King Aegon sitting in a chair in the small council meeting in House of the Dragon Season 2 | Agents of Fandom

‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2, Episode 2 Recap & Review: Aegon Descends Into Madness

Alicent and Helaena are put through the ringer in the second episode.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 “Rhaenyra the Cruel.”

After a strong return to form in the premiere, the Targaryens are back in a fiery rage for another installment. House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 is now streaming on Max and features some of the most painful scenes in Game of Thrones history.

The series has always been unafraid to push the needle, but the second installment is emotionally devastating. It’s important to absorb all the details, so make sure you didn’t miss anything with our House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 “Rhaenyra the Cruel” recap.

Aegon Wants To Level the Seven Kingdoms in ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2, Episode 2

A close up still of King Aegon in House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 | Agents of Fandom
Aegon has always been a bit unstable, but he goes completely off the rails after losing his son Jaehaerys. Image Credit: HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery.

House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 opens with a servant carrying a bloody cloth and people evacuating the Red Keep in a mad scramble. King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) is destroying Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) stone model of the city in anger and yells that he declares war. Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) goes back to his chambers and finds someone was there. Otto (Rhys Ifans) tells Alicent (Olivia Cooke) that they’re shutting down the keep, but they will find the killer, and they will pay.

Alicent fears the Gods are punishing her for her sins, but Otto says some good may yet come of this, and she looks at him in disgust. The small council convenes and Aegon is distraught. Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) enters and says the guards have apprehended someone near the gate with the child’s head in a sack. Aegon blames Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) but they remind him it could have been anyone.

Aegon doesn’t want people to view him as weak, but Otto argues that everyone already thinks he’s weak. Otto suggests a funeral to show the masses his child but Aegon refuses. Alicent backs Otto, saying Helaena (Phia Saban) and Alicent must also take part. Alicent tells Helaena there will be a funeral for Jaehaerys, and they must ride behind the body. Helaena is steadfast that she won’t do it, but Alicent reminds her they have a duty to the realm.

Rhaenyra Plans Her Next Move Carefully

A still of Queen Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 | Agents of Fandom
Everyone tries to tell Rhaenyra how they think she should proceed, but she already has a plan. Image Credit: HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery.

House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 continues with the funeral convoy riding through the street with little Jaehaerys’ body exposed while Alicent and Helaena ride behind. Larys pays a visit to the guard they captured and opens a sack of torture tools. He immediately spills to Larys and says Daemon (Matt Smith) hired him and the other rat-catcher. Larys says he isn’t going to hurt him, but he can’t vouch for His Grace, and Aegon walks in and hits him in the head.

The convoy continues its ride through the street, blaming Rhaenyra for Jaehaerys’ death. The carriage stops, and common folk try to get to Helaena; the then camera cuts to Dragonstone where a guard tells Rhaenyra about what happened. She wants to vehemently deny the allegations and double the guard around the castle. Jace (Harry Collett) wants to fly out on Vermax, but she denies him.

Ser Alfred (Jamie Kenna) suggests perhaps Rhaenyra did have Jaehaerys killed out of haste, and she tells him to mind his place. Rhaenyra notices Daemon smiling, and confronts him in private where he admits to sending assassins after Aemond. They argue violently, and he tries to convince her he’s on her side, but she doesn’t buy it, as he’s severely weakened her claim to the Iron Throne.

Alicent and Ser Criston Cole Continue Sneaking Around in ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2, Episode 2

Alicent and Criston Cole looking at each other in The Red Keep in House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 | Agents of Fandom
Whatever shred of honor Ser Criston Cole had left at the end of House of the Dragon Season 1 has completely vanished. Image Credit: HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery.

Daemon and Rhaenyra argue about Viserys’ intention behind naming her heir, and Daemon thinks it was just because he was afraid of his brother’s power. He again admits to making a mistake, but Rhaenyra still won’t accept it so he charges out of the room. Daemon walks by his daughter Baela (Bethany Antonia) in the hall without more than a passing glance as she comes in to see Rhaenyra.

Rhaenyra asks Baela to take her dragon, Moondancer, to keep an eye on King’s Landing, and report back. She asks about Daemon and Rhaenyra says he must follow his own path. Daemon then mounts his dragon Caraxes and flies off. Inside the Red Keep, Helaena walks past Aegon in the hall, and he barely looks at her. Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) stands outside the Targaryen boys’ room as Jaehaerys’ bloody sheets are cleaned.

The maids draw Alicent a bath, and she asks Criston Cole if anyone knows about them, but he says no. She gets in the bath and sinks under the water while Cole goes to the mess hall with the other knights of the Kingsguard. Criston gets into an argument with Ser Arryk, (Luke Tittensor) and blames him for Jaehaerys’ death. To redeem himself, Cole tells him he must go to Dragonstone, impersonate his brother Erryk (Elliot Tittensor), and kill Rhaenyra.

Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys Share a Touching Moment in “Rhaenyra the Cruel”

Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys standing on the dock staring into each other's eyes in House of the Dragon Season 2 | Agents of Fandom
Although doing so with limited screen time, Lord Corlys and Rhaenys steal the show in House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2. Image Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery.

Ser Arryk agrees to go to Dragonstone because he has no choice because Cole threatens to report him to Aegon. Jace walks down to the beach and checks on Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell), and they talk about how complex fatherly relationships are. They discuss Laenor (John Macmillan) and Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr) and Jace says he misses Luke (Elliot Grihault). Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Aemond sits inside a brothel.

He reveals this is where he was when the rat-catchers came for him in Episode 1, and Allen’s brother, Adam, checks in with Allen at the Driftmark docks. Adam asks if he’ll sail with Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint), but he says no. Corlys lays in bed with Rhaenys, and they talk about Daemon and Rhaenys says she backs the queen over her cousin. On Dragonstone, Rhaenyra looks through old history books and Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) comes in to see her.

Rhaenyra confronts Mysaria and demands to know more about who she is, but she says she is just a prisoner. Rhaenyra reveals she can’t set her free because she would lose an asset. Mysaria responds that the men in her life won’t accept her for who she is, and Rhaenyra asks about her scar, but she doesn’t answer. Adam is searching through the sand on the beach when he sees a dragon flying overhead.

Otto Hightower Loses His Job As Hand of the King in ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2, Episode 2

A close up still of Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 | Agents of Fandom
Otto has Aegon’s best interest at heart, but the constant pushing in the opposite direction isn’t helping his job security. Image Credit: HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery.

Back inside the city, dozens of rat-catchers are hanging in the street with their grieving family members crying underneath them. Otto walks in and asks Aegon what he’s done, and he says he ordered them hanged. Otto calls the King a fool for killing so many innocent men, but he says at least he took action. Aegon then tells Otto that Criston sent Arryk to Dragonstone disguised as his twin brother to kill Rhaenyra.

Otto is furious that Aegon is making decisions without consulting him or the small council. The Hand asks the King if he ever thinks of his father Viserys, but Aegon says he only wants revenge. Otto says Viserys was right about his son, but Aegon reminds him that he made him King and Otto laughs in his face. Aegon then asks Otto to remove his badge, stripping him of his title as Hand and naming Ser Criston Cole his new Hand.

Back at Dragonstone, Rhaenyra frees Mysaria and gives her passage to Pentos. The White Worm notices the other twin on her way down to the docks and calls for the help of another guard. Ser Arryk slips inside the castle without the guards noticing he isn’t who he says he is and works his way through the keep, making it to the Queen’s chambers. Rhaenyra lays down for the night as Arryk relieves the guard outside her door, walks in, and draws his blade.

Ser Erryk Cargyll Saves Princess Rhaenyra

Ser Erryk Cargyll on one knee holding a crown in House of the Dragon | Agents of Fandom
Ser Erryk saves the Queen’s life but at a grave cost. Image Credit: HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery.

As Ser Arryk charges towards the Queen, his brother Erryk walks in and stops him. The two get into a vicious fight and Ser Lorent Marbrand (Max Wrottesley) comes in, but he can’t tell which twin is which. After a brutal sparring match, Erryk inevitably kills Arryk and then apologizes to Queen Rhaenyra, falling on his sword shortly after.

Back in the Red Keep, Otto expresses his frustration to Alicent and she says it is Jaehaerys’ death that is making him act this way. Otto says he’ll return to Oldtown and tells Alicent she should go to High Garden. She tells her father she has sinned, but he says he doesn’t wish to hear it. Alicent walks into her room to see Aegon crying and then goes to bed to have sex with Criston Cole once more at the end of the episode.

‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2, Episode 2 Ending Explained: Rhaenyra Loses a Protector and Aegon Has a New Hand

A close up still of Ser Lorrent in House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 2 | Agents of Fandom
Now that Erryk is gone, Ser Lorrent is Rhaenyra’s fiercest protector. Image Credit: HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery.

Similar to the first episode, House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 ends with sheer mayhem. Now that both twins are dead, Rhaenyra has lost a faithful protector and Aegon has lost someone to order around at will. With Ser Arryk and Erryk gone, two pawns have been moved off the board, and each side will almost certainly blame the other for the corresponding twin’s death.

Aegon making Criston his Hand instead of Otto is also an ignorant move, classic of a young King. Otto is a jerk but has only been acting in Aegon’s best interest. Criston Cole is a “Yes Man,” not the right person to give honest and unbiased advice. Expect Criston Cole to give Aegon terrible counsel in the coming episodes that very well may lead to war.

‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Continues Its Strong Start

Rhaenyra sitting in her room with her sons in House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 | Agents of Fandom
Rhaenyra was mere inches away from dying to the sword of Ser Arryk in House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2. Image Credit: Theo Whitman/HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery.

After unleashing mayhem in the Season 2 premiere, House of the Dragon shows no signs of slowing down after Episode 2. The series is executing on the highest level, leaning into the good and evil on both sides which makes a war like this so challenging to pinpoint. Although lacking in Dragon action, House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 2 soars with its exceptional storytelling and poignant performances.

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'House of the Dragon' Season 2, Episode 2 Review

'House of the Dragon' Season 2, Episode 2 Review
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Total Score

The Good

  • The pull between good and evil leaves the series operating in a thrilling grey area.
  • Stellar performances from the cast elevate the show to new heights.
  • The set design and CGI are magnificent.

The Bad

  • The episode moves fast and might require rewinds to make sure you caught what happened.
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