House of the Dragon: Episode 3 Review
The Second of His Name is Reforged
With every episode, House of the Dragon continues to spread its leathery wings in unbridled glory. I can't spew enough praise for this show, especially when it comes to its writing and symbolism.
We begin this episode in media res, in a dark and fiery battlefield where Crabfeeder's victims lay nailed to their wooden graves with crabs feasting on their flesh. ( What a horrible way to go! ) Then, here comes the 'heroic' Daemon on dragon-back, crushing his own beneath the beast's foot and calling out blindly for the enemy prince to show himself.
Did anyone else think he sounded a little pathetic here? Like yeah, come out and face me, you coward, while I'm mounted on a fire-breathing dragon! Haha, I thought it was a great contrast to where he ends up later in the episode, where he has his triumphant run-through of a few dozen of Crabfeeders men with only his sword Dark Sister and a sneaky dagger. It was his moment to be 'reforged' in blood like the rest of his family in this episode.
And that really seems to be a theme here, both narratively and visibly. Blood is relevant in Visery's and Rhaenyra's 'hunts'. For Viserys, it's less about him being covered in blood and reforged in it, but a realization that his expectations for the future and his dreams may not be realized, and thus it is his own 'reforge' or growth moment. For those who missed it, this was represented when his hunting party found not the white hart, but a regular stag in the woods.
With the birth of his new son, Aegon, Visery's joy is unbound, and his old dream of a baby Targaryen sitting upon the iron throne with dragons roaring around him becomes the forefront of his mind. Did he make the right decision crowning Rheanyra heir? Was it his guilt over Aemma's death that pushed him more than his senses? We may never quite know, but I think Viserys stubborn insistence to keep Rhaenyra as heir says a lot about his true feelings on the matter.
Rhaenyra feels understandably excluded and isolated from the celebrations. She feels distant from both her father and her best friend who now is her stepmother…yikes.
It was a precious thing to see Alicent attempt over and over again to reach out and mend relations. She's got a good heart that is unfortunately too easily manipulated which is what has led her to this awkward situation. You see the early seeds of doubt towards Rhaenyra's position here when Viserys voices his own doubts to her in a drunken stupor. It only gets worse in future episodes.
Rhaenyra runs after a vicious and very public fight with her father. In the woods with her sworn protector Sir Criston Cole, she's able to be herself and voices her grievances with the whole situation. I honestly really liked this slowed-down segment of the episode. The quiet moments between these two without the politics were a nice breath of fresh air.
But blood comes for Rhaenyra too in the form of a wild boar that knocks Cole right off of his feet. When she is saved, the boar attempts to rise once more, only to be stabbed furiously by a very fed-up Rhaenyra. Blood coats her, and we can feel that famous 'dragon fury' oozing from her.
Like her Uncle, she churns out all of her frustration into this one act of violence, and we as the audience feel both disturbed and lethargic. Think of it like beating up one of your pillows, or a punching bag…minus the blood of course!
And for the final cherry on top, we finally see the elusive white hart! But instead, it approaches Rhaenyra, and instead of killing it and proving to everyone that she is the rightful heir, she decides against it. It becomes a quiet reassurance for her and her alone that yes, the road ahead is tough, but she was meant for this.
Thus, with the slain boar dragged behind her, she comes back to the celebrations the next day covered in blood to the shock and awe of the onlookers. It's no white hart, but she doesn't need that symbol. She is the symbol, and she walks into the camp like the owns the place. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a huge smile on my face after this scene!
This was a very satisfying episode; one that saw a lot of growth for our main characters. I'm expecting episode four to be the pay-off for these changes, and maybe a continuation of growth for certain characters…both of the good and bad kind.
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About the author
Book hoarder, fantasy author, gaming goblin. I love all things fantasy and have a lot of thoughts on today's stories in anime, books, tv, and games. Subscribe to my free newsletter at amandastarks.com for monthly updates!