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Breaking Down That Devastating Fight in the Second Episode of House of the Dragon Season 2

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Warning: This post contains spoilers for Episode 2 of House of the Dragon Season 2.

House of the Dragon has always been about familial in-fighting. But in the second episode of Season 2, we got a particularly salient look at how the Targaryen Civil War is rippling out to impact families other than the one at its center.

Following the introduction of twin brothers in the Kingsguard, Arryk and Erryk Cargyll (Luke and Elliott Tittensor), in the back half of Season 1, Sunday's episode saw their conflicting loyalties come to a violent head when Ser Arryk was ordered to covertly kill Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) by posing as his brother. The hit was put out by Arryk's superior, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), who was scrambling to find a way to save face after his ill-timed shirking of duties as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard for Rhaenyra's younger half-brother, Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney), resulted in the murder of Aegon's young son, Jaehaerys.

Although Arryk and Erryk both served in the Kingsguard of Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), their paths diverged in the penultimate episode of Season 1 when the Hightowers moved to place Aegon on the Iron Throne following Viserys' death. Having witnessed what Aegon was capable of—i.e., fathering illegitimate children with the peasants of King's Landing and then leaving them to suffer in the fighting pits—Erryk chose to side with Rhaenyra out of a desire to do what he thought was right. Arryk, on the other hand, felt compelled by duty to remain in Aegon's service.

In Sunday's episode, after being threatened with the dishonor of appearing disloyal to his king, Arryk was then forced to travel to Dragonstone and infiltrate the castle in an attempt to assassinate Rhaenyra and, as Ser Criston put it, "end a war before it begins."

Fortunately for Team Black, Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) spotted Arryk on her way out of Dragonstone and doubled back to alert Erryk to his brother's deception. The resulting brawl between the twins was a brutal one, with each brother getting in his own bloody hits. And while Erryk ultimately triumphed in the battle, he then purposefully fell on his own sword out of grief over having killed his brother. So, really no one won.

The conflict between the Cargyll brothers, who still loved each other even as they fought to the death, is a good indicator of just how divisive the Dance of the Dragons is becoming in the Seven Kingdoms. And should probably make viewers wary of the escalating devastation they can expect as the season continues.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com