The third episode of Game Of Thrones: House Of The Dragon flies in on Dragon Wings. But is it breathing fire or a damp squib?
After last week’s slower second episode of ‘Game Of Thrones: House Of The Dragon’, all eyes are fixed on this week’s installment. The drama and the story building from last week set the tone for what is to come. But can this week’s episode expand the threads that have been spun and deliver the goods or are we in for another slower episode that builds the world further?
The answer is a bit of both. But by doing so, it delivers the best episode of the series yet. It gives us the intrigue and the inside track on certain characters while delivering bloodthirsty action and violence. This is ‘Game Of Thrones’ at its best. It isn’t for the squeamish near the end but is riveting entertainment.
EPISODE 1X03: SECOND OF HIS NAME
The episode opens with the Crabfeeder on the battlefield of the StepStones. Dead soldiers lie around the burning and smoking ruins. The Crabfeeder himself is once again nailing his helpless victims to posts. But out of the darkness and chaos, Daemon rides in on the back of a Dragon, reigning fire, death, and destruction on those below. But instead of helping his fallen warriors, he instead is intent on destroying the Crabfeeder once and for all. An action that causes him to get injured while on the back of his Dragon. The war is going badly for him and Lord Corlys. And the Crown still remains neutral to the war Daemon has started without King Viserys’ go-ahead.
The story has jumped forward by three years. Viserys now has a two-year-old son with his wife Alicent. A great hunt has been planned for his son Aegon’s second name day. However, not all is good within his walls. His heir, Rhaenyra is feeling neglected by her father due to the attention he lavishes on her half-brother. With pressure on her to find a suitor and marry, Rhaenyra is turning rebellious. Adding to the animosity she feels toward her stepmother and former best friend Alicent, she is a royal pain to her father. Every match that is suggested for her she angrily rejects. Especially Lord Jason Lannister.
A great white Stag has been located during the hunt. The path is laid for the king to track it and kill it. But Rhaenyra has her own ideas. She steals a horse and rides off into the woods, closely followed by Ser Criston Cole. Both end up spending the night in the woods. All the while, Ser Otto Hightower is conspiring to have Alicent convince the king to remove Rhaenyra as his heir and to name Aegon instead. This will raise the Hightowers’ power and prestige. Otto wants to see his grandson ascend to the throne and is using his daughter to attempt to get it.
Viserys is becoming tired of fighting all corners and the political pressure that is being exuded on him. This is leading him to drink excessively and to become surly with those in his court. His sarcastic comments to Lord Jason Lannister come off as just cruel and with his daughter rebelling, he is starting to feel the pressure. All the while, Daemon is losing the war he started and making Viserys’ reign look weak. Actions are decided which will change the course for everyone concerned.
This is what the original series was well known for. Great storytelling and bloodthirsty violence. Both are in evidence here, to the episode’s credit. From the opening Dragon attack to the gory and nasty finale of the episode, we are hooked. Matt Smith as Daemon is once again not seen that much in this episode but when he appears, we are on the edge of our seats. What will Daemon do this week? What violence or nastiness will he concoct against his enemies and his own brother? Matt Smith delivers yet another riveting performance as the deposed heir to the throne.
Paddy Considine as Viserys also impresses. We can feel for the king as everyone presents him with challenges from all sides. And he feels that everything is closing in on him. But we can see the anger slowly starting to rise to the surface. Soon, someone will push their luck that little bit too far. And for them, it may prove to be fatal. Considine has grown into his role, the same way Sean Bean did as Ned Stark in the original series. Rhys Ifans is also on fine form again as the devious Otto Hightower. We can see that Hightower is slowly moving the pieces on the board for his own ends. He is positioning them for his own advantage. Again, he is comparable to Lord Baelish in the original series. And look how that turned out for him.
But once again, everyone is playing second fiddle to Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra. It is her journey we are most invested in. From a rebellious and nasty slight delivered to her once best friend Alicent to her confrontation with her father, we feel for Rhaenyra. But we also want to take her in hand, to make her face the truth and the consequences of her actions. Ms. Alcock once again delivers an inspired performance, one that is a highlight of the show. Her discussions with Fabien Frankel’s Ser Criston Cole are fast becoming the beginning of the mating dance. We can see the stars in her eyes as she speaks with him. And this could spell trouble for the teenage heir to the throne. She may be free to choose her own partner but she will face the wrath of her father if she chooses ‘The Kingmaker.’
The ending to the episode leaves the road wide open in the weeks to come. Exactly how things proceed from here on is up for question. But it seems that violence, bloodshed, and heartbreak are almost certainly on the cards. And that is what we are expecting. Fans of the original series will most certainly get their fill of what made that series so well-loved and enjoyed. And that all starts with this third episode of the prequel series.
While the slower episodes that set up the story are still worthy in our eyes, it is episodes like this one that we have come to see. And the series finally takes off with some great, striking visuals, some fine acting, some brilliant storytelling, and some gory violence that won’t suit everyone. But I defy any fan not to enjoy the opening to the episode or the final five to ten minutes. This is what we’ve come to expect. This is what we watch the show for. And this is the best episode of the series so far.
‘Game Of Thrones; House Of The Dragon’ is now available to watch on HBO Max and other platforms around the world. Check your listings for details.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!