The third episode of House of the Dragon opens with Daemon riding on his dragon. He and Corlys are dealing with Crabfeeder, aka Prince Drahar, at Stepstones. Almost two years have passed since the events of the second episode, which means Alicent Hightower - the new Queen - has not only given birth to a male heir, Aegon but is again pregnant. To celebrate the young prince's second birthday, the Targaryen family goes for a hunting trip at Kingswood. Rhaenyra is still cross with Viserys and Alicent. The annoyance increases further when Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall) proposes marriage to Rhaenyra. In a fit of rage, the princess departs from the camp and is followed by Ser Criston Cole.
Meanwhile, Otto tries his best to influence the king into naming Aegon as his heir. Viserys might be drinking too much wine, but he is conscious enough to not make any wrong decisions. He understands how preposterous it would be to announce a union between Rhaenyra and Aegon. "The boy just turned two, Otto," Viserys utters. (Something similar occurred in the previous episode when Viserys was asked to marry a 12-year-old girl). He gets more frustrated when he is suggested that her daughter should marry Laenor Velaryon. Viserys gets fed up with the snakes circling him. "I came here to hunt, not to be suffocated by all this fucking politicking," he asserts.
The reason why House of the Dragon continues to work is that the immediate feelings of the characters clearly come to the foreground. When you see Viserys, you notice a father who fears he might be losing his daughter. It's not just the dialogues but his sad face and unsteady posture that bring his heartbreak to the surface. You are always aware of all the characters' mental states, thanks to the superb performances. The anger with which Daemon hits a soldier after reading a letter is combined with resentment and dissatisfaction caused by Viserys. (To show Daemon's irritation, numbness, and turbulence, the sound is muffled). He uses this feeling as fuel to defeat the enemy at Stepstones. Since we sense Rhaenyra's vexation at the men who don't want her to sit on the throne, we don't roll our eyes whenever she underlines how patriarchal the people are around her. Like in this episode, she asks Criston, "Do you think the realm will ever accept me as their Queen?" (We get it, men don't want to take orders from a woman). Rather than these verbal indicators, I like the subtle ones, like that scene where the council becomes awkwardly silent after Rhaenyra suggests flying dragons over Stepstones.
Last week, we got another prequel series of a famous franchise: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. That series' first two episodes proved to be visually pleasing but emotionally empty. House of the Dragons, however, is charged with human interactions and emotions. The scene in the third episode where Rhaenyra and Viserys talk to each other, and he assures her he has no intention of supplanting her, is heartfelt and tender. It's moments like these that make House of the Dragon a show featuring both style and substance.
Final Score – [8/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
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