'House of the Dragon' Episode 3: The Disappointing Deaths Begin

·6 min read
Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

Like it or not, House of the Dragon Episode Three begins with a time jump. Over two years have passed since the events of the second episode, apparently. The new Queen, Alicent Hightower, has finally given King Viserys a male heir, named Aegon. We're at the young prince's second birthday, where everyone is eager to celebrate. You know who else has something to celebrate? HBO. If a raven hasn't delivered the message to you yet, House of the Dragon doubled its massive viewership numbers last Sunday from roughly 10 million viewers—to over 25 million.

So yes, there are quite a few people at House of the Dragon's weekly party nowadays. Andmuch like Rhaenyra, everyone at home was shocked when her father chose Alicent to be his new wife in the last episode. House of the Dragon may not have all the dragons it promised us just yet, but it certainly has drama. The young princess seems to be the only one who thinks that this new family dynamic is awkward as hell. Her father impregnated her best friend twice now, and it's a miracle that HBO has not forced us to watch a sex scene between the two.

Outside of Craghas the Crabfeeder—the man who has crabs eat people alive on the beaches of the Stepstones!?—the realm is now a relatively safe place. Daemon and Corlys are dealing with the crab man, so the Targaryen family is spending the day on a hunting trip for the baby prince's birthday. At the hunting grounds, we're introduced to a pair of twin brothers: Lord Jason and Tyland Lannister (both played by actor Jefferson Hall). Tyland is a political strategist in the king's court, while Jason is the lord of a castle in the west, called Casterly Rock. Naturally, Game of Thrones viewers should be distrustful of House Lannister, so it comes as no surprise when Jason mentions that he would like Rhaenyra to be his "lady wife" the first time he ever talks to her.

The young princess storms off on horseback and is swiftly followed by Ser Criston Cole of the king's guard. "Was I named heir to the Iron Throne so that I might only further raise the standing of a lord of Casterly Rock?" Rhaenyra asks the knight, tearing up. Ser Criston jokes that he could kill Lord Jason if she desired. The two share a little laugh. Cute. I ship it.

Meanwhile, the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, is really trying to name his new baby grandson Aegon as the heir over Rhaenyra. Viserys, however, is hearing none of it. In fact, all this schmoozing and buttering him up is getting annoying! The king is in a drunken-no-more-fake-friends tantrum. All he has around him are snakes and leeches. As Drake once said in the song "Fake Love": "That's why they smile in my face / whole time they wanna take my place."

In his... inebriated state, Viserys rambles about how he’s worried that he may have failed Rhaenyra as a father. Marrying your daughter's best friend was probably not a good start toward rebuilding a connection after her mother's death, man. Trying to console the king, Lord Strong reminds him that the previous King Jaehaerys was driven to the edge of madness by his daughters as well. Not helping, my guy! To make matters even worse, the King’s Master of Laws can't read the damn room, suggesting that Rhaenyra should marry Laenor Velaryon, Corlys’s son. If you remember from the last episode, the Sea Snake's 12-year-old daughter Laena was previously offered to King Viserys, but he turned her down for Alicent. And yes, Corlys named his children Laenor and Laena. (Insane.) Lord Strong points out, however, that the valiant Laenor is fighting in the battle against Craghas Crabfeeder, and he may perish if the threat is not squashed. With this little anecdote, his true agenda for the match is revealed. Viserys is disgusted by all the politicking.

Back to the hunt, which everyone is clearly jazzed about. King Viserys is a big ol' softie, so he doesn’t want to kill a stag. (Don't worry Viserys, it's just CGI!) After the group captures one, Viserys succumbs to peer pressure and murders the animal via two stabs from his fancy new Lannister lance. The stag is screaming bloody murder the whole time, which is a little bit of a buzzkill. Usually, the king spends his days whittling a cute little model city of old Valyria. He’s a nerdy miniatures guy. If House of the Dragon wasn't set before the industrial revolution, the king would be laying train tracks and wearing a conductor’s hat instead of a crown, for sure.

After viciously stabbing a wild boar that attacks them at night, Princess Rhaenyra and Ser Criston Cole return to camp. King Viserys tells Rhaenyra that she should find someone who appeases her to marry, just as he did. It can't be a coincidence that she spent all day with a charming knight in this same episode, of course. Either way, it's apparently her duty to have children to keep the Targaryen line going and solidify her claim to the Iron Throne.

Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

The largest threat to that claim, Uncle Daemon, is still fighting against Craghas the Crabfeeder and the Myrish pirates. House Velaryon's army looks worn out and broken, and the family is bickering around the war table. We're introduced to two new characters: Corlys's younger brother, Ser Vaemond, and Corlys's aforementioned son, Laenor. I've still got my bet on Rhaenyra cozying up to Ser Criston Cole, but it turns out that Laenor isn't sliced bread by any means.

House Velaryon has the largest navy in all of Westeros at its disposal, but the Crabfeeder and his archers are hiding in caves. Ser Vaemond doesn't believe in Daemon and his dragon to get the job done, but Laenor plots to use Daemon as bait to draw the Crabfeeder's men out. King Viserys sends a letter promising them 10 ships full of 200 men in total, which feels like a lot, but Daemon laughs off his older brother's idea as mere child's play. Faking a surrender, the prince marches out to the middle of the battlefield and slays nearly 20 of the Crabfeeder's men on his own, before he's clipped by flying arrows. If it was this easy, why was House Velaryon suffering so much?

The grayscale-ridden Craghas spends this entire time looking up in the sky, wondering when Daemon's dragon is going to show up. Wouldn’t you know it, Caraxes appears just in time. Laenor also arrives on the back of a white dragon, burning a whole host of the enemy’s army alive. Daemon then cuts the Crabfeeder in half (off-screen!?) and drags his lifeless body back on the battlefield. It was an OK battle, but the pirate's near inability to stop Daemon alone seemingly proved that they really weren't much of a threat. Disappointingly, Craghas the Crabfeeder doesn't get to do any more cool stuff now that he's dead. He didn't even get a single line of dialogue! Maybe the idea of a guy with a crab army was better in my mind—but it felt like wasted potential. Either way, House Velaryon really owes Daemon now.

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