Why Helaena Made That Decision In House Of The Dragon Season 2, Episode 1

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HBO’s House of the Dragon season 2, episode 1 concludes with the tragic death of Jaehaerys Targaryen, with Helaena being given the brutal choice of pointing out the “correct” child to Blood and Cheese. Ahead of the prequel show’s release, the most dreaded impending House of the Dragon moment was “Blood and Cheese,” which stood out as one of the most agonizing and cruel scenes in George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book. While House of the Dragon season 2 makes several important changes to how Blood and Cheese commences in the book, one detail that remains is a harrowing choice Helaena must make about her children’s fates.

On the orders of Daemon Targaryen, Blood (a City Watch guard) and Cheese (a ratcatcher employed by the crown) sneak into the Red Keep intending to kill Aemond Targaryen as revenge for the death of Lucerys Velaryon. When they can’t find Aemond, they move to the chambers of Helaena Targaryen, where they intend to kill the young Jaehaerys Targaryen, the son and heir of King Aegon II Targaryen. Unable to tell Jaehaerys and his twin sister Jaehaera apart, Helaena is ordered to point out the boy. She does so honestly and Blood proceeds to decapitate Jaehaerys, with Helaena swiftly fleeing to Alicent’s chambers with Jaehaera in her arms.

Why Helaena Let Blood & Cheese Kill Jaehaerys To Save Jaehaera

The reason in House of the Dragon is different from the book

While Helaena could have pointed to Jaehaera in an attempt to spare Jaehaerys, she correctly identifies her son before he’s brutally murdered. This “choice” happens quite differently in the book, as Helaena and Aegon actually had three children: two sons, Jaehaerys and Maelor, and one daughter, Jaehaera. After offering herself in their stead, Helaena is forced to choose which of her sons will die, and she chooses Maelor given he’s the youngest and wouldn’t understand what’s happening. Blood and Cheese proceeded to kill Jaehaerys anyway in the book, but the absence of Maelor creates a different reason for Helaena’s decision.
Helaena’s decision is seemingly based on her fears for Jaehaerys’ future and his inevitable moral corruption as the heir to the Iron Throne. Earlier in the episode, Aegon sought out Jaehaerys to begin training him, with Helaena remarking, “What if he doesn’t want to be King?” Helaena being a dragon dreamer also indicates that she may have some insight into Jaehaerys’ future, perhaps sensing that he would live an unhappy life being twisted by the guidance of Aegon and duties to the Iron Throne. Of course, in the larger narrative, Jaehaerys needed to die in order for Aegon to lose his heir in House of the Dragon.

What Jaehaerys’ Death Means For Helaena’s Future In House Of The Dragon

Helaena’s future is grim in House of the Dragon

As can be expected, Jaehaerys’ death leads to more horrific and tragic developments for the Targaryen Greens. In George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book, Helaena is severely depressed after Jaehaerys’ death, with it being made worse by the fact that she “chose” one of her children to die. Helaena wouldn’t eat, bathe, or leave her room, and Fire & Blood described her as sinking into “madness” after the tragedy. Later, while Aegon is able to make an escape, Helaena is taken captive when Rhaenyra takes King’s Landing.
If following the book’s chain of events, the aftermath of Jaehaerys’ death in House of the Dragon will culminate in Helaena Targaryen dying by suicide. According to Westerosi sources, Helaena jumped from her window in Maegor’s Holdfast, not unlike the death of King Tommen Baratheon in Game of Thrones. Helaena’s death goes on to be the subject of speculation, with some vile rumors suggesting that Rhaenyra killed her or Mysaria had goaded her into her death. Overall, the realm is torn by the tragic loss of Helaena Targaryen, who was deemed so innocent by both sides of the war.

New episodes of House of the Dragon season 2 release Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and Max.

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