The House of the Dragon: Queen Helaena’s heartbreaking decision

The House of the Dragon: Queen Helaena’s heartbreaking decision
The House of the Dragon: Queen Helaena’s heartbreaking decision

The heir to the throne is dead. In the premiere episode of the second season of The House of the Dragonthe prequel to Game of Thrones from HBO based on the book by George R.R. Martin Fire and Blood, the conflict between the families of Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) and the dowager queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), friends and now rivals, takes a devastating turn when Alicent’s grandson is murdered in the middle of the night.

Although almost two years have passed since the end of the first season of The House of the Dragonthe premiere of the second season, Son for sonis set immediately after the death of Rhaenyra’s son, Lucerys, at the hands of Alicent’s one-eyed middle son, Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell). Instead of taking quick revenge, Rhaenyra takes her time to mourn the loss of her son on Dragonstone. But her uncle and husband, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), goes on the run and hires an assassin (Blood) and a rat catcher (Cheese) to infiltrate King’s Landing.

Daemon hires Blood and Cheese to assassinate Aemond, but when they manage to penetrate the palace walls, they encounter Queen Helaena (Phia Saban) and their children: Princess Jaehaera and Prince Jaehaerys, the male heir to the throne of their father, King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney). In a devastating scene, Queen Helaena must choose which of her children to sacrifice. She points to her young son, for whom a gruesome and untimely end awaits, as she escapes with Jaehaerya in her arms. The episode ends with Helaena breaking into Alicent’s bedroom while her mother is having coital relations with the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel). Once there, she utters a chilling phrase: “They have killed the child.”

In Fire and Blood, according to the journalist Vanity Fair Busis, Prince Jaehaerys’ end is even worse than in The House of the Dragon. “In the book version, Helaena has three children: an older son, a younger son and a daughter,” Busis notes. “They make her choose which of her children they will kill. She points to the youngest, and then they tell her: ‘ Your mother wants you dead,’ and they kill the older brother.”

Saban talks to us about the dramatic season premiere. “I have not read Fire and Blood“, he admits. “I bought it and didn’t read it. I took it on vacation and left it in the sun and all the pages fell out.” Still, Saban already knew the impossible decision Helaena was going to have to make. “It’s funny, when you tell people you play the role from Helaena, they limit themselves to telling you: ‘Did you know that…? “blah, blah, blah,” he says. “I have been told this many times.”

“I wonder what’s more heartbreaking,” Saban continues. “The betrayal that takes place or her telling the truth and then, because of her words, them doing it. I guess it depends.”

 
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