‘House of the Dragon’ Star Ewan Mitchell Says Aemond’s Episode 4 Decision Will Change Things ‘Forever’: ‘There’s No Going Back’

The “Saltburn” actor also compares the feuding Targaryen brothers to Fredo and Michael Corleone

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Ewan Mitchell in "House of the Dragon" Season 2 Episode 4 (Theo Whiteman/HBO)

Note: This story contains spoilers from “House of the Dragon” Season 2, Episode 4.

“House of the Dragon” Season 2, Episode 4, ramps up the Westeros civil war at Rook’s Rest, during which Aemond made a shocking move that star Ewan Mitchell says will change things “forever.”

After Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) unexpectedly showed up at the battle atop Sunfyre, and began sparring with Rhaenys (Eve Best) and Meleys, Aemond swooped in to save the day with Vhagar. Instead of just taking down Rhaenys, Vhagar also attacked Sunfyre, leading Aegon and his dragon to plummet from the sky. While Aegon was caught in the crossfire as Aemond tried to take out Rhaenys, one could argue that Aegon’s look of terror prior to Vhagar’s blow implied that Aemond’s attack on Aegon was intentional.

“That’s one of the compelling arguments that it raises in what Aemond does, whether or not he always intentionally was going to hurt Aegon somewhere down the line, or whether or not Aegon, in that moment, was just collateral damage, because he was entangled with Rhaenys,” Mitchell told TheWrap. “Was the target just Rhaenys, or was it Rhaenys and Aegon?”

Given the already fractured history between the brothers — which came to a head when Aemond put Aegon in his place in front of the small council earlier in Episode 4 — Mitchell said the Rook’s Rest sequence reflected the “two characters trajectories finally [coming] into an accumulation in the skies.”

After the battle, Criston Cole found Aemond — with his sword drawn — close by Aegon’s still body and wounded dragon. With Aegon’s fate left unclear by the end of Episode 4, Mitchell said he prefers Aemond’s actions to be left “ambiguous,” though it’s clear the brothers’ relationship has been permanently altered.

“I think he recognizes, going forward, that he’s changed things forever between him and his brother — There’s no going back,” Mitchell said. “It’s such an interesting turning point for those characters.”

Below, Mitchell reflects on how Aegon and Aemond’s relationship has further devolved this season, why he prefers leaving Aemond’s actions ambiguous and why he compares Aegon and Aegmond to Fredo and Michael Corleone from “The Godfather.”

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“House of the Dragon” Season 2 (HBO)

TheWrap: I first have to ask about your nude scene in Episode 3, which had a huge response from viewers. Did you work with an intimacy coordinator to craft that moment?

Ewan Mitchell: We worked with a phenomenal intimacy coordinator. It wasn’t a decision that we made lightly — there was a huge conversation that we had and eventually, we were all unanimous [in the] decision that we just wanted to be true to Aemond in that moment, because Aemond is a character who does not care what you think about him, and you see that.

That scene in the brothel is a culmination of the humiliation Aegon puts Aemond. How has their relationship continued to devolve this season with Aegon taking the crown? 

I think Aemond’s in a very similar mind to where we saw him in Season 1, in that he still believes his brother is inferior to rule. Aegon was squandering his inheritance whilst he was in some sleazy corner in Flea Bottom, whilst Aemond was in the Red Keep yard training with Criston Cole. Day in and day out, he was studying with the masters; he was very much manufacturing himself into this weapon. Although Aemond is the second son, he still very much believes that he should be treated as the first.

In Ep. 4 we see Aemond visibly take power away from Aegon and put him in his place. What do you think shifted within Aemond that he felt the confidence to do so?

It’s an accumulation of two things — you get a sense of Aemond and Cole from the first episode that their intent is to manipulate the small council to their needs and what they want. I think they’re both in similar minds that they believe that war is inevitable, and you can either wait for it to come to your doorstep or you can get ahead of the curve, so Aemond and Cole wish to act.

Then you couple that with Aegon’s history and Daemon’s history. He was the ringleader to a lot of Aemond’s childhood torment and bullying, and that’s something that Aemond forgives, but he does not forget — that’s probably always in the back of his mind as well. You ultimately see him exact that in Episode 4, especially during the council, like “we have to act, and I’m going to have to put you in the place if you’re not with me.”

In Rook’s Rest, Aegon royally messes up the plan by showing up to battle. How does that surprise impact Aemond?

That’s the variable in Criston Cole and Aemon’s plan — Criston Cole’s plan was to assemble a force using levees from the towns that he would take leading through Rook’s Rest and Aemond was very much there to provide air support in case another dragon was to show up in the skies there — the variable being Aegon up on Sunfyre fireflies overhead.

Right before Criston Cole gets there, Aemond has already found Aegon, but he was in the position to click his sword back. What was he about to do right before Criston found him?

I think it’s ambiguous — that’s what I love. If I give all the answers, people will stop asking the questions. I like that debate, I like the theories that the fans strike up.

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Eve Best in “House of the Dragon” Season 2 Episode 4 (Ollie Upton/HBO)

How does Aemond feel about killing his great aunt? Does Aemond feel any qualms about the move? Are you expecting backlash from fans?

If he feels any sort of regret, it’s certainly something that he will never show, he’ll get hidden behind that hardened facade that Aemond possesses. That’s one of the beautiful aspects of playing in the character, you never truly know what Aemond is thinking in any given time. He could be looking at someone thinking about how he wants to cook them a meal and take them on a date, or he could be looking at them, thinking about how he wants to make them the meal and take Vhagar on a date. [But] you do know that he is thinking. He’s not just this mindless sociopath — the cogs are turning behind his eye. There’s a very, very dangerous calculative quality to Aemond and [he] picks his moments.

Aemond has a bit of a pattern with taking revenge when he sees the opportunity. How intentional was Luke’s death? 

Lucerys Velaryon bullied Aemond relentlessly along with his nephews and Aegon growing up. I think Aemond had forgiven Luke that he had taken his eye, but he just hadn’t forgiven the fact that Luke got away with it. What could have been resolved with with simple words of apology was instead allowed to fester. Kids are going to be kids, but it should have been the responsibility of the adults that the the kids find some sort of resolution and there wasn’t — there was no closure.

That hatred for each other between two characters was allowed to build and build build. Ultimately what you see in the skies above Storm’s End is human nature taking its course. Aemond did not intentionally mean to hurt Luke, he just wanted to scare him.

Is there any part of Aemond that wishes his and Aegon’s relationship was anything like Jace and Luke’s? Or was the way they were raised — in a loveless, joyless relationship between Alicent and Viserys vs. Rhaenyra and Harwin — meant they had no shot at a real bond?

Aemond and Aegon growing up shared a world of hurt, because they were the half of the family that weren’t seen to succeed the kingdom, so Aegon and Aemond were kind of pushed aside, they were neglected by Viserys. They never experienced that unconditional love from either Viserys or Alicent, so maybe they don’t know how to show it as well, certainly Aemond doesn’t necessarily know how to show it.

I always liken Aegon and Aemond as Fredo Corleone and Michael Corleone respectively, because Fredo should have looked out for Michael, the same way that Aegon should have looked out for Aemond, but instead, Aegon went behind Aemond’s back and conspired against Aemond with the help of his nephews. Aemond does feel a hate to his enemies, but when it’s your own brother that goes behind your back and backstabbed you, that hatred is even deeper than someone who’s supposed to protect you and supposed to look out for you.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

New episodes of “House of the Dragon” air Sundays on HBO and stream on Max.

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