It's been more than a year since HBO's House of the Dragon concluded its first season, which more or less lived up to the high bar set for it by Game of Thrones. Though not quite as expansive as its predecessor, House of the Dragon still offered plenty of intrigue in setting up what will be known as the Dance of the Dragons: the great civil war between Targaryen heirs Rhaenyra and her half-brother Aegon II.
Now that all the pieces are in place — and indeed the first casualties of the war were felt in the Season 1 finale — all hell is poised to break loose in Season 2. The question is, when will those episodes make it to HBO? Here's what we currently know about the second season, which is poised to begin production soon.
At the HBO press event on November 2, CEO Casey Bloys announced that House of the Dragon would return in "early summer" 2024. As of December 2, when the cabler released the first teaser, the projected date is still some time in summer 2024.
An HBO spokesperson recently confirmed that the second season will be just eight episodes, down from Season 1's 10 episodes. According to Deadline, the original plan was for another 10-episode season, but for "story-driven" reasons, that change was changed to eight, moving some storylines and one major battle into a Season 3 that hasn't yet been announced, though it's expected.
In the same Deadline article from March 28, it's said that while initially, the plan was for House of the Dragon to run for three or four seasons, things are leaning in the direction of four seasons.
On December 2, HBO released the first teaser for Season 2, and it's packed with fire, blood, and ominous statements.
Because the scripts for Season 2 had been written before the WGA strike was called, and the actors are part of the British actors' union, the show was able to remain in production through the strikes.
Set 200 years before Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon follows the Targaryen dynasty, the dragon-riding rulers of Westeros. The war of succession that followed the death of King Viserys (Paddy Considine) had just begun in the Season 1 finale. Alicent (Olivia Cooke) had placed her son Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney), one of Viserys I’s (Paddy Considine) heirs, on the throne, thwarting the planned ascension of Viserys' eldest daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy). Rhaenyra and her uncle/husband Daemon (Matt Smith) retreated to Dragonstone to plan their next move in this war between the Blacks (Rhaenyra and her loyalists) and the Greens (the Hightowers and their allies, named after the color of the family’s banner).
Rhaenyra's first chess move was to send her son Luke to Storm's End to firm up their alliance with the Baratheons. Only Alicent had sent her psychopathic son Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) there first, and in the aerial conflict on dragonback that ensued, Aemond and his monstrously huge dragon, Vhagar, devoured Luke and his dragon. How Rhaenyra responds will be the stuff of Season 2.
In Season 2, we'll meet Ser Simon Strong, who is the castellan of Harrenal now that his nephew Lord Lyonel Strong and grand-nephew Ser Harwin Strong were burned alive in the castle in Season 1. Ser Simon's relationship with his surviving grand-nephew, Lord Larys Strong, ought to be interesting, considering Larys was the one who arranged for the fire in the first place. Ser Simon will be played by Tony-winning actor Simon Russell Beale, who in addition to his theater work has been in TV shows like Penny Dreadful and movies like The Death of Stalin.
Gayle Rankin (GLOW) will join the cast in the role of Alys Rivers, another resident of Harrenhal who, in the novel Fire and Blood, is a witch and healer who ends up playing an important role on the side of the Greens in the Targaryen war.
Queen Alicent's brother, Ser Gwayne Hightower, will join the cast of characters in Season 2. He'll be played by British actor Freddie Fox, who most recently has played the role of Spider Webb on Slow Horses and as King Hugo on The Great.
Abubakar Salim (Raised by Wolves) will join the cast as Alyn of Hull, one of the sailors in the Velaryon fleet under Lord Corlys.
The release of the first Season 2 teaser brought with it some casting news: Clinton Liberty will star as Addam of Hull, Jamie Kenna as Ser Alfred Broome, Kieran Bew as Hugh, Tom Bennett as Ulf, Tom Taylor as Lord Cregan Stark, and Vincent Regan as Ser Rickard Thorne.
You can expect most of the major cast members to return, including Emma D'Arcy, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Ewan Mitchell, and Rhys Ifans, as well as Steve Toussaint and Eve Best (as Corlys Velaryon and his wife, the Princess Rhaenys), and Fabien Frankel as Westeros' premier f*ckboy Criston Cole.
Despite giving a tremendous performance in Season 1, Paddy Considine won't be back, as King Viserys finally succumbed to his many ailments and disfigurements, passing away in his bed before his body parts literally started falling off his body. We also won't be seeing any more of Milly Alcock or Emily Carey, who played the younger versions of Rhaenyra and Alicent for the show's first several episodes.
Several roles were re-cast throughout Season 1 as the show pulled off several major time jumps that covered around 20 years in order to set up the Dance of the Dragons. Showrunner Ryan Condal has already said that there won't be any more time jumps in Season 2, saying, "The actors are playing these characters until the end. We’re not recasting anybody. We’re not making any huge jumps forward in time. We are now in the Dance of the Dragons, and we’re gonna tell that story."
That's a big yes. At a recent Emmy-campaigning screening in Los Angeles, Condal boasted that we would be meeting five new dragons in Season 2. The original Game of Thrones featured a mere three dragons, all in service of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). House of the Dragon, true to its name, already introduced several more in its first season, including Aemond's massive and barely controllable Vhagar; Rhaenyra's dragon Syrax; Daemon's long-necked dragon Caraxes; and Rhaenys' dragon Meleys, which busted through the main hall at Aegon's coronation and probably should have torched the entire Hightower delegation and ended this war of succession before it began, but what's past is past.
House of the Dragon Season 1 is now streaming on HBO Max. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.