It’s safe to say that HBO’s House of the Dragon has been a roaring success with the first two episodes drawing in a whopping 10 million views EACH. Whatever lingering doubt fans had about the franchise not meeting expectations has been absolutely eviscerated. Ryan J. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik have reawakened a dormant love for this franchise, aided by the brilliant performances from Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Milly Alcock, and Rhys Ifans. House of the Dragon Episode 3 “Second of His Name” will undoubtedly follow suit delivering on some long-awaited action and gratuitous violence. Oh and dragons. Lots of dragon action.
Up until this point, the show has largely laid a lot of groundwork either through some very heavy expositional narrative, or the very brief character development and interaction that has become the tentpole marker for Game of Thrones. Episode 1 is our reintroduction to the current world set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones in which King Viserys Targaryen must name an heir to the throne after losing both his wife and newborn son. With his brother Daemon being too much of a liability, Viserys bestows the honor upon his only daughter Rhaenyra. While Episode 2 thickened the plot by instigating danger at every turn, this tangled web of deceit and plotting is such a juicy staple of this series. The execution during the previous episode was a perfect example of why it’s so easy to be drawn into this honey trap of a show.
However, something has been lacking in House of the Dragon, and while it’s still early, the show has been calling for it as a reprieve from the politicking that can sometimes weigh the narrative down. Wait no more, as House of the Dragon Episode 3 calls to action the dragons, as the war against the Crabfeeder is now in full effect. Yes, the show has implemented another time jump in between episodes. We first jumped 6 months between episodes 1 and 2, and since then we’ve jumped 3 years into the future. The war has gone poorly for Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and Daemon, yet, no aid is being offered by the King. Instead, he is off celebrating his son on his second name day with a great hunt in the Kingswood.
Violence, in this case, is used incredibly well as it further cements Daemon as an incredibly dangerous adversary that is not to be trifled with. While his rage is often untethered, House of the Dragon Episode 3 highlights that when backed into a corner, the King’s brother is also as cunning as he is formidable. Which is an important takeaway given that during the past two episodes we’ve seen both he and Rhaenyra placed in precarious proximity to the iron throne. While in the previous episode the spotlight was on Rhaenyra as she attempted to break the bonds of the patriarchy and demonstrate her worth, Episode 3 reminded us that Daemon has the same Dragon’s blood coursing through his veins.
Matt Smith has so far been such a force in this series, and it’s been incredible to watch him embody this role as if he were born for it. The scorn and self-righteous nobility oozes from him so naturally, creating this elitist villain with the guile to take it all.
The intensity of succession has been amplified in this episode, especially with the arrival of a now two-year-old Aegon Targaryen, Viserys’ son. The people in power know it, and the realms themselves have begun to sow the seeds of doubt. Episode 2 so aptly called out that men would rather burn the kingdom down than see a woman on the throne. Rhaenyra herself seems resigned to the prospect of her baby brother supplanting her as the heir apparent. Once again, the plot thickens as the season’s narrative begins to take form potentially foreshadowing the inevitable conflict.
Be prepared to spy some familiar house names, with the introduction of a few new characters, and marvel at the fight choreography, and VFX work leading up to a stunning battle scene.
With all of this said, each of the individual episodes have been high-quality entertainment, with great performances, and superb visual effects. The larger season threat has begun to reveal itself as the key roles move into position but I find myself lingering on one big question. When are we going to settle on one defined point in time? Each episode has moved the timeline forward, with the current being the most significant leap. It’s hard to know if this trend will continue, and whether skipping over events will lead to a better narrative, but it’s something I’d love to revisit once we’re at the conclusion of the first season. Right now, all I can say after watching House of the Dragon Episode 3 is that I’m hooked in and ready. I’ve loved what we’ve seen, but I remain incredibly curious to see where we’re headed also.
House of the Dragon Episode 3 is streaming now on HBO Max, with new episodes airing every Sunday.
House of the Dragon Episode 3 - "Second of His Name"
After watching House of the Dragon Episode 3, I’m hooked in and ready. I’ve loved what we’ve seen, but I remain incredibly curious to see where we’re headed also.