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House of the Dragon S2E4: Recap, Review, and Ending Explained

HBO’s “House of the Dragon” season two, episode four, titled “The Red Dragon and the Gold,” kicks off with an intense scene featuring Prince Daemon (Matt Smith). As he enters the throne room at the Red Keep, a voice speaks in High Valyrian. Daemon, visibly puzzled, approaches the throne, stating he doesn’t understand what’s being said. A figure seated on the Iron Throne stands, revealing herself as the young Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), who continues talking in High Valyrian.

Standing before Daemon, Rhaenyra sharply says, “You created me, Daemon. Yet you are now set on destroying me… All because your brother loved me more than he did you.” It’s a cutting accusation that hits Daemon hard. Unable to handle the confrontation, Daemon acts as expected: he cuts off Rhaenyra’s head, echoing his ruthless act from the first season when he decapitated Lord Vaemond for insulting Rhaenyra in front of the king.

The scene’s twist reveals it’s merely a dream, jolting Daemon awake in his bed, his hand covered in blood. Ser Simon Strong (Simon Russel Beale) then brings urgent news. Aegon’s army has conquered the castles of Rosby and Stokeworth without resistance, bolstering their forces significantly. There’s a possibility that their next target might be Harrenhal.

Reacting strategically, Daemon engages with the young Oscar Tully (Archie Barnes), the future Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, as he tries to gather support for his cause. Despite Daemon’s proposition of speeding along the inheritance by implying patricide, Oscar remains unyielding. Daemon’s frustration culminates in a derogatory remark about House Tully being leaderless.

Over in Driftmark, Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) subtly addresses Alyn (Abubakar Salim) as Corlys’ (Steve Toussaint) illegitimate son, pushing for his recognition and honor for saving his lord’s life. The complex family dynamics get further entangled when Rhaenys announces her intention to help Baela at Dragonstone.

Meanwhile, in the Red Keep, Grand Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan) provides Alicent (Olivia Cooke) a tonic, likely an abortifacient, under the pretense of assisting “the girl.” Alicent’s inquiry about whether Viserys wanted Aegon to succeed him reveals her doubts and inner conflict.

Back at Dragonstone, Rhaenyra’s absence from the council meeting creates tension. Corlys intervenes, emphasizing that no decisions can be made without her. On the battlefield, Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) continues his ruthless campaign, beheading Lord Darklyn and forcing the remaining members of House Darklyn to bend the knee to Aegon or face death.

At the Red Keep, Aegon learns that Daemon has seized Harrenhal. Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) opposes Aegon’s immediate desire to reclaim it, suggesting that they must first conquer Rook’s Rest. A frictional High Valyrian exchange between the brothers further illustrates the underlying tensions and strategic disagreements.

Daemon’s restlessness grows at Harrenhal, where he encounters Alys Rivers (Gayle Ranking). Alys describes the curse of Harrenhal and suggests Daemon’s recent experiences might be linked to it. She provocatively challenges Daemon’s legitimacy and motivations, even as she offers him a mysterious drink that muddles his senses further.

In King’s Landing, Aegon grapples with his responsibilities, feeling overshadowed and unappreciated. Alicent, unimpressed with his complaints, admonishes him to honor his new duties and seek counsel from those more experienced.

Ser Criston’s army heads towards Rook’s Rest, despite doubts from Ser Gwayne about the wisdom of a daylight attack. Determined, Criston insists on pressing forward. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra returns to Dragonstone amidst escalating tensions. After a tense exchange with her son Jace, Rhaenys volunteers to fly Meleys to confront Criston’s forces.

The anticipated battle at Rook’s Rest unfolds dramatically. Meleys and Sunfyre clash fiercely, with Vhagar’s unexpected intervention altering the course of the combat. Aegon’s relief turns into horror as Aemond commands Vhagar to attack, leading to devastating consequences for Aegon and his dragon, Sunfyre. Rhaenys and Meleys face a grim fate at the hands of the much larger Vhagar.

The episode deviates significantly from the book’s depiction of the Battle at Rook’s Rest, adding layers of intrigue and unexpected twists. Aemond’s betrayal reveals deep-seated grudges, while Rhaenys’ brave but ultimately doomed confrontation underscores the brutal realities of war. Ser Criston’s tactical prowess contrasts sharply with Aegon’s reckless impetuousness, shaping a riveting episode filled with strategic machinations and heartfelt struggles.

As the conflict intensifies, viewers are left eagerly anticipating Rhaenyra’s next moves and the unfolding consequences of the catastrophic battle.

“House of the Dragon” season two is available to stream on HBO and Max.

Source: HBO