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Why House Of The Dragon Season 2 Is Going To Blow You Away

An extended production cycle has forced fans to wait nearly two years since the end of "House of the Dragon" Season 1 for new episodes, but that wait is finally almost over. Season 2 of the acclaimed HBO fantasy series — a prequel to "Game of Thrones" focused on the reign and ultimate downfall of the Targaryen family — is scheduled to premiere on June 16. Given where the first chapter of the new saga left off, "House of the Dragon" Season 2 looks to be even more action-packed.

As good as it is, Season 1 mostly consists of stage-setting. The main focus of the show from the start was always meant to be the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war fought between different sides of the Targaryen clan for control of Westeros. Political tensions and dark schemes spread throughout the show's first 10 episodes, and now, with Season 2 on the horizon, all that buildup is about to translate into drama and bloodshed across the fantasy continent.

There's a lot for fans to get excited about as the Season 2 premiere draws near. New characters are entering the fold, including a few popular names from George R. R. Martin's "Fire and Blood." The new season will also expand into more of Westeros, bringing back great houses and family lines that are central to "Game of Thrones." Plus there will be even more dragons — the reason we're all really watching. Here's why "House of the Dragon" Season 2 might blow us all away.

The Dance of the Dragons has begun

The first and most obvious point of excitement for "House of the Dragon" Season 2 is that the Dance of the Dragons has formally begun. In "Game of Thrones," Season 1 is mostly setup — Ned Stark investigating the conspiracy in King's Landing, Daenerys going through her crucible in Essos, etc. But by the end of Season 1, Ned Stark is killed, the dragons have hatched, and the war (well, wars, really) has begun.

"House of the Dragon" looks to be following a very similar structure, except that the death of a child, Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault), kicks things off. The trailers for "House of the Dragon" Season 2 have really played up childhood besties Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) and Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) as foils and bitter rivals. While Alicent's son Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) is now King, it seems that his mother is still the one in charge. But with Aegon gaining experience as a cruel ruler and warlord, however, that power balance could change.

On Rhaenyra's side, she still has help from her (still creepy) uncle-husband Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best). The battle lines have been drawn, sides have been chosen (at least for now), and it looks like all-out dragon-on-dragon war is on the way. The Dance of the Dragons begins, and Westeros will suffer no matter who emerges victorious.

We're done with time jumps

"House of the Dragon" Season 1 leaps around a good bit in the timeline, with two sets of actors playing characters like Rhaenyra and Alicent as they age from childhood to adulthood. It's a fun, effective model for laying the foundation for the Dance of the Dragons, but it also makes it difficult to fully ground oneself in the story. However, the folks behind the show have confirmed that all that setup is over and done with now. "House of the Dragon" Season 2 won't have any time jumps, so things should start moving at a more measured pace.

"I will say, as a reward to our wonderful audience for following us through all the time jumps and recasts, they are done," showrunner Ryan Condal told Deadline in October 2022. "We tell the story in real time from here forward. The actors are playing these characters until the end. We're not recasting anybody. We're not making any huge jumps forward in time. We are now in the Dance of the Dragons, and we're gonna tell that story."

With luck, that will mean more time spent fleshing out the here-and-now of the story, rather than constantly rushing to the next point in the timeline to get things in order. It will be a little bittersweet not to see young stars Milly Alcock or Emily Carey in Season 2, but a more stable structure is probably for the best.

House Stark is back

If you came to "House of the Dragons" directly from "Game of Thrones," the most jarring change may have been the stark absence of, well, Starks. The ruling family of the North is the central focus of both George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the HBO adaptation, with Arya Stark, Jon Snow, and the rest of the family making up a majority of the many protagonists.

Fortunately for fans of the last show, the Starks will be back in "House of the Dragon" Season 2. Specifically, Cregan Stark, Lord of Winterfell during the Dance of the Dragons, looks to be playing a large role. Actor Tom Taylor has been cast as Cregan, whom Rhaenyra's son Jacaerys (Harry Collett) flies off to recruit at the end of Season 1. That also means that we'll probably be getting appearances from Winterfell itself, the Stark Valyrian Steel family blade Ice, and other familiar details from the North of Westeros.

If you've read "Fire and Blood," you'll know that Cregan has a pretty major role in the Targaryen civil war that's about to kick off. The Starks are always a good ally to have in your corner, and Rhaenyra seems determined to win Cregan over to her side. We won't spoil anything here, but rest assured that House Stark fans should be getting plenty of good material if "House of the Dragon" stays true to the book.

No one is safe

It isn't exactly news that anyone can die at any time in the world of "Game of Thrones." George R. R. Martin's willingness to kill off core characters at a moment's notice has become one of the author's trademarks, and the story of the Dance of the Dragons is no exception. This is a spoiler-free zone, but rest assured that if "House of the Dragon" continues to follow its source material loyally, Season 2 may have a number of shocking deaths.

As has often been the case in Westeros, the war between the Targaryens will be fought with both swords and subterfuge, dragons and schemes. It's a deeply personal conflict, which the trailers have played up by focusing on Rhaenyra's hatred of Alicent and vice-versa. Such is the case when war becomes a family affair.

Depending on how much ground is covered, we may be getting one of the big battles of the war by the end of Season 2. If so, you can look forward to some proper dragon dueling and serious consequences in the aftermath. The Dance of the Dragons is a long and messy conflict, so it won't be resolved in just two seasons. But Season 2 should get us deep enough in to see plenty of blood spilled.

Some names behind the camera have changed

"House of the Dragon" has gone through some notable changes behind the camera between Seasons 1 and 2. Most significantly, former co-showrunner and series creator Miguel Sapochnik stepped down after the first season ended. His creative partner Ryan Condal — with whom he developed the series — has now taken on all showrunning responsibilities. Sapochnik worked for many years on the franchise, directing a number of "Game of Thrones" episodes prior to developing "House of the Dragon." Fans will know him as the director of some of the first show's biggest battle episodes, including "Hardhome," "The Long Night," and the critically acclaimed "Battle of the Bastards."

While dedicated "Thrones" fans may be sad to see Sapochnik go, fellow "Thrones" alumnus Alan Taylor has joined the series as a director and executive producer. His "Game of Thrones" credits include memorable episodes like the Season 1 finale, "Fire and Blood," and the Season 2 finale, "Valar Morghulis." Taylor has also worked on some of the most acclaimed shows of the last 30 years, directing major installments of "The Sopranos," "Mad Men," and "Sex and the City."

It should be exciting to see what unique contributions he brings to "House of the Dragon" Season 2. "It's a pleasure and an honor to be back at HBO, immersing myself in the world of the Targaryens," Taylor told The Hollywood Reporter in August 2022. "Returning to Westeros will be a huge undertaking and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

There are sure to be surprises in store

Even if you've read "Fire and Blood," "House of the Dragon" Season 2 could still keep you guessing. George R. R. Martin is involved in the show's production, and Season 1 stays pretty true to his written history of the Targaryen family. But a number of things have already been changed for one reason or another to better fit the series.

Plot points like Rhaenyra and Alicent's childhood friendship and Rhaenys' dramatic departure from King's Landing were added for the show, and aren't the only details changed by HBO. As the Dance of the Dragons heats up, we're sure to see some other surprises in terms of the timeline, specific events, and possibly even who lives and dies.

"Game of Thrones" eventually ventured far away from Martin's novels, though that was partly due to his series being unfinished at the time (and still today). That's not an issue this time around, as his Targaryen history has already been fully published, but changes are inevitable in any adaptation. Season 2 will almost certainly introduce more major differences between "House of the Dragon" and "Fire and Blood," making sure that even the most dedicated fans get to enjoy some twists.

Blood and Cheese make their debut

Part of the appeal of "A Song of Ice and Fire" is the sheer number of characters introduced throughout the story. While great lords and famous knights always play key roles in major occurrences, the series often focuses on lesser-known players who end up having big impacts on world events. Think of Shae, Bronn, or Osha from "Game of Thrones."

If you haven't read "Fire and Blood," then you won't yet know who Blood and Cheese are. At first glance, the names don't even make sense. However, these two mercenaries play a pivotal role in the Dance of the Dragons, and the writers have confirmed that their storyline is a part of "House of the Dragon" Season 2. "I don't think you will be disappointed," writer Sara Hess told Variety in December 2022 when asked about the show adapting the dark Blood and Cheese arc. For those not in the know: brace yourselves.

As of now, there's been no official confirmation of who will play the two oddly named characters, though some reports claim that Mark Stobbart will play Cheese and Sam C. Wilson will play Blood. Time will tell, but what's for certain is that the plotline will probably be just as dramatic in the show as it is in the book.

Other new characters abound

Cregan Stark, Blood, and Cheese aren't the only new faces coming in "House of the Dragon" Season 2. With both sides of the war recruiting as many allies as they can, tons of additional characters are joining the cast, and we already have confirmation about a lot of them.

Freddie Fox will play Ser Gwayne Hightower, son of Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) and brother to Alicent. Simon Russell Beale is set to play Ser Simon Strong, the great uncle of the ever-conniving Lord Larys Strong. Gayle Rankin will play a healer at Harrenhal named Alys Rivers, and Abubakar Salim will play Alyn of Hull, a soldier in the Velaryon army. Two of these characters — Alys and Ser Simon — have direct ties to Harrenhal. That makes sense, as the massive, haunted castle plays a key role in "Fire and Blood" right around the point in the timeline when Season 2 is set to begin.

It's also likely that we'll see Daeron Targaryen, Alicent's youngest son, at some point in Season 2 as the so-called Greens muster their strength. George R. R. Martin personally confirmed in a blog post that the show simply didn't have time to include Daeron in Season 1, so perhaps Season 2 will present the opportunity. Regardless, there are surely plenty of new faces in store, all bringing something unique to the growing conflict in Westeros.

Westeros looks better than ever

Fans may have been disappointed when it was announced that "House of the Dragon" Season 2 will only have eight episodes, as opposed to the 10 of Season 1. However, that might not end up being such a bad thing. While we don't know exact budget details for the new season, fewer episodes hopefully means more time and resources put into each one. That could yield particular dividends when it comes to the production design — something that defined Season 1 for all the right reasons.

"House of the Dragon" Season 1 shook things up a bit by bringing in Jim Clay as the series' production designer — someone who had never worked on "Game of Thrones." While many of the aesthetic touches of Westeros are the same between the two shows, "House of the Dragon" has a lot of small details that distinguish its earlier era in history from the one in the original series. Westeros has arguably never looked better, from the lush costume design and grand castles to the dragons themselves. Fewer episodes and a more experienced production team could end up making "House of the Dragon" Season 2 the best-looking installment in HBO's "Thrones" universe yet, which would be an impressive achievement given all that's come before.

The plot thickens with Rhaenyra and Daemon

There's a wide, tangled web of relationships — all of them messy — at the heart of "House of the Dragon." But none are more complicated or central to the plot than Rhaenyra's marriage to her uncle Daemon. Incestuous, creepy, and frequently manipulative, their "romance" was one of the main throughlines of Season 1, and a big part of Season 2's appeal will be seeing how that messed-up relationship stands up in the face of war.

"He's become Internet Boyfriend in a way that baffles me," writer Sara Hess told The Hollywood Reporter when discussing the fandom's curious response to Daemon during Season 1. "How — in what way — was he a good partner, father or brother — to anybody? You got me." Hess also teased that Rhaneyra and Daemon's twisted saga is only just beginning and that there's a lot more complexity to come. "What is the nature of his relationship with Rhaenyra?" was a core question when writing Season 2, Hess told THR. "There are many interpretations."

"Fire and Blood" readers will know some of the broad strokes, but the fun part about the show is that we get to see more of the nitty-gritty. Martin's book is written more like a history, with multiple, sometimes conflicting accounts. The series gets to decide a definitive picture of each event and relationship, and it should be interesting to see where it takes Daemon and Rhaenyra as the war begins.

There are five new dragons in Season 2

Some might come to "House of the Dragon" for the drama, the action, the gorgeous costumes, or just to hear that theme song again. But we all come for the dragons, and Season 2 is going to have even more.

At an event reported on by Esquire, showrunner Ryan Condal confirmed that there will be five new dragons in Season 2, adding onto the Season 1 roster that already included behemoths like Vhagar, Syrax, and Caraxes. Some of these will surely come from Dragonstone, which serves as home to a number of wild dragons yet to be tamed by riders. If Rhaenyra and her allies are to gain an upper hand in the war for the Iron Throne, they'll need to take advantage of these dragons — and in "Fire and Blood," they do just that. There are also more dragons to be seen on the side of the Greens, though, with the Dragonpit still serving as the ultimate symbol of Targaryen power in King's Landing.

The fun part of "House of the Dragon" is that we all know the ending. While it takes many more generations for the Targaryen dynasty to finally fall, it's the Dance of the Dragons that weakens them and robs them of their god-like reputation. Like so many parts of "A Song of Ice and Fire," it's a tragedy, filled with deeply flawed characters who seem almost doomed from the start. Once the dragonfire starts flying in "House of the Dragon" Season 2, anything goes.