House of the Dragon has returned – catch up on the action of A Son for a Son with our recap

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House of the Dragon episode 1 doesn’t wait to catch the viewers up. The story moves at a breakneck pace and immediately gets into one of the most violent and infamous plots from the Fire and Blood book.  

If you’re looking to break down what you just saw in Son for a Son, or you’re just plain curious, then you can catch up with our recap on all the key plot points to be aware of.

Spoilers for House of the Dragon season 2, episode 1 below. Want to keep spoiler-free? Read our review of episodes 1 and 2.

A Stark return 

The episode opens with a familiar sight to Game of Thrones fans: Winterfell. We have a narration from a new character for season 2, Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor). That’s right, one of the most popular Houses from the GOT franchise is officially back.  

Cregan is known as the Wolf of the North in the books and is currently serving his watch at the Wall. He’s the son of Rickon Stark, who pledged his allegiance to the late King Viserys and his then named heir, Princess Rhaenyra. 

Olly Upton/HBO

Olly Upton/HBO

Olly Upton/HBO

This time, it’s the Blacks who are seeking allegiance. Rhaenyra’s son, Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett), has been sent to drum up support for her claim to the Iron Throne. Jace cannot convince Cregan to leave his posts. After all, Winter is Coming. However, the Stark promises thousands of Greybeards to the fight.  

Their debates are interrupted by news from a raven that will turn the Blacks lives upside down.  

“I want Aemond Targaryen”  

Back in Dragonstone, Rhaenys (Eve Best) and Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) discuss the absence of the Black Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), who has been searching for proof that her son has been killed.  

At the end of season 1, Lucerys lost his life leaving Storms End when he and his dragon were chased by Viserys’s and Alicent’s son, Aemond Targarayen (Ewan Mitchell). He was riding the largest living dragon in the show, Vhagar, and looked for revenge after Luke took his eye back when they were children. 

However, both riders lost control of their dragons, and Vhagar chomped Lucerys and Arrax to pieces. The last we saw they were falling from the sky.  

Ollie Upton/HBO

Ollie Upton/HBO

Ollie Upton/HBO

A silent and grief-stricken Rhaenyra appears to be searching for the pair. She finally finds a dragon wing washed up on a shore, and quickly clears away onlookers with her dragon, Syrax. When she searches through the remains, she finds a cloak of Lucerys, and breaks down.  

She finally returns to Dragonstone, where everyone is updating her on the progress of the war. However, she has but one simple request: she wants Aemond Targaryen. 

It’s her only line in the episode and will end up having huge ramifications. The family hold a cremation for Luke, and we see that his memory is even honoured by the enemy – as Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) lights a candle in King’s Landing in his memory.  

The Greens march on

Back at the Red Keep, the mood is more business as usual. King Aegon III (Tom Glynn-Carney) strategizes with his council about the next steps for winning over the great Houses. The Hand of the King, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), warns for caution and patience – something that doesn’t work well with the King’s temperament.  

This friction continues when Aegon the ‘Magnanimous’ tries to placate the townsfolk by making unrealistic promises. Otto reminds him several times of limited resources, but eventually gets pushback from the King and is reminded of his place. 

Ollie Upton/HBO

Ollie Upton/HBO

Ollie Upton/HBO

Alicent is frustrated at being undermined by her father in front of her sons and stresses the importance of them all remaining united following the death of Viserys. However, behind closed doors she appears to have started a secret affair with none other than Ser Cristen Cole (Fabien Frankel) of the Kingsguard.  

The only sense of worry in the castle comes from Queen Helaena (Phia Saban), King Aegon’s wife and sister. She expresses fear over “rats” but is quickly dismissed as being odd. 

However, her worries are more prophetic than nonsense – if you pay attention to any scene set in the castle, you’ll see a figure with a dog skulking in the shadows, a promise of the dread to come.  

Blood and Cheese 

Fans of George R. R. Martin’s book knew this was coming, and the fact that it’s in the first episode tells us we’re in for a wild ride this season.  

Rhaenyra’s guards discover a stowaway on a ship, which happens to be Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), Daemon Targaryen’s former mistress who eventually became a spy for the Hightowers.  

Following the news of Lucerys’s death, Daemon keeps her captive in Dragonstone. Eventually, he manages to bargain with her to tell him about a way into the Red Keep, so he can exact revenge on Aemond.  

Under the cover of the night – and in a cloak that doesn’t cover his distinctive blonde locks – he makes his way into King’s Landing. He then gives money to a guard called Blood (Sam C. Wilson) and a rat catcher named Cheese (Mark Stobbart) to complete the job of infiltrating the keep, and fulfil the promise of “a son for a son”.  

The mercenaries ask what happens if they can’t find Aemond, and we don’t directly hear Daemon’s response, but we’ll learn what it is soon.  

Blood and Cheese skulk into the castle through back-passageways, known to the latter due to his job of exterminating vermin in the building. After some confusion about where to go, the pair head upstairs and try to set traps to keep up their guise.  

Olly Upton/HBO

Olly Upton/HBO

Olly Upton/HBO

Eventually, they come across the Queen and threaten to slit her throat. Blood points out that she is not a son, but Cheese gestures to the sleeping children in the room, Jaehaerys and Jaehaera. The assassins demand to know which is the son, as the twins look the same and they want to slay the heir.  

Helaena points to one child, and the pair quickly get to work severing the infants head as proof of payment. The Queen quickly grabs her daughter and rushes out of the room, searching for safety. She bursts into Alicent’s room, who is in middle of sleeping with Cristen Cole yet again. 

She doesn’t appear to care, as she is completely in shock that her son, Jaehaerys, has just been brutally murdered in front of her. From there, the episode cuts to black.  

This is undoubtedly the most violent part of the episode, and it’s toned down slightly from the book. However, it will have a huge impact on the war to come. 

Easter Eggs 

We have a new opening sequence! This appears to tell the history of the Targaryens, and hints at what’s to come in the Dance of Dragons 

House Stark’s haunting theme makes a reappearance in the opening 

We are introduced to Alyn of Hull (Abubakar Salim), a Velaryon sailor who allegedly saved Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) 

Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall) gets humiliated by Aegon at the small council – will that come back to haunt him? 

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