Which Team Has the Advantage?

Which Team Has the Advantage?

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Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1.


The Big Picture

  • House of the Dragon
    ‘s Season 2 brings full-on war to Westeros, starting with Aegon and Rhaenyra claiming titles.
  • The Black and Green factions focus on dragons as their best weapon, leading to major deployments.
  • Stark, Arryn, and Riverlands provide support for Rhaenyra in the war, while the Greens secure their own allies.


With House of the Dragon‘s Season 2 premiere, war has come to Westeros in earnest. Season 1 planted the seeds as Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) each claimed their father’s title. Many believe this war was inevitable since the day Aegon was born, and the tension in the family only grew worse from there. The animosity between the factions of the Targaryen family was high before the fatal encounter between Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) and Rhaenyra’s son, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), exacerbated the volatile situation. The new season begins with everyone out for blood as lines of war are drawn.


Who Is on the Green Council?

In the first episode, “A Son for a Son,” Aegon takes to his Throne, attending a small council meeting with his heir, six-year-old Jaehaerys. His advisors include:


  • Aegon’s grandfather and Hand, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans)
  • Commander of the King’s Guard, Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel)
  • The Master of Coin, Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall)
  • Grand Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan)
  • The Master of Laws, Jasper Wylde (Paul Kennedy).

However, he also has his mother, Alicent (Olivia Cooke), and brother, Aemond, in attendance, giving them the power of advisors, though they hold no official position on the council.

Who Is on the Black Council?

Though the positions of Rhaenyra’s council are less defined in the episode than Aegon’s, several lords and advisors sit around her painted table. Rhaenyra’s council includes:

  • King Consort, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith)
  • Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best)
  • Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint)
  • Commander of the Queensguard, Steffon Darklyn (Anthony Flanagan)
  • Queensguard knight, Lorent Marbrand (Max Wrottesley)
  • Maester Gerardy (Phil Daniels)
  • Alfred Broome (Jamie Kenna)
  • Bartimos Celtigar (Nicholas Jones)
  • Lord Gormon Massey (James Dreyfus)
  • Lord Simon Staunton (Michael Elywn)


Her son, Jacaerys (Harry Collett), is her heir and, therefore, would be there were he not sent as a messenger for the crown.

And Daemon’s daughters, Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell) and Baela (Bethany Antonia), attend as well. At the moment, Rhaenyra has no Hand though that might change in the future,

Which Dragons Are in Play?

Vhagar, the largest dragon in Westeros, flying through the air in House of the Dragon Season 2
Image via HBO

Both sides know their best weapon is their dragons; the Blacks, in particular, have a major advantage when it comes to dragons.

Team Black Dragonriders & Dragons

Dragonrider

Dragon

Rhaenyra

Syrax

Daemon

Caraxes

Rhaenys

Meleys

Jacaerys

Vermax

Baela

Moondancer


Significantly, Jacaerys and his mount, Vermax, have gone to find allies for his mother’s cause, and Rhaenys patrols the Gullet with her dragon Meleys to man the blockade. Rhaenyra is primarily preoccupied with finding proof of her son’s death on her dragon, Syrax. And both Daemon and Baela have yet to be given a specific task, though Daemon is meant to fly to Harrenhal. Rhaenyra’s younger sons, Joffrey and Aegon the Younger, have dragons named Tyraxes and Stormcloud, they are too small to be ridden. As discussed in Season 1, the Blacks also have access to several riderless dragons who live on Dragonstone, but bound to no rider, they cannot be made to fight.

Team Green Dragonriders & Dragons

Dragonrider

Dragon

Aegon II

Sunfyre

Aemond

Vhagar


Aegon primarily relies on Aemond’s Vhagar, the largest dragon of all, to protect King’s Landing from their enemies. Though Aegon wants to use Sunfyre, Cole warns him against risking his own life. His sister Helaena (Phia Saban) is also a dragonrider, but her dragon, Dreamfyre, is unlikely to be seen on screen after the events of Blood and Cheese. Their younger brother, Daeron, also rides a dragon named Tessarion in the book, but the character has yet to appear in the series (though apparently he exists). As the conflict spans the continent, there will be many important players, but none as powerful as the dragons.

The Greens Have Scorpions, but No Master of Ships

One of the Cargyll twins in House of the Dragon Season 2
Image via HBO


Although no official battles have occurred, House of the Dragon reveals a lot about the war effort. When Aegon hears petitions from his people, one citizen, Hugh (Kieran Bew), claims that he and the other smiths are charged with making scorpions for the war effort — which is slow-going and expensive, creating a problem for the craftsmen. However, these weapons could turn the tide of the war. The scorpions are long-range weapons we saw used in Game of Thrones to take out dragons and, if aimed well, can pierce the skull of a dragon.

Yet, the Greens face issues as well. Most significantly, there is a lack of a Master of Ships on their council, a position once held by Corlys Velaryon. To fill this seat before naval warfare picks up, the council suggests Dalton Greyjoy, the Lord of the Iron Islands. Reaching out to a Greyjoy could potentially bring in a new player and a familiar house to the Dance of the Dragons.

House Stark and Arryn Give Their Support to Rhaenyra, but Harrenhal Is Still Needed

Jace (Harry Collett) and Cregan (Tom Taylor) on the Wall in House of the Dragon Season 2
Image via HBO


Though Lucerys’ mission tragically failed, Rhaenyra’s search for allies was not a total loss. Jacaerys’ trip allowed him to negotiate with Jeyne Arryn, the Lady of the Vale, getting her support in exchange for a dragon to guard her home. The Blacks certainly have more dragons, and some are too small to be a constant presence in the war, so it’s not a bad trade. The bargain gets the Blacks one of the great houses and all the assets that come with that.

Jace also reaches a deal with Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor). The Lord of Winterfell offered 2,000 soldiers to the Blacks’ cause, but only the older “graybeards,” because winter is coming (actually). As he promised to ready them to march, Cregan’s forces will join the Black’s armies. Though it is not the Northen support Rhaenyra would have hoped for, it does give her an alliance with the largest of the Seven Kingdoms, and though the bulk of the North’s forces won’t be fighting for her, they will not be fighting against her either.


During their Black council meeting, Daemon awaits Rhaenyra’s permission to take Harrenhal as a hold in the Riverlands. This is the seat of House Strong, which is led by Larys (Matthew Needham), who serves Alicent in King’s Landing. The Riverlands, and Harrenhal in particular, is a strategic place to target because of its central location in Westeros.

Related

‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: Make It a Son for a Son

Now, more than ever, both sides of the impending Dance feel just as divided within as without.

The Greens Have the Lannisters and Baratheons, With the Crownlands Free for the Taking

Hightower troops in House of the Dragon Season 2
Image via HBO


The Green’s most loyal allies are the Hightowers of Oldtown. Oldtown’s forces are marching towards King’s Landing to join the war, expecting no resistance from their fellow Lords of the Reach. With Tyland Lannister on Aegon’s small council, the Westerlands is secured for the Greens, as Tyland’s brother raises an army at Golden Tooth. And, with Aemond betrothed to Borros Baratheon’s (Roger Evans) daughter, Floris Baratheon, Aegon can anticipate their support. However, the declaration is waiting for the actual marriage.

Meanwhile, Aemond believes the best course of action is to secure the Riverlands and use Harrenhal to block the Blacks’ easiest path to King’s Landing. As the Riverlands have not declared for either side, Aegon wants to threaten them with dragons, but the need to protect King’s Landing from an attack by Rhaenyra’s dragons is more important.

Instead, Criston Cole and Aemond want to initiate an attack, going to the nearby castles of Roseby and Stokeworth to get more soldiers, citing the fact that these smaller castles wouldn’t want to make enemies of King’s Landing. Advancing from there, they believe they can secure the Crownlands, but this kind of movement needs the King’s approval, which would require him to reject the advice of his more experienced advisors.


The Blacks’ Biggest Win Is the Naval Blockade That Cuts Off King’s Landing

Steve Toussaint and Eve Best in House of the Dragon
Image via HBO

With their naval superiority thanks to the Velaryon fleet, the Blacks have taken action by blockading the Gullet, which leads to King’s Landing. Though the Velaryons are a substantial naval power, their war with the Triarchy has left their fleet depleted and unable to cover the entire Gullet. Still, with reinforcement from Rhaenys and Meleys, the blockade is a formidable obstacle for the Greens that has effectively cut the capital city off from trade, impacting supplies of food and other goods.

This not only hurts the war preparations in the city but creates chaos for the smallfolk, who will be left without the necessities if trade is gone too long. The blockade is why so many come to Aegon with petitions, specifically complaining about the scarcity and the cost of materials, which Aegon (or, more accurately, Otto) can’t do anything about as long as the Blacks’ blockade holds.


The Velaryon ships also prevent sea travel to and from King’s Landing, impeding the Greens’ call for allies, though the Greens plan to move the Hightower and Lannister navies (hopefully with additional help from a new Master of Ships) to break the blockage. Creating this obstacle is a smart move on Rhaenyra’s part, as she has the upper hand on the seas, and it puts the Greens in a precarious situation in their own home.

The Blacks Get Revenge For Lucerys, but Will It Hurt Them?

The most horrific act of war in the premiere of Season 2 is not moving armies or cutting off trade routes, but a misconstrued act of revenge. After Lucerys’ death, Rhaenyra declares her desire for Aemond to die in retaliation. And Daemon tries to deliver, sending the assassins into the castle. Though this is not the most traditional way of waging war, it is as fair as Aemond threatening Lucerys after he refused to fight. But it went wrong.


When the assassins could not find Aemond, they went rogue. Encountering Helaena and her children instead, the assassins forced the queen to reveal which child was their target and brutally killed young Jaehaerys, providing a son for a son, just as Daemon requested. Of course, the tragedy can only create more resentment and hatred between the two factions, escalating the war as Lucerys’ death did and proving that there is no turning back.

Who Wins the Week?

Matt Smith as Daemon in a cloak on a boat to King's Landing in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 2
Image via HBO

Obviously, there are no real winners in war, especially one between family. But Team Black comes out on top this week, but only by a hair. Yes, they got revenge for Lucerys, but the death of Jaehaerys might cause more problems than it solves given the gruesome nature of the attack. However, that naval blockade could end disastrously for King’s Landing with winter around the corner, and the lack of dragons for the Greens means they have a heavier reliance on armies.


House of the Dragon is available to stream on Max in the U.S. with new episodes on Sundays.

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