House of the Dragon star Bethany Antonia teases big changes in season 2

Baela Targaryen will fight in in the Dance of the Dragons war much earlier than in George R.R. Martin's book Fire & Blood, and will even use [SPOILER].
House of the Dragon season 2
House of the Dragon season 2 /

HBO's Game of Thrones prequel show House of the Dragon is based on the book Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin. The first season stayed true to the book overall, although it did change plenty of stuff. The character of King Viserys I Targaryen had a much bigger role, for instance, and then there was the moment where King Aegon's coronation was interrupted by Rhaenys Targaryen on the back of her dragon Meraxes, by far the most bombastic, Michael Bay-esque change so far.

Those changes will continue into the second season, which will dive into a bloody, inter-family war known as the Dance of the Dragons. Cast member Bethany Antonia, who plays Daemon Targaryen's daughter Baela, teased some new changes on the way. Beware SPOILERS below!

House of the Dragon season 2
House of the Dragon season 2 /

Baela is one of several characters in House of the Dragon who has a dragon of their very own. Her dragon is named Moondancer, who we have spied in the trailers. That's her above.

We've also seen Baela riding Moondancer, which is not something she does at this point in the story in Fire & Blood. In the book, Baela mostly lays low during the start of the Dance of the Dragons, but in season 2 of the show, she'll get involved.

"While the overall storyline remains largely consistent, the showrunners have executed a brilliant adaptation by involving the children of the dance much earlier," Antonia told Vestal in a new interview. "For example, my character doesn't get involved in the Dance of the Dragons until later in the books. In the books, Baela [Targaryen] is kind of hiding out at Dragonstone and things are happening around her. In the show, however, the screenwriters had the children involved from the start, with the onset of war prompting the children to prepare for battle right from the beginning. This early involvement allows for new narrative avenues, enabling the incorporation of the characters into scenarios not found in the original books. It's an exciting development that expands our characters' roles beyond the material in the books."

In the second season, it looks like Baela joins her stepmother Rhaenyra Targaryen's dragon air force alongside Rhaenyra's son Jace as well as new characters like Hugh Hammer and Ulf White; that's her sitting at a table with her fellow dragon pilots below. In the book, Baela has a forceful personality and wants to join the fight, so this change sounds plausible to me.

House of the Dragon season 2
House of the Dragon season 2 /

Baela Targaryen will wield the Valyrian steel blade Dark Sister in House of the Dragon season 2

But the show will go even further. According to Antonia, Baela will get to use a Valyrian steel blade called Dark Sister, one that now belongs to her father Daemon Targaryen; in the book, he keeps it through the end of the war. "Then there was a moment on set when I was presented with my character's weapon, the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister," Antonia remembered. "It was a thrilling experience and stands out as one of the coolest days I've had on set."

That does sound like it could be a good scene, although Daemon giving up his Valyrian steel blade, which has been passed down through the Targaryen line since Visenya Targaryen helped conquer the Seven Kingdoms over a century ago, is a big move, and definitely not something that happens in Fire & Blood.

I can imagine the scene where Baela receives Dark Sister being a beautiful moment between father and daughter, whose relationship the show haven't really explored in detail yet. However, I do get nervous when House of the Dragon changes things like this, because their batting average on changes has been middling. Giving King Viserys more to do? Excellent from front to back. Making Rhaenyra and Alicent Hightower childhood friends? Mostly great. Letting Laenor Velaryon live instead of killing him off like in the book? Hated it. Having Criston Cole kill Joffrey Lonmouth at a wedding instead of during a tourney like in the book? Completely missed the point of the plot twist and rendered it absurd.

So I start wringing my hands a bit when I hear about the producers deviating from the excellent source material. But I'll reserve judgment until I see what they have cooking. They've made changes I've loved...and also ones I thought sucked. So we'll see.

"The level of detail in the House of the Dragon sets is astounding"

Less controversially, Antonia talked about how much fun she had filming the dragon scenes. "Actually, 'riding' the dragon was perhaps the most exciting experience I've ever had on set," she said. "Picture this: you're on a massive stage, suspended in the air on a floating saddle, learning how to maneuver obviously without the actual presence of the dragon. However, the production team provided detailed visualizations of the scene, so I could clearly understand my character's direction and interactions. I'm incredibly grateful to have worked with such a talented stunt team who taught me how to “move with the dragon.”

Antonia seemed very impressed with the production on the show in general. "The level of detail in the House of the Dragon sets is astounding," she said. "What viewers see on screen is just a fraction of the intricate world created behind the scenes. Each set is perfectly constructed, with every room built at a complete 360-degree angle because no one knows what the director will choose to do on the day. Thus, the entire environment needs to be ready to accommodate any changes to the script. It's awe-inspiring to witness how these sets form complete universes for the characters to inhabit. In one scene this season set in the library, I got to go through shelves filled with Targaryen and Valyrian books. The magnitude of detail left me speechless. I remember thinking: 'This is unbelievable. These people are incredible!'"

I'm sure we'll all be blown away by the look of House of the Dragon season 2 when it premieres on HBO and Max on Sunday, June 16. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the writers made good choices when it comes to adapting Martin's book.

Next. Every dragon we'll see in House of the Dragon season 2 (and some we won't). Every dragon we'll see in House of the Dragon season 2 (and some we won't). dark

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