Did you catch this prophecy in ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2, episode 1?


Helaena Targaryen, wearing a green dress, looks up from where's she's sitting on the floor, working on an embroidery project.

The ending of House of the Dragon‘s Season 2 premiere features one of the most heinous things to ever happen on the series, Game of Thrones included.

In a sequence already infamous to readers of George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) hopes to avenge the death of Rhaenyra’s (Emma D’Arcy) son Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) by claiming “a son for a son.” He enlists the help of two unlikely assassins: a member of the Gold Cloaks (Sam C. Wilson) and a ratcatcher (Mark Stobbart). We never learn their names, but history will remember them as Blood and Cheese.

Once the pair arrive in the Red Keep, they threaten Queen Helaena (Phia Saban) and force her to point out which of her two infant twins is her son — and the heir to the Iron Throne — Jaehaerys. After some debate over whether Helaena is tricking them, Blood and Cheese behead Jaehaerys in his crib, while the distraught Queen flees with her daughter Jaehaera.

The scene plays out somewhat differently from Fire & Blood, but the effect is still the same: abject horror. Like Lucerys, the loss of Jaehaerys is that of an innocent caught in the crossfire between Team Green and Team Black. Even worse is the way Blood and Cheese force Helaena — another innocent in this war — to participate in and witness the murder of her child. But one of the the most chilling details of all in this situation is the fact that Helaena likely knew this threat was coming.

House of the Dragon has established that Helaena is a dreamer, a member of the Targaryen family who experiences prophetic dreams. In Season 1, she prophesied that Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) would lose his eye, and that Rhaenys (Eve Best) and her dragon Meleys would break out from under the Dragonpit. However, no one pays her any attention, mistaking her prophesies for meaningless ramblings.

That dismissal of Helaena’s words comes again in Season 2, episode 1, when she tells her husband/brother Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) that she’s afraid. He thinks she’s talking about the threat of Team Black and their many dragons, but Helaena is quick to clarify: “Not the dragons. The rats.”

Helaena’s servants and Aegon dismiss her comment, but of course, Helaena was right again. The rats did come for her, with ratcatcher Cheese finding her first and putting a knife to her neck. Plus, like rats, Blood and Cheese sneak through the Red Keep via the sewer system and secret tunnels.

House of the Dragon keeps the rat motif up throughout the Season 2 premiere, allowing Helaena’s fear of rats to sink into the audience as well. Multiple times throughout the Blood and Cheese sequence, we see rats scurrying through the Red Keep. Even earlier than that, we catch glimpses of ratcatchers working in the castle’s hallways. For example, if you watch closely during the scene in which Aegon hears his subject’s petitions, you’ll spy a ratcatcher walking past the doors leading into the throne room.

At the first mention of rats, every book reader would have steeled themselves for Blood and Cheese. But even if you weren’t familiar with Martin’s source material, Helaena’s comments and the repeated images of rats and ratcatchers conditioned viewers to take notice of them, building tension to the episode’s brutal ending. Now imagine how Helaena felt, dreaming this assassination she knew would come to pass, with nobody listening to her. Her being a dreamer makes the murder of Jaehaerys and the lead-up to it even more tragic.

If only Aegon had paid as close attention to Helaena and the rats as we did, maybe the latest atrocity in the Dance of the Dragons could have been averted.

House of the Dragon Season 2 airs Sundays on HBO and Max at 9 p.m. ET.

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