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HOUSE OF THE DRAGON 2×1 “A Son for A Son” is the season premiere of the second season of House of the Dragon. While a big supporter of this series and a believer that it has done a lot to wipe the sour taste of Game of Thrones’ season eight from viewers’ mouths, I have a lot of criticisms of season one. Simply put, the ten episodes jumped around one way too much and at least two seasons of story were crammed into one season in hopes of getting to the “good stuff” faster. Unfortunately, this severely impacted the pacing of the show as well as its characterization, which are the things that GOT fans love most.

The season begins with a new opening as we replace the dripping blood down a stone family tree of the Targaryens to, instead, be a tapestry that is woven with the stories of the Dance of the Dragon. I think this works very well as a visually distinct metaphor for the setting and better than the previous season. Still, it’s a surprising change and I wonder why they decided to make it given the stone family tree and blood one wasn’t bad.

The previous season ended with the death of Lucerys, one of Rhaenyra Targaryen’s children. Killed in an accident by Aemond Targaryen and his dragon, the result is that the Blacks and Greens are going to have a war no matter what. Kinslaying is the vilest taboo in Westeros, and no one would believe that he didn’t do it deliberately. I was waiting to see how Alicent and Otto Hightower would react to this stunning development. Well, I will have to keep waiting because it skips right past that.

We get a glimpse of the North that so far has played little role in the conflict. Still, we get some nice backstory about the past relationship between the Sarks and Targaryens. Also, a plot hole about how the dragons refuse to cross the Wall comes up because they didn’t make this a thing in Game of Thrones and the opposite being an actual plot point. Still, it’s nice to see the Wall again and a reminder of the importance of the struggle against the White Walkers.

Much of the episode deals with the aftermath of Aemond killing Lucerys despite the fact that we don’t see everyone’s immediate reaction. Rhaenyra is beside herself with grief and Daemon sees an opportunity to assert his position once more by promising vengeance. Fans of the book, Fire and Blood, will know who “Blood and Cheese” but newcomers will probably be shocked. Sadly, it lacks the power of the scene in the book because we haven’t had the characters developed enough to truly bond with them before things go horribly south.

There are some interesting developments in the characterization that I would have wanted more examination of as well. Like, for instance, Alicent Hightower has begun an affair with Ser Criston Cole despite both citing morality as a reason to oppose Queen Rhaenyra. Aegon II is an utterly inept king and his brother is much better suited, which both brothers know. We also have Mysaria drop her godawful fake accent.

Overall, I think this was a solid episode, but I foresee this season suffering again from the fact that it is going to be an abbreviated season. Perhaps even worse because there will only be eight episodes this season. Really, I think they needed twelve-episode seasons, and it still feels like we’re running ahead past more character seasons. Still, I think it’s the best fantasy currently on television right now.

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