“House of the Dragon” Season 2’s Most Intriguing New Power Couple

While calling them a “power couple” is certainly a stretch, in the second episode of season 2, “Rhaenyra the Cruel,” the embattled Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) found herself an unlikely ally in Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), a whisperer of the Red Keep with secrets aplenty known as the White Worm.

Rhaenyra was rocked in episode 2 by twin revelations—her desire to see Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) executed for murdering her son Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) had been botched, horrifically so, when two assassins instead dispatched King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney)’s son, the baby Jaehaerys. What’s worse, the plot was initiated by her one and only Daemon (Matt Smith), who, while claiming innocence—it was the assassins’ fault for the screwup—was neither sorry nor contrite when confronted by Rhaenyra.

In this beautifully performed duet between two enraged lovers, Rhaenyra finally comes to terms with Daemon’s inherent dishonesty and core delusion, namely, that his now-dead brother, the former King Viserys (Paddy Considine), had kept Daemon from the throne because he feared him and his power. Damon insists it was for this reason only that King Viserys named Rhaenyra his heir, a cruel contention in the face of his supposed lover’s confusion and grief.

Matt Smith and Emma D’Aarcy were phenomenal in the sequence, and you could sense the growing chasm between Daemon and Rhaenyra, especially the latter’s realization that she will never, ever be able to trust him. Rhaenyra needs a true ally in these troubled times, with the war between the Greens (ostensibly led by King Aegon) and the Blacks (led by Rhaenyra herself) growing more obvious and potentially lethal by the hour.

So, who is Rhaenyra to turn to? Surely not Mysaria, Daemon’s former lover and the woman who, admittedly reluctantly, helped Daemon source two potential assassins at the Red Keep. Mysaria is a prisoner in Dragonstone, and Rhaenyra summons her after her vicious spat with Daemon to find out what she knows about the murder of the child in King’s Landing. Their unexpected parlay might not be the warmest moment between two characters, but something undeniably crucial occurs—Rhaenyra sees that Mysaria, and perhaps Mysaria alone, understands Daemon’s true nature. And Mysaria sees a highborn woman in Rhaenyra who is still not so different from herself—someone who has to constantly prove herself to men; the stronger she becomes, the more there is to prove.

Rhaenyra doesn’t yet agree to release Mysaria, calling the possible act a foolish loss of an asset that could lead to a fatal betrayal. Yet she’s clearly intrigued by her. Before Mysraia is sent back to her cell, Rhaenyra notices the scar on her neck, a vivid imprint from a hard life. Eventually, Rhaenyra chooses to honor Daemon’s promise to Mysaria and sets her free. It’s the honorable thing to do, sure, but it also shows that Rhaenyra is choosing to believe Mysaria, and, importantly, she asks for nothing in the bargain, likely the first time anyone has paid Mysaria a kindness without expectation of something in return.

This turns out to be Rhaenyra’s most fateful decision in the episode and could count among one of the most fateful she’s made yet in her life. As Mysaria is being led to a ship departing Dragonstone, she passes a familiar face, Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittenso), a knight of Kingsuard sent by Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) to assassinate Rhaenyra by impersonating his twin brother, Erryk Cargyll (Elliot Tittensor) and slipping into Rhaenyra’s quarters. Mysaria senses something amiss and alerts her escort. This quick thinking led to the episode’s most shocking sequence, the fatal clash between the twins at Rhaenyra’s bedside.

Luke Tittensor, Elliot Tittensor. Photograph by Theo Whiteman/HBO

Mysaria’s decision to halt her progress toward freedom and follow her instinct saves Rhaenyra’s life. But it’s not just survival instincts and keen intelligence that Mysaria possesses that Rhaenrya could desperately use; it’s also a connection to the smallfolk, the support Rhaenyra will need if she hopes to defeat the Greens. While Daemon is a headstrong, often brutal chess piece that Rhaenyra has, on occasion, been able to successfully move into place, he’s unstable and far from truly loyal. The White Worm, however, possesses skills Daemon has none of, most notably a strategic mind and an ability to elicit secrets from those in every position in society. In short, she has knowledge. And knowledge, in Westeros at least, still holds tremendous power.

For more on House of the Dragon, check out these stories:

“House of the Dragon” Cast & Crew Discuss That Brutal Funeral in Episode 2

Featured image: Sonoya Mizuno, Emma D’Aarcy. Photograph by Theo Whiteman/HBO


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