Aemond Targaryen actor Ewan Mitchell breaks down that House of the Dragon season 2, episode 4 ending: "He very much knew what he was doing"

House of the Dragon season 2
(Image credit: HBO/Sky)

Warning: The following contains major spoilers for House of the Dragon season 2, episode 4. Turn back now if you're not up to date!

House of the Dragon has done it again. The latest episode is nothing short of exhilarating – and completely shocking. Finally, after two episodes of careful politicking, caution, and strategizing, Rhaenyra looses the dragons to war, and bloodshed follows swiftly on their heels (or claws). 

We sat down with Aemond Targaryen actor Ewan Mitchell shortly before the seismic episode aired to discuss that gasp-worthy ending, which saw Rhaenys and her dragon Meleys meet a heart wrenching end over Rook's Rest… and the green king Aegon left seriously worse for wear. Check out our spoiler-filled breakdown of the episode's biggest moments below. 

RIP Rhaenys 

Rhaenys and Corlys in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

For a moment, it looks like Rhaenys is going to escape the battle. She's soaring safely off to sea when, quite literally out of nowhere, the mighty Vhagar snatches her dragon's neck in those fearsome jaws. Meleys is killed, and so Rhaenys plummets to her own end. 

Of course, this isn't the first time Aemond has been responsible for a huge House of the Dragon death – though, as Mitchell immediately points out to us, "Luke and Arrax, that wasn't Aemond's fault, that was all Vhagar." 

This time, however, Mitchell thinks Aemond achieved exactly what he set out to do, and it's all a consequence of the bloody family history underpinning the Dance of the Dragons

"It goes back to episode 7, when Aemond is being fixed up by one of the maesters after having his eye taken from him," Mitchell explains. "Aemond had forgiven the fact that Luke took his eye out, he just wasn't over the fact he got away with it. And that's not partly down to Lucerys, that's partly down to that scene, when a lot of adults held their silence in that scene, including the Sea Snake, including Rhaenys. 

"And so, Aemond forgives, but he does not forget. What could have been resolved with simple words of apology was allowed to fester, it was pushed aside," Mitchell continues. 

"Like a lot of problems that are pushed aside, it often exacerbates it. And over the years, it's grown and grown and grown. And then what you see in the skies above Storm's End at the end of season 1 is very much that human nature taking its course, and these two characters' histories coming to a crescendo. The intent this time around in episode 4, I think it was a lot more intentional. He very much knew what he was doing. He was in control of his dragon, and he knows the consequences of that going forward."

Power couple 

House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Indeed, Aemond and Vhagar are working together in perfect harmony in this episode. It's a stark contrast to the season 1 finale, when Aemond lost control of his dragon, resulting in catastrophe. 

"Otto Hightower's words rung true at the beginning of the beginning of the series, when Otto said, 'You must get a grasp on your emotions.' And Aemond, he's taking that in stride," Mitchell says. "One of the interesting things that I love about the dragons and the riders is that they're almost extensions of each other. You could argue that the Blood Wyrm's lust for blood is similar to the Rogue Prince and how he wants to prove himself, especially in his early years. And Vhagar is very much evidence of Aemond's drive, and those two together, the power couple that they are, I think he maybe did get control of his dragon a little bit more than in season 1."

Considering Vhagar was once the dragon of Rhaenys's late daughter, Laena Velaryon, the conflict seems personal for her, too. The way Mitchell views it, though, Aemond would have been ready to attack whoever flew over Rook's Rest. "The plan was that Fabien Frankel's character Criston Cole would mobilize troops through the Riverlands, and he would take their levees and make them part of his army and attack at Rook's Rest," he explains. "And Aemond's part in that was to provide air support if they were to be confronted with any rival dragons. In Aemond's mind, it wouldn't matter what dragon it was; if they are confronted by an enemy flying a dragon, Aemond would be there to take them out." 

The king has fallen 

Aegon in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

But, while the blacks might have been dealt a heavy blow with the death of Rhaenys and Meleys, the greens suffer losses, too – King Aegon and his dragon Sunfyre are knocked from the sky with a deliberate blast of fire from Vhagar. 

They crash land in the forest, and, when Criston catches up to Aemond, he's standing over his fallen brother with his sword drawn. He appears to be in the process of sheathing it, but he might just be considering using it, too. 

"That's what's so compelling about the character, you don't know what is going through his head," Mitchell says. "He could be looking at someone thinking about how he wants to cook them a nice meal and take them on a date, or he could be looking at someone thinking about how he wants to make them into a meal and take Vhagar on a date. You don't know what he is thinking, but you do know that he is thinking. He's not just that one dimensional, black hat character. He's not a mindless sociopath. There are cogs turning behind his eye."

It's Aemond's enigmatic complexity that makes Mitchell reluctant to delve into what Aemond is thinking as his brother lies on the ground. "And if I was to answer your question, what he was going to do in that moment, I don't know if people would stop asking the question, so to speak," he says. "And I find that's what's so compelling about the character, there is a fear in the unknown. You don't know where his true allegiances lie." 

House of the Dragon season 2 airs weekly on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW in the UK and HBO in the US. 

For more from our interview with Mitchell, check out the actor on how Michael Myers inspired his portrayal of Aemond, what Aemond has in common with Robert De Niro's Heat character, and the rivalry between Aemond and Daemon. You can also read more on House of the Dragon with our deep dives below: 

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.