DISCLAIMER: This recap of the House of the Dragon episode “The Rogue Prince” has spoilers. Prepare for fire and blood, and proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, dragonriders! House of the Dragon is back for its second outing. While “The Rogue Prince” doesn’t boast much action, it’s a profound examination of gender politics and political powerplay. We see our core players move their respective chess pieces, hoping to outwit their opponents and take one step closer to the Iron Throne.
Paddy Considine and Milly Alcock deliver nuanced, impactful performances. We get to know both characters better in “The Rogue Prince,” and watching the complicated dynamics unfolding between them is fun. While Viserys scolds his daughter for allowing her youth to cloud her judgment, we see Rhaenyra more than proving herself as a capable, surefooted, pragmatic leader.
Ready to delve into “The Rogue Prince”? Let’s get to it.
Fire and a (Bloody) Intro
We open with the badass new intro complemented by the Game of Thrones theme song. Admittedly, nothing gets me more pumped for a trip to Westeros than the immersive opening credits.
Then, we see mayhem, gore and feasting crabs on the Stepstones courtesy of the Crabfeeder and his pirates. It ain’t pretty. However, the effects look unnervingly realistic here. At Viserys’ (Considine) small council session, we learn about Ser Ryam Redwyne’s passing and that Harrold Westerling (Graham McTavish) will be his successor as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) bursts into the chambers, all fire and fury. He beseeches Viserys to act now regarding the uprising at the Stepstones. Should those shipping lanes fall, it’ll spell peril for Corlys’ seat, Driftmark, and Westeros.
Unfortunately, Viserys doesn’t seem alarmed. He refuses to strike first without irrefutable probable cause. Meanwhile, we discover that Daemon has seized control of Dragonstone, the Targaryen ancestral seat, instead of returning to the Vale to reunite with his wife, Lady Rhea Royce. Hey, squatter’s rights, am I right?
Looking for a Replacement
As for the Stepstones issue, Rhaenyra (Alcock), observing her father at work, suggests he send his dragonriders to intimidate the Crabfeeder — a.k.a. Craghas Drahar, a Myrish prince admiral — and his goons. After all, that’s how Aegon and his sisters got most of Westeros to bend the knee: by utilizing their dragons as a tool for intimidation.
Viserys shoots down Rhaenyra’s proposal, shooing her away, urging her to watch while Harrold picks Ser Ryam’s replacement on the Kingsguard. Harrold introduces each potential candidate for the Kingsguard. Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) observes alongside the princess, offering her advice. Rhaenyra, noticing Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) in the crowd, makes her selection with haste.
Criston has battle experience, which Rhaenyra feels is necessary for anyone protecting her father. Otto tries to make a case for the knights from House Crakehall and Mallister, houses with a strong alliance with the Targaryens, but Rhaenyra will have none of it.
Spending Quality (Ew) Time
Meanwhile, Viserys spends more time with Alicent (Emily Carey), and if you can sense the creepy, drastic-age-difference-y aura enveloping them, you’re not alone. Despite Viserys seeming like a somewhat affable, not inherently insidious guy, this is still icky. Viserys schools Alicent on Old Valyria and what it was like before the Doom. He drops one of his dragon figurines, and it breaks, much to his dismay.
Viserys struggles with talking to Rhaenyra following Aemma’s death (we’re at the six-month mark here). Alicent encourages the king to approach his daughter and show his support so they can grieve together.
Later, Alicent and Rhaenyra pray together, and the former urges her bestie to pray to her mother. In an emotional moment, Rhaenyra silently delivers what she wants to say to Aemma. She tries to reconcile with the fact that her dad must remarry to ensure the survival of the bloodline.
A United Front
Then, Corlys and Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) approach Viserys with a proposal — one of marriage. They wish Viserys to wed their daughter, Laena. She possesses Valyrian and Targaryen blood. She’ll be a suitable match for the king and provide him with children to foster the longevity of House Targaryen. But guess what? She’s 12 (ew)!
Next, we see Viserys and Rhaenyra having dinner together. The pair try to mend fences, with Rhaenyra telling her father about choosing Criston Cole for the Kingsguard. Rhaenyra apologizes for her suggestion during the small council, but Viserys waves it off, claiming she’s young and will learn. Someone’s gotta work on their listening skills.
Viserys’ pinkie finger, the one sliced by the Iron Throne, looks pretty repulsive and on the brink of rot. While sitting with his hand submerged in a pile of maggots (they’ll eat away at the rotting flesh, naturally), Viserys seeks counsel from his BFF Otto regarding marriage to Laena. Otto believes she’s too young. That said, it would be a wise method of ensuring the impregnability of the line and forging a stronger alliance between Targaryens and Velaryons. Or whatever.
A Walk With Lady Laena
Then, Rhaenyra watches from afar while her father walks with Lady Laena (Nova Foueillis-Mosé) in the gardens. She asks him what it was like to be the last person to ride Balerion the Black Dread before he died. Laena also wonders where Vhagar, Visenya’s dragon, lives, prompting Viserys to state there’s chatter that she resides near the Narrow Sea.
Viserys listens with suspicion as Laena makes her case for becoming his wife. Girl, go watch Paw Patrol! You’re so young! He knows Corlys and Rhaenys fed their daughter these lines.
Men Would Sooner Torch the Realm
Speaking of Rhaenys (who might be my favorite as of now), she delivers the cold, hard truth to Rhaenyra. Sure, some men swore fealty to her and her father, but Viserys’ remarriage will, most likely, bear the fruit of a son. That son will overtake Rhaenyra as the heir to the Iron Throne. Rhaenyra vows to create a new world order, but Rhaenys, “The Queen Who Never Was,” knows that no man is ready for a woman to rule.
“Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne.” What a banger of a line. It also encapsulates how women are treated as less-than in this world. As secondary to those with a cock and balls. Also, it’s time to put the patriarchy to bed … in the dirt.
Meanwhile, Alicent presents Viserys with his dragon figurine, newly mended thanks to the stonemasons. Otto enters the fray, urging Viserys to attend an emergency small council session.
Then, a man chats with Viserys in High Valyrian. We learn that men acting on behalf of Daemon stole a dragon’s egg — Dreamfyre, the one originally for Viserys’ dearly departed infant son, Baelon (named after his father). Daemon sent a letter to Viserys, claiming he’s the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Oh, and Dragonstone belongs to him, and he plans to wed Mysaria, who’s carrying his child. So, that’s a lot.
Otto calls this sedition, and the group encourages Viserys to punish his brother. Daemon merely wants to get a rise out of Viserys. Otto volunteers to travel to Dragonstone in Viserys’ place, taking members of the Kingsguard with him.
Departing for Dragonstone
Before Otto departs, he shares an awkward, heavy moment with Alicent. It seems Alicent, underneath the artifice and amiable smile doesn’t want to romance her best friend’s dad. However, she does as she’s bid.
Later, Otto, Criston and the Kingsguard arrive on Dragonstone, the ancient seat of House Targaryen. Daemon (Matt Smith) meets them on a parapet, with his Gold Cloaks and Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) behind him. Daemon holds the dragon egg for Dreamfyre.
Otto urges Daemon to hand over the egg, banish Mysaria and leave Dragonstone for good. We see Caraxes, Daemon’s dragon, roaring behind him. Suddenly, Syrax bursts through the clouds, with Rhaenyra on her back. Rhaenyra sports a dragon-scaled gray getup similar to one Dany wore on Game of Thrones.
Reasoning With Uncle Daemon
She chats with her uncle in High Valyrian, ordering Daemon to stand down. After all, Dragonstone belongs to her. Rhaenyra also tells Daemon to kill her if he wishes since she stands in his way of inheriting the Iron Throne. Daemon, fuming, tosses the dragon’s egg toward Rhaenyra and departs in silence.
Later, Mysaria chastises Daemon for telling Viserys that she’s pregnant with his kid and they’re getting married. Mysaria fears the king’s wrath, even though Daemon reassures her that Dragonstone is heavily fortified. She explains why she loves being with him — for security. She’s tired of being afraid.
Viserys seeks advice from Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes), who tells him it’s in his best interest to marry Laena. Then, Viserys confronts Rhaenyra for visiting Dragonstone without his knowledge. Rhaenyra informs him of her success in getting Daemon to give up the dragon’s egg. Viserys notes how similar Rhaenyra is to her late mother. Viserys reminds Rhaenyra that no one can replace Aemma, and he’ll always love her, but it’s time to tie the knot (again).
A Twofold Reveal
So, Viserys gathers his small council, complete with Rhaenyra and Alicent, to deliver his official marriage announcement. He shocks everyone (and enrages Corlys) by stating he’s not marrying Laena. Instead, he plans to wed Alicent, much to Otto’s delight and Rhaenyra’s dismay. Rhaenyra leaves in a hurry. Next, we see Corlys chatting with someone in a dimly lit room.
Said someone is none other than Daemon, and it seems Corlys hopes to forge a discreet alliance with the rogue prince. They must put a stop to the mounting battle in the Stepstones. The Crabfeeder lurks there, and folks, he looks mighty gross.
On another note, I adore Rhaenys, portrayed so cunningly and coolly by Eve Best. She was royally forked over, and I’d love to see more of her and Corlys, a.k.a. Westeros’ new power couple, show all the newbies to the political game what’s what.
Overall, “The Rogue Prince” is a visual spectacle with intricately detailed, ethereal costumes and stunning effects. Those dragons look damn good, y’all. In addition, this episode reminds me of the main reason I love Game of Thrones so much — the insidious power struggles, the richly intelligent, almost Shakespearean dialogue and the character chemistry. These actors could light each other on fire (which would be fitting); that’s how hot their chemistry is.
How will Corlys and Daemon act as a new dynamic duo? Will Rhaenyra start calling Alicent “stepmom”? How will the Stepstones drama unfold? Why does Matt Smith look so attractive in a white-blonde wig? Join me next week while I continue recapping House of the Dragon, only on Geek Girl Authority.
House of the Dragon drops new episodes every Sunday at 9 pm EST on HBO and HBO Max.