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‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 premiere recap: Never trust the rat exterminator to do an assassin’s job

By Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

(CNN) — “House of the Dragon” returned on Sunday for its long-awaited second season and the lesson in the premiere episode is that if you wish to carry out a hit on a one-eyed adult prince, maybe don’t hire the rat exterminator because he might kill a child instead.

But let’s back up first. Last season, Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) was crowned king, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) crowned herself Queen, Aemond Targaryen’s dragon ate Rhaenyra’s son Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) for lunch, and, basically, war is on the precipice.

When we meet Rhaenyra in the Season 2 premiere episode, she’s overcome with grief about the death of Lucerys. After she finds some closure and Lucerys’ remains, she returns to Dragonstone to hold a Team Black council meeting, clearly still grief-stricken and mad. Like, mad-mad.

“I want Aemond Targaryen,” Rhaenyra says at the council meeting.

If “an eye for an eye” seemed to be the approach to justice in Season 1, this season it’s “a son for a son.”

Rhaenyra’s uncle/husband – welcome back to incest-laden Westeros – Daemon (Matt Smith) is happy to help and hires a rat exterminator and an accomplice, who may be better known to book readers as “Blood and Cheese,” to kill Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), on the advice of the White Worm (Sonoya Mizuno).

Daemon explains to the rat guy that Prince Aemond has “silver hair and one eye” and “shouldn’t be hard to find.” But he was.

While rat guy does successfully sneak into the Red Keep, he does not find and slay one-eyed Aemond. He instead finds Queen Helaena (Phia Saban) in her bedroom with her two young children and proceeds to slay young Prince Jaehaerys, King Aegon’s heir.

The unintended death of King Aegon’s heir might complicate Rhaenyra’s Realm-wide quest for loyalty because murdering an innocent child isn’t a good look. Solid cliffhanger, though!

Elsewhere in Westeros

  • Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) roll around in bed together twice throughout the episode. Helaena walked in on them right after Jaehaerys was murdered, so she knows why Criston wasn’t guarding her like he was supposed to.
  • Alicent also appears to still have some sympathy for her ex-bestie Rhaenyra when she lights a candle in memory of Lucerys. It does, however, feel safe to say that sympathy was erased after she found out about the murder of her grandchild at the end of the episode.
  • Larys (Matthew Needham) tells Alicent that he vetted the house staff for traitors and hired her a new set of supposedly loyal staffers. Must’ve not vetted the rat guy well enough, unless…
  • Team Black’s Velaryon navy are getting a blockade in the Gullet positioned, according to Rhaenys (Eve Best), which she says will soon block off “all sea-born travel and trade” in King’s Landing. Not good for Team Green.
  • Jacaerys (Harry Collett) goes to the Wall in the North to ask Lord Stark to be on Team Black. He also asks for the help of their army so that his mom, Rhaenyra, can defend her claim to the throne that the Hightowers are trying to usurp. It’s a successful mission, and he gets 2,000 Stark fighters.
  • The writers seem to be keenly aware that everyone loves a good “Game of Thrones” nod. What else could explain the scene at Winterfell showing the genesis of the Night’s Watch? We miss you, Jon Snow (Kit Harington).
  • At King’s Landing, King Aegon holds a council meeting to go over Team Green’s plan of attack. He’s all fire and brimstone about it but his Hand, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), stresses patience and restraint, at least before the whole Jaehaerys killing. King Aegon hates this. Larys then manipulates King Aegon into thinking he should find a new Hand, so we have that to look forward to.

Needless to say, the late King Viserys (Paddy Considine) would not approve of any of this nonsense!

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