Episode 3 of “House of the Dragon”: Two Targaryen Hunts


While his brother Daemon tried to catch a Crabfeeder, Viserys searched for a stag and clarity. Who was the most prosperous?

No rest for the royals: Paddy Considine, left, and Rhys Ifans in “House of the Dragon.”

There is no rest for the royals: Rhys Ifans and Paddy Considine in “House of the Dragon.” Credit: HBO/Ollie Upton

“Second of His Name,” episode three of season 1

The Iron Throne was referred to as “the most perilous seat in the realm” by Viserys in the “House of the Dragon” series premiere.

Even after you leave the throne itself for a weekend in the country, you are still the subject of unending cries and complaints, rebukes, and unwanted advice, making it seem like the most tedious seat in the realm.

Viserys spent the majority of this week under constant attack from Rhaenyra’s venomous anger, his courtiers’ clumsy attempts at manipulation, and his own self-doubt. He was pursued and caught like a sacrificial stag.

And that was before the king’s senior advisor—now his father-in-law—tried to arrange a match between his daughter, a teenager, and his son, a toddler. (Sea Snake: We ought to arrange a marriage with a 12-year-old. Hold my wine, Otto.)

It’s enough to make you want to pout and sip alcohol the entire while your child’s birthday celebration is going on. This is what Viserys did for a good portion of the program this week as he struggled with his decisions and obligations, eventually just pouring his own wine.

A few years have passed since last week’s shocking marriage announcement thanks to the show’s most recent time travel. The kid Viserys has always desired, Aegon, who was named after the first Targaryen to conquer Westeros, is turning two and Alicent is once more expecting. With her father and young stepmother, Rhaenyra is refusing to play the happy family game.

The Sea Snake vs. Stepstones match that was so anticipated last week is failing to live up to expectations. (Every hawkish leader who intends to go off into a conquest often ignores the reality that conquests are always easier to propose than to pull out.) Anyone can speculate as to how Daemon and the Velaryons are losing versus an army with such subpar archers.

However, the hunting party held to honor Aegon and his father was where much of the action took place. Viserys’ physical condition continues to deteriorate; he can no longer even mount and off his horse without using a step stool or dispatch a stag on the first attempt. The alcohol didn’t make him feel better; later, he told Alicent that “the gods have punished me for my indiscretions,” which is kingspeak for “I’m so hung over even my wig is hurting.”

The actual issue, however, is a dilemma he created for himself: whether to honor his pledge to his daughter or to follow the advice of almost everyone else and designate his little son as successor.

A recurring topic in “Game of Thrones” was the conflict between love and duty, which culminated with Jon Snow assassinating the recently autocratic Daenerys in the season finale for the benefit of the kingdom. This week’s episode of “Dragon” featured the dragon queen’s predecessors grappling with the same dilemma, with Viserys weighing his choice to designate Rhaenyra as his heir against his long-held ambition of a child “wearing the conqueror’s crown.” He queries Alicent, “What if I was wrong? Rhaenyra was simultaneously dodging marriage proposals from idiots who were shrewdly practical.

Another week, another indignity for Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock).

Rhaenyra endured another humiliation this week (Milly Alcock). Photo by Ollie Upton for HBO

Viserys ultimately decides to honor his word and promises Rhaenyra that he won’t replace her. The decision is likely to enrage wealthy people like the noblewomen who could hardly contain their sneers from Rhaenyra in the gossip tent, as well as Otto, who has a clear interest in his grandson becoming king. (As Rhaenys phrased it last week, the affluent nearly usually prefer to keep things as they are.)

Whatever the political cost, however, we continued to see evidence that Viserys was right to desire to promote Rhaenyra, at least in terms of her independence and leadership skills.

She continues to follow her own path despite attempts to arrange for her to get married to a wealthy House Lannister. (Admittedly, rejecting Lord Jason, who is absurd and would often steal her conditioner, seems like an easy call.)

Off on her own quest, Rhaenyra became closer to Ser Criston and together they wiped off the wild boar that had attacked her, predicting future conflicts by donning the blood of the animal for the remainder of the journey. (Did the boar stand for the chauvinist pig patriarchy in Westeros? Discuss.) The white hart, the all-important symbolic stag that everyone was looking forward to before they chose a more modest one for Viserys, cast his ballot in her column.

In addition, the majority of this week’s show didn’t reflect well on the Targaryen males. Viserys struggled with existential issues, and we discovered that Daemon had been unable to use a dragon to battle the Crabforces for the past few years. The messenger who delivered the disheartening news of the king’s assistance in the failing Stepstones war attempt was brained by him as he once more exhibited his propensity for unpredictable cruelty. Are we certain we want one of these individuals to sit on the Iron Throne again?

Later, Daemon made up for it by breaking through enemy lines in a daring raid, emerging from a cave with a half-crabfeeder trailing behind him.

Even if the scenario looked impossible, it was entertaining to see a “Thrones” combat once more. The Crabfeeder dispatched the majority of his ground troops to meet one man only to have them set ablaze by Daemon’s dragon, Caraxes, which was flown by the Sea Snake’s son, Laenor (Theo Nate). However, absurd events frequently occur in action movies, so what do I know? Never before have I aimed an arrow at a man sprinting with a white target on his head.

The end result is that Daemon will finally have a triumph to his name and pride. But good luck locating a courier who will deliver the news to King’s Landing.

Bogged down in the Stepstones: from left, Wil Johnson, Matt Smith and Theo Nate in “House of the Dragon.”

Wil Johnson, Matt Smith, and Theo Nate in “House of the Dragon” are stuck in the Stepstones. Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

A few things to consider as we attempt to recall laughing
  • Rhaenyra described Jason Lannister to her father as being conceited and cocky (Jefferson Hall). She might have been describing the show itself; less the arrogance and more the self-seriousness, which is more and more apparent each episode. (The episode’s ridiculous jerk Lord Jason really provided a rare instance of humor.) Tyrion, but also characters like Cersei, Varys, and Bronn, as well as the interactions of the various road duos, contributed to the “Thrones” humor’s underappreciated appeal (Arya and the Hound, Jaime and Brienne, and so on). Humor is a fundamental component of human communication, so its absence makes theater seem more staid and artificial. It doesn’t only lighten the atmosphere, either. At first glance, Daemon appeared to be Daemon first appeared to be able to provide some comic relief, but they later sent him away from King’s Landing.
  • Having said that, I did chuckle when Daemon struck the helpless soldier welcoming him with his dragon.
  • Speaking of lightheartedness, this week had several instances that came to mind another amusing “Thrones” character, the disillusioned old Robert Baratheon, including a monarch getting pummeled on a hunt in the kingswood and a wild boar that was out for royal blood. As you may remember, Cersei ordered Lancel Lannister to bribe Robert with wine when he was out hunting in Season 1 of “Thrones,” which made the king vulnerable to the boar attack that ultimately claimed his life.
  • The dragons perform best when they are partly hidden, as is the case with most onscreen animals. I adored Daemon’s midnight assault to start the episode, and Rhaenyra riding her own dragon, Syrax, into Dragonstone last week was one of the best pictures.
  • Caraxes’ physique was distinctly serpentine during the Stepstone invasion. He was referred to as the Blood Wyrm in the mythology, so I suppose it makes sense, even though he appeared bulkier last week. He might only enlarge when flying.
  • The fact that Laenor Velaryon appears to be at ease while riding a dragon is certainly significant.How do you feel? Do you like the colorful daytime dragons or the gloomy nighttime ones? What does Ser Criston and Rhaenyra’s future hold? What number of arrows did you avoid today? Commentary is pending.


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