House of the Dragon Episode 201, "A Son for a Son" easter eggs and secrets

Cheese may know the tunnels of the Red Keep better than the shape of his you-know-what, but we know the secrets of House of the Dragon just as well.
House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon /

After two long years, the premiere for the second season of House of the Dragon is here at at last. "A Son for a Son" wastes no time immersing viewers back in the world of Westeros. From its new opening credits sequence to its brief return to the Wall in the North to the battle lines being drawn by the Black and Greens, there was a ton to digest.

There were also, as is always the case in the Game of Thrones universe, oh so many secrets. "A Son for a Son" is littered with easter eggs and little details for the sharp-eyed viewer to pick out. Now that the episode is here, we're going to go through it with a magnifying glass, pointing out as many of those easter eggs as we can. Join us, and do the maesters of Oldtown proud with your attention to detail. FULL SPOILERS for "A Son for a Son" ahead.

House of the Dragon Episode 201, "A Son for a Son" easter eggs

First and foremost, we have to shout out the new introduction to the show. Season 1's opening featured rivulets of blood running from symbol to symbol in King Viserys' model of Old Valyria. That intro depicted how the Targaryen bloodline flowed from Aegon the Conqueror down to the various players in the Dance of the Dragons.

Season 2 portrays a tapestry being woven before our eyes; instead of bloodlines, this one depicts Targaryen history. There a number of scenes there — so many that we'll do a whole separate breakdown for that intro later this week. But highlights include the shots of volcanos and dragons falling from the sky, which commemorates the Doom of Old Valyria; and the scenes of a black and green dragon with corpses and bload-soaked castles between their teeth representing the Dance of the Dragons. And of course there are shots of Viserys, his wife Aemma Arryn, and his father King Jaehaerys at the Great Council of 101 AC. We also see Alicent entering the Iron Throne room in her green dress, King Viserys' final supper with his dysfunctional family, and both Aegon and Rhaenyra donning their respective crowns. There's a lot to unpack in that quick introduction!

Cregan Stark and Jacaerys Velaryon in House of the Dragon season 2.
Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO /

Cregan Stark and the North

From there we're off to the Wall This opening scene between Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) and Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor) is packed with fun little details. Let's break out the bullet points:

  • The music that plays under Cregan's narration uses the same variation of the Stark theme — "Goodbye Brother" — which played during the Game of Thrones season 6 finale, both when the white raven announcing winter arrived at Winterfell, and when Jon Snow's identity as Lyanna Stark's son was first revealed to Bran.
  • Cregan mentions that the tradition of sending a man to the wall goes back to Torrhen Stark, the King Who Knelt, aka the King in the North who surrendered his crown and swore the North's allegiance to Aegon the Conqueror. That's an interesting bit of lore, since it means the Starks didn't have that tradition before Torrhen knelt to Aegon, despite the fact that the Wall already existed. That makes me think it could be related to Aegon's dream, the Song of Ice and Fire.
  • As the camera zooms in on the Winterfell courtyard where men are drawing stones to decide who goes to the Night's Watch, you can briefly see a direwolf statue on the right side of the screen. That's the entrance to the Winterfell crypts — those statues also existed in Game of Thrones.
  • Cregan sounds so much like Ned Stark it's silly. And he actually did base his performance off Sean Bean's from Thrones — which is fitting, since Cregan is Ned's great-great-great-great grandfather.
  • Cregan is wearing the Stark Valyrian steel family greatsword, Ice, on his back.
  • The top of the Wall is in much better repair here than it is in Thrones, which is a cool way to show how the outpost gradually becomes more abandoned over the next 180 or so years.
  • Cregan and Jace discuss how Old King Jaehaerys and Good Queen Alysanne visited the Wall. That's a story taken directly out of Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin, the book on which House of the Dragon is based.
  • Cregan agrees to give Jacaerys 2,000 old men to fight for Rhaenyra. The fact that they're old is an important detail, provided the show sticks to the source material. They'll become known as the "Winter Wolves," essentially a group of warriors who go south because they are completely expendable. In the book, it's not just old men, but also those who volunteer to fight because winter is coming and it would provide more strain for their families' resources for them to stay home than it would for them to go to war and possibly die.

And that's just the opening scene! After Jace gets the bad news from a raven that his brother Luke has died, we cut to Dragonstone, where Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) lands her dragon Meleys in the mountains outside the castle. Rhaenys says she patrols a hundred miles of open sea alone to hold the Gullet. The Gullet is the setting of a particularly devastating battle that's either coming later this season or early in season 3, and the show is wasting no time foreshadowing it.

Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) tells Rhaenys that he wants to go to King's Landing to kill Aemond and Vhagar, to make it "a son for a son." Hey, that's the episode title! It's also part of the title of the chapter in Fire & Blood which features Blood and Cheese killing Helaena's son Jaehaerys, the traumatic event which serves as the capstone to the premiere. The full chapter title is "The Dying of the Dragons—A Son for a Son." Fitting.

Alyn of Hull (Abubakar Salim) and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) in House of the Dragon season 2.
Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO /

Alyn of Hull, Corlys Velaryon and Driftmark

The next stop on our tour of Westeros is Driftmark, the island home of House Velaryon. The ship being worked on at the dock is the Sea Snake, Corlys Velaryon's (Steve Toussaint) flagship. It's being both cleaned and repaired; we see people washing blood off the deck as well as repairing places where the side of the ship appears burned. Another cool detail is the people chipping barnacles off the hull — that's to ensure that the ship is as swift and maneuverable as possible in the water.

Corlys is still recovering from the wounds he took at the Stepstones near the end of the first season. He discusses the repairs on his ship with an important new character, Alyn of Hull, played by Raised By Wolves star Abubakar Salim. For the gamer crowd, Salim is also the voice of Bayek of Siwa from Assassin's Creed Origins. We find out during this scene that Alyn served under Corlys during the campaign in the Stepstones, and was actually the person who pulled him to safety after he was wounded.

When Corlys' expresses dismay at the fact that his ship will take weeks longer to repair, Alyn says that he'll ask his brother if the shipwrights can offer any additional support. That brother, Addam of Hull, is another important character we'll be seeing later this season. The fact that Addam is a shipwright is a key detail from Fire & Blood; in the book, Alyn and Addam of Hull's mother, Marilda of Hull, is the daughter of a shipwright and inherits his influential position in their guild when he dies, which she uses to fund her own merchant vessel where both boys help her ply her trade. The show has seemingly gone the route of keeping Addam as a shipwright or merchant, and making Alyn a sailor in the Velaryon fleet. We'll be meeting Addam later this season; he's played by Clinton Liberty.

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King Aegon the Magnanimous and King's Landing

Next up, we're off to King's Landing. This is another meaty section, so let's break out the bullet points once more:

  • The big, domed building in the first shot of King's Landing is the Dragonpit.
  • There are scorpions on the walls of the Red Keep, ready to shoot down any dragons. That technology was mostly lost by the time Qyburn had some built for Cersei Lannister late in Game of Thrones, but back in the days when Targaryen dragons roamed freely around the continent they were much more common. The dragon ridden by Aegon the Conqueror's sister Rhaenys was supposedly killed by a scorpion bolt during a campaign in Dorne centuries before House of the Dragon, so they were already a well-established defense against dragons.
  • Helaena (Phia Saban) tells Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) that she's afraid of "the rats." A nice reminder that she's got a prophetic streak — for all the good it does her, since no one listens. Obviously, if you've seen the episode you know exactly what "rats" she foresaw.
  • Aegon is wearing Aegon the Conqueror's dagger when he comes to pick up Jaehaerys and during the Small Council meeting.
  • Speaking of rats, we see the man history will remember as Cheese (Mark Stobbart) himself collecting rats just outside the Small Council chamber. (We don't actually learn his name in the premiere.)
  • Otto says his brother Ormund Hightower is planning to march north from Oldtown with the intent of capturing Harrenhal. Ormund is another important character, though as of yet we don't know who's playing him. Hilariously, Aemond then struts in and basically says the exact same thing Otto did about Harrenhal's importance, as if no one had thought of it before him.
  • There's a lot of information coming fast in the Small Council meeting: neither the North nor the Vale have responded to Aegon's letters, because they've already sworn their aid to Jace. The Small Council is considering offering the post of Master of Ships to Dalton Greyjoy, a distant ancestor of Theon and Yara from Thrones.
  • Larys obviously knows that Alicent has been getting her freak on with Criston Cole. He's had all the staff he deemed traitors killed and replaced them with his own spies. Presumably, that includes killing Talya, Alicent's handmaid in season 1 who was played by former co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik's wife, Alexis Raben.
  • Alicent scrubs her skin vigorously in the bath, a callback to a nervous habit she developed as a teenager in the Red Keep.
  • The third and final person who petitions Aegon during his first time sitting the Iron Throne is Hugh Hammer, a blacksmith played by Kieran Bew from Warrior. Hugh is an important character who will become relevant to Team Black; it was interesting seeing him in King's Landing helping the Green war effort here.
  • Larys Strong tries to talk Aegon into ditching Otto Hightower as Hand of the King. If the season sticks to the events of Fire & Blood, that seed Larys planted will bear fruit down the line. Otto was the Hand to King Viserys and Aegon's great grandfather King Jaehaerys. The dude has had quite a run.
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Back to Team Black, Rhaenyra's second silent scene of the episode sees her land her dragon Syrax on the beach, scaring off a bunch of smallfolk who have pulled the wing of Lucerys Velaryon dragon Arrax out of the water in their fishing nets. They've also pulled up Luke's cloak, giving Rhaenyra the confirmation she needs that Luke is truly dead. Syrax trumpets her own despair, empathizing with her rider...but also, Syrax was Arrax's mother, having laid Arrax's egg all those years ago. The grief is multilayered for dragon and rider.

Then we're back at Dragonstone, where House Velaryon ships are boarding a merchant trader. They find Mysaria — in case you forgot, Mysaria rose to become an information broker in King's Landing, before Larys Strong and Otto Hightower betrayed her and had her manse put to the torch during the Green Council coup. Also, Daemon calls her the "White Worm" — that's her codename as an information broker.

  • Rhaenyra only has one line this episode: "I want Aemond Targaryen." Then she walks off after her advisors give her the report. It calls to mind the season 7 premiere of Thrones, where Daenerys Targaryen similarly had a single line of dialogue as she arrived at Dragonstone.
  • Jacaerys is escorted in to see his mother Rhaenyra by Baela Velaryon (Bethany Antonia); don't forget, they're betrothed.
  • During Jace's report to his mother he says that he visited Lady Jeyne Arryn in the Vale. While that meeting happened offscreen, we do know that Lady Jeyne is coming at some point this season. She's played by Raised By Wolves veteran Amanda Colin and we've already seen a picture of her in character.
  • During Jace's funeral, his younger brother Joffrey throws a little wooden horse into the fire. That was Lucerys' toy that he was playing with during Episode 7 of season 1, "Driftmark." I guess he passed it on to his younger brother once he started growing up.
  • Alicent prays for three people: Alerie Florent, Viserys Targaryen and Lucerys Velaryon. Alerie Florent is Alicent's mother, who died before Alicent came to live at the Red Keep in season 1. You may remember Otto talking about his late wife with King Viserys (or Daemon cracking bad jokes about her death).
House of the Dragon /

Blood and Cheese

The final stretch of "A Son for a Son" takes place in King's Landing, where Daemon Targaryen contracts the mercenaries remembered only as Blood and Cheese to do a spot of child murder. Well, Daemon doesn't actually tell them to kill a kid; he tells them to go for Aemond Targaryen. But when Cheese asks what they should do if they can't find Aemond, Daemon only smiles, and later Blood suggests that Daemon told them to take "a son for a son." Daemon wants Aemond, but it sounds like he told them that any royal prince will do in a pinch. Let's break out one final run of bullet points:

  • In the book, Blood is a former Goldcloak; in the show, he's still serving in the City Watch. Don't forget, Daemon Targaryen actually founded the Goldcloaks, giving them their signature cloaks and forming them into a more cohesive force for "justice" in the capital. It's no surprise people like Blood still hold loyalty for him.
  • Cheese bets on dogs in the fighting pits. So he has a dog, he kicks his dog, and he's generally awful to dogs. We were always going to hate him.
  • Speaking of Cheese and dogs, apparently rat catchers using dogs is true to real history. Cats may love to hunt mice and rats on their own, but dogs can actually be trained to do it so they were more widely used by rat catchers.
  • Cheese's line that he knows Maegor's tunnels "better than the shape of his own cock" is taken directly from Fire & Blood. In the book it's the fool Mushroom who says Cheese said it.
  • The entire plan for Blood and Cheese to murder Aemond is quite different in the book, where it's presented as much more intentional. In the book, it feels like Daemon wanted them to murder one of Aegon and Helaena's children as petty, cruel revenge for Lucerys' death, although the book does say that Blood and Cheese may have been on the hunt for King Aegon.
  • Aemond and Criston Cole discuss adding the castle of Stokeworth to their levies, bolstering their army when they march forth to stabilize the Crownlands. Stokeworth, you may recall, is a castle that Bronn will eventually become the lord of in Game of Thrones when he marries Lolys Stokeworth. He later ditches it for Highgarden in season 8.
  • Aegon has a ton of hilarious lines during the scene where he's drinking on the Iron Throne. From saying that "no one knows what magnanimous means" to laughing uproariously at the suggestion that his new title should be "King Aegon the Dragoncock, the untameable beast."
  • It's also very interesting that Aegon is thinking so much about how to make a good impression on the smallfolk, something which many rulers in Game of Thrones shows tend to overlook.
  • The first room that Blood and Cheese visit in the royal apartments is actually Aemond's room; Blood takes all the coins off the map that we saw Aemond and Criston placing there in an earlier scene. There's also that painting on the wall that we've seen in this shot of Aemond from next week's episode:
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  • The handmaid that Blood stumbles into was serving Helaena earlier in the episode. I'd bet quite a lot that she's one of Larys Strong's spies.
  • In the book, Blood and Cheese make Helaena choose between two sons: Jaehaerys and his younger brother Maelor. They then kill the one she didn't choose. On the show, Maelor doesn't exist, so we don't get that Sophie's Choice moment. The producers explained this was done because of the more compressed timeline of the television series, which covered King Viserys' rule in 20 years as opposed to the 30 it took in Fire & Blood, making the logistics of Helaena having so many children at this age untenable. Whether it landed quite so well, we leave up to you.

And so concludes our rundown of the easter eggs, secrets, and juicy references in House of the Dragon's season 2 premiere. Did you catch any that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

House of the Dragon drops new episodes Sundays on HBO and Max at 8:00 p.m. CST / 9:00 p.m. EST.

dark. Next. House of the Dragon vs Fire And Blood: Episode 201, "A Son For A Son". House of the Dragon vs Fire And Blood: Episode 201, "A Son For A Son"

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