Warning: Spoilers from House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1 and the book Fire & Blood ahead.


It's finally time - House of the Dragon season 2 has returned, and the show has already adapted one of George RR Martin's most brutal moments from his novel Fire and Blood.

While not all fans were impressed with the moment, season 2 episode 1, titled A Son for a Son, adapted the Blood and Cheese storyline, which involves the murder of one of the children of King Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Queen Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban).

Dubbed "heinous" by Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower actress Olivia Cooke, it's a scene fans have been waiting for for a long time, but it ended up being rather different in the series than how it played out in the book.

Here's everything you need to know about that scene, including Saban's reaction to filming it and showrunner Ryan Condal opening up about why it was so different.

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Who are Blood and Cheese in House of the Dragon season 2?

Blood and Cheese are a duo of assassins hired by Prince Daemon Targaryen (played by Matt Smith) to murder one of King Aegon II Targaryen's (Tom Glynn-Carney) sons.

This is in revenge for the death of Queen Rhaenyra's son Prince Lucerys, who was killed by Prince Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell).

After the news of Lucerys's death reaches Rhaenyra (which we saw in the season 1 finale), Daemon seeks revenge on Aemond.

Phia Saban as Queen Helaena Targaryen wearing a blue gown and being illuminated by an orange light while looking worried.
Phia Saban as Queen Helaena Targaryen. Ollie Upton/HBO

Through the means of his spymaster, Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), he enlists Blood and Cheese to kill Aemond - but we see Blood and Cheese ask what to do if they can't find him. While Daemon's response is not immediately shown, it later becomes clear that he told the pair: "A son for a son."

Blood and Cheese make it into the Red Keep, sneaking past King Aegon, only to find the queen and her two children, twins Prince Jaehaerys and Princess Jaehaera. They can't immediately tell which of the young children is the boy, and so demand that Helaena tells them.

After offering her necklace instead, Helaena realises they won't leave without killing one of her children. She points one of them out as the boy and, while Blood doesn't believe her, Cheese insists she's telling the truth.

As Blood and Cheese brutally kill one of the children, cutting off the child's head with a bone-chilling noise, Helaena grabs her other child and runs to find her mother, Alicent Hightower.

A side view of Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon with long silver hair.
A side view of Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen. HBO

She finds her mother in bed with Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), and Alicent questions what's happened. Revealing that Blood and Cheese murdered the right child, she says: "They've killed the boy."

Helaena actress Phia Saban recently opened up to RadioTimes.com about that scene, saying: "I was trying to keep from overthinking it from an acting perspective, and working with them, Sam [C Wilson] and Mark [Stobbart], who play Blood and Cheese, they're so good.

"They both brought such different energies, but they were, like, intimidating - not as real people… they're just brilliant, and [it was] just sort of staying present with them and seeing what happened."

She added: "Helaena essentially kind of bought the social agreement that she would do what was necessary for the royal family and return to sort of relatively being left alone and that she'd be safe in her marriage to her brother, or that she'd be left to her own devices in return for, like, heirs.

"I think in this season, she's really realising that it's not true, and it's not a fair bargain. And she's slightly coming into her own and realising that maybe she's not willing to sacrifice what she has to sacrifice for this family of absolute wrong'uns!"

How is Blood and Cheese different in the book? House of the Dragon changes explained

In the book, Blood and Cheese is very different because of the existence of a younger son, Maelor, as well as the two older children.

The book sees blood and Cheese enter the bed chamber of Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), killing her bedmaid and waiting for Queen Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban) and her children, Princes Jaehaerys and Maelor and their sister Princess Jaehaera, to enter the room.

Blood and Cheese then give Queen Helaena the choice of which son they should kill. She pleads with them to kill her instead, but after being threatened with the death of all of her children, she chooses her youngest, Maelor, to die. Going against her wish, the pair instead kill her eldest son, Jaehaerys.

Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2 sitting in an eye patch looking devious
Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2. HBO

While the pair make it out of the Red Keep unscathed, Blood is seized days later, and is found with Jaehaerys's head, which he was planning to bring to Daemon for a reward. He later dies, but Cheese and Mysaria are not found.

The choice that Helaena has to make in the book makes it a much more brutal read, and some have been wondering why it's so different in the show.

Ryan Condal explained the reasoning to RadioTimes.com, saying it's all down to having to fit so much history into season 1 of the show.

He said: "In our writing of season 1, we had to compress time a bit to get through 30 years of history, essentially, in what ended up being 20 years, just so that we didn't have to recast every character.

"I think as time marches on longer and longer, it became more challenging to tell all that story in one season, and season 1 was a challenge in and of itself.

"So, essentially, we made 30 years happen in 20 years, and that just meant some of the youngest kids in the story weren't around, or were younger than they are in the books - Rhaenyra and Daemon's children, for one, and then certainly Helaena and Aegon. Maelor is not yet in the narrative in this in the story, so that was a change."

Tom Glynn-Carney as King Aegon Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2 sat in a large chair with a gold chain
Tom Glynn-Carney as King Aegon Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2. HBO

He added: "Then you're also dealing with this practical issue of children and acting and being put into perilous situations. There are things that you can do on the page of a book that you actually cannot do on television, because it would either not look realistic or would not be allowed, because of the young ages of the actors involved.

"So it created a situation where we had to figure out a different way into this narrative, but I always saw this as a reader coming into this, the thing that was most interesting about this particular moment was the the character experience through it.

"My hope is that you're with Helaena in this experience, and that that's the thing that carries you through, because, of course, we know these children exist, hopefully we care about them, because we care about the welfare of little children, but we're not engaged with those characters on the level that we are with with Helaena.

"So we chose to make it a point of view experience for Helaena and to follow her through it."

Who plays Blood and Cheese in House of the Dragon season 2?

Sam C Wilson plays the imposing Blood, while Mark Stobbart takes on the role of the smaller and more cunning Cheese.

Mark Stobbart in a spotty neckerchief and top with navy blazer
Mark Stobbart. Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Wilson is known for previous roles in Dodger and Hanna, while Stobbart has appeared in shows like Line of Duty and The Long Shadow.

House of the Dragon season 2 will air on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK from 17th June – find out more about how to sign up for Sky TV.


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