House of the Dragon is back for another round of violent mayhem and questionable decision making! The series’ second episode, titled The Rogue Prince, was all about succession and the disdain that comes with being rebuffed. In fact, it was so much about succession, it might as well be called Succession With Dragons, because it feels an awful lot like Succession, but with very cool dragons instead of Brian Cox. Anyway, the episode continues the show’s strong start with a heavily political outing – replacing last week’s jousting duels with a series of Small Court shouting matches. Everyone either wants King Viserys to marry their kid, or name them the direct heir to the Iron Throne. Events play out as chaotically as one might expect. Let’s get into it.
The Best – The Women of King’s Landing
There was a lot to love in The Rogue Prince. When it comes to the very best part of the episode, however, it becomes a little harder to narrow things down. The obvious resolution to this would be the moment Milly Alcock‘s Princess Rhaenyra came swooping through the clouds to put a stop to unnecessary bloodshed and reclaim what was hers. Yet, the true answer is actually a bit finer and lies deep within that very sequence of events. Throughout this entire episode, the women of King’s Landing absolutely run circles around their male counterparts.
Rhaenyra and her best friend, Emily Carey‘s Alicent Hightower, are the heart and soul of this entry. This may turn out to be true of the series as a whole, but it’s especially on display here. The moments they are on screen are consistently the most interesting of the episode. Alcock and Carey‘s characters also mirror each other perfectly, as both are forced to confront their unknown futures via awkward conversations with their respective fathers. There’s a moment specifically early on when Alicent seems to realize she may one day wed Viserys, and the look of quiet disturbance that crosses her face puts every other performance in The Rogue Prince to shame. An honorable mention must also go to Eve Best‘s Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, who finally gets some chewable dialogue in a pivotal scene with her cousin’s daughter.
The Worst – King Viserys’ Wife Sweepstakes
Similar to last week, this episode’s worst moment is less of a storytelling critique and more of an uncomfortable, cringe-filled sigh. Now six months after the death of his wife and newborn son, King Viserys is pressured to select a new bride. It matters not if the man is still grieving, as the kingdom and his family’s reign must continue to persevere. Only, there’s one massive problem. As is customary in the culture presented in the Game of Thrones franchise, all of Viserys’ potential suitors are either literal children or very young women who don’t want to be involved – and honestly, it’s really gross. Yes, this is part of the show, but that doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable to watch a grown man flirt with a girl who is, at most, a few years older than his teenage daughter.
Ultimately, Viserys chooses Alicent as his future bride. This is weird because, again, she is basically a teenager and very close with his own child. However, the episode makes it seem like the more noble choice by setting up the King’s decision with a truly terrible conversation. Before he decides on Alicent, his Grace must consider the pros of wedding Rhaenys and Lord Corlys’ 12-year-old daughter instead. This culminates in a shockingly uncomfortable scene where Viserys essentially goes on a date with the aforementioned Lady Laena, who tells him her mother said she “won’t have to bed him until she’s 14.” It’s something worth gagging over. Luckily, this is as far as that relationship goes, but it doesn’t make the fact Alicent will likely have to birth her friend’s half-brother much of an easier pill to swallow.