Warning: Contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon.When House of the Dragon season 2 returns, it will be a very different show compared to season 1. House of the Dragon season 1 received stellar reviews, even snagging a Golden Globe for Best Drama TV series. House of the Dragon season 1 ended with the tragic death of Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen’s (Emma D’Arcy) second-born son, Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault), at the hands of Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell), the second-born son of Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke). The drawing of first blood set Rhaenyra on the path to war to claim the Iron Throne, her birthright which was usurped by House Hightower, who installed King Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) as the new ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
House of the Dragon season 1 was a gradual build-up to the Targaryen civil war dubbed the Dance of the Dragons. The season charted over 20 years of story, revealing how the ill-fated decision King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) made to name his 14-year-old daughter, Princess Rhaeneyra (Milly Alcock) as his heir, and his subsequent choice to marry Rhaenrya’s best friend, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), set House Targaryen on an inevitable march towards war. Relatively light on epic battles and sheer spectacle, House of the Dragon season 1 was almost entirely character-focused on the Targaryens, the Hightowers, and the Velaryons, and it brought back the political intrigue and family drama which was a hallmark of Game of Thrones‘ early seasons. All that setup will now pay off in House of the Dragon season 2, which is about the Targaryen civil war itself. As such, House of the Dragon will substantially expand its scope and change its tone to deliver more action when it’s back for season 2.
House of the Dragon season 2 won’t face the same time jumps as season 1. House of the Dragon season 1’s biggest risk was breaking up the season’s narrative with two enormous time jumps totaling about 16 years, necessitating the recasting of most of the major characters, including Rhaenyra, Alicent, and their children. House of the Dragon season 1 was broken into two parts: the first five episodes where Milly Alcock and Emily Carey play Rhaenyra and Alicent in their mid-to-late teens, and the second five episodes where Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke portray Rhaenyra and Alicent as adults and mothers. All throughout, King Viserys slowly dies from a mysterious, leprosy-like disease, until his final moment accidentally fuels Alicent’s move to usurp Rhaenyra and place Aegon on the Iron Throne.
Incredibly, House of the Dragon not only survived the awkwardness of its time jumps, but audiences generally accepted D’Arcy and Cooke as Rhaenyra and Alicent even after falling in love with Alcock and Carey’s portrayals of the Princess and the Queen. The aging up of the Velaryon and Targaryen children with older actors also worked. House of the Dragon‘s extraordinary casting and sure-handed storytelling held true despite the challenging storytelling decisions of season 1. But the time jumps are over, and House of the Dragon season 2’s bloody and violent events will be told in a linear narrative. D’Arcy and Cooke will portray Rhaenyra and Alicent from here on out, although the popularity of Alcock and Carey may result in seeing their younger versions again in flashbacks during House of the Dragon season 2.
The Dance of the Dragons is a devastating and transformative event for Westeros because it nearly ended House Targaryen. While it’s unclear how much of the Dance of the Dragons House of the Dragon season 2 will cover — if the series does run for four seasons as George R.R. Martin hopes — it will certainly depict the opening stages of the war between the Greens and the Blacks. The death of Lucerys Velaryon was the flashpoint that ignited outright hostilities, but Luke is only the first death that ended House of the Dragon season 1 and will open the floodgates of carnage in season 2.
Simply put, many characters will die in House of the Dragon season 2, including some of the show’s main characters and their dragons. And because House of the Dragon has shown a capacity to alter and expand upon the history chronicled in George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Blood, no one is necessarily “safe” in House of the Dragon season 2. Many of the show’s characters are on the chopping block as the Dance of the Dragons intensifies in violence. While it’s hard to predict with total certainty who House of the Dragon season 2 will kill off, even with Fire and Blood as a roadmap, consider that there’s a reason why House Hightower and House Velaryon do not appear in Game of Thrones.
House of the Dragon season 1 was mostly contained within the three locations relevant to House Targaryen and House Velaryon: King’s Landing, Driftmark, and Dragonstone, and that will change for House of the Dragon season 2. There was a brief foray into the Stepstones to show Prince Daemon Targaryen’s (Matt Smith) and the Velaryons war against the Triarchy, and Daemon briefly visited the Eyrie to murder his wife, Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford), but House of the Dragon season 1’s settings were limited, by design, to the Targaryens’ seats of power. However, the Targaryen Civil War will divide Westeros and force the realm to choose sides, which means the war will visit many more locations in Westeros.
House of the Dragon season 1’s finale set up season 2’s more expansive scope. Storm’s End was seen for the first time, and Lord Borros Baratheon (Richard Evans) was introduced as siding with the Greens. Meanwhile, Prince Jacaerys (Harry Collett) went to the Eyrie and to Winterfell to ask Lady Jeyne Arryn and Lord Cregan Stark to raise their banners for Queen Alicent, while Daemon travels to Riverrun to treat with House Tully. Harrenhal, where Lord Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) had his father and brother murdered, will be an important location contested by the Greens and the Blacks in House of the Dragon season 2 as well. Although House of the Dragon may not explore the vastness of Westeros the way Game of Thrones did, season 2 will show a lot more of the continent, and promises to depict some locations that haven’t been seen yet in the saga.
Audiences who wanted less palace intrigue and more of the epic battles that Game of Thrones‘ later seasons was famed for should get their fill in House of the Dragon season 2. The Dance of the Dragons involves many bloody clashes between the armies raised by the Greens and the Blacks. Further, the dragons themselves, like Aemond’s Vhaghar, Daemon’s Caraxes, Queen Rhaenyra’s Syrax, Jacaerys’ Vermax, Rhaenys Targaryen’s (Eve Best) Meleys, and King Aegon’s Sunfyre will fight on a scale never seen in Game of Thrones — and many of the mighty winged fire-breathers will die along with their riders.
The Dance of the Dragons is epitomized by devastating battles like the Assault on Harrenhal, the Dance Over Shipbreaker’s Bay, the Battle of the Gullet, the Battle of the Honeywine, the conflict at the Red Fork and the Fishfeed, the Battles at Tumbleton, and the Fall of King’s Landing when Rhaenyra comes for Aegon. Expect to see a lot more in the way of massive armies slaughtering each other on the battlefield while dragon fire rains down from above. It’s hard to know for sure which battles will be fought in House of the Dragon season 2, but the series will transition into a more action-packed spectacle than season 1.
With House of the Dragon season 2 on the way, and based on the successes of season 1, one hopes that the series won’t change its formula too much going forward. Firstly, the House of the Dragon premiere was so popular that it actually broke HBO Max records, and crashed the service upon its release. Viewing numbers remained incredibly strong throughout its run, and anticipation for House of the Dragon season 2 has never been higher. If this isn’t enough to prove that the series has a perfect formula from the get-go, then its recent award wins really solidify this fact.
As previously mentioned, House of the Dragon won the Golden Globe for Best Drama TV Series, and the competition was stiff. Other nominees were huge heavy-hitters, such as Better Call Saul, Ozark, The Crown, and Severance. Three out of the four of those shows were well into their later seasons and have already amassed considerable fan bases. In addition, Better Call Saul is also a spinoff of one of the most famous TV drama series of all time, Breaking Bad. While it wasn’t nominated, people were also curious as to how House of the Dragon would hold up against Rings of Power. That being said, House of the Dragon beat them all, meaning that while the scope of the series is certainly set to enlarge, the show shouldn’t change its formula too much.
Next: The Biggest Questions House of the Dragon Season 2 Needs To Answer
House of the Dragon Season 1 is streaming on HBO Max.