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House Of The Dragon Season 2 Premiere Review: Great – With One Big Criticism

House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere review, and overall it was pretty great, though with one big criticism.

House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere review, and overall it was pretty great, though with one big criticism. To get to that criticism we need to get into SPOILERS. Therefore, unlike my usual reviews for this show, I’m including a SPOILERS section for the one criticism I had. That in itself is an indication this criticism is about how the show has been adapted from the source material in one specific scene. It will be tagged.

I’ve only just got finished watching this Season 2 premiere due to its time slot in the U.K. being well past my bed time. So I finished work, and I sat down to watch this premiere. Therefore, this review was written directly afterwards.

The Good, is Good

I’ll start by saying I had, as expected a good time. The majority of my thoughts on this premiere are overwhelmingly positive. It was beautifully shot and framed. The costumes, the dialogue and the acting are all top notch. In other words the quality from Season 1 has not abated.

There are a few characters who feel different this season. Aegon II for a start feels less rapist despot and more misguided idiot trying to be what he thinks is expected of him. Perhaps that is a natural reaction to now being the King? Perhaps this attempt to appear a good King will slip as we carry on. However, Tom Glynn-Carney gave his best performance thus far as Aegon II for me.

Equally Matt Smith and Ema D’Arcy were fantastic as always. Both had subtle performances without massive screen time this week, but D’Arcy was amazing without barely saying a word. Equally Smith’s body language acting as always was on point. The sign of great acting is when these two actors don’t need dialogue to convey what they are feeling to the audience. That’s acting and  directing quality that we just don’t get any anything else this big budget.

RELATED: House Of The Dragon Episode 10 Review – An Epic Fantasy Finale

Though my one main criticism is a writing choice, I still concede that the writing here is excellent. I just think for one thing in particular, George R. R. Martin’s writing was better. That aside, there is an understated feel to this episode, we never follow any one path too long. Instead we build the story up from the little bits we see of everyone’s reaction to the events of Season 1’s finale.

The main conflict progresses, but we have new threads woven in to the tapestry. Even a little bit of foreshadowing/fanservice at the start is written well and feels appropriately placed.

This remains a well made show, which is created lovingly, buy a great overall creative team, and a well oiled crew. We should feel blessed that this franchise is big enough to allow this to be in any way profitable.

If you want to know my grade before I get into my one big criticism, and SPOILER territory here it is. This should tell you that despite my criticism below, this was still a great premiere, especially if you’ve never read Fire & Blood. Though, if you have read Fire & Blood, you may be slightly disappointed as I was. Only slightly though

Grade: B+

**House of the Dragon Season 2 Premiere SPOILERS Below**

I really did enjoy this premiere. However, I’m kinda miffed that I didn’t enjoy it even more. That the writers and producers had the opportunity to turn this up to 11 and they decided against it. Their reasons for doing so, perhaps they were scared it would go too far? I disagree. This franchise has been built on swinging for the stars and never backing down from the horror and violence.

Of course, I am taking about the finale of the Season 2 premiere. Fans of the Fire & Blood book will know it just as Blood and Cheese.

The books may well be told from the point of view of unreliable narrators. In that way I have forgiven every change so far on those grounds in the show. I find that a bit harder to do with this scene because I simply think the book version was better.

Show Version

In the show we have Daemon send an assassin and a rat catcher to kill Aemond Targaryen. The reason of revenge being a fairly recognisable one. These characters, Blood and Cheese, as they came to be known from the history are unable to find Aemond. Panicking, and desperate Cheese finds Queen Helaena and her sleeping children, one of which from the books is just not in this show for some reason.

Threatening to kill her and both children, the assassins give Helaena a choice. If she points out which is her son, they will let her and her daughter live. They are panicking and short of time, yet, I prefer the set up of the book here.

In the show Helaena points to Jehearys, her son and current heir to the Iron Throne from his father King Aegon II. They grab the son and the camera pans off as we hear some unfortunate sounds and know these two are butchering this young child. Meanwhile Helaena grabs her daughter and rushes down the empty castle to her mother’s room. Dowager Queen Alicent is having sex with Criston Cole as Helaena rushes in and announces ‘the boy is dead.’

It’s a horrific and dramatic ending to the premiere, and if you’ve never read the books you’ll think it’s great. However, you decide if this version below is better?

Book Version

In the Book, the events are described as happening quite differently. I know this could be unreliable, but this way is just more dramatic to me.

Blood and Cheese find themselves in the room of Dowager Queen Alicent instead. They then tie her up and gag her, knowing Heleana often brings the children to see her before bed and they wait. How they know this? That’s perhaps a small inconsistency from the historical record, but I digress.

Blood and Cheese are then faced with three children, two boys and one girl. They ask Heleana to choose which boy to kill. Helaena begs them to kill her instead, but the offer is refused. Heleana begrudgingly chooses the younger brother Maelor. One of them, I forget which, says to Maelor, “your mummy wants you dead.” Then, they kill Jehearys anyway. So Helaena is left with the double guilt of having lost her first born son and having chosen to kill her youngest son. All whilst her mother is gagged and forced to watch this ordeal unfold.

It’s truly awful, but in the book this just destroys Helaena from this point on. Equally it is perhaps the defining event that devolves this war into something beyond what it needed to be. Instead it becomes a war of total annihilation.


You decide which would have been the better end to this Season 2 premiere. George’s version is darker, but I think it sets the scene more for how this changed the course of the war. Again, I didn’t dislike the show version in any way, it was done well. I simply think the book version is even better.

What do you think?

Also let me know what you thought of the House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere. Or, what you thought of my review of it compared to yours? Leave any thoughts below.

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