‘House of the Dragon’ season 2 ‘opens up the world in a big way’

“We’ve flipped the chessboard over and spilled the pieces on the ground.”

Nick Romano

By Nick Romano October 24, 2022 at 12:10 AM EDT

Warning: This article contains spoilers from the House of the Dragon season 1 finale.

It’s difficult for House of the Dragon co-creator Ryan Condal to speak about where season 2 will now take audiences after that tragic season 1 finale without spoiling the events to come, but if he has to pick one word, it’s “complex.”

“Season 1 was setting the table for a very bloody feast to come,” he tells EW. “The reason that I wanted to really spend our time doing this is because I wanted everybody to understand who all of these characters were and the long history they had behind them — behind their fathers and their grandfathers — that led us to this point where they end up fighting a civil war against each other.”

“I’m really interested in picking up with all of those characters that we spent all of this time introducing, particularly Rhaenyra and Alicent’s families, and seeing what happens now that we’ve flipped the chessboard over and spilled the pieces on the ground,” Condal continues. “How do all those react? That’s the story that we tell in season 2 and beyond.”

The penultimate episode of the season sticks with the Greens, which includes Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and the supporters of Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney), who was crowned king of Westeros in a coup to usurp the crown from the chosen heir, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy). The finale then sticks with the Blacks, Rhaenyra and her supporters.

House of the Dragon Season Finale

Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) surveys her war table in ‘House of the Dragon’ season 1 finale.

| Credit: Ollie Upton / HBO

Enduring the loss of her stillborn daughter, Visenya — a miscarriage induced by the news that Alicent betrayed her — Rhaenyra is named queen of the realms at Dragonstone, donning the crown of her father, the late King Viserys (Paddy Considine). She’s forced to maintain restraint as her husband, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), and the men on her council are working to plunge Westeros into war. Taking stock of the situation, Queen Rhaenyra sends envoys to various lords to see who is still faithful to her and her claim. Her eldest son Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) volunteers himself and his younger brother, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), to be two of those envoys.

An anxious Luke is sent to Storm’s End to Lord Borros Baratheon (Roger Evans), but the boy finds his uncle, Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell), has already arrived and secured support for the Greens. This leads to a scuffle on dragonback in the skies, resulting in the death of Luke as Aemond’s dragon Vhagar delivers the fatal bite. Though Aemond had lost control of Vhagar and did not intend to kill his nephew, Rhaenyra’s reaction in the final moments suggests she — now known as the Black Queen — is out for vengeance.

House of the Dragon season 2, which has already been renewed and Condal is currently writing, will only grow in scope now that the action has spread to other parts of Westeros.

Referring to the name for this particular Targaryen civil war that’s about to break out, Condal remarks, “I don’t know if the Dance of the Dragons will ever have the sprawl that the original Game of Thrones did, simply because of North of the Wall and Esso and all these other places that it went. But certainly the season that we’re writing, the rhythms of this show are going to feel much more like a middle season — seasons 3-6 of Game of Thrones — in terms of its scope and breadth and the number of characters.”

House of the Dragon Season Finale

Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in the ‘House of the Dragon’ season 1 finale

| Credit: Ollie Upton / HBO

While season 1 was focused primarily on Rhaenyra, Alicent, Viserys, and Daemon as the four main characters, season 2 “does fall into that ensemble piece where you’re following multiple characters,” Condal adds. “They’re not all in the same place, but this is still very much a story of Alicent and Rhaenyra and their families pitted against each other. We’re not gonna suddenly pull away from telling their stories. It’s just the nature of this thing, in season 2, it really opens up the world in a big way and the sprawl grows quite a bit.”

Speaking to the larger story of the Dance of the Dragons beyond just seasons 1 and 2, Condal notes that viewers’ “loyalties for certain characters and for certain sides and for certain arguments will shift and change over the course of this.”

“That’s the nature of this thing,” he says. “It’s incredibly messy and complex and gray, and it’s one family fighting each other. This is not Starks vs. Lannisters. This is an extended family doing battle with one another. So it’s harder to find those entrenched sides.”

Condal understands why people want to look for someone to root for. “It’s an escapist fantasy — a good one, I hope,” he notes. “But people are looking for the light side and the dark side, the Jedi and the Sith. They’re looking for the elves and the orcs. I love Star Wars. I love Lord of the Rings. It’s just simply not that kind of story.”

Subscribe to EW’s West of Westeros podcast, which goes behind the making of House of the Dragon and the growing Game of Thrones universe.

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