Dracarys!

House of the Dragon's Cast Breaks Down That Shocking Death

Warning! Spoilers ahead for House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 1, “A Son for a Son.”

HBO
House of the Dragon

From the moment HBO released its final trailer for House of the Dragon Season 2, fan speculation was already swirling that fans would see the infamous “Blood and Cheese” scene in the series. But what wasn’t predicted was just how quickly it would be shown. By the end of Episode 1, Daemon recruits a ratcatcher and an assassin, named Blood and Cheese, respectively, to kill Aemond Targaryen as revenge for the death of Rhaenyra’s son Lucerys Velaryon. But the assassins can’t track Aemond down, so they resort to a Plan B — killing Jaeharys, Aegon’s son, instead.

It’s a brutal scene that shakes the entirety of Team Green, but they aren’t the only people affected. From this moment on, nobody is safe, not even toddlers in their beds.

The character most affected by this tragedy is Queen Helaena. She is forced to identify the heir and watch her son brutally killed in front of her, but reacts in an oddly cool manner. She scoops up her daughter and walks into her mother’s room, interrupting an intimate moment between her and Criston Cole. “They killed the boy” is all she can say.

“People have been like, that was a bit unfeeling,” Phia Saban, who plays Helaena, said during a roundtable interview Inverse attended. “But I think you can't underestimate how you behave in something that is as high stakes and traumatic as that. She's someone who is so particular and specific anyway, it would be understandable that it would be an intensified version of that when the shit really hits the fan.”

King Aegon will deal with the ramifications of his son’s death in the next episode.

HBO

It’s an odd reaction, but nothing about Helaena has ever been straightforward. What appears to be a scattered mind is actually a prophetic one, as shown by a moment earlier in the episode when Helaena hints that she knew something bad was going to happen. She’s reassured that the dragons wouldn’t touch the Red Keep, but she responds that it’s not the dragons she’s worried about — it’s the rats. Moments later, a ratcatcher helps murder her son.

“We've definitely set up Helaena as somebody that's tuned into a frequency that not all the other characters in the show are,” showrunner Ryan Condal says. “Part of the thing that is frustrating about having this power of foresight is that it's not always clear what they're seeing. They are seeing things, but it doesn't always manifest itself clearly until after the fact.” Helaena may have felt like something was off, but nothing could prepare her for this.

The death affects Aegon, Helaena’s brother and husband played by Tom Glynne-Carney, in a far more emotional way. “It's easy when you play a character like [Aegon] to be cold and calculated and pretty numb to it all,” he says. “But I thought that the more interesting decision there was to show he's capable of loving and his son was a creation of his. It was something he'd made and he was something he was proud of, and he saw a lot of himself in his son.”

Daemon was the mastermind behind the revenge plan, and he has to deal with the consequences.

HBO

Aegon had his own vision of the future: his ambitions for his son, a path to royalty he could assure him, free of succession woes and civil war. “He could almost start again through Jahaerys, he could build the person that he wanted to be and never got a chance to be, and that's been snatched away from him.”

Behind all of this is Daemon Targaryen, a man pushed by the death of his stepson to the point where he sends out a hit on his nephew, a nephew who he was quite close to. Matt Smith believes that Daemon’s decision wasn’t necessarily one made of malice — just a man blinded by rage whose actions cause a massive misunderstanding.

“I think Daemon feels it impossible not to exact that feeling of revenge when it's in him. He's not someone who can just sit on that and go, ‘Do you know what? I'll leave that till tomorrow,’” he says. “He makes what I think is an honest mistake, but it is a big one. It isn't his mistake ultimately, but he does put it in motion. I think he does it with the best intentions.”

Daemon said “A son for a son,” and that’s what he got, even if it was the wrong son. But now, both sides of this brutal civil war have had children ripped from them, and they will stop at nothing to avenge their deaths and ascend the throne.

House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1 is now streaming on Max.

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