‘House Of The Dragon’ Contenders Vs. Pretenders: ‘The Rogue Prince’

On this week of “Succession but with more dragons,” a kingdom begins to rot, a friendship is ruined, a crustacean terrorizes Westeros, and Matt Smith acts like the messy little bitch he is.

House of the Dragon’s second episode, “The Rogue Prince,” shows the chaos that comes from settling on a girl as heir to the Iron Throne. While Rhaenyra does her best to lead, her father avoids his own royal duties by refusing to take a wife, and her uncle, Prince Daemon, throws a temper tantrum that puts the entire realm at risk. Naturally, this changes things regarding where the show’s major players stand in the quickly-expanding line for the big sword seat.

Here’s where everyone sits after this week’s mayhem.

The Pretenders

King Viserys

Just like Succession’s own strung-out Techno Gatsby, King Viserys seems more content to hang out with his side piece and watch his council implode on itself than actually rule. The most he does this episode – besides flirt with his daughter’s best friend (ew) and entertain the possibility of marrying a 12-year-old (double ew) – is rant about his brother, obnoxiously mourn his dead wife, and whine that his teenage daughter doesn’t think he’s cool anymore. As refreshing as it is to see a king actually hesitant to go to war, Viserys is causing both his allies and enemies to doubt the strength of his house by not acting on this threat in the Step Stones. We’ve reached a real “sh*t or get off the pot” moment with this guy, haven’t we?

Corlys Velaryon aka The Sea Snake

Corlys Velaryon’s worst trait is he’s just too everything. Too quick to anger. Too obvious in his thirst for power and status. Too desperate for the king to go to war on his behalf. A good poker player, he is decidedly not. Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy the hell out of every contentious council meeting he somehow always seems to instigate but, as much as he credits the drive from being a “second son” for his success, he could learn a thing or two about patience and stealth when it comes to his play for the throne.

Prince Daemon Targaryen

Matt Smith continues to be the best damn thing about this show – besides its flying, fire-breathing reptiles – and he’s on his bullsh*t once again as Daemon does his best to get his big brother’s attention. Some might see his six-month siege of Dragonstone, his declaration that he’s the true heir to the Seven Kingdoms, his marriage announcement, and impending “fatherhood,” and his theft of his dead nephew’s promised dragon’s egg as an act of sedition, but those people would be crusty old idiots named Otto Hightower whose detachment from his own daughter has allowed him to pimp her out to his best friend. No, Daemon doesn’t truly care about ruling, he just wants some validation from his big bro – and, also, the freedom to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Honestly, same.

The Contenders

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen

Poor Rhaenyra. It’s clear that, despite everyone’s assertion that she was born with the wrong “hardware,” she’s got more stones than any of the wrinkled ballsacks sitting on her father’s council. She’s been named as his heir but certainly doesn’t feel like one, and having her aunt remind her that the same lords who bent their knees would happily set her kingdom on fire should her father die an untimely death, isn’t helping matters. But, despite being betrayed by her bestie and threatened by her uncle, Rhaenyra managed to do a better job of ruling than her own father did in this episode, thwarting Daemon’s plans, encouraging her father to take another wife, and earning the respect of a powerful ally in Corlys Velayron. It’s clear Rhaenyra would make an excellent queen, but the jury’s still out on whether she’ll ever sit on the Iron Throne.

Otto Hightower, The Hand of the King

We know that last episode we compared Otto Hightower to Tywin Lannister but, this week, the guy puts Littlefinger to shame with his scheming. Instead of giving the king worthwhile counsel, he spends most of the episode posturing and positioning his house closer to the throne. After helping to thwart a potential match between House Targaryen and House Velaryon, Otto encourages his own daughter to visit the king the night he leaves to handle Daemon’s uprising. So yeah, this guy won’t be winning any Father of the Year awards anytime soon, but he might just live to see his offspring birth a king so, he’s still winning something.

Princess Rhaenys Targaryen

One thing we can say for certain is this: If Rhaenys Targaryen had been named queen, none of this f*ckery would be afoot. As it is, she’s doing her best to position her house in closer proximity to the Iron Throne. Part of that plan includes quite ruthlessly sacrificing her younger daughter to further her own aims, but another involves sowing doubt in Rhaenyra over whether she can do the job of leading, and if she even wants to. And, when she’s not making power plays, she’s simply minding her business, drinking her wine, and enjoying watching the men in her life peacock their way around court. Cersei Lannister would approve.

Alicent Hightower

With friends like Alicent Hightower, who really needs enemies. The girl keeps batting her lashes at the king, having secret lunches complete with history lessons on Old Valyria with him while her best friend grieves the death of her mother and worries over her inheritance. We understand Alicent is limited in her options – if her father tells her to do something, she’s got to do it – but girl, at least tell your friend what’s going on. Something like, “Yeah, so your dad and I have been hanging out more. It’s nothing serious at the moment. He’s just been showing me his Legos and talking about you mostly.” As it is though, this Becky with the good hair is doing a bang-up job of earning her crown. Hate the game, not the player, right?

Wound Watch

*Alexa, play Sheryl Crow’s ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’*

Thankfully there are no new gaping holes in King Viserys’ aging flesh this week but that pesky pinky finger seems determined to fall off. At the moment, what started as a nick from his throne has grown into a rotting appendage that might soon need to be amputated. It’s a metaphor for how his kingdom is rotting and being feasted on by power-hungry maggots but it’s also just plain gross. Work on your hygiene, man.