House of the Dragon Season 2, Episodes 1-4 – Back to the Ruthless Intrigue of Westeros, with Visuals Rivaling Cinema

SERIES REVIEW – The second season of House of the Dragon has arrived, and the first four episodes are guaranteed to captivate everyone. The story picks up right where it left off: the war raging in the Seven Kingdoms is more brutal than ever. The Game of Thrones spin-off and its flying beasts are back to remind us that epic tales can still be told on the small screen.


The second season of the Game of Thrones spin-off, House of the Dragon, dives at us on HBO’s newly renamed “Max” streaming platform like a giant, airborne dragon. Two years have passed since this complex tale of courtly intrigue and giant killer reptiles last soared across the schedules – but if you were expecting allowances for those with short memories, think again. The show plunges straight into the action, and soon we are knee-deep in a labyrinth of kings and queens, swords and shenanigans, wigs and warriors. All you can do is hold on for dear life as the massive, groaning plot takes to the skies.



Back to the Land of Blood and Intrigue


Game of Thrones was famous for its mix of blood, sex, and politics. In the past decade, mainstream entertainment has leaned towards prudishness – but not in Westeros. House of the Dragon, set centuries before the events of Game of Thrones, returns in a blur of bloodshed, nudity (mostly male), and infanticide.

The story picks up immediately from where it left off. War blazes across the Seven Kingdoms. In one corner is Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower (the brilliantly brittle Olivia Cooke) and her “Green” armies, centered around the capital King’s Landing; in the other, her royal rival Rhaenyra Targaryen (the quietly commanding Emma D’Arcy) and the “Blacks”, plotting away at the fortress of Dragonstone (future home of one Daenerys Targaryen). These former teenage pals are now bitter enemies, each leading a faction with a claim to the throne of Westeros.



Battles and Alliances


The pace is relentless. After a slow start, the first season ended explosively as Rhaenyra’s beloved son Lucerys was killed by Alicent’s moody, broody offspring Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) in a dragon-related accident. Now there’s no mercy, and soon the brewing tensions and intrigues lead to bloody murders and confrontations across the continent.

In the North, Rhaenyra’s eldest son, Prince Jacaerys (Harry Collett), seeks allies among the ancestors of the noble House Stark. Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Alicent and her scheming father, Otto (Rhys Ifans), struggle to control the impulsive boy-king Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney, channeling the vile Prince Joffrey from Game of Thrones). The standout figures among the rogues’ gallery include the sociopathic knight Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and Matt Smith’s devilishly charismatic Prince Daemon Targaryen, an agent of chaos who has allied with his consort, Rhaenyra, but who covets power for himself and isn’t really on board with taking orders from a woman.



Returning to Westeros


In some respects, Game of Thrones has aged poorly. Its “sexposition” scenes are particularly cringe-worthy, like a tacky comedy film with better production values but less humor. Nevertheless, it was one of the most exciting blockbusters in television history, and the return of House of the Dragon reminds us of what we’ve been missing. Whether framed by candlelight or the blaze of dragon fire, the visuals are breathtakingly gorgeous and far more epic than anything you’ll encounter on the big screen. Brace yourself for a high-altitude battle several hours in, which is up there with the best of the original Thrones (the major difference being that dragons are commonplace in this earlier timeline).

If the show lacks something, it is an old-fashioned hero. Everyone is cruel and conniving – half have the classic Targaryen blonde look, too, which adds to the confusion – and the script cries out for a morally pure character in the mold of Thrones’s Ned Stark or Jon Snow. But these are mere quibbles. Summer is coming, and for those eager for an alternative to sunburn, football, and airport queues, House of the Dragon has all you could require for a roaring good time.

– Gergely Herpai “BadSector”-



House of the Dragon Season 2, Episodes 1-4

Direction - 8.4
Actors - 8.6
Story - 8.2
Visuals/Music/Sounds - 9.4
Ambience - 9.2



The second season of House of the Dragon returns impressively, delivering all the tension and visuals we've come to expect. While the story and characters sometimes fall short, the atmosphere and visual elements more than make up for it. Don't miss it if you're looking for something epic to enjoy in the summer heat.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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