The second episode of House of the Dragon, “The Rogue Prince,” was released Sunday, August 28. The pilot did an excellent job setting up the stakes, and now we see the results of that set-up six months in the future. Rhaenyra and King Viserys have barely communicated since the passing of her mother and his wife. Prince Daemon has taken to Dragonstone with his lover, Mysaria, and the majority of the City Watch. The Crabfeeder has become a more legitimate threat to the realm. All of this is occurring as the Small Council begins to pressure King Viserys to take another wife.
One of the best things that this episode does is set up the complicated dynamic between House Targaryen and House Velaryon, the only two surviving houses of Old Valyria. It only makes sense to unite their houses further, especially considering Lord Corlys owns half of the realm’s ships and they have a new enemy with the Crabfeeder wreaking havoc in the Stepstones. There is only one problem: his daughter is 12. Though that is not technically an issue in Westeros, it is still hard for all of us to watch. In a world where there are lots of bad men, seeing King Viserys be utterly unenthusiastic about the idea reassured us his goodness. Unfortunately, it is clear his goodness will be his undoing, as well as his consistent medical issues.
A smart man would have never named Rhaenyra his heir or confirm to her that no matter the sex of his future children that she would remain next in line. His goodness and love of his daughter is admirable, but stupid from a governing perspective. Also, despite being named the heir to the throne, Rhaenyra is still treated with so little regard. Nobody is even thinking of teaching her how to lead. After speaking up out of turn, she is told to go pick out a knight to become a new Kingsgard. The answer is simple to her: pick the man with the actual battle experience. Her intellect and her ego lead her to go behind her father’s back to interfere on Dragonstone.
The conversation between Otto Hightower and Prince Daemon is nothing short of pointless. They have zero respect for each other. The moment that Rhaenyra enters on her dragon, the temperature changes. When Rhaenyra and Daemon converse in Valyrian, it perfectly shows how everyone else is below them. Only another Targaryen is a match for a Targaryen. Their connection gets Daemon to give back the dragon egg, and eliminates the need for bloodshed.
It is not unfair to say that Daemon has done bad things in this episode, but again the writers double down that he is not the evil barbarian he is thought to be. When Lord Corlys is speaking to him negatively about King Viserys, he stops him in his tracks. Only he can criticize his brother. Despite his pain and being spurned by his brother, he still loves him. “The blood of the dragon is thick,” as he said in the first episode.
Another key part of this episode was Rhaenys’ and Rhaenyra’s pertinent conversation. Rhaenys believes that the patriarchal system is unable to be broken because she was passed over by the Lords of Westeros. Rhaenyra is young and optimistic, and she wants to create a new order. It mirrors the generational ideological gaps that are true in our world. This struggle to rebel against the elders is universal, and this conversation only strengthens our love of Rhaenyra. That endearment is also why Viserys’ decision to marry Rhaenyra’s best friend Alicent feels like such a betrayal.
Otto Hightower’s idea to essentially prostitute his daughter out under the guise of kindness and sympathy only to strengthen his house makes me sick. I find him much more repellant than Daemon. Despite Rhaenys saying that Viserys is no fool, I have to disagree because what smart man would announce his engagement to someone so close to his daughter before speaking to her? King Viserys’ decisions get poorer and poorer, only confirming what Daemon said to his brother in the throne room is true: he is weak, he lets the other Council members walk all over him, and Otto Hightower is a power hungry man.
“The Rogue Prince” flowed in perfect succession with “The Heirs of the Dragon.” The only question is: can episode three keep this pattern alive?