so that he can glare at Daemon for a while.
Despite the fact that episode 1 of House of the Dragon was able to convey a genuine sense of importance thanks to the show’s commitment to maintaining a (fictional) historical fidelity to its source material, the same historical approach immediately runs into some problems in episode 2. In the same way that we do not always know what goes on behind closed doors in the actual history of our world, the same is true for the fictional history created by George R.R. Martin. Although Fire and Blood, is about what will happen in the future, House of the Dragon is based on this book.
A good number of those educated guesses were incorporated into “The Heirs of the Dragon,” which is possibly the reason why the episode is so strikingly similar to the early seasons of “Game of Thrones.” Martin’s masters have a lot of “sources” for events such as the thrilling King’s Landing tourney (or the Maidenpool tourney in Fire & Blood), which Daemon referring to his dead nephew as “heir for a day” is an example of. On the other hand, “The Rogue Prince” doesn’t have very many, if any at all, of those scenes that are well-sourced. Because of this, the voice of the Westerosi masters (which is really just Martin’s) is replaced throughout the entirety of this episode by the show’s best attempts at it, which are typically not very inspiring.
This episode’s ostensible climax, in which Rhaenyra (played by Milly Alcock) arrives on Dragonstone to confront her uncle about squatting in her home, is a great example of how the show’s fictional history approach has already started to fray. Rhaenyra is there to confront her uncle about squatting in her home. In the annals of history, the idea of one dragon rider flying to a fiery island to treat with another dragon rider may sound fairly epic. However, in practice, viewers must concede that there is not much to it because there is not much to it.
However, the action in the scene leaves a lot to be desired, despite the fact that the depiction of Dragonstone in House of the Dragon is undeniably breathtaking visually and continues the show’s welcome trend of improving upon production design elements from Game of Thrones. Although it is satisfying to hear newly-minted Kingsguard Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) remind Daemon of who knocked him off his horse, Daemon gives in far too easily, and the dialogue in the scene doesn’t really hold up.
The truth of the matter is that “The Rogue Prince” is packed with talky scenes, and the quality of the dialogue in these scenes does not meet the standards. The first lengthy exchange of words in this episode between Viserys and Alicent (Emily Carey), who will soon become his child bride, is intriguing enough… even if we find out the devastating information that Viserys isn’t a master craftsman and that stonemasons are the ones who built his model of Old Valyria. But after that, the typical “people talking in rooms” approach is lacking in both the witty repartee and the kinetic energy that the world of Game of Thrones is capable of producing.
Forgive the possibility of hyperbole, but the brief conversation that Viserys has with his Master of Laws Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes) might be among the least interesting and least necessary Game of Thrones and House of Daenerys scenes that have ever been filmed. Conversations (always conversations) with Lord and Lady Velaryon about joining their houses have already made it clear that the progenitorial position of House Targaryen is in a precarious position. An additional conversation with Lyonel only serves to remind us that Lyonel exists and that his House will be playing a role in the Wars to Come.
Viserys’ conversation with Rhaenyra about the issue, which took place before he made his final decision to marry Rhaenyra’s best friend when they were both teenagers, was less ineffective but possibly even more disappointing. In light of the difficulties that her father is experiencing in this predicament, Rhaenyra is simply showing an excessive amount of compassion and understanding. One of the greatest strengths of Game of Thrones, and really any story that has to deal with royalty, is the way in which the duties of the state and the duties of the family frequently and impossibly intersect with one another.
When Viserys tells his daughter, who is 15 years old, that he does “not wish” to make them estranged from one another, how is she supposed to respond in any way other than to say, “You are a king?” Anything you ‘wish’ could come true that you could?” She instead chooses to say something that is shockingly pleasant, such as “You are a king…and your first duty is to the realm.” This is something that Mother would comprehend. Just as I do.”
Even though Rhaenyra is set up to feel an even deeper sense of betrayal when her father chooses to marry her best friend, the scene that came before it was still a missed opportunity despite the fact that she immediately understood her father’s predicament when it occurred. It is an extremely unusual occurrence in House of the Dragon up to this point for a character to act in accordance with what their past requires of them rather than what their heart tells them to do.
At this point, it’s possible that I’m being too harsh on this episode, which, in spite of its flaws, is completely entertaining. The production value here is so high and Martin’s original tale so rich that it’s probably not possible for House of the Dragon to turn in a truly bad episode. However, this one comes a lot closer than it really should have considering the circumstances. If anything, it makes the previous successes that Game of Thrones and House of Cards have had in this form of storytelling seem even more impressive. When a significant portion of your story’s progression is dependent on people conversing in closed spaces, the words those characters pick to use can make all the difference in whether or not the story is compelling or dull. There is a slight error in the wording here.
To our great relief, the resolution of “The Rogue Prince” hints at days that will be more visually dynamic in the future. Even though the final conversation between Corlys and Daemon is far too informative (and once again appears to operate under the fast travel rules that have been implemented in later seasons of Game of Thrones), it does set up the first proper martial conflict that will occur in the series. The opening and closing shots of the warlord Craghas “The Crabfeeder” Drahar surveying the destruction he has wrought are quite stunning. His name comes from a literal translation of the word “crabfeeder.” One is unable to help but fantasize about how much more stunning everything would be if it were all destroyed by Dragonfire.
In the midst of all of the idle chatting, Carax’s destruction of the whole host after whole host of Free Cities soldiers ought to buy the House of the Dragon plenty of goodwill. However, it will still be necessary for it to soon spice up its conversations.
In the United States, new episodes of House of the Dragon premiere every Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on HBO and HBO Max. In the United Kingdom, new episodes premiere on Sky Atlantic.
TV SHOW: House of the Dragon Episode 2
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Run time: 54 min