House of the Dragon Ep 3 Review: Before we proceed, warning — Spoilers ahead. House of the Dragon episode 3 premiered on Sunday (Monday, IST) and it officially featured the Game of Thrones prequel’s first battle. The new episode also features a time jump of three years, forgoing the idea of showing King Viserys I Targaryen’s (Paddy Considine) wedding and focusing on the aftermath of the change in dynamics instead.
The third episode kicks off with Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) aka the Sea Snake and Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) along with their soldiers at battle with the Crabfeeder. While the war is merely teased in the beginning, it is not until the second half of the episode that we see the battle being fought.
The first half of the episode is dedicated to young Princess Rhaenyra (played by Milly Alcock). Three years after her mother’s death and Viserys’s decision to marry Alicent (Emily Carey), daughter of the Hand of King Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Rhaenyra seems to be struggling to find her position in the realm. Though she has been officiated as the heir of the Iron Throne, owing to the birth of her stepbrother, Aegon Targaryen, Rhaenyra’s position as the heir is under question.
Murmurs about her position become a subject of discussion even though Rhaenyra believes she is going to be the next queen. It is well assumed that Aegon will take over the throne despite Viserys making no such announcement. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra loses her friend Alicent when she becomes her stepmother. The coldness between both of them is made evident even though Alicent hints on numerous occasions that she doesn’t want anything to do with the Iron Throne and wants Rhaenyra to become the queen.
To make things worse, Rhaenyra is also subjected to suitors for she has now ‘come of age’ for marriage. Ah, times have not changed for women! Overseeing the potential of Rhaenyra as the queen, Viserys is behind her to find a potential match at a special ceremony organised for his two-year-old son Aegon. Thus introducing the House of Lannisters in the GoT prequel.
Rhaenyra meets Jason Lannister, who is interested in making her his queen. Offering her a glass of wine (Yes, we missed Tyrion Lannister at this point), he tries to convince her into accepting his wedding proposal. Upset, Rhaenyra confronts her father in the middle of the ceremony and announces that she doesn’t want to marry.
Not on board with her decision, Rhaenyra and Viserys get into an argument before she storms off into the woods. While Rhaenyra is away, Viserys learns about the murmurs surrounding the next heir. Fed up with the politics, he gets drunk and ends up in front of a glorious flame of fire. Alicent, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, meets Viserys to check on him when she is subject to a meltdown.
Viserys confesses to being obsessed about a son for years now that the thirst killed his first wife and left him second-guessing his decisions — marrying Alicent, crowning Viserys as the heir, and everything that is unfolding around him.
Meanwhile, Rhaenyra wanders in the woods with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel). Chatting up about their respective lives, they light a bonfire in a corner of the woods and decide to wait the night out before returning to Viserys. However, they weren’t left to spend the night in peace. Rhaenyra is attacked by a wild pig, whom she takes on like a warrior. As the morning arrives, Rhaenyra and Criston spot a magnificent white deer that seemed to put Rhaenyra’s doubts about her position in the realm to rest.
Reunited with her father, Rhaenyra and Viserys discuss her future when he finally caves in and asks Rhaenyra to pick a man for herself.
As the bonds were being tested, the situation at the Stepstones worsens with Daemon and Corlys losing out on more soldiers. They devise a plan to lure the Crabfeeder and his men out of the caves with Daemon as the bait. The second half presents a magnificent battle with very few words being exchanged. With Daemon taking the lead, he brings down the Crabfeeder while Corly and the army help end the war.
The third episode surprised me with its balance. On one hand, there was so much exchange of dialogue in the first half — the monologue by Paddy Considine’s King Viserys I Targaryen, the murmurs, and the fights between Viserys and Rhaenyra — the second half completely surrendered to silence and background score. Considine owned the first half with his portrayal of an indecisive king. Although she felt weak in the first two episodes, Milly Alcock finally begins to look like she is giving in to being a fierce warrior princess.
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However, it is the second half elevates the episode. Matt Smith hardly has any dialogues in this episode, letting his face and body language do all the talking. Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon supports him well, especially on the battlefield. However, I couldn’t help but feel deja vu when the battle began.
The battle takes place in a cloud of smoke, making it difficult to see events unfolding until the camera zooms in. There were a couple of times when I was squinting to see who was in the frame and what was going on, bringing back memories of the Battle of Winterfell, from Game of Thrones season 8.