House of the Dragon season two moments

With its June 16 premiere, the Game of Thrones prequel is back with the civil war of the Targaryen family, marked by devious schemings, bloody vengeance, and, well, gigantic dragons.

Sunday nights are about to be fun again for the next eight weeks of the show’s run.

In an eventful hour of television, here are the most notable moments from the pilot episode of House of the Dragon‘s new season (spoilers ahead, if you haven’t watched):

Much of the plot of the first season of House of the Dragon is limited to King’s Landing and Dragonstone, a departure from the more expansive world of the show’s original, Game of Thrones, which took viewers everywhere from Casterly Rock to the slave city of Astapor.

But the prequel makes a nostalgic nod to the sequel by opening the new season at a familiar haunting ground: Winterfell, the home of the beloved Starks. Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor) gives viewers the same sense of honour and duty synonymous with his descendants in Thrones.

He provides Jacaerys Targaryen (Harry Collett), who’s delivering a message from his mother, a lecture on the importance of the Night’s Watch guarding the wall against the dead.

We all know by now how important the wall becomes hundreds of years later.

Westeros has had its fair share of leaders, from the moronic Joffery, to sadistic Ramsay Bolton, scheming Tywin Lannister, empathetic Ned Stark, and coldblooded Stannis Baratheon.

Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), the firstborn son of the late Viserys and Alicent (Olivia Cooke), ended up on the throne due to plotting by the Hightowers, but he’s never really shown an aptitude for leadership.

He’s settling into his new role by the time the new season starts, challenged by the official heiress Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), and he’s handling everything as best as anyone could have imagined. Even the chaotic state of his council is a testament to how unsuited he is to sit on the Iron Throne he so desperately clings to.

Where does he rank in the league of leaders in the history of the Seven Kingdoms? Posterity will judge.

Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) has been one of the most competent schemers in House of the Dragon so far, and Aegon’s dubious crowning as king has been his prize jewel.

Now serving as his grandson’s Hand, as he did for Viserys, his continued reign is immediately under threat as the season starts. Lord Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), especially, is already whispering in Aegon’s ears about a change of personnel in the king’s court.

Aegon being Aegon, Otto’s days in the highest levels in the brash king’s court may well be numbered.

Despite his predominantly sour disposition, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) seems to be a magnet for the royal bed. After an entanglement with young Rhaenyra in the pilot season, he becomes close allies with Alicent mostly out of mutual spite for the heiress.

That allyship is closer, and steamier this season, as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is now protecting more than whatever is stated in his job description. HR would like to have a word.

One of the most brutal storylines from Fire & Blood, the George R. R. Martin book House of the Dragon is based on, has come to life on the show.

Desperate for revenge over Aemond’s murder of his son Lucerys in last season’s finale, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) sets two assassins loose in King’s Landing to murder his nephew, played by Ewan Mitchell.

However, a twist of fate puts the assassins in the same room with Helaena (Phia Saban), Aegon’s sister and wife, and her kids. After terrorising the young queen, they elect to kill Jaehaerys, Aegon’s crown prince in place of Aemond, fulfilling Daemon’s “a son for a son” pledge, which is also the episode’s title.

This event sets the tone for the rest of this season of House of the Dragon. Let the dance of dragons begin!

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