REVIEW: ‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 2 — “The Rogue Prince”

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House of the Dragon Episode 2 - But Why Tho

The success of House of the Dragon was questionable coming off one of the most hated series finale for it’s parent program Game of the Thrones. However, House of the Dragon Episode 1 managed to pull in over 10 million viewers for its premiere and at least for this critic, reminded me why I fell in love with the series in the first place. In the premiere episode, the stage was set to tell the story of Rhaenyra’s (Milly Alcock) rise and the vast conflict she’s hurdling toward as the first girl named heir to the Iron Throne. Now, in House of the Dragon Episode 2, “The Rogue Prince,” Rhaenyra is pushing to break the mold that her gender has cast her in.

A prequel,  based on Martin’s Fire & Blood, the series, which is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, tells the story of House Targaryen by showrunners Ryan J. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik. Last episode, Rhaenrya was taught the place the women hold in the Realm, and that her expectation isn’t to fight on a dragon, but for her life in a birthing bed. That is, until she’s chosen as the heir to the throne, starting a domino effect of what’s to come. However, in House of the Dragon Episode 2, Rhaenyra is still just the cupbearer, ignored and put in her place routinely by the powerful men at the council table.

But Rhaenyra isn’t just a girl, or at the very least she needs to prove to those around her that she isn’t. Consistently this episode, Rharnyra pushes back on the blocks put in her way. She chooses a member of the King’s Guard on her own, against the wants of the Hand (Rhys Ifans). And she flies to Dragonstone to confront her uncle when everyone else wants to lock her away. Rhaenyra shows her worth and doesn’t buckle when she confronts Daemon (Matt Smith), but that’s not her biggest hurdle and won’t be for this series. As she says early on in the episode, Rhaenyra wasn’t chosen to be heir, she was appointed to spurn Daemon. And she isn’t just the only one who is aware of this.

In House of the Dragon Episode 2, Rhaenyra doesn’t just overstep the small council, but her very trajectory crosses Rhaenys (Eve Best), “The Queen Who Never Was.” Rhaenys showcases much of what we saw throughout Game of Thrones. Men in power would rather burn the realm than see a woman on the throne, and that is a truth she must believe to somehow lessen the blow that no one bent the knee to her. This dynamic between the previous generation and the current one serves as an axis that the series moves on. Rhaenyra isn’t just confronting the men of the Small Council or her uncle, or even her father, she is also confronting the women who have accepted the order of things.

While much of House of the Dragon Episode 2 is focused on political maneuverings and intimate conversations, the showrunners don’t forget to remind the audience that this is a world where dragons still reign and that alone makes conflict interesting. Both as Rhaenyra levels the playfield as a Dragon Rider, and how Daemon can while Daemon can shield himself from violence with the threat of greater loss of life. Now, this isn’t to throw out the politics of it all, as Rhaenyra isn’t the only character grasping for survival. Corlys (Steve Toussaint), despite his seat on the Council, finds himself unheard, and pushed to fight for his House, even if it’s through trying to wed off his 12-year-old daughter or scheming against the current king.

All in all, House of The Dragon Episode 2 is slowly paced. But in that slow-pacing, there is tension being built with every choice and every subversion of patriarchal expectation. Yes, even that which deems second sons as worthless. With a wonderful cast, I find myself wanting more out of them. More emotion, more rage, and less calm. There needs to be fear and anger simmering under the surface that is palpable, but instead much of the cast appears only thinking about the long game, allowing for calm in the presence. That said, I’m all in for what’s to come, especially if the dragons keep showing up to every meeting.

House of the Dragon Episode 2 is streaming now on HBO Max, with new episodes airing every Sunday at 8pm CT / 9pm ET.


House of the Dragon Episode 2
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL:DR

All in all, House of The Dragon Episode 2 is slowly paced. But in that slow-pacing, there is tension being built with every choice and every subversion of patriarchal expectation. Yes, even that which deems second sons as worthless. With a wonderful cast, I find myself wanting more out of them. More emotion, more rage, and less calm…That said, I’m all in for what’s to come, especially if the dragons keep showing up to every meeting.

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