House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1 recap and ending explained

Jessica Cullen
Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon Season 2 is finally here, and our Episode 1 recap and ending explained will tell you everything you need to know. 

After two long years, House of the Dragon Season 2 has now hit our screens. Whether you’re Team Targaryen or House Hightower, there’ll be plenty for fans to look forward to.

Leaks and rumors are nothing compared to the real thing, and many have been ready and waiting to see what the next step is in the battle for the Iron Throne. The stakes are high, sons are dead, and any rules have gone out of the window.

As such, Episode 1 of the new House of Dragon season is full of pain, scheming, and blood. Here’s everything that happened in the premiere episode, so be warned: there are spoilers ahead. 

Team Black plots

We open in Winterfell, where Jacaerys Velaryon is making the rounds trying to rally up support for his mother. He’s currently with Cregan Stark, who shows him The Wall. As they talk, Stark gets a message from a raven, which is meant for Jacaerys. It’s from Dragonstone, and it’s calling him home.

In Dragonstone, an exhausted Princess Rhaenys lands after trailing the sea and holding the blockade. Daemon meets her at the gate, and tries to get her to fly to King’s Landing with him to kill Vhagar and her rider, Aemond Targaryen. He wants revenge for Lucerys’ death; a son for a son. 

Rhaenyra is nowhere to be found, off grieving for her child. Rhaenys relates to her after losing her own, so she turns down Daemon’s request, even after he brutally reminds her that she had the power to stop it all.

Meanwhile, at the Gullet with his fleet, Corlys Velaryon holds the blockade. His ship has returned from the Stepstones, and he’s keen to get it up and running. He’s greeted by Alyn, the man who dragged him from the water during the earlier battle. Corlys painfully finds out that a new blade has been delivered — one which he’d had made for Lucerys. 

Team Green prepares for war 

Inside the Red Keep, Helaena Targaryen is in the nursery with her children when Aegon enters. He’s looking for his son Jaehaerys, so he can bring the future king to the Small Council meeting. 

As he leaves, Helaena tells him she’s scared. He assures her, saying Rhaenyra would be a fool to come when Dragons are guarding the city. To this, Helaena said: “Not the dragons. The rats.” He brushes this off and leaves, bringing his son to the Small Council. (As you can guess, her words become very important later on.)

Elsewhere, it’s explicitly confirmed that Alicent and Ser Criston Cole are now embarking on a sexual relationship. (Sorry, Rhaenicent shippers!) Before heading to the Small Council meeting, she tells him they cannot continue their trysts. As the Red Keep goes about its day, we see a ratcatcher moving about the place. (See? Important!)

In the Small Council meeting, Team Green comes up with a plan. Most of their calls to arms from the other houses are being unanswered, little Jaehaerys is causing trouble for the Master of Coin by being childish, and Aegon doesn’t seem to be taking anything seriously. It’s not looking good.

Alicent wants to know if Rhaenyra responded to her earlier offer of terms, but there’s nothing. Aemond arrives, and it’s made clear that he and Aegon have a more aggressive strategy in mind: simply take the dragons and burn the blockade that’s causing them so much trouble. But Otto carefully talks the king into patience and restraint. 

Outside, Alicent encounters Larys Strong. He tells her that he tracked down their betrayer and had them killed. He’s also personally hired new staff for the Red Keep. It certainly seems as though he’s playing a long game with the Hightower side, making himself useful to all parties.

Rhaenyra grieves and Aegon battles Otto 

Rhaenyra continues to ride alone until she spots a gathering on the beach. She lands with Syrax, scaring everyone away, and finds the remains of Lucerys (what’s left of him, anyway) and his dragon. She collapses onto the sand, finally able to grieve in full. 

Tom Glynn-Carney as Aegon in House of the Dragon Season 2

Back in King’s Landing, Aegon holds court with the smallfolk. One man, Hugh, asks about advance payments for weapons construction, and Aegon does his best to play fair and make promises. Otto, however, tries to talk him down from certain allowances, though Aegon does end up overruling him in the end.

Afterwards, Larys takes Aegon aside and gives him a warning. Otto can be persuasive and controlling, much like he was with the previous king. His motivations become clear: Larys wants Otto Hightower out.

Otto encounters Alicent waiting for him in his chamber. She asks him to be more respectful to her voice and opinion, as she fears that her sons are starting to look at her as a liability. Together, they decide that when Aegon gets bored of his new rule, he’ll be much more open to their guidance. Otto does give her a fair warning: their path to victory will be violent.

The White Worm emerges 

Ships leaving King’s Landing are boarded by Corlys’ soldiers, who find Mysaria (aka: the White Worm) stowing away on board. They bring her to Daemon at Dragonstone, where he accuses her of selling secrets and blames her. She assures him her work is only transactional, a notion which Erryk (now fully estranged from his Hightower-serving brother) tries to support. However, he’s not met with much trust from Daemon. 

Rhaenyra finally arrives back at Dragonstone and meets with her Small Council. But she has no interest in talking tactics or war plans — right now, her only command is the death of Aemond. 

A plan formulating, Daemon goes back to the White Worm to see if she still has any spies in King’s Landing. If so, he’ll set her free. Meanwhile, Jacaerys returns home to Rhaenyra, and the two weep for their loss together.

Olivia Cooke as Alicent in House of the Dragon

As Rhaenyra and her remaining children hold a funeral for Lucerys, Alicent enters the royal sept and lights candles for her mother Alyrie Florent, Viserys Targerian, and, controversially, Lucerys.

It’s Blood and Cheese time, baby

Daemon arrives at King’s Landing and sneaks his way in by giving money to a guard who hates the Hightowers. This is where Blood and Cheese is born, as Daemon tracks down the Red Keep’s ratcatcher and offers to pay them both for one simple task: kill Aemond Targeryn. 

Meanwhile, Aemond and Criston are secretly plotting their own war tactics, both believing they should have begun advancing days ago rather than writing letters to the houses.

Of Alicent, Aemond says, “she holds love for our enemy, that makes her a fool.” Otto soon comes in, dismissing Criston and warning Aemond not to be hasty like his brother.

How does House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1 end?

Episode 1 ends with the “son for a son” bargain being fulfilled, with Blood and Cheese decapitating the infant Jaehaerys in front of Helaena.

Blood (the guard) and Cheese (the ratcatcher) sneak into the castle and completely bypass Aegon, who’s drunk and laughing on the throne with friends. Under the guise of catching rats, they make their way upstairs and find the nursery. Helaena’s there, and Cheese holds her at knifepoint. 

They decide “son for a son” could also mean Aegon’s son Jaehaerys, the future ruler.

They force her to reveal which child is the boy, and though she remains calm and tries to bargain with a necklace, they’re not willing to budge. She eventually points to one of the children, though Blood is convinced that she’s lying and wouldn’t give up the heir that easily. 

But it’s Cheese who sees through any plot that she’s attempting, and he says that it’s the child she’s pointing to.

As such, Helaena is forced to watch as they slowly and messily decapitate her child. She grabs the other and quickly leaves the room, going to Alicent’s quarters, where she’s currently in bed with Criston. 

Helaena, however, doesn’t seem to take notice of this scandalous fact. She wanders into the corner, crawls into herself and says, “They killed the boy.”

House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1 is available to stream now.

For more, take a look at our House of the Dragon Season 2 review. Or, take a look at House of the Dragon’s viewing figures, or find out what other new TV shows you can stream this month.