House of the Dragon fans divided over Blood and Cheese change in Episode 1

Jessica Cullen
Phia Saban as Helaena Targaryen in House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon Season 2 is finally here, but Episode 1 is already causing a split among fans due to one controversial scene.

While a war rages and a family divides in House of the Dragon Season 2, there was only one book scene that fans were really keeping their eyes peeled for. Blood and Cheese are the worst duo in all of Westeros, coming together under Daemon‘s instruction to kill Aemond.

However, Blood and Cheese go rogue, and proceedings take a horrific turn as they end up with a new target: Aegon’s first-born son, Jaehaerys. It’s a scene House of the Dragon fans have been waiting for (call it morbid curiosity) and the moment finally played out in Season 2 Episode 1. But it’s not quite as fans imagined, leading to a split opinion among viewers over whether the show did it justice.

As is often the way with adaptations, the TV show took some liberties with the book’s events. Warning: spoilers ahead!

The show changes one key Blood and Cheese detail

After Aemond killed Lucerys at the end of House of the Dragon Season 1, Daemon attempts to even the scales and avenge Rhaenyra’s son by embarking on a simple quest: “A son for a son.”

However, Blood and Cheese (comprised of a King’s Landing guard and a Red Keep ratcatcher) bend this definition, and end up killing Aegon’s infant son and future king, Jaehaerys.

In the book, Blood and Cheese enter the nursery and confront Helaena Targaryen, asking her to choose which child should die. She points to her youngest son, Maelor. However, they kill Jaehaerys anyway, and even tell Maelor: “Your momma wants you dead.”

However, this plays out differently in Season 2. In fact, Maelor isn’t even born yet in the timeline of the show. As such, Blood and Cheese ask Helaena which of the twins is the boy. She points to Jaehaerys, and initially, they think she’s tricking them.

However, she’s telling the truth, and they decapitate the child. In the book, Helaena screams in horror, but in the show, she quickly grabs her daughter and runs from the room.

Fans divided over changes

Set in George R.R. Martin’s gruesome world, fans of the show naturally crave accuracy and violence. With the overall atmosphere of the scene and the element of Helaena’s choice further removed, not everyone is happy with how the long-awaited scene played out.

Some appreciate the changes, and say that it actually toned down the scene in a way that makes it more palatable for television.

As one Reddit user wrote: “In the book, the scene felt like an overly sadistic creative writing exercise of cartoon villains (makes sense considering the book is made by fictional ‘historians’), with choices and plot points that strained credibility.

“The TV show, however, presented the incident as a brutal yet straightforward assassination, which makes [the] scene with the obvious urgency and stakes plus maintaining grim realism that underscored the perilous.”

Others agreed, with one user adding: “I was dreading this scene and getting ready to leave the room when it happened and this made it relatively palatable with the right amount of weight emotionally and for plot purposes.”

“I’m a book reader and I’m glad they made it like that actually,” said another. “It was so f**king hard to watch and I’m not even a father. Child murder is just too much for me so I’m glad they went this direction.”

However, others didn’t think the show went hard enough on the brutality, and don’t think it bodes well for the rest of the season.

“My issues with this episode are less about the actual event, although I feel like the book is just more impactful/better personally. The lead up to the event just felt like lazy TV show writing to me without much thought to the context of anything else in the story,” argued one comment.

“Nah scene absolutely sucks, the show is becoming parody of itself,” another wrote.

“Poor George R.R. Martin,” said one comment. “Now I know why he’s pissed at this show. The showrunner has completely disrespected the source material. I’d be pissed if this was my book.”

For more, check out our House of the Dragon Season 2 review. We’ve also got guides on the Seven Kingdoms and all Targaryen kings, for more details.

Plus, don’t miss the other new TV shows coming out this month.