House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3 Review - Second of his Name

Daemon and the Sea Snake's Alliance

At the end of Episode 2 of House of the Dragon, Lord Corlys Velaryon, aka the "Sea Snake" and Daemon had made an alliance to wage war on the CrabFeeder at the Stepstones.

House of the Dragon Season 1, Episode 3 begins with the burning fields of battle at the stepstones as the crab feeder nails a prisoner to a stake and feeds him to the crabs. 

The prisoner taunts the crab feeder that the Sea Snake and Daemon would answer the slight. Daemon does show up, swooping in on his Dragon to save the day, but as we know very well, when Dragons are involved, there is no differentiating between Coryls’ men and the CrabFeeder’s men, all men burn…or in this case, can be crushed by the massive foot of a dragon. Deamon takes a fiery arrow hit and has to retreat. An insight into how well, or not, the war is going.

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The Targaryen Hunt

This episode does a good job of establishing the conflicts and likely problem areas that are bound to arise soon enough in the growing Targaryen camp.

We pick up about 2 years after the last episode and Allicent Hightower has birthed a son (Aegon, The Second of his Name) for Viserys Targaryen. The political intrigues are in full swing as the royal party head off for a hunt, to celebrate Aegon's second name day. Rhaenyra is not eager to attend.

The subtle politics, insinuations, etc are at play, all around the King as Lords jostle to position their family as close to the royal table as possible via royal marriage proposals, allegiances, and whatnot. The Lannisters have come to play and Jason Lannister, a proud man, wastes no time in introducing himself to Rhaenyra and hinting at a possible betrothal.

Rhaenyra has become ever so rebellious, exerting her independence and capabilities as she struggles with the very apparent threat to her position as heir apparent. And the hailing of Aegon as another conqueror in the making, only makes her worry more valid.

The characters are very well fleshed out and solidified with this episode. Viserys does not like confrontation and has left Daemon and Coryls to fight the Crabfeeder for 3 years at the Stepstones, refusing to intervene even as reports of their losses reach him.

Even the king’s advisers haranguing him about stepping in to help Daemon and Coryl’s cause does not make him waver. The ladies gossip, chief amongst them, Lady Redwyne, throwing innuendoes, both about the King’s brother starting the war and the King’s refusal to intervene, Rhaenyra with the wit of a whip, makes quick work of lady Redwyne, reminding her of her place but most likely gaining an enemy in the process.

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Rhaenyra is quick-tempered, her interactions show that she lacks the tact and diplomacy that have come to be an asset in the Royal court. Her lack of diplomacy and patience causes her to confront her father in the presence of everybody about her prospective betrothal before storming off.


The Targaryen Contrast

A stark (no pun intended) contrast is made in this episode between, Viserys and Rhaenyra Targaryan, showing their differences. What people might perceive as a flaw in one, might actually be a strength and what might be perceived as a strength in one might be a flaw.

Rhaenyra rides off in anger after confronting her father about her proposed betrothal, she is quickly followed by Ser Criston. They both bond, talking in the woods before being attacked by a wild boar, however, with the help of Ser Criston, Rhaenyra kills the boar. 

When you juxtapose this to Viserys’ hunting expedition, where he has to try several times before delivering a killing blow to a stag that was held down for him, you can tell the picture that is being painted here. When the boar Rhaenyra killed is dragged into camp later with her riding along covered in blood, you can see the looks of wonder on the faces of all present, a contrast to the hesitant and embarrassed look on the faces of the king’s men as they implored him to strike the stag again, after failing to kill the stag the first time.

Viserys is slow to action and he has foresight, it's his strength and it is also perceived as a weakness by those around him, but you see that Rhaenyra is quick-tempered, sure, impatient, and stubborn, it’s her strength and what is very admirable in leaders but its also her flaw, it could be her undoing.

While challenging her father about trying to find her a consort, she only sees it from the point of view of losing her place as heir, thinking she is being shipped away, she does not have Viserys’s foresight to see that she would be strengthening her claim as well with marriage to a strong house that could help her claim when the time came. Viserys had to point this out to her but still, I can't tell if she heard him.


House of the Dragon Season 1, Episode 1 Premiere Review - The Heirs of the Dragon

House of the Dragon, Season 1, Episode 2 Review - The Rogue Prince

The King's Advisers

The king's hand, Otto Hightower advises the king to marry Rhaenyra to the 2-year-old Aegon (Hightower's grandson), and the king laughs him away for the sheer ridiculousness of the suggestions.

Viserys consults Sir Lionel Strong again and he does come through again with solid advice in favor of The Seasnake. It seems like Lord Strong has no ulterior motive when he advises the king, even when the king preempts him and insults his son, who is incapacitated, Lord Strong does not waver as he advises the King to betroth Rhaenyra to the Sea Snake's son, Laenor aka The Seasmoke. 

We should note though that years of experience in Westeros have shown that, it is the ones that look like they have no motive that are actually playing the longest and most dangerous game. Besides, the element of surprise has always been a valuable asset in all types of adversarial interactions.

Lord Strong advises the king to appease Coryls by marrying Rhaenyra to his son Leanor. This is another piece of advice from Strong I don’t think the king would heed, because he then subsequently leaves it up to Rhaenyra to choose her betroth, for her own happiness.

Otto Hightower counsels his daughter to prod the king to change his heir to her son, Allicent is reluctant but she does go to the king and succeeds in convincing him to send aid to Daemon and The Seasnake after reading a call for aid from Coryls brother, Vaemond. This singular act shows the level of control Alicent can exert on the king and it would be interesting to see how she decides to exercise this.

The Battle at the Stepstones

Daemon is not having the easiest time, while we would like to hate him, he reminds me of Jamie Lannister, a complicated character, in whom you are always reminded that people are not just good or bad, but are much more complicated than that. 

Just as the Seasnake's brother, Vaemond is stoking up mutinous sentiments against Daemon, a message arrives from Viserys to Daemon. As Daemon reads the parchment from his brother about sending aid, you can see the embarrassment on his face. The rage that he was not able to conquer this foe on his own, and his subsequent attack on the messenger shows a savage attempt to placate his ego. Talk about don't attack the messenger!

And in the next scene, you can't help but wonder (for a minute), if Daemon paddling towards the Crabfeeder and waving a white flag is him surrendering rather than accepting aid from Viserys. 

hat notion is quickly dispelled when Daemon attacks the Crabfeeder's men and Coryl’s son, Laenor aka The Seasmoke, emerges from nowhere and sets the Crabfeeder's men ablaze with his dragon in a fiery ring of screaming men. 

Of course, Daemon surrendering is a ruse! 

The episode ends with Daemon emerging from the Crabfeeders cave dripping in blood and dragging with him, a dismembered half of the Crabfeeder. 

We can't help but ponder the question, "the Crabfeeder isn't badass enough to deserve an onscreen death? Way to demystify a villain you spent 2 episodes setting up.

House of the Dragon Season 1, Episode 1 Premiere Review - The Heirs of the Dragon

House of the Dragon, Season 1, Episode 2 Review - The Rogue Prince

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