Why was Prince Jaehaerys' murder different from the book in House of the Dragon season 2 premiere? Explained 

A still from House of the Dragon (Image via @HouseofDragon/X)
A still from House of the Dragon (Image via @HouseofDragon/X)

House of the Dragon season 2 premiered on June 16 after a long hiatus with immense anticipation surrounding the series. The first episode, which resumed from a very tense point in the narrative, saw things escalate further later, ultimately culminating in one of the most harrowing moments the series has given fans so far.

Of course, we are talking about the murder of young Jaehaerys at the hands of the unnamed assassins hired by Daemon Targaryen (played by Matt Smith). In the book, they are called Blood and Cheese. But their names are not the only thing that the series changed in this episode. Rather, the show took many liberties in this scene, changing many aspects to create an entirely new assassination story.

This was done to accommodate certain changes made to the story while adapting. The key piece of the puzzle here is Maelor Targaryen, the youngest son of Helaena and Aegon, who has not been depicted in the series to compress time in the first season. Moreover, the creators also wanted to spare Helaena a little because of her minimal involvement in the politics surrounding the throne.

In essence, this act in Fire and Blood is far gorier and far more aggressive compared to the one we get in the House of the Dragon season 2 premiere. Showrunner Ryan Condal explained this in a latest interview with TV Line.

Why and how did House of the Dragon change Jaehaerys' murder?

The premiere of House of the Dragon season 2 made Jaehaerys' murder much more straightforward, even though it seemed that it was brutal enough to ask Helaena to tell them which one the boy was between the twins.

In the book, this was far more brutal as Blood and Cheese broke into the castle and took Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) captive and lay in wait for the grandkids. They also murdered Alicent's handmaiden. When the kids arrive with Helaena, Blood asks Helaena to choose which kid he would murder while reciting Daemon's "son for son" monologue.

After Helaena chooses Maelor, Blood kills Jaehaerys anyway while reminding Maelor that his mother wanted him killed. The series significantly toned it down. Condal explained this to TV Line:

"I mean, just very simply, Maelor has not even born in the storyline,...We did have to compress time in Season one to make it so that we didn’t have to recast every character on screen. We were just recasting the kids, so to speak, as we went along, and part of that meant that Aegon and Helaena’s children were younger, as are Daemon and Rhaenyra’s children younger at the very end of this, because not as much time passed after their marriages to give time for all these kids to grow up."

He further elaborated:

"The other [element] was just wanting it to be this very visceral experience that happens to Helaena, who I think a lot of people would argue is the most innocent person on either side of this conflict and just sort of finds herself in the crossfire of this tit-for-tat kind of punch-and-counterpunch that’s going on between the sides,...It felt like that was the core dramatic point that was important to be made."

So, House of the Dragon ultimately got a slightly different depiction of Jaehaerys' murder. However, the consequences of this may not alter as much as the show moves forward.

The first episode of House of the Dragon season 2 is now available for streaming on Max.

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Edited by Meghna M
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