Breaking Down That Brutal Death in House of the Dragon‘s Season 2 Premiere

The infamous "Blood and Cheese" plot from George R. R. Martin's 'Fire & Blood' played out differently in the show.

Breaking Down That Brutal Death in House of the Dragon‘s Season 2 Premiere
Phia Saban as Helaena Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon' Season 2

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 2 premiere of House of the Dragon.

If you weren’t sure what to expect going into the long-awaited second season of House of the Dragon, the title of the first episode, “A Son for a Son,” offered a pretty big clue about what was to come.

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Picking up pretty much immediately after the events of the Season 1 finale, the Season 2 premiere opened with Rhaenyra Targaryen (played by Emma D’Arcy) still in the throes of grief following the death of her son, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), and his dragon, Arrax, at the hands of Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) and his dragon, Vhagar. When she finally returned to speak with her council at Dragonstone, she made one demand: “I want Aemond Targaryen.”

Being the vengeful uncle-husband that he is, Daemon (Matt Smith) set to work putting a plan in motion to take out Aemond from inside the Red Keep. Except, things didn’t exactly go as planned. Although Daemon intended for his hired assassins—a City Watch malcontent nicknamed Blood (Sam C. Wilson) and a castle rat-catcher known as Cheese (Mark Stobbart)—to kill Aemond, they instead settled for 6-year-old Jaehaerys, the firstborn son of Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) and his sister-wife Helaena (Phil Saban), when Aemond was nowhere to be found.

Read More: House of the Dragon’s Searing Second Season Has More to Offer Than Just Fire and Blood

Simply known as the “Blood and Cheese” plot in George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, the A Song of Ice and Fire companion novel on which House of the Dragon is based, showrunner Ryan Condal described the brutal murder of Jaehaerys as a moment where, “George kind of outdid himself in his own George-ness, in terms of finding the awful depths of certain characters.”

A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones have really conditioned people to expect the unexpected and expect the horrible,” he told Entertainment Weekly in May. “But, yeah, that one’s pretty horrific. We’ll see what people make of what’s to come.”

However, House of the Dragon ultimately took some liberties with how the infamous storyline played out in the Game of Thrones prequel spinoff’s Season 2 premiere.

How “Blood and Cheese” was different in the book

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon Season 2

While the basics of the Blood and Cheese setup were largely the same, House of the Dragon actually dialed back the horror that Helaena and her children were subjected to in Fire & Blood.

In the book, Blood and Cheese were made aware that Helaena had a nightly habit of bringing her three young children—Jaehaerys, his twin sister Jaehaera, and their younger brother Maelor—to see their grandmother before bed, and so chose to break into Alicent’s chambers, kill her bedmaid, and bind and gag the Queen Mother in preparation for Helaena’s visit.

Once they’d rounded up her family, the two cutthroats told Helaena it was up to her to decide which son would die, despite her pleas for them to kill her instead. After they threatened to rape Jaehaera and kill all three children if she kept delaying, a panicked Helaena reluctantly picked Maelor. But in a final act of sadism, Blood and Cheese instead chose to taunt Maelor with his mother’s decision before chopping off Jaehaerys’ head. Pretty horrific, to say the least.

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As we saw in Sunday’s episode, House of the Dragon had Blood and Cheese capture Heleana at knife point and force her to point out which of her twins was the boy. She was then able to run out of the room with Jaehaera in her arms and seek refuge with Alicent (Olivia Cooke), whom she discovered was already occupied with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel).

In both the book and the show, it’s somewhat unclear whether Daemon directly sanctioned Jaehaerys’ death. But it’s implied that Blood and Cheese were ordered to return with the head of a son belonging to Team Green, no matter who it was, as retribution for Lucerys’ death.