Phia Saban as Helaena Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon' Season 2

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 2 premiere of .

The title of the first episode, “A Son for a Son,” hinted at the tragic events to come in the long-awaited second season of House of the Dragon.

Picking up directly after the Season 1 finale, the premiere opened with Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) still grieving the death of her son, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), and his dragon, Arrax, at the hands of Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) and his dragon, Vhagar. Upon returning to Dragonstone, she addressed her council with one demand: “I want Aemond Targaryen.”

Driven by vengeance, Daemon (Matt Smith) devised a plan to eliminate Aemond from within the Red Keep. However, the plan took a devastating turn. Daemon’s hired assassins—a City Watch malcontent nicknamed Blood (Sam C. Wilson) and a castle rat-catcher known as Cheese (Mark Stobbart)—were tasked with killing Aemond, but instead, they ended up killing 6-year-old Jaehaerys, the firstborn son of Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) and his sister-wife Helaena (Phil Saban), when Aemond was nowhere to be found.

The “Blood and Cheese” plot, as described in George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, the companion novel to A Song of Ice and Fire on which House of the Dragon is based, is a brutal moment where, “George kind of outdid himself in his own George-ness, in terms of finding the awful depths of certain characters.”

A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones have really conditioned people to expect the unexpected and expect the horrible,” he told in May. “But, yeah, that one’s pretty horrific. We’ll see what people make of what’s to come.”

However, House of the Dragon altered the infamous storyline in the prequel spinoff’s Season 2 premiere.

How “Blood and Cheese” was different in the book

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon Season 2

While the core elements of the Blood and Cheese plot remained the same, House of the Dragon toned down the horror inflicted upon Helaena and her children in Fire & Blood.

In the book, Blood and Cheese were aware of Helaena’s nightly routine of bringing her three young children—Jaehaerys, his twin sister Jaehaera, and their younger brother Maelor—to see their grandmother before bed. They exploited this habit, breaking into Alicent’s chambers, killing her bedmaid, and binding and gagging the Queen Mother in preparation for Helaena’s visit.

Once they had gathered the family, the assassins forced Helaena to choose which son would die, despite her pleas to sacrifice herself instead. Threatening to rape Jaehaera and kill all three children if she delayed further, Helaena reluctantly picked Maelor. However, in a cruel twist, Blood and Cheese mocked Maelor with his mother’s decision before beheading Jaehaerys. This act of sadism is truly horrific.

In Sunday’s episode, House of the Dragon portrayed Blood and Cheese capturing Helaena at knifepoint and forcing her to identify her twin sons. She managed to escape with Jaehaera in her arms, seeking refuge with Alicent (Olivia Cooke), only to find her already occupied with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel).

Both the book and the show leave the extent of Daemon’s involvement in Jaehaerys’ death unclear. However, it’s suggested that Blood and Cheese were ordered to bring back the head of a son belonging to Team Green, regardless of who it was, as retaliation for Lucerys’ death.