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June is set to be a mammoth month for television, with some of the most popular shows in recent memory like The Boys and The Bear all returning for new seasons, as well as Star Wars debuting a new show in the form of The Acolyte. The biggest and most epic of them all though is House of the Dragon returning for its second season, all while proving there's life in the franchise yet after the lacklustre ending to Game of Thrones.

Season two picks things up soon after the culmination of the first - no large scale time jumps going on this time around - and quite honestly, the hostility is there for everyone to see from the off. House of the Dragon, much like Game of Thrones before it, plays out like a game of chess as pieces are strategically moved across the board as war looms in the background. Patience is required to truly make that killer move however, there's always a chance a kneejerk move could backfire, both parties culpable to that happening here. It's certainly tense as Aegon Targaryen sits on the Iron Throne that Rhaenyra Targaryen rightfully belongs to her, and events from the end of the first season sees the latter grieving majorly after the loss of her son at the hands of Aegon's brother, Aemond.
It adds a new layer to proceedings as, while everyone was mourning the loss of King Viserys Targaryen not long before, Rhaenyra's loss here feels like a personal attack and an outright call to war that those around her feel she should act on. The writing is definitely a strong point of this season, feeling like classic Game of Thrones as characters clash or even move silently for their own benefit, some of the best moments coming from the conversations had rather than the bombastic action the show can deliver. It always impresses me when shows like this can be so captivating in their quieter moments as well as the louder, more action focused set-pieces.

The show does deliver plenty of spectacle when required, make no mistake about it. The dragons get plenty of screen time once again and the results are spectacular, Vhagar showcasing just why their presence provides that side with such a dominant advantage when it comes to airborne combat. There's some intense sword fights as well as some standard evil acts that have been scattered throughout this franchise from the start - its ruthlessness something to be admired but also something that just can get right under your skin. Ramin Djawadi's work on the soundtrack does such a great job in weaving through the narrative to emphasise the quieter character moments as well as the more epic sequences.
Like its parent show, House of the Dragon excels thanks to the performance from the incredible ensemble cast it possesses. None more so than Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke as Rhaenyra and Alicent respectively, the two offering the most compelling performances and their character arcs being the more interesting on the show. You can feel both the grief and rage in D'Arcy's performance that finds their character torn on a path to take against those who have wronged her. Cooke took over the role in the first season and really has showcased why she's such a highly regarded actress since, the calmness of dealing with the pressure of such a role at such a young age coming to the fore through her performance. There's also Matt Smith arrogantly strutting his stuff as Daemon Targaryen which is always fun to watch.

It's a confident and strong return for House of the Dragon, a second season sure to expand on the lore of the franchise as well as deepen wounds within a family. It's great to have it back.


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