Chris Connor reviews the third episode of House of the Dragon….
After a relatively slow paced opening two episodes which allowed us to get a feel for this era of Westeros, the third episode of House of the Dragon considerably upped the stakes and action to give us a flavour of the series’ scope and spectacle beyond King’s Landing, and its safe to say it did not disappoint.
The episode sees us jump forward in time following King Viserys’ proposal of marriage to Lady Alicent Hightower at the close of the previous episode. This adds an interesting dynamic to several of the core relationships in the show – the close friendship between Princess Rhaenyra and Alicent, and Ser Otto Hightower’s relationship with his daughter and the King.
Much of the thrust of the episode revolves around whether or not the King will move away from having Rhaenyra as his heir in light of his new marriage. The continued internal family dynamic is fascinating and continues in the vein of Game of Thrones, bearing the style of George R.R. Martin and reminiscent of monarchs throughout British history.
The time jump allows the series to cover a considerable amount of ground and see the characters at different points in their growth. It will be interesting to see how Emma D’arcy and Olivia Cooke slot into the roles of Alicent and Rhaenyra, so impressive is the work of Milly Alcock and Emily Carey as their younger iterations. Bringing both the warmth of their friendship but also a sense of erosion and friction that has developed since the last episode, it will be intriguing to see how the pair’s relationship continues to develop as we progress through their history.
What this third episode brings above all else is a sense of what is at stake beyond the line of succession with the episode bookended by Matt Smith’s Daemon and the war he is unsuccessfully waging. The battle sequences here might not match the Battle of the Bastards or Blackwater but they are highly impressive nonetheless with some brutal kills and a real opportunity for Smith to have his moment centre stage as Damon singlehandedly takes on hoards of enemies.
These sequences prove this show hasn’t lost any of the visceral bloody action that helped drive Thrones’ success and one can imagine this is just a taster for grander sequences later in the series. The battles here don’t feel gratuitous either and are in fact relatively short in length, making them all the more impactful.
‘Second of His Name’ feels like it has the most narrative thrust of the series to date adding extra layers to an already intriguing regal and political dynamic while significantly upping the stakes away from the Royal court. Once again the performances help sell the intrigue and make us want to find out more despite there not being a clearly likable central protagonist like a Tyrion or Arya.
House of the Dragon continues to build momentum as it approaches its midpoint and with news of a second season confirmed it seems Westeros is well and truly back with a fiery vengeance.