'House of the Dragon' Season 2 Premiere Ends With a Shocking Death – What Does It Mean?

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in HBO's 'House of the Dragon'
Ollie Upton/HBO

Episode 1 of 'House of the Dragon' season 2 kicked off with a death that will rattle Westeros' dueling queens.

House of the Dragon is back and not pulling any punches in season 2. Spoilers ahead for the premiere. 

After a shocking end to season 1, which saw the death of Prince Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) -- the son of Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) -- the first episode of season 2 ends on an equally anxiety-inducing moment as viewers watch the brutal murder of one key member of the Greens. This is your last chance, winter a spoiler is coming. 

The episode, aptly titled "A Son for a Son," sees an angry Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) -- still furious over the death of Luke at the hands of Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) -- proposition two men to sneak into the Red Keep in the middle of the night and slaughter Aemond.

These men are well known by now to Game of Thrones devotees as "Blood and Cheese." Blood (Sam C. Wilson) is a menacing former Gold Cloak, while Cheese (Mark Stobbart) is an imprisoned rat catcher, looking to pay off his debts.

Ultimately, the murderers do in fact sneak into the castle, however, after their plan goes sideways, the end up in the nursery where the young twins Jaehaerys and Jaenaera Targaryen -- children of Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) and grandchildren of Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) -- are sleeping. 

Blood and Cheese ask the twins' mother, Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban), to point out which of her children is the future heir to the Iron Throne. Through tears and after a bit of hesitation, she ultimately gives up her son and runs out of the room to seek asylum in the bed chamber of Alicent who is, shall we say, distracted

Olivia Cooke and Matthew Needham in 'House of the Dragon' season 2 - Ollie Upton/HBO

"Helaena, what's happened?" a worried Alicent asks her daughter, who sits across the room, rocking back and forth with her own daughter in her arms. After a beat, with tears still streaming down her face, Helaena responds, "They killed the boy." 

The final shot of the episode shows Alicent's moment of realization as the conflict -- which she was all but happy to try and avoid -- has just been escalated and that an all-out civil war -- known in the books as the Dance of the Dragons -- is on the horizon. 

As portrayed in the season look-ahead -- and Fire & Blood, the book that the Game of Thrones prequel series is based on -- the death of Prince Jaehaerys will trigger the war between the Greens and the Blacks. 

The struggle began with the death of King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and the misinterpretation of Aegon's dream by Alicent, who believed her dying husband to be telling her that their son, Aegon II, should be the next ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. In reality, Viserys believed he was talking to his daughter, Rhaenyra, and telling her that she would be the one to unite them all. 

A trailer released earlier this year for the highly-anticipated second season (it's been nearly two years since season 1 premiered) foreshadowed the war to come between the family members who are fighting over the true heir to the Iron Throne. 

"There is no war so hateful to the gods as a war between kin," Rhaenys (Eve Best) -- who did her best in season 2, episode 1 to ease Daemon's qualms -- says in the trailer for the second season. "And no war so bloody as a war between dragons."

Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon' - Ollie Upton/HBO

In early June, HotD showrunner Ryan Condral spoke with ET from the New York premiere and teased an epic season ahead for the Targaryen and Velaryon families, inspired by the George R.R. Martin books. 

"'Paradise lost,' I think, is the best way to describe what's unfolding here in House of the Dragon," Condal shared adding that they plan to follow the books as "faithfully" as possible. 'We're adapting Fire & Blood. We're being true to the story that's written in the book."