House of the Dragon Episode 3 Finally Satisfies Our Bloodlust With a Battle We've Been Waiting For
With politics, schemes, and battles all in motion, House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3 was so immensely enjoyable that we forgot this was supposed to be a show and not a standalone movie.
Far more eventful than Episode 2, Episode 3 kicks off with a seamless time jump two years into the future. Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussiant) have been warring with the Crabfeeder in the Stepstones, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) has been heir for two years; and Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) is now the queen and the mother of King Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) firstborn son. Already, we’re a fan of the time-jumping strategy of the show as it covers more ground without being too difficult to follow.
Titled “Second of His Name,” Episode 3 plants the seeds of doubt about Viserys’ succession. Sandwiched between two epic battle scenes in the Stepstones, the main focus of the show is Viserys’ uncertainty about his choice of heir. And unsurprisingly, the vultures feed on his doubt in preference of Viserys’ two-year-old son as the next king purely because he’s a boy. All this politicking takes place in a grand celebration in the Kingswood, where a hunt is hosted for the young prince. The sets in the show deserve their own praise as it's clear production upped its game.
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We’re introduced to more players in the game of thrones, namely the Lannisters, who apparently have arrogance and ambition implanted in their DNA. We also see our first glimpse at the rest of House Strong, who will play a bigger role in the seasons to come.
The third episode delivers well-written dialogue that steadily builds tension in the show. It’s another testament to the series’ writers, who’ve managed to up the ante with each new episode. Of course, the show follows the GOT formula of big episodes followed by tame episodes, but House of the Dragon managed to balance both action and drama in Episode 3.
Plus a touch of prophecy, which is quickly becoming more important in the series. Episode 1 introduced the Targaryen prophecy of the Long Night, and Episode 3 introduced another prophecy, one that’s all but spelled out. After fleeing into the Kingswood and surviving a boar attack, Rhaenyra meets the white stag, a creature that once symbolized royalty before the dragons arrived. While the men of Viserys’ party hunted the beast for hours to celebrate Prince Aegon’s second birthday, the white stag chose to approach Rhaenyra instead, all but proclaiming her the rightful heir. It’s a moment that brings forth the magical and Tolkien-esque inspiration of GRRM’s work, which often gets overshadowed by all the violent intrigue. It almost eclipsed the war on the Stepstones. Almost.
Where Viserys’ indecision symbolizes Targaryen weakness, Daemon’s battle prowess shines as Targaryen’s at their best. In George R. R. Martin’s books, Jorah Mormont says, “Dragons don’t plant trees.” And it shows. Matt Smith only utters a few words in this episode, but his expressions, actions, and stunts speak louder than his silence. In only a handful of scenes, Daemon proves that Targaryens are at their strongest on dragon back, conquering and killing instead of ruling. The Stepstone battles were full of swords, gore, and dragonfire, but it was seeing Daemon triumphantly dragging the mutilated body of the Crabfeeder that satisfied our bloodlust like nothing else.
Episode 3 is the best one yet, but we have a feeling it’ll only get better from here.
Stream House of the Dragon on HBO Go in the Philippines. New episodes drop every Monday at 9 a.m. Philippine time.
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