‘House of the Dragon’ Creator on Episode 2’s Sansa Stark’s Connection 5

[This story contains spoilers from the second episode of House of the Dragon season two.]

The second episode of House of the Dragon season two featured a fan-favorite scene from George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood: The fatal clash of the Cargyll twins, Arryk (Luke Tittensor) and Erryk (Elliot Tittensor), whose identical looks are weaponized by Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) to try an assassinate Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy). Below, showrunner Ryan Condal takes a few questions about the episode of the HBO hit series, which was recently renewed for a third season.

So the twins fight is a sequence I loved from book and was really looking forward to in the show. The plan is ridiculed by Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), yet it almost works because it’s actually a mad brilliant idea. You upgrade the scene by having them fight alongside Rhaenyra in her bedchamber, putting her in direct jeopardy. Can you talk about your adaptive choices in that sequence?

The book depicts a few different versions of that story. I was always fascinated by the Cargyll twins story because that was a story that Sansa Stark romanticized — going back to the Song of Ice and Fire books. And, of course, Sansa has this very Sansa-like romantic vision of what that fight was like and how they dueled for hours as though it was the duel from The Princess Bride. But the real thing would be much more brutal and gritty. We wanted to try to find the central line through it. There’s a version where they’re cursing each other’s names and calling each other “traitor” and that just didn’t feel like the characters we’d set up. We have these two people who found themselves on different sides of this conflict and not knowing what to do with this oath. I think that makes it more of a tragedy when you see these two brothers trying to hold to their oath but find themselves in literal mortal combat against each other in order to uphold it.

My favorite scene in the first two episodes was the wagon wheel getting stuck during the funeral procession. I didn’t expect it. I thought it was very clever and there’s a harrowing moment there that you expect the decapitated child’s body to go tumbling into the street.

Sara Hess wrote the script in episode two. I think it’s one of my favorite scripts thus far, and Clare Kilner directed the hell out of it. What you mentioned was a Clare Kilner invention. Sara wrote the sequence that the funeral is basically a propaganda campaign that Otto uses the body of Jaehaerys (Michael Carter) to curry favor with the small folk to turn against her against Rhaenyra. But the idea of the procession then going through the more down parts of King’s Landing and Flea Bottom and then getting stuck and pulling Helaena (Phia Saban) out of this reverie she’s in — that was pure Clare, and I love that sequence.

You’ve wasted no time jumping into major beats from the book in these first two episodes, with the “Blood and Cheese” scene last week and now the Cargyll fight this week. Is this sort of the the pace fans should expect for the rest of the season?

I’ve just watched most of the season back to back to see where we are, and it’s a pretty pace-y season. It has peaks and valleys where something happens and then everybody kind of collects their thoughts and recovers. But yeah, the pace of the show is going to probably feel faster than it did in season one. We want to keep the narrative moving; we don’t want it to stall out and drag our feet. There’s plenty of story in there. There’s plenty of character to explore.

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