House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4 recap and review: The Battle at Rook's Rest delivers

A highly anticipated battle goes down in the new episode of House of the Dragon, and yes, it's awesome!
House of the Dragon season 2
House of the Dragon season 2 /

In what might be the best episode of House of the Dragon season 2 so far, tensions rise as Rhaenyra is finally ready to send her dragons out for battle. Picking up where we left off in episode 3, Rhaenyra has her confirmation that her father never changed his mind about her claim, and now, for the good of the realm, she must succumb to war. The greens and blacks finally come head-to-head at Rook's Rest in an awesome battle that'll leave viewers feeling satisfied.

WARNING: Major spoilers for House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4 are ahead.

This week's episode opens up with Daemon at Harrenhal, haunted by disturbing visions and nightmares yet again. In the first scene, he walks through the throne room at King's Landing up to the Iron Throne, only to find a young Rhaenyra (played by Milly Alcock, again!) sitting upon it. He chops off her head and she continues speaking to him in High Valyrian, asking him, "This is what you always wanted, isn't it?" His dream is interrupted by Simon Strong, who comes into his room and tells him there's been a raven.

Daemon is struggling in Harrenhal

As they walk through the halls of Harrenhal, Simon fills Daemon in on word from Dragonstone; Aegon's army has departed King's Landing and has now tripled in strength. They might just be coming for Harrenhal next. Daemon, wanting to meet with the Lord Paramount to the Riverlands, is disappointed to see a young boy waiting for him. The boy, named Oscar Tully, explains that his grandsire Grover is very ill and he is the heir to Riverrun. Daemon has no use for him at this point, and Oscar looks shocked when Daemon suggests he might speed up his inheritance. Next up, Daemon wants to meet with the Blackwoods.

In Driftmark, Rhaenys meets Alyn of Hull and acknowledges the fact that he saved Corlys' life. This is where a very subtle yet interesting moment happens. She tells Alyn that he is very "comely," noting his mother must have been very beautiful. When Corlys shows up and sends Alyn back to work, Rhaenys declares he shouldn't be someone he keeps hidden. Corlys doesn't seem to like this and changes the subject. Book fans will know that Alyn might have a deeper connection to Corlys than we have learned so far; this might be Rhaenys hinting at that.

Over at King's Landing, Alicent takes precautions and receives what appears to be moon tea from the grandmaester; a tea to prevent pregnancy. She acts like it's for one of her servants but when she's alone, she chugs it down, touching her stomach in pain.

Corlys and Rhaenys arrive at Dragonstone to speak with the council about what their next move will be. As expected, no one is in agreement, and with Rhaenyra still gone, they don't know what to do.

Criston's army is on the move and growing in size

Criston's army defeats House Darklyn at Duskendale, telling them that anyone who changes their allegiance to follow Aegon can live, while anyone who still supports Rhaenyra will be killed. They keep this promise, and Criston does the honor of beheading Lord Gunthor Darklyn, who maintains that Rhaenyra is the true queen. Criston then receives a letter, and though we can't read what it says, it makes him change course. He leads them away from Harrenhal to attack a different location.

At a Small Council meeting, Aegon is angry to hear about Daemon taking Harrenhal. He yells at Larys for it and is certain their army must take back the castle. But Aemond tells his brother that Harrenhal can wait; he's schemed with Criston to take Rook's Rest instead. Aegon is confused at this, angry that they've conspired behind his back, and unclear on why Rook's Rest would be a good target. Aemond explains that it's unprotected and that the Lord of Rook's Rest, Lord Staunton, sits on Rhaenyra's council. This should be an easy target for them and a meaningful one. If they take it, Dragonstone will also be cut off by land.

Aegon is still adamant that they should take Harrenhal, but Aemond tells him Criston is already on the way to Rook's Rest. It's all happening without Aegon's approval or even knowledge, which, unsurprisingly, angers him. Aemond begins speaking in High Valyrian to his brother, telling him that if he has a better idea, he should inform his court of it. But Aegon, who is not fluent in High Valyrian, doesn't know how to reply and totally botches the language, responding: "I can have to make war?" It's a pretty hilarious scene and one that paints Aegon as pathetic. Aemond tells everyone that Harrenhal will distract Daemon while they take Rook's Rest and that they'll return to the Riverlands in time, a plan that leaves Aegon looking defeated.

Alicent and Larys talk about the significance of the history of Westeros and Alicent declares that "Viserys' intentions died with him." Now that the war is beginning, people will take sides, people will die, someone will win, and nothing else will matter. Meanwhile, in Harrenhal, Daemon is falling deeper into madness as he sees someone walk past his room in the middle of the night again. He gets up and walks through the halls, following a figure he sees in the dark. When he finally confronts the figure, it's him, only in Aemond's garb and wearing his eye patch.

Alys Rivers is spooky — I mean that as a compliment

Daemon walks into another room and encounters Alys Rivers, who officially introduces herself. She talks about Harrenhal being cursed and he calls her a witch for all the knowledge she has. She gives him a drink that will supposedly help him sleep, but when he blinks and wakes up, he's in the middle of a meeting. At his request (or demand, really) a Blackwood is here to see him; Willem Blackwood, to be specific. Funny enough, this is not the first time we've seen Willem. He appears in season 1 episode 4 as the kid who tries to court Rhaenyra to no success.

Willem tells Daemon they want the Brackens to pay for what they did and ensures him they are loyal to the oath they took to Rhaenyra, but Daemon can't listen for long. He's distracted when he sees a vision of his late wife Laena walk into the room, serving as a cupbearer. As he continues to stare, Simon looks at him funny as the vision turns into the actual cupbearer, a servant to House Strong. Willem tells Daemon that if they bring justice to the Brackens, his armies will be his.

Simon Russell Beale as Simon Strong in House of the Dragon season 2
House of the Dragon season 2 /

Alicent and Aegon have a great exchange in this episode as Aegon opens up about his frustrations towards his council. He tells his mother that no one cares what he thinks, clearly angry that Aemond and Criston made plans without asking for his thoughts. Alicent defends the council, saying they all worked hard to earn their spots and he should be seeking their council. "You have no idea the sacrifices that were made to put you on the throne," she tells her son, who becomes more frustrated. He asks her what he should do then, and her answer surprises him. She says he must do what is needed of him: "Nothing."

Rhaenyra returns to Dragonstone

Criston's army approaches Rook's Rest for battle while Rhaenyra finally returns to Dragonstone. Rhaenys updates her on the recent developments from the greens and Jace is full of attitude, seeming fed up that his mother won't act. One of Rhaenyra's Queensguards who accompanied her to King's Landing, Steffon Darklyn, is sad to hear of Lord Darklyn's death at the hands of the greens. Rhaenyra apologizes for her absence and explains to her council where she's been, which shocks everyone. She says she now knows there are only two options left — winning back the Iron Throne or dying. Mysaria lurks in the background listening as they discuss their next steps.

Jace volunteers to ride out to Rook's Rest on Vermax, but Rhaenyra says no, and then even Rhaenyra says she'll go herself on Syrax. But her council decides that's a bad idea. It's now left to Rhaenys, who stoically volunteers to fly out on Meleys. She declares that she will meet Cole.

As Rhaenys prepares to head out, Jace comes to see his mom alone and tells her he wants to fight for her and their claims. Realizing she has some explaining to do, Rhaenyra tells Jace all about Aegon the Conqueror's dream, a secret he will have to keep with him as the heir to the Iron Throne. As her narration continues, we see Aegon at King's Landing drinking heavily before suiting up to ride Sunfyre to Rook's Rest, something he certainly isn't prepared to do. As he flies out of the city, the battle begins at Rook's Rest between House Staunton and the greens.

Rhaenys and Meleys arrive and begin burning down Criston's army, but Criston has a secret plan up his sleeve. He carries out a signal and in the forest nearby, Vhagar gets up. Aemond sees Aegon riding on Sunfyre and remains, not ready to fly out on Vhagar just yet.

Freddie Fox on horseback as Gwayne Hightower in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 3
House of the Dragon season 2 /

The Battle at Rook's Rest begins!

Gwayne and Criston notice Sunfyre and Gwayne is shocked they would send Aegon to battle, while Criston is angry, knowing he's not supposed to be here. Criston tells his men that their king is here and they must go forth to fight with him. Criston is getting more and more impatient, waiting for Aemond to fly out. Meleys and Sunfyre fight as the people of Rook's Rest watch before Lord Staunton notices something much bigger approaching. It's Vhagar, of course. Everyone seems to be in shock at how massive she is, and Criston is relieved.

Vhagar flies towards Meleys and Sunfyre, and Aemond doesn't seem to care that his brother might get caught in the crossfire of the fact. In fact, it's very possible he wants that to be the case. Vhagar begins attacking both dragons and Sunfyre falls to the ground in the trees. Meleys is still up in the sky, and I can't tell by Rhaenys' face here whether or not she knows she's about to die or if she believes she can still win this fight. Vhagar and Meleys continue fighting as Criston gets knocked off his horse in battle and becomes unconscious.

Rhaenys loses Aemond and scans the battlefield while riding on Meleys, but is shocked to see Vhagar then appear from out of nowhere and chomp on Meleys' neck. It doesn't take long for Vhagar to either kill or seriously injure Meleys, and the dragon, with Rhaenys on her back, falls to the ground. Given how far the drop is, there's no way either dragon or dragonrider survives.

RIP Rhaenys, and Aegon might be dead, too

Criston eventually wakes up and sees dead bodies all around him, along with men who have survived but have serious burns. He hears what sounds like Gwayne leading the army as he gets up and walks through the battlefield. He eventually finds Aemond on the outskirts, who has his sword drawn, standing in front of a dying Sunfyre and unconscious Aegon. Without having confirmation, it definitely seems as though Aemond is going to kill his brother but is interrupted by Criston. Still very disoriented, Criston asks where Aegon is, and Aemond points ahead of him. Criston falls to his knees and stares at his king, who he likely believes is dead, as Aemond picks up Aegon's Valyrian steel dagger and walks away.

Ooooh, this is a juicy episode, alright! Not only are the battle scenes great, but the shifts in power dynamics are what's really getting me excited. We already knew that with Vhagar, Aemond is the most powerful person in Westeros, and now he's starting to believe it. Rhaenyra finally coming around to the inevitable is great (will she actually become "Rhaenyra the Cruel"?) and whatever's going on with Daemon is super entertaining to watch. Both the blacks and the greens are impacted by the Battle at Rook's Rest, though while Rhaenys is definitely dead, we're not so sure about Aegon. For the sake of preventing spoilers, I won't say what happens in Fire & Blood.

The blood has begun to spill and won't slow down anytime soon! Catch new episodes of House of the Dragon season 2 every Sunday night on HBO and Max.

. House of the Dragon S2E4. House of the Dragon S2E4. A. With the first big battle of House of the Dragon, the fourth episode of season 2 absolutely delivers with the action, suspense, and shifts in power dynamics that will inevitably force everything to change.