The episode begins with the war in the Stepstones with the Sea Snake banner behind fire and smoke while the Crabfeeder tortures a Westerosi soldier. The soldier warns the crabfeeder that both Corlys and Daemon is going to come for him. Almost immediately after Daemon flies in on Caraxes burning the Triarchy men as the Westerosi soldier cheers on his Prince, inviting Daemon to save him to which Daemon and Caraxes respond by landing on him. The House of the Dragon has been missing some humor so in a twisted way there was a bit of ironic comic relief. The Triarchy forces rain arrows tipped in fire down on Daemon, Caraxes shields him with his wing and the two retreat.
The episode title refers to Viserys’ new son with Queen Alicent, Aegon, who is having a feast for his second name day. The court is smitten with Aegon as is Viserys while Otto and his brother Lord Hobert Hightower are off discussing the expectation that Viserys make Aegon his heir as he is his first-born son. Otto attempts to tell his brother that Viserys does not see it that way, to which Lord Hobert instructs The Hand of the King to make the King see it that way.
We see Tyland Lannister interrupt Viserys’ merriment with news of the war in the Stepstones. Viserys tells him to hold his news another 3 days as it has already been 3 years, alerting the audience of the time jump in this episode. Aegon is having his second name day and Alicent appears to be at least 7 or 8 months pregnant with their second child. Viserys is more interested in readying everyone for a celebratory hunt as Tyland persists. Otto interjects that if Viserys were to get involved in the Stepstones after 3 years it would make him appear weak. Viserys ignores them desperately asking after Rhaenyra.
Alicent goes off to find Rhaenyra in the God’s wood under the weirwood tree listening to a minstrel singing a song with the lyrics “she fled with her ships and her people…” likely a reference to Nymeria, which I believe to be the second time we see Rhaenyra being connected to Nymeria. Even though Rhaenyra is older than Arya in Game of Thrones, the two have many similarities in personality and interests. Arya was also a fan of Nymeria, naming her Dire wolf after the Rhoynar Queen. Last week, Corlys’ performance sparked more interest in the Thrones successor show 9 Voyages, this week this scene increased my interest in the Nymeria spin-off 10,000 ships. I see what you’re doing HBO.
Alicent informs Rhaenyra her presence is requested; Rhaenyra initially ignores her and requests the minstrel continue singing. Alicent dismisses him and the two engage in a power struggle over Samwell. Alicent pulls rank as Queen trumps Princess and Samwell is dismissed. Rhaenyra is visibly salty with her stepmother and former best friend. This rift has likely been so since we last saw them 3 years ago. Rhaenyra leaves the God’s Wood when Alicent informs her that it is a command of the King that she join them for the hunt and celebration.
Rhaenyra joins Viserys, Alicent, Aegon and probably the nanny and other lady-maids in the carriage to the hunt as Viserys hints at Rhaenyra’s future marriage and making him a grandsire soon. Rhaenyra is resistant to the attempt to be one big happy family. Viserys is his usual clueless self as he is missing all the clues that Rhaenyra is uncomfortable, unappreciated and saddened at feeling unwelcomed in her own kingdom as heir.
As they arrive to the camp for the hunt, there is a grand and lavish celebration in honor of Aegon. We are introduced to Lady Redwyne, Lady Ceira Lannister and Larys Strong, sitting with Alicent and others. They pull Rhaenyra into their conversation. The whole interaction seems designed to get a rise from Rhaenyra regarding her position as heir and Viserys’ weakness as a King. Rhaenyra doesn’t take the bait and leaves the tents to walk within the camp.
She comes across Jason Lannister, who is twin to small council member Tyland Lannister (how fun, another set of Lannister twins). Jason embodies all personality traits Lannister and basically tells Rhaenyra that she should marry him because he has money and since Aegon is here and she won’t be heir for much longer she should take the money and build a dragon pit on Casterly Rock.
Rhaenyra declines and goes off to confront Viserys about trying to marry her off and the two have an argument in front of company. Otto interrupts the shouting match to inform Viserys that the elusive White Hart Stag has been spotted for the hunt, a great omen on Aegon’s name day celebration. As Viserys is distracted, Rhaenyra leaves and takes a horse into the King’s Wood, chased by her sworn guard Ser Criston Cole.
Viserys is approached by Jason Lannister who suggests that everyone knows Viserys will be replacing Rhaenyra with Aegon as heir to which Viserys responds by informing Jason he is bordering on treachery and Viserys begins drinking. Otto then suggests Viserys marry Rhaenyra to her 2-year-old brother Aegon, and Viserys drinks more. Lord Lyonel Strong approaches with his suggestion for Rhaenyra’s betrothal, Viserys is becoming visibly drunk. Viserys immediately assumes Strong also is going to be self-serving in his suggestion but to his surprise, Lord Strong suggests the same alliance as when he advised Viserys to marry Lady Laena Velaryon. Strong advises Viserys to betroth Rhaenyra to Corlys’ son Laenor Velaryon. Lord Strong seems to be the only one of the king’s advisors who doesn’t have ulterior motives, but then again this is Thrones Universe, so we’ll see about that.
Alicent joins Viserys by the fire as he questions himself and his decision to make Rhaenyra his heir. He believes he lost faith in his dream that he would father the male heir wearing the conqueror’s crown. His obsession in prophecy caused Aemma’s death and in that grief, he named Rhaenyra heir. He now believes he was wrong and perhaps Aegon is the babe he saw in his dream. This scene is such a problem or will be a problem. Viserys is constantly telling the Lords and Rhaenyra that she is his heir but confesses to his wife that he thinks it a mistake. His wife who is being confronted by her father to push Viserys to make Aegon his heir. Alicent doubted that Viserys wanted to make Aegon heir but if Viserys keeps making confessions such as these and she knows that even Viserys doubts Rhaenyra is the rightful heir, she will remember and use it later. This episode does not reference the wounds Viserys has from the throne, but Viserys is aging rapidly episode to episode. His age and weakness (physical and metaphorical) are evident when he is unable to kill the stag at the end of the hunt as all his court watches.
Ser Criston Cole and Rhaenyra spend the evening in the woods despite Cole urging Rhaenyra to head back to camp several times. Rhaenyra is struggling with her future in the family and realm. She feels powerless and essentially without family. Cole reminds her that she does retain some power as she changed his life for the better when she named him Kings Guard. As they sit by the fire a boar attacks her and Cole stabs the boar, but it doesn’t immediately die, and Rhaenyra finishes it off with several impassioned stabs with her own dagger as the blood covers her face and stains her hair. I don’t know if the showrunners intended this, but it seemed to be a slight connection to King Robert Baratheon being attacked by a boar and later dying as a result. Especially with the episode’s focus on stags as Rhaenyra and Cole run into the divine White Stag (that she let go) with no audience in contrast to Viserys killing a consolation stag in front of all the Realm’s Lords. They return to camp with the dead boar as all are staring at her and it feels like they are in awe but that may be me projecting.
Following her discussion with Otto, Alicent speaks with Viserys suggesting that Viserys let Rhaenyra believe it to be her choice to marry and not that she’s forced into marriage. She goes on to advise Viserys to send aid to the Stepstones to assist Corlys and Daemon. It appears Viserys is unable to make a single decision on his own. In the next scene he tells Rhaenyra she can choose her own husband after she calls him on his hypocrisy in marrying Alicent instead of Lady Laena. Rhaenyra tells her father she feels overlooked and inconsequential. Viserys vows never replace her as heir after admitting he briefly thought about replacing her. A vow in direct conflict with his confession to Alicent.
The episode ends as it began, in the Stepstones as the war council discuss strategies to change the tide of the war. Corly’s brother Vaemond is doubting their ability to win and blames Daemon. Corlys’ son, Laenor, suggests using Daemon as bait to draw the crabfeeder and their troops out of the caves. An envoy from Kings Landing arrives with a message from Viserys stating that help is coming, in response to Vaemond’s sending a letter in secret requesting help.
Daemon nearly kills the messenger and goes off and does what Laenor suggests, not having heard the suggestion. Daemon doesn’t want Viserys’ help after 3 years, he doesn’t want to be viewed as a failure, he wants to win on his own. He fakes surrender and when the crabfeeder takes the bait, proceeds to go on a solo badass rampage taking on arrows and all the Triarchy in true Battle of the Bastards fashion. He is finally slowed after taking a few arrows to the chest and leg, turns out you still need to zig-zag. However, unlike Rickon, he is saved by Corlys and his men, Laenor riding Seasmoke. As the troops wrap it up on the field, Daemon goes after the crabfeeder and emerges from the cave dragging the crabfeeder’s torso.
Thoughts & Ratings
Some parts of the episode were a little slow at times and there were one too many scenes of people cooing over Aegon. The ending truly made up for the other slow moments. I was happy we didn’t get the older actors just yet; I saw some reports they were coming this episode but at this pace, we will probably get them at the end of episode 4 or definitely in episode 5. Otto was himself but didn’t seem to have very many scenes to be annoying this episode. Viserys probably got under my skin the most this episode. Rhaenyra was still great; I think they’re going to have her and Cole have a thing/fling but I don’t see it as being a big deal or I’m not really into it. I don’t really get that much chemistry from them. Laenor was pretty badass along with Daemon this episode. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his character.
Let me know how you liked Episode 3. What did I miss? Who is your favorite and most disliked characters so far?