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House of the Dragon Ep 2 Review: Pace of the Game of Thrones prequel reduces, but betrayal level remains high

House of the Dragon Ep 2 Review: Looking back on Game of Thrones and how it all began, what was absolutely fascinating about the show was its characters and their ambitions, minus the magnificence brought by outfits and set design and even the forced erotica at times. Each move made by any character on the show was calculated, and in the grand scheme of things, it was all about ambition, wielding power, and establishing a powerful position for themselves in unstable realms. It all starts with the concept of heritage and its ability to connect to progeny in the House of the Dragon. A King without an heir is weak, but a King with a woman as his heir is vulnerable in Westeros.

House of the Dragon’s second episode takes place six months after King Viscerys (Paddy Considine) loses his wife and son in a birth scene that’ll go down in history. With half a year having passed since his wife’s death, King Viscerys has now been urged by his council to consider re-marriage in order to “strengthen” his position, which implies that he will have a second chance at producing a male heir after announcing his daughter Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) as his successor in the previous episode.

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Without going into detail about the types of royal matches offered to the king, it can be said that this is the start of everything that will bring doom to House Targaryen, as the political goals of those around the king now come into focus.

First episode of the prequel gained a thunderous reaction from the audience, and as the second episode airs, viewers will realise that it wasn’t just a stroke of luck, but that the showrunners have truly worked hard on creating a show with reminders of the past and a future to look forward to as it progresses. Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) was one character and actor who marvellously stood out right from the show’s debut episode, although the second episode features him a little less, the cliffhanger closing ensures that big things await Daemon, who may be ready to rise above his title as the “second son” and show the public of King’s Landing another side of him. When compared to Game of Thrones, Daemon’s arc already appears to be building towards something extraordinary, and I’m hoping he gets a Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)-style journey.

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House of the Dragon may be focusing on Targaryen history, but there are other essential houses who may have vowed their allegiance to Viscerys, but that doesn’t stop them from pursuing bigger dreams; keep an eye out for Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Touissant) and, of course, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans). In the second episode, Craghas Drahar, also known as The Crabfeeder, is introduced as a new enemy. The show does focus more on the mind games this time, maintaining the gory components a notch lower than the debut episode. In a particularly impressive exchange between the “Queen that never was,” aka Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best), and Princess Rhaenyra (Alcock), the former says, “Men would sooner burn the realm than see a woman sit on the Iron throne.” This helps to explain why what Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen accomplished 172 years later was a feat that came with a seemingly impossible journey.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” as the expression goes, and it can be seen in shows like Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon. With the King making a major decision near the end of the episode, it appears that Ep 3 will be packed with more drama. For those who prefer the show’s visual aspects, we return to Dragonstone in this episode, and there’s a fantastic scene involving the two dragons, Caraxes and Syrax. In terms of performance, Alcock strikes a good balance between Rhaenyra’s still-healing from her mother’s death and determination to own her position as heir to the throne. In the next episode, Emily Carey’s Alicent Hightower is expected to show more facets of her character. Rhys Ifans’ performance as Otto Hightower continues to impress, and the tension between him and Matt Smith’s Daemon is delectable to watch.

Overall, the second episode of House of the Dragon serves as an excellent prelude to some major events to come. What has been missing thus far are some of the lighter moments that a character like wine-chugging Tyrion Lannister brought to Game of Thrones thanks to Peter Dinklage’s excellent performance.

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