House Of The Dragon’s Season 2 Premiere Tragedy Was No Red Wedding, But Does It Stand Up To A Different Brutal Game Of Thrones Moment?

 Blood and Cheese in House of the Dragon's Season 2 premiere.
Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

Warning: spoilers are ahead for the Season 2 premiere of House of the Dragon on HBO, called "A Son for a Son."

War was inevitable in House of the Dragon Season 2 after first blood was drawn with the death of Lucerys in the first season, but the civil war in the Targaryen family tree didn't start with the fire and blood that some fans may have expected. No, if Luke was the first loss for the Blacks last season, then Daemon struck the first blow against the Greens with an event known to George R.R. Martin readers as "Blood and Cheese," which resulted in the death of Aegon's young heir.

And the sudden shocking brutality may raise some comparisons to the unforgettable Red Wedding from Game of Thrones, which has really become the standard when it comes to tragic shockers on TV. I haven't seen anything that can truly rival the scale of the betrayal that removed the North from the War of the Five Kings in one fell swoop, and I still think Michelle Fairley deserved all the awards for her scream of despair as Catelyn watched Robb die.

On the whole, there just wasn't enough build or scale for Blood and Cheese to really strike me as the Red Wedding 2.0, but there is another iconic Game of Thrones moment that I was flashing back to after the end of "A Son for a Son" in the 2024 TV schedule. Read on for why, starting with what went down in the Season 2 premiere.

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen traveling to King's Landing in House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere
Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen traveling to King's Landing in House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere

What Happened In House Of The Dragon's Season 2 Premiere

"Blood and Cheese" refers to the two men hired by Daemon Targaryen to commit a murder within the walls of the Red Keep. While the plan went down differently in the pages of Fire & Blood than on the show, the end result was the same: a ratcatcher and a killer murdered Prince Jaehaerys, the eldest son of King Aegon and Queen Helaena, in front of Helaena herself.

Helaena survived and was able to escape with Princess Jaehaera while the two assassins were preoccupied with her son, fleeing to her mother's room, where Alicent was... occupied in bed with Criston Cole. As far as we can tell after the premiere, Blood and Cheese went rogue in killing Jaehaerys. Whatever Episode 2 reveals about the incident and Daemon's role, an innocent young boy was killed in his home due to the actions of adults playing a game of their own, and all hell may be about to break loose because of it with all the dragons in House of the Dragon.

There are certainly similarities to the Red Wedding beyond just the gruesomeness, since oathkeeping is of such importance to Northerners that Roose Bolton's involvement arguably equated to kinslaying. One could even point out parallels to Tyrion killing his father in the dead of night in the Red Keep. My mind went elsewhere, however, to somebody who once seemed like a far worse villain than Daemon Targaryen. Yep, I'm thinking of Jaime Lannister.

Jaime about to push Bran out of a window in Game of Thrones Season 1x01
Jaime about to push Bran out of a window in Game of Thrones Season 1x01

The Thing Jaime Lannister Did For Love

Perhaps this is due to my recent rewatch of Game of Thrones' pilot, but once I finished processing how Jaehaerys died and HOTD's changes from book to screen, I was flashing back to the end of the very first episode of the original series. As a refresher for any who might not have watched the episode since 2011, Bran was innocently climbing the towers of Winterfell when he entirely by accident found Jaime and Cersei having sex.

He didn't really know what he had seen, but a panicking Cersei kept repeating that he'd seen them. There was a brief moment after Jaime steadied Bran to keep him from falling out the window where it seemed like everything was going to be okay... followed by Jaime uttering his immortal line: "The things I do for love."

And he shoved Bran out of the window, fully intending for the boy to die and take the incestuous secret with him. Jaime pushing Bran from the Winterfell tower is really the moment from the Game of Thrones series premiere that hooked me to the point of needing to see the next episode ASAP. Not the ice zombies or the intrigue or the nudity – Jaime, Bran, and the window.

At the time, I hadn't read any of George R.R. Martin's books, and I 100% assumed that Bran had died from the fall. Really, it's a compliment to House of the Dragon that the Season 2 premiere tragedy flashed me back to the moment that hooked me and likely many others to Game of Thrones... even if I think Blood and Cheese on HOTD pales in comparison to GOT's Red Wedding.

Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones Season 1x01 and Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon Season 2x01
Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones Season 1x01 and Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon Season 2x01

How Do They Compare?

There are definitely parallels between the violence at the end of Game of Thrones' Season 1 premiere and House of the Dragon's Season 2 premiere. Both involved an innocent young boy being attacked in his own home by people playing a larger and very nefarious game. Both arguably even happened due to love and loyalty to family, since Jaime, Cersei, and their children likely would have been killed if Bran told his tale and Daemon was seeking revenge for the death of Luke after Rhaenyra declared that she wanted Aemond.

But I have to say – Game of Thrones did it better. Admittedly, there was a lot of shock in Jaime pushing Bran out of the window back in 2011 because GOT was just getting started. Social media was in much earlier stages and the events of George R.R. Martin's books weren't quite as widely known. "Blood and Cheese" was being openly discussed on Twitter back before House of the Dragon even premiered thanks to readers of Fire & Blood, so there was no way HOTD could recreate the shock of "The things I do for love."

The GOT scene also benefited by having Cersei there as a third party to heighten the tension. As a reader of Fire & Blood, I was expecting Alicent to be there during Blood and Cheese, as she was present in the book along with a key second son of Aegon and Helaena. I missed having a strong reaction to what Helaena had to do that would have come from Alicent.

Plus, Game of Thrones did more with less, if you ask me. We didn't see or hear Bran hit the ground, whereas we could definitely hear the horrific sound effects of Jaehaerys being killed. Plus, Jaime was clearly being set up as an important character for Game of Thrones, whereas Blood and Cheese literally don't even have actual names. A main player attempting to murder a child just hits harder than a pair of bumbling but brutal assassins.

None of this is to say that Blood and Cheese didn't pack an emotional punch, and I think it's a safe bet that Daemon just guaranteed a swift start to an all-out war on both sides. But I also think the Game of Thrones moment is just stronger than what happened on House of the Dragon, and I kind of wish it hadn't popped into my head after the final credits rolled on "A Son for a Son."

If you want to revisit Game of Thrones or check out the Season 2 premiere of House of the Dragon, you can find every episode of both shows so far streaming with a Max subscription. New episodes of HOTD will continue airing on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.