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House Of The Dragon Season 2: Why Aemond Targaryen Tries To Kill [SPOILER]

Contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon" Season 2 Episode 4 — "The Red Dragon and the Gold"

The first major and bloody battle between multiple dragons finally took place on "House of the Dragon," and it ultimately led to a major loss — specifically, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), the "Queen Who Never Was" who falls after being attacked by her own nephew Prince Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) and his imposingly large dragon Vhagar. In the same battle, though, Aemond concocts his own plan and lets Rhaenys and his older brother, King Aegon II Targaryen (Tom-Glynn Carney), tire each other out before he and Vhagar take flight; when he ostensibly fires at Rhaenys, Aemond also knocks his brother out of the sky. (His fate is unknown.)

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly about the landmark episode, Mitchell spoke to the outlet alongside other cast and crew members, and for his part, Mitchell was forthcoming about whether or not Aemond has sinister intentions in regards to his brother. "It was no secret that he felt like Aegon was inferior to himself," Mitchell revealed. "He felt like Aegon lacked the perseverance to be a leader. Also, it's no secret that Aegon was almost the ringleader to a lot of Aemond's childhood torment and trauma." The actor is right, referencing the constant bullying Aemond faces throughout his childhood and adulthood thanks to Aegon — the young king went after his brother just one episode prior, in fact. That said, Mitchell thinks it's still a complex situation.

Still, Ewan Mitchell says that Aemond's attack raises some strange questions

Ewan Mitchell did clarify to EW, though, that Aemond probably wouldn't go after Aegon unless he could make it look like some sort of accident — if nothing else, Aemond is incredibly smart, and he'd never be so blatantly obvious about any ill intentions towards his brother, the king, in public. Still, the actor made it quite clear that he and the episode's director, Alan Taylor — a veteran of "Game of Thrones" who also works on the spin-off and prequel — wanted the viewers to ask questions.

"I think that maybe Aemond would never have intended to burn Aegon, but it just so happened that Aegon was there tangled with Rhaenys and Meleys when he was on top of Sunfyre," Mitchell said, referring to the dragons Aemond and Vhagar attack in midair. "It raises the question of whether or not he would've done that or if Aegon was just collateral damage. I think that's compelling."

Taylor agreed, telling the outlet that Aemond's motivations should stay ambiguous, especially when you consider that Aemond pointedly showed up "late" to the battle to pit his brother and enemies against each other. "We wanted to sustain multiple motivations that might have happened there," the director revealed. "It's a battle move, but he did deliberately join the battle late, and he is being a little bit indiscriminate with how he's blasting fire. So I think you can believe whatever you want to believe about his motivations there."

This key moment at the Battle of Rook's Roost explains Aemond and Aegon's relationship, according to Ewan Mitchell

Ewan Mitchell also sat down solo with GQ to talk about Aemond's secret battle plan and his intentions towards his brother, and interviewer William Goodman also made sure to ask the actor about this major character moment, simply inquiring as to why Aemond brazenly goes after his own brother. "I think it's that shared history that they have," Mitchell told Goodman. "It's their two characters' trajectories finally accumulating at this crescendo, this turning point that, going forward, won't be the same again. This brotherly bond, if you can call it that — if you could ever have called it that. Aegon was very much the ringleader of Aemond's bullying and ultimate misfortune as a kid." Mitchell's right; in Season 1, when Aemond and Aegon are played by Leo Ashton and Ty Tennant, respectively, Aegon is constantly cruel to his brother, even tricking him into thinking he's being given a dragon ... only to present a young Aemond with a pig instead. This is only the tip of the iceberg, but it's also a perfect example of Aegon's casual bullying.

According to Mitchell, Aemond isn't necessarily envious of his brother, but he also knows that Aegon lacks what it takes to truly rule. "Aemond forgives, but he does not forget, and on top of that, you have this second son who is studying with the maesters, training with the sword, while Aegon is seen as squandering his inheritance," the actor said. "I think Aemond feels like Aegon lacks the perseverance to be a leader. Those two things together — you know Aemond, he holds a grudge."

Does Aemond care about his brother Aegon — and vice versa? It's complicated

Ultimately, one question looms large when it comes to Aemond and Aegon: do they actually love each other, or even like them? Aegon has spent his life being casually cruel to Aemond; Aemond takes any opportunity he can to put his brother in his place (like in Episode 4, when he forces Aegon to speak broken High Valyrian). When William Goodman asked if there's any love between the brothers, Mitchell had a surprising answer.

"I think there is," Mitchell said. "As much as Aemond hates his brother, he also yearns for love and acceptance from him. But in Aemond's world, love is a weakness. He cannot be seen as weak in any way, shape, or form. He's cultivated this image over the years." Mitchell is right on the money here — Aemond turns from a bullied young boy into a formidable force partway through Season 1, and in Season 2, he presents an image of invulnerability at all times and stumbles when that fails (like when Aegon catches him in a tender moment with a brothel madam in Episode 3). "He wants the whole world to know that he is, ultimately, this neigh-unkillable Terminator-like horror," Mitchell continued. "He cannot be seen as weak at all costs. Weak isn't in Aemond's vocabulary. Or at least that's what he wants you to think."

We'll have to wait for a new episode to see how Aegon is doing ... and what Aemond will do next. "House of the Dragon" airs new episodes on Sundays at 9 P.M. EST on HBO and Max.