For nearly a month now, we’ve been following that cast and crew of House of the Dragon as they shoot a massive battle sequence in southern England, mostly in and around Bourne Woods. Really, they’ve spent around the same time on this as the Game of Thrones cast and crew did on some of the bigger battles from that series, and those set new benchmarks for action on TV. Color me excited.
According to fansite Redanian Intelligence, today marks the last day of location filming for House of the Dragon season 2, give or take a few pick-up days. That means the show is done shooting things out in the open. They still have about a month of filming left on season 2 as a whole, but it’ll be done behind closed doors.
With that in mind, we thought we’d recap what we saw go down in Bourne Woods, and we saw a lot. Beware SPOILERS below for House of the Dragon season 2.
Get ready for the Battle at Rook’s Rest in House of the Dragon season 2
So exactly what battle did they film out here? Drawing from George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood, it is almost undoubtedly the Battle at Rook’s Rest. In summary, this battle is joined when Ser Criston Cole, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard for King Aegon II Targaryen, marches an army to the castle of Rook’s Rest, which is held by Lord Staunton. Lord Staunton is loyal not to Aegon but to his half-sister Rhaenyra, who is fighting her half-brother for control of the Iron Throne. He appeals to her for help, and she dispatches a dragonrider. However, Criston Cole has brought a couple of dragonriders of his own…
So soldiers clash on the ground while dragons fight in the sky. It’s a big event, so it’s no surprise that it took this long to film. Here’s a catalog of what we saw on the set. Before we start, I’ll mention one more time that there will be SPOILERS:
- One of the first things we saw in the area was an army of Lannister soldiers riding to war. It’s not guaranteed that this is part of the battle, but it seems likely. In Fire & Blood, the Lannisters are part of the greens, the faction that supports King Aegon during the Dance of the Dragons.
- King Aegon’s mother is Alicent Hightower and his grandfather is Otto Hightower, so obviously the Hightowers are greens as well. We saw Hightower soldiers on set, making camp.
- There were lots of cool shots of armies on the move during this battle, like this video of green soldiers marching through the forest.
- As mentioned, Criston Cole is at the head of this green army, so it was no surprise to see actor Fabian Frankel on set. Whether he’s screaming at his subordinates to prepare for battle or rallying the troops before a charge, he’ll have a ton to do in this sequence.
- But there’s only so much soldiers can do against a dragon. To help Lord Staunton, Rhaenyra Targaryen dispatches her aunt Rhaenys Targaryen, who arrives on her dragon Meleys. She starts burning green soldiers to a crisp.
- But wait, it’s a trap! Criston knew that Rhaenyra would send a dragonrider and brought along a couple of his own: Aemond Targaryen rides in on his dragon Vhagar, the biggest and oldest dragon in the world. We saw quite a bit of actor Ewan Mitchell in costume as Aemond on set.
- In the book, King Aegon also flies in on his dragon Sunfyre, so it’s two against one. We haven’t seen Aegon actor Tom Glynn-Carney on set, but Criston does mention during his speech to his men that the king has joined the battle, so he’s there.
- And here’s the biggest SPOILER of all: Vhagar and Sunfyre defeat Meleys. The battle ends with both Meleys and her rider Rhaenys dead, which might explain this dragon-sized crater in the ground. RIP the Queen Who Never Was.
And all of this will go down in Episode 4 of the new season, which was directed by Game of Thrones veteran Alan Taylor. The episode is reportedly titled, “A Dance of Dragons.”
Aegon injured on House of the Dragon set?
Actually, we’re still getting new info from the set. Redanian Intelligence reports on a scene involving Criston Cole kneeling “next to someone injured or dead.”
In Fire & Blood, King Aegon is badly injured during the Battle of Rook’s Rest. He lives, but he’s never quite the same. That could be the scene that RI is describing.
House of the Dragon filmed other scenes near Bourne Woods as well, including a scene with the Night’s Watch — presumably in the North — and a scene with Rhaena Targaryen (Phoebe Campbell), presumably in the Vale. They got a lot of use out of this location.
But it’s all over now. Take a beat, House of the Dragon team; you’ve earned it. As for us, we should be watching the Battle of Rook’s Rest on HBO and Max sometime in 2024.