A ‘House of the Dragon’ Lookback Before Season 2

Estimated read time 5 min read

There’s nothing like a trip back to Westeros after a two-year hiatus to cure the dragon blues. House of the Dragon returns on Sunday, June 16, with season 2 on HBO and Max, pitting Alicent Hightower’s Team Green against Rhaenyra Targaryen’s Team Black. Family drama will be at an all-time high with the Dance of the Dragons storyline at the forefront, but before we get there, a refresh may be in order.

The prequel’s season finale aired in October 2022 with the episode The Black Queen, leaving the story on a major cliffhanger while setting up the Targaryens’ civil war.

As you prep to see more interesting wigs, new dragons and loathsome family dynamics, read on to remind yourself what happened with the royals of Westeros, which dragons are slaying their scenes and what’s coming next. You still have time to binge season 1 before diving into the newest installment, and if you’re new to Max’s streaming service, there’s an opportunity to try it free for one week

Read more: ‘House of The Dragon’: How to Watch Season 2 From Anywhere

King Viserys is dead, and Aegon is king

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King Aegon Targaryen II.

HBO/Screenshot by CNET

After Viserys died in the middle of the night, Alicent spread the lie that he uttered his last wishes to her: Aegon would succeed him on the throne. This contradicts what he said to a room full of royals and other witnesses that he would not change his mind about naming Princess Rhaenyra as his heir. Though everyone still hates the idea that a woman should rule the Seven Kingdoms, Alicent thinks placing Aegon in charge is an opportunity for her to operate from behind the scenes. He’s still a Targaryen heir, and to her, he can rightfully usurp the throne.

Her deceit ratchets up when she and her father purposely don’t tell Rhaenyra or Daemon about the king’s death and Aegon’s questionable ascent. Cousin Rhaenys, who was being kept prisoner at King’s Landing, blasts through the floor during Aegon’s coronation on her dragon’s back. She heads to Dragonstone.

The hostile takeover results in a split among the houses — those that support Aegon, King Viserys’ son, and those who remain loyal to Rhaenyra. Under Alicent and her father, Otto Hightower, anyone who disputes Aegon’s reign is put to death. And while Aegon doesn’t really want the job, he’s going to do whatever his mama tells him to do. Meanwhile in the shadows, it’s his envious brother Aemond that people should be worried about. Alicent is so busy taking shady advice from her father and Larys Strong (aka Clubfoot) that she may not fully see what’s about to come.

Rhaenyra receives her own crown

Upon receiving news from Rhaenys Targaryen about her father’s death and Aegon’s usurpation, Rhaenyra and Daemon hatch a plan to curry favor with other houses. Remember, she’s recovering from delivering a stillborn daughter, and has five living sons: Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey (with her lover, Ser Harwin Strong), then Aegon III and Viserys II with Daemon.

In addition to those who’ve chosen to continue to pledge fealty to her, she manages to gain the support of Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys. Ser Erryk, who’s left his duties to the Hightowers behind, shows up with Viserys’ crown in hand and vows to follow Rhaenyra, too.

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Rhaenyra is now a queen.

HBO/Screenshot by CNET

She has her own coronation at Dragonstone and is crowned queen, with Daemon, her children and others bowing to her. As they ready for the upcoming battle over the throne, Otto arrives at Dragonstone with a band of undiplomatic diplomats. He offers peace and real estate — and the hope of friendship between Alicent and Rhaenyra — in exchange for everyone bowing to Aegon as king. That doesn’t go over well, and an argument ensues over who has a bigger gang of dragons and supporters throughout the kingdom. The Starks, Baratheons and Tullys are mentioned. 

Otto is dismissed and Daemon and Rhaenyra prepare for war, taking stock of their dragon fleet and who would be down with their cause. Corlys promises the help of his seafaring army, and the children are part of war planning, too. Jacaerys is tasked with flying his dragon to Eyrie and Winterfell to ask for aid, while Lucerys will deliver a message to Lord Borros Baratheon in Storm’s End.

Lucerys’ death is a turning point

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Lucerys and Rhaenyra Targaryen.


Viewers did not get to spend too much time with Lucerys (aka Luke), but we do know his uncle Aemond has despised him and his brothers since they were small children. Luke is the one who slashed him in the eye after he picked a fight with his nephews and Corlys’ granddaughters, Baela and Rhaena. He’s bitter — but don’t forget he stole Vhagar the dragon from the Velaryons. 

When Rhaenyra sends Luke off as an envoy to solicit help from Lord Borros, he arrives on his dragon, Arrax, and feels scared upon seeing Vhagar outside. He finds Aemond already there at Storm’s End, thwarting his plans. Borros refuses to take Rhaenyra’s side but wants to let the kid leave and return as a messenger. In full-on bully mode, Aemond sneaks out and follows Luke in the sky. On edge, Luke and Arrax try to maneuver away from the much older and bigger Vhagar, but against the wishes of their riders, they attack each other. 

After being hit in the face by Arrax’s fire, Vhagar swoops down and chomps Arrax and Luke to bits, leaving their remains to fall through the clouds. For a moment, Aemond looks regretful and worried. 

We assume this is the event that pretty much kickstarts the war, throwing away any opportunity to mediate between Alicent and Rhaenyra. Stream the premiere on Max on June 16 at 9 p.m. ET.

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