House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Second

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Finding the right balance between politics and action is proving to be a tricky endeavor for House of the Dragon.

House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3 featured a time jump, a wealth of new locations, and more ever-changing character dynamics.

It’s hard to believe then that this was the slowest episode yet, but it played out more like something you’d get much further into the run of a series.

Tension on Name Day - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3

That’s not to say it was terrible, but after the strength of the first two episodes, “Second of His Name” paled in comparison.

The politics continue to excite us because we’re beginning to see where all these characters genuinely stand.

Alicent and Viserys - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3

Alicent has been the hardest to read because her father has been working overtime to secure the future of the Hightowers.

There has been plenty of discourse about whether she’s playing along or if she genuinely has a connection with Viserys.

If “Second of His Name” proved anything, it’s that Alicent has a lot of love for both Rhaenyra and Viserys.

Otto: The road ahead is uncertain, but the end is clear: Aegon will be King. He is the first born son of the King.

Her father’s want for power has constructed her circumstances, effectively taking her wants in life out of consideration.

Alicent is well aware of her power and influence, but it looks like she’ll only use it when she needs to.

At the Tree - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3

She’s smart and knows that using it sparingly will be the best foot forward. It also helps show who she is as a person.

She’s not cut from the same cloth as her father, but maybe that will change when the political fervor reaches a tipping point.

Her relationship with Rhaenyra is effectively over. Rhaenyra’s life is consistently changing on a dime, and there’s no semblance of stability.

The distance between her and Alicent was present when she told Samwell to continue playing music, forcing Alicent’s hand to use her Queen status.

In King’s Landing, the Queen’s word is worth more than the heir to the throne.

The New Queen - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3

For Rhaenyra, everyone is talking politics around her, and it’s aggravating. She’s lost her mother, her best friend, and possibly, her father.

The most intriguing part of Rhaenyra is that she knows when people are trying to use her to get what they want, and she’s not afraid to call them out.

The Jason Lannister of it all came out of the left field, but shipping Rhaenyra off to Casterly Rock would put her out of sight and mind to allow Aegon to ascend the throne if anything were to happen to Viserys.

You will be with your own child, sooner or later.

Viserys

Jason was far too transparent, thinking Rhaenyra would be wowed at the opportunity to marry him. It was difficult to watch as a viewer, but Rhaenyra giving her father a verbal beatdown for it in full view of everyone, was excellent TV.

Deep down, Viserys is struggling with what will benefit the Targaryens in the long run, but he fails to realize that he isn’t making the right decisions as king.

Expedition Time - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3

Through three episodes, it’s obvious he isn’t fit to be leading anyone. He has a lot of heart but needs to make more decisions with his head. He doesn’t think of the bigger picture, which will ultimately be his downfall.

The war in the Stepstones had everyone talking, and based on the conversations with the wives, everyone was shaking their heads at Viserys.

Otto didn’t want Viserys to send help because he wanted the Velaryons and Daemon well away from King’s Landing.

Having them as enemies of the Crown is the best way to get Aegon on the throne. Otto thinks ten steps ahead of everyone, which shows in his actions.

Daemon’s reaction to the letter from his brother was telling. His name is synonymous with madness and disloyalty in Westeros.

Vermond and Corlys - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3

He isn’t seen as trustworthy and doesn’t have the power or influence he desperately craves. That’s why he used tenacity to try to win this war for Corlys.

If he won, it would shore up his claim to the throne and get people talking about him. Viserys sending men and ships at the tail end of the war would have meant the people of King’s Landing would have gotten all of the recognition for winning.

Daemon has had to fight for everything and has struggled to emerge from his brother’s shadow. Viserys sending help in the first place was in response to his chat with Alicent, and I’m sure Daemon will have a big reaction when he finds that out.

Rhaenyra: I do not wish to get married.
Viserys: Even I do not exist without tradition and duty, Rhaenyra.

That being said, the battle scenes were epic. Daemon going solo to wave the white flag before going rogue was perfectly on brand for the character.

The omission of him bludgeoning his prized trophy to death seemed a little odd, but after seeing him covered from head-to-toe in blood, it’s clear we’re supposed to think back to Rhaenyra being soaked in blood after killing the boar.

Time for Battle - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3

It’s becoming more evident than ever that every shot means something on this show, whether there’s dialogue or not. Rhaenyra meeting the white animal after her father searched for it for so long during the hunt, seemingly blessed her with luck.

Where will that luck lead her? We have no idea, but at least her father is now giving her his blessing to find her suitor.

Despite being slower than the previous two episodes, House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3 successfully moved the puzzle pieces in different directions.

Anything can happen as we head into House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 4.

What are your thoughts on the episode?

Ser Laenor - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3

Do you like the direction, or would you have preferred the execution to be different?

Who do you think will catch Rhaenyra’s eye?

What’s your take on the parallels between Daemon and Rhaenyra?

Hit the comments.

House of the Dragon continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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