‘House of the Dragon’ Boss Talks Bringing Back [Spoiler] in a ‘Grounded and Impactful’ Way

Note: This story contains spoilers from “House of the Dragon” Season 2, Episode 3.

“House of the Dragon” Season 2 brought back a familiar face to ramp up a major character’s internal conflict, as Team Green and Team Black hinge closer to civil war.

In Episode 3, Daemon (Matt Smith) finds himself plagued by the demons of his past after claiming Harrenhal for the battle for Rhaenyra’s right to the Iron Throne.

He happens upon Milly Alcock as a young Rhaenyra, sewing up the decapitated neck of Aegon’s heir, Jaehaerys, whose execution was seemingly ordered by Daemon in Episode 1’s brutal “Blood and Cheese” scene. Alcock’s Rhaenyra tells Daemon, “always coming and going, and I have to clean up afterwards.”

After reports circulated ahead of Season 2 that Alcock would not return for any flashbacks, Condal said it was a thrill to have the Season 1 star back, and noted the “Supergirl” star had a week-long window in between other projects.

“She had a major impact on on the success of the show, and is very beloved with the audience and [I’m] excited for people to be surprised by that,” Condal said. “The biggest challenge was just keeping it secret.”

While Condal has stuck to “Game of Thrones” no-flashback cadence on the spin-ogg so far, he wanted to make sure Alcock’s cameo felt meaningful.

“We wanted to do it in a way that felt grounded and impactful, not only dramatically to Daemon … because Daemon is literally coming face-to-face with a ghost of his past and having it challenge him for his past sins, but do it in a way that felt realistic in world,” Condal said, noting that Harrenhal has been set up as a “haunted place that’s rich with the the memory and the power of the Old Gods.”

Condal noted the team utilized the same “in-world magic” in Episode 3 as “Game of Thrones” did when Bran Stark realized he could see through the network of Weirwood trees.

While Condal admitted the team closed the chapter on bringing back the younger actors when they resolved not to do any flashbacks moving forward, it wasn’t until they started breaking Daemon’s story that they saw an opportunity to enhance his arc with a cameo from Alcock.

“We came up with this idea to not only make the external challenge of trying to gather these these very disparate and warring tribal houses within the Riverlands — that’s his external struggle, but then we wanted an internal struggle for him,” Condal said. “This felt like the right way into it, kind of a psychological game for Daemon’s … who finds themselves staying at the the Overlook Hotel, so to speak.”

While Daemon headed to Harrenhal, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) worked with Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) to sneak into King’s Landing to speak with Alicent (Olivia Cooke) in an attempt to stop an impending war. The move is a steep departure from the books, which don’t see Rhaenyra re-entering King’s Landing or physically crossing paths with Alicent at this time.

“Great television is bringing your central characters and your greatest actors together,” Condal said. “It’s not to say that’s going to happen all the time — it’s not — but we had to figure out a way to get them to cross in the narrative in order to keep that that story alive, and we wanted to do it in a way that felt seismic and earned.”

Condal noted that the inaugural season set up Rhaenyra as a “bold ruler and decisionmaker, who will do things sometimes at her own peril,” pointing to when she flew to Dragonstone to retrieve the dragon’s egg from Daemon in Season 1.

“Now she’s sitting in power as a queen [and] she’s feeling the restriction around her, what her counsel will allow her to do and not to do, and she makes this bold choice to strike out on her own, to hopefully risk her own life to bring about peace instead of risking hundreds of thousands of others to bring peace via dragon fire,” Condal said. “Even though it’s incredibly risky, [it’s something] we think a lot of the audience will applaud Rhaenyra for attempting.”

The “compelling” scene saw Rhaenyra and Alicent discuss Viserys’ final words to Alicent, which Rhaenyra clarfied to Alicent referenced a story about Aegon the Conqueror. Despite Rhaenyra insisting there’s been a mistake, Alicent holds true to Team Green and tells Rhaenyra it’s “too late” to call of the upcoming war.

New episodes of “House of the Dragon” air Sundays on HBO and stream on Max.

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