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House of the Dragon's Ewan Mitchell on Aemond's Fiery Power Move: 'It Was Purely Intentional, What He Did This Time'

'Maybe there is a more confident stride in his step now'

Hunter Ingram
Ewan Mitchell, House of the Dragon

Ewan Mitchell, House of the Dragon


[Warning: The following contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 4, "A Dance of Dragons." Read at your own risk!]

In the opening episodes of House of the Dragon Season 2, Aemond Targaryen has seemingly oscillated between two spaces — his quietly judgmental perch on the Small Council of his brother King Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) and the womb-like den of Madame Sylvi (Michelle Bonnard), the motherly figure who also happened to take his virginity. But Ewan Mitchell, who plays the second son of the late King Viserys, has other ideas about where Aemond has been.

"He's been watching How to Train Your Dragon," Mitchell told TV Guide. "You get a sense that Aemond is operating on the peripheries. You don't know where he is in every scene, and you are left wondering what he is up to."

Mitchell was kidding, of course, but he was also kind of not. If this season's fourth episode is any indication, Aemond has been spending some quality, off-the-books time with his dragon, Vhagar, the largest and most feared dragon in the Seven Kingdoms, after Aemond realized he had little control over her in the Season 1 finale when she killed his nephew, Lucerys Targaryen. But that was then. In the stunning finale of "A Dance of Dragons," Aemond and Vhagar prove to be more in sync than ever when they emerge victorious from the season's first dragon battle with Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) and her dragon, Meleys, in the skies over Rook's Rest. It is an unassuming castle in the Crownlands and an unlikely site for the first major death match of this brewing war, but Aegon reluctantly learns his newly appointed King's Hand, Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), plans to seize it anyway in support of his claim to the throne.

But it's more than just victory that Aemond sees within his grasp in this moment. He also sees revenge. Aemond and Criston have secretly planned for Aemond to lie in wait with Vhagar under the cover of the forest to defend the attack on Rook's Rest if needed. It proves to be a wise move when Rhaenys and Meleys descend from the heavens to torch the army. But what none of them expected was that a drunken Aegon would also show up with his dragon, Sunfyre, in a childishly misguided attempt to prove he's in control after his mother, Alicent (Olivia Cooke), admonished him as more puppet than king. It should be two brothers against a common enemy, but Aemond hasn't forgotten the events of last week's episode, when a drunken Aegon (notice a pattern?) humiliated him when he found Aemond in Sylvi's bed.

"Aegon and his crew very much violated Aemond's safe space, and they catch him in the most vulnerable state we will probably ever see Aemond: belly up," Mitchell said. "They humiliate him. In a moment, his code comes into play and that facade comes up. It is the image of someone who does not care what you think of him and sees himself as bulletproof."

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He proves as much over Rook's Rest when he directs Vhagar's fiery dragon breath at Rhaenys and Aegon, unbothered by the likelihood he could kill his brother.

"In the Battle of Rook's Rest, you do have to wonder if Aemond always planned to get back at Aegon, or whether or not Aegon was just in the way and he was collateral damage," Mitchell said. "I think that Aemond views the world through a very black-and-white filter. You are either with him or against him, and if you get in the way, that's on you."

Ewan Mitchell, House of the Dragon

Ewan Mitchell, House of the Dragon


The not-so-friendly fire aimed at Aegon and Sunfyre, along with damage done by Meleys, sends the pair plummeting to the ground, and the episode ends without confirming whether either survives. Vhagar, meanwhile, kills Meleys in midair, and Rhaenys is crushed to death when her beloved dragon's body falls into the castle below. It is yet another devastating blow to the cause of Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy), again delivered by Aemond and Vhagar — making them two for two in dragon battles for the series.

"The first time Aemond uses Vhagar in Episode 10 of Season 1, he lets his emotions get the better of him, and it was ultimately an accident when he kills Luke," Mitchell said. "But he witnessed firsthand what these dragons are capable of. That is in contrast to Aegon, who, in the skies over Rook's Rest, didn't completely understand what he was getting himself into. But Aemond does now, and it was purely intentional, what he did this time."

What does it mean that Aemond took a shot at killing his brother, whose charred body he callously walks away from at the end of the episode?

"Maybe there is a more confident stride in his step now, and he's very much convinced himself that he does have a grip on and control over his dragon, and he can use her to do what he so pleases," Mitchell said.

Those sure sound like they could be famous last words for Aemond. But for now, he and Vhagar can take a victory flight around King's Landing as this initially shaky pairing proves to be an undefeated duo in the pivotal opening days of war. But Mitchell wonders if maybe they were a perfect match even before Rook's Rest.

"This idea that these dragons and their riders are extensions of each other, I wonder sometimes if Vhagar, in the skies above Storm's End last season, tapped into Aemond and Lucerys' shared history and that resentment," he said, after apologizing for "geeking out" about dragon lore that he clearly loves to talk about. "He did forgive Luke for taking his eye out, but he didn't forgive the fact that he got away with it. Maybe that hatred was embedded deep down and Vhagar tapped into it in some way, shape, or form."

Elsewhere in the Riverlands, Daemon (Matt Smith) is holed up in Harrenhal trying to shore up its support for Rhaenyra's cause. But the supposedly haunted castle is starting to get to the otherwise unflappable Daemon, who continues to see visions of a young Rhaenyra (played by returning guest star Milly Alcock) and even himself as Aemond, complete with an eye patch over his left eye.

After he failed to kill Aemond with his Blood and Cheese assassination attempt in the season premiere, the increasingly mighty presence of his nephew is beginning to have an effect on Daemon, whether he likes it or not. Mitchell suggested that Daemon similarly occupies a gnawing place in Aemond's psyche.

"I can't say whether or not Aemond lives in Daemon's head rent free, but I can definitely say that Daemon lives in Aemond's head rent free," he said. "The idea that he got this close to him after he finds that coin at the beginning of Episode 2. Maybe he is just as afraid of Daemon."

Episode 4 is likely to catapult the two factions of Targaryens even closer to the brink of war than ever before –– or has it already begun? Whatever lies ahead, Mitchell believes that Aemond should be feared — not just because of Vhagar's size and age, but because he seems to have his finger on the pulse of the moment and an eye on the future.

"Aemond is scarily perceptive," Mitchell said. "I don't want to say he is a seer, but he has a calculating quality to him. He has his own agenda and his own ambition that I think is quite scary. He can almost see where the chips are going to fall before they land, or at least he thinks he can."

In this episode, it was the dragons that fell. Though Mitchell corrected the record pretty quickly on that point.

"Not Vhagar," he said, with a smile. "She's still up there."

More on House of the Dragon Season 2: 

House of the Dragon Season 2 airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Episodes are available to stream on Max.