House of the Dragon has thus far been much better received than the final season of Game of Thrones. This certainly wasn’t easy to pull off, given that plenty of viewers were not thrilled about several outcomes from the original series, not the least of which was the manner in which Daenerys went mad.
As it turns out, though, Targaryens have been making bad decisions for hundreds of years in George R.R. Martin’s Westeros, and some of the worst moves will soon be on display in HotD‘s second season. Granted, a few terminally awful decisions already went down in the first season. Those include King Viserys I’s decision to yield so much decision-making ability to the Hightowers (Otto being quite the mastermind and Queen Alicent being onboard with her dad’s plans). Additionally, Aemond Targaryen screwed the pooch when deciding to scare Luc and Arrax, who ended up being a tasty snack for loose cannon Vhagar.
Still, some decisions that were arguably more damning are yet to be seen onscreen. Those should happen in up to four seasons of HotD to finish up the events of GRRM’s Fire and Blood book. As well, HBO is prepping a full season of another GoT prequel called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight. Yet let’s not get too far ahead of our current subject. As the second HotD outing grows closer to release, here’s what we know.
The Targaryen civil war, a.k.a., “The Dance of the Dragons,” shall soon be on fiery display in your living room as battle lines are drawn across Westeros on behalf of Teams Black and Green on Dragonstone and within King’s Landing, respectively. As the show’s recent teaser trailer confirms, yes, mistakes are made immediately following Viserys’ demise, and this leads to a bloody and flame-filled war that torches nearly half of Westeros’ population but also ends up tearing the House of Targaryen apart from the inside.
This is a Shakespearean theme, of course, but also, if the second season matches up to the applicable portions of the Fire and Blood book, this could be one of the most thrilling seasons of TV that we’ve seen in a long time. It also helps that HotD has already established itself as an event series, and the masses will tune in to watch the “Dance of the Dragons, which is actually a label that GRRM drags a little bit in the Fire and Blood book and is actually dreamed up by Westeros residents who observed the giant creatures flying above. We will also see much more of Westeros than the King’s Landing and Dragonstone locations that dominated the first season.
As well, we can look forward to many more dragons. Daemon was seen attempting to tame Vermithor in one of the most recent episodes, but Ceraxes could still be his ride as well. Rhaenyra will take flight on Syrax. Team Green and Aemond will still have Vhagar, who is the largest dragon, but Team Black will have more numerous dragons (including possibly Seasmoke), and we might also see wildcards, including Sheepstealer, Grey Ghost, and Cannibal.
Although the dragons shall be the main instrument of this war, make no mistake that this is a very human conflict. The two halves of the Targaryen crew will take up arms on behalf of Queen Rhaenyra, who was Viserys’ true chosen heir, and King Aegon II, who “accidentally” ended up on the throne after Queen Alicent “misheard” Viserys’ dying words. And you know, a lot of this sources back to the rivalry (unwittingly stoked by Viserys) between Alicent and Rhaenyra. The latter lost a son, and since the first episode is titled, “A Son for a Son,” the Hightowers had better watch their back.
Daemon will also take center stage in the battle because, let’s face it, he’s been dying to get back into the saddle, and the chaotic prince loves mayhem. In the book as well, Daemon ends up doing much of the early intimidation by fire while Rhaenyra is grieving the loss of both Luc and her father.
New characters for Season 2 shall be plentiful and include the following:
– Lord Gregan Stark (Tom Taylor), the Lord of Winterfell, who receives a visit from one of Rhaenyra’s surviving sons, Jaecerys, who spends the war’s earliest phases attempting to take a headcount of lords, houses, villages, and cities who support his mother’s claim to the Iron Throne. Although Fire and Blood doesn’t detail much about Stark’s meeting with Jaecerys, the series will likely go off book to provide details on Stark’s alliance.
– Alys Rivers (Gayle Rankin), a healer and unusually prolific wet nurse within Harrenhal, one of the first castles to surrender to Team Black in the book.
– Ser Simon Strong (Simon Russell Beale), who an uncle to Lord Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), he of the foot fetish, and the Castellan of Harrenhal.
– Ser Gwayne Hightower (Freddie Fox), who is Otto Hightower’s son, Alicent’s brother, and King Aegon II’s uncle.
– Alyn of Hull (Abubakar Salim), a Velaryon fleet sailor who served in the Stepstones campaign.
Additionally, HBO announced the following characters: Addam of Hull (Clinton Liberty), Ser Rickard Throne (Vincent Regan), Ser Alfred Broome (Jamie Kenna), and Ulf (Tom Bennett).
Returning cast members? Oh yes: Emma D’Arcy (Rhaenyra), Matt Smith (Daemon Targaryen), Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower), Eve Best (Rhaenys Targaryen), Steve Toussaint (The Sea Snake), Fabien Frankel (Ser Cristan Cole), Ewan Mitchell (Aemond Targaryen), Tom Glynn-Carney (Aegon Targaryen II), Sonoya Mizuno (Mysaria/The White Worm), and Rhys Ifans (Otto Hightower).
House of the Dragon‘s second season will return in early Summer 2024. Post-production surely continues at this time, given that plenty of special effects are needed to render all of those dragons and their fire. That’s less than two years from the series premiere, which is a miracle, especially considering how long those final Game of Thrones seasons took to arrive and all of the upheaval that hit Hollywood in 2023.
HBO released this teaser trailer on December 2, and they did not hold back on showing off the dragons in battle.
HBO’s first ‘House of the Dragon’ season can currently be streamed on Max.