Even though King Viserys has chosen his daughter as heir, the realm still expects him to take a wife and make (male) babies as "Dragon" grapples with a feminist stance in a brutal patriarchal society.
Even though it is set in the same fantasy world as the brutally sexist "Game of Thrones" -- and takes place before all of its horrors -- "House of the Dragon" is still trying to present a more feminist stance.
It's just that knowing how this world works, and what's to come for women in the next few generations, it's more an exercise in futility. We rather expect it's more a story of how men will crush and humiliation and violate and destroy women when given the chance.
So far, we've seen men deny Rhaenys the Iron Throne decades ago, we've seen Queen Aemma denied her very life in the hopes her offspring might be male and survive (he didn't) and we've seen Alicent denied the choice of not trying to flirt with her best friend's father, the king.
Women are breeders and tools for men to use in order to try and get what they want -- which always seems to amount to power. This week continued that trend with at least one woman being used as barter, while another was used as a tool to bait and taunt the king by his brother.
The only woman who continues to buck all of the expectations is Princess Rhaenyra, again played beautifully by Milly Alcock (Emma D'Arcy will take over in some future time jump as an older version of her, but Alcock is leaving big shoes to fill with her performance.
While it infuriates everyone around her, the heir to the Iron Throne acts with her own agency, expectations be damned. She speaks when she shouldn't, she flies when she shouldn't, and she doesn't apologize. And she definitely made one of this week's biggest Power Moves.
Also, while it's not a power move, we'd like to point out that this is the second week in a row we've seen King Viserys with a pretty grievous and gross wound. We've no idea if the festering wound on his back is still there, but his injured finger is rotting and disgusting (with them using maggots to try and help). We suspect this is foreshadowing something, but it could be overall weakness or just defeat and loss.
There is a power growing on the sea and it's starting to kiss the edge of the Realm. In this episode, it's revealed that the latest attack from this mysterious power-hungry person actually took out four ships, including one by Master of Ships Corlys, who called for action.
Viserys, determined to keep the peace, said he's hesitant to start a war with the pirates as they're backed by the Free Cities. But that's not the only thing happening in the realm Viserys seems content to just let be.
Daemon Seizes Dragonstone
While not a Power Move that happened in this episode, it went down in the six month gap since last week's premiere. It's also a baller move that he boldly went and just staked a claim there, utilizing the king's City Watch that Viserys put him in charge of.
It's a huge slap in the face to the king, and because Daemon knows his brother, he knows he can get away with this kind of nonsense. And if it were entirely up to Viserys, it really does seem like he'd just concede this loss to his brother in order to keep the peace. He is determined to do that to a fault and people are taking advantage.
Rhaenyra Chooses Ser Criston
We appreciated that Rhaenyra wasn't going to mess about after the Small Council rudely dismissed her for daring to suggest dragonriders go to Dragonstone to deal with Daemon. Even though she's heir, she's still serving drinks and expected to keep her mouth shut. So much for involving the future queen in the affairs of state.
Tasked with filling a gap in the Kingsguard, Rhaenyra made it very simple. Who among the candidates has seen actual combat. That narrowed it down to one familiar face, the handsome one underneath the helm that actually knocked Daemon off his horse in the tournament last episode. Even when Otto resisted, she shut him down and stood strong in her choice. Give her a task and she will do it.
Women aren't often allowed much autonomy in Westeros, and none exemplifies that more than the "Queen Who Never Was," Rhaenyra's Aunt Rhaenys. The latter quickly tells Rhaenyra that despite her mother only being gone six months, the king will be expected to remarry.
She tells her that despite Rhaenyra being named heir, the men of the realm would expect the king to bed a new wife and hopefully make a male heir so Rhaenyra will never ascend to the throne. Rhaenyra insists she will creat a new "order of things" to supplant the patriarchal one Rhaenys endured. We have a feeling (based on "Thrones") how that will go, but we're still cheering her on.
Corlys and Rhaenys Pitch Laena
We saw her last week and it's true that the 12-year-old daughter of Corlys and Rhaenys is exactly who they pitch to Viserys for him to marry, to keep the Vayrian bloodline strong. We were at least glad to see that Viserys seemed properly creeped out (she's younger than his 15-year-old daughter).
Unfortunately, despite his protests and concerns, everyone in his world from the Small Council to his own daughter seem to believe that for the good of the realm and as his duty as king, he should do this and marry this girl. At least her mother said she won't have to sleep with him until she's 14 years old (so gross!).
Daemon Takes a Wife ... and an Egg
Probably just egging on his brother, but Daemon knows how to get under his skin. He stole a dragon egg and announced that he was marrying his "whore" and that she was with child. He even invited the king to his wedding in two days.
Only it turns out all of that was a lie, which did not sit well with "whore" Mysaria at all. While Viserys seemed hesitant to ask, we'll give a bonus power move to Rhaenyra for interrupting to ask which egg. When it's told it was the one her late brother was to have had in his cradle, Viserys was suddenly angry enough to actually do something.
She may get chastised for it later, but Rhaenyra arriving on the bridge to Dragonstone astride her dragon stopped what could have been the first act of war from Daemon toward his brother. That's because the Hand of the King, Otto, wasn't doing a very good job of negotiating the return of the egg.
Leaning on her existing relationship with her uncle, Rhaenyra strode up to him and told him that she was standing in the way of his throne, so if he wants it that bad, he should ahead and kill her, the current their. Instead, he flipped the egg to her and strode off. It's just a delay of the inevitable, but it was a strong moment for Rhaenyra, who was fearless and did what the Hand could not.
Viserys Announces His New Wife
Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Since the death of Queen Aemma, Otto has been sending his daughter Alicent, who is also Rhaenyra's best friend, to talk with the king, be his confidante, be there for him. She has expressed reluctance, but as with most women in the realm, she feels she has no choice but to obey the men in her life.
She is polite and extremely anxious about he time with the king, picking relentlessly at her nails, but performs her duty to perfection. He confides in her, she is sweet and listens and offers her counsel. She even repairs a dragon statuette accidentally broken. Perhaps all of that is why he shirks the pure line of Laena and announces Alicent as his wife.
Does he think he's in love with her? She's older than Laena, but not by much. The decision kicks off an immediate ripple effect, with Corlys stomping out of the Small Council in a rage, followed by Rhaenyra in tears. Does she feel betrayed by Viserys? Alicent (who did not reveal to her she'd been meeting with Viserys)? Or perhaps both?
Viserys should have seen this coming. He rejected Corlys' offer of his daughter, which would have given Corlys a direct line to the throne. When you make powerful enemies, sometimes they hook up. That's what happened in the close of this hour as Corlys goes to meet with a reluctant Daemon.
He then pitches again the notion that something needs to be done about this Crab Feeder. But rather than try to get wimpy Viserys to do something, maybe Daemon and his City Watch could make a statement by taking on this challenge themselves -- with Corlys' help?
New Intro Sequence
As promised, this second episode of "House of the Dragon" kicked off with an actual title sequence. In a bit of a surprise the theme song is either exactly or almost exactly the same as the one for "Game of Thrones," tying the two shows even tighter together.
The graphic for this one is not a map of Westeros but rather features a focus on blood rising up from symbols on the floors of what may well be the massive model of Old Valyria that Viserys has been tinkering with since the premiere. Finally, the blood on the familiar symbol for House Targaryen.
"House of the Dragon" airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.