‘House of the Dragon’: What Were Daemon’s Orders to Blood and Cheese?

“House of the Dragon” Season 2 Episode 2 deals entirely with the fallout of Blood and Cheese’s botched “son for a son” assassination, and what exactly Daemon (Matt Smith) told Blood and Cheese to do when they entered King’s Landing is left up to the viewer’s interpretation — which is exactly as showrunner Ryan Condal designed it.

When Episode 2 begins, Greens are rightly distraught as King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Queen Helaena (Phia Saban) deal with the death of their six-year-old son and heir to the throne. Alicent (Olivia Cooke) can’t do anything but watch her children suffer while knowing escalation only meets more bloodshed in the growing war

But Team Black also isn’t happy about Prince Jaehaerys’ murder. A lot of that blowback is falling to Daemon (Matt Smith) who is confronted directly by Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) about what he went off and did. The only lines she spoke in the Season 2 premiere were that she wanted Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) as payment for Luke’s (Elliot Grihault) death.

Daemon, aiming to please but clearly itching for a fight, donned his crime cloak and hustled off to King’s Landing to hire some assassins. Blood and Cheese fairly ask what they’re supposed to do if they can’t find Aemond in the Red Keep – and mysteriously we never see Daemon’s response. Could the Rogue Prince really think the death of another child would make her feel better about losing Luke?

Showrunner Ryan Condal told TheWrap that was by design.

“I think while it’s not dramatized on screen, it is left a bit to interpretation,” Condal said. “If you listen to the conversation that Blood and Cheese are having in the room, it’s very clear that Daemon went on to give them further instruction were they not able to find or locate Aemond. So I think the audience should take that and put it together themselves.”

He continued, “I mean, we want to create a complex character out of Daemon, but we also want to play a bit with this sort of unreliable narrator of history idea that’s set up in ‘Fire and Blood’ and not everything is going to be perfectly spoon fed for you. So the idea is that the history was a little bit more nuanced than what was eventually written down on the page – but the outcome was very much the same, and the fallout from it was the same. And that’s the fun interplay between, I think, ‘House of the Dragon’ and ‘Fire and Blood.'”

In “Fire and Blood,” the in-world character writing the titular Targaryen history – Archmaester Gyldayn – pulls his accounts from the Dance of the Dragons conflict from three sources: Grand Maester Munkun, Septon Eustace, and Mushroom the court fool. All three tell the conflict from their own perspective from the mundane (Eustace/Munkun) to the overly violent and salacious (Mushroom).

None of them are right all the time, but all of them are right some of the time. In some cases – Mushroom’s – he’ll give a recorded account of an event before Gyldayn notes he wasn’t even there when the particular incident took place. The trick of the book is trying to figure out which account was the accurate one.

“House of the Dragon” has implemented the fun of the unreliable narrator while also stating the “Fire and Blood” text is what the history books recorded but the show is the more “nuanced” – as Condal put it – version that actually happened.

We’ve seen the unreliability play out a few times already in the show.

In the series premiere, the original dispute between Daemon and his brother King Viserys (Paddy Considine) occurs because the Rogue Prince is reportedly heard calling Viserys’ recently deceased baby the “Heir for a Day” in public. We see bits of the scene from Daemon’s perspective but it’s Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) who informs the king of the comments. We don’t know whether Daemon ever actually said the words aloud.

Aemond seems to be serving as his own unreliable narrator in the second season. We saw Luke’s death at the end of Season 1 happen because Vhagar refused to listen to Aemond’s orders, but his return to King’s Landing has him walking with a new swagger and confidence. He seems all to happy to let people assume his attack was on purpose and is ready to wear his Aemond the Kinslayer title proudly – whether he earned it “honestly” or not.

So where do you fall? Is Daemon so much of a monster that he’d order the decapitation of a child? Or is he a monster who is still fun to root for?

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

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