TL;DR – We continue our slow build but at a pace that is verging on snail-like, which is odd given it has been about 2-years in-universe since the pilot episode.
Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.
House of the Dragon Review –
This history of the world, as well as literature, is littered with people doing stupid things that come back to stab them in the back. Indeed, Game of Thrones was famous for this throughout its run. Some chose honour over personal power, and that cost them their lives. Some overplayed their hands and were caught in the snare. Others still acted irrationally and rode themselves into an early grave. In House of the Dragon, we are starting to see some of these patterns rise again, which does not bode well for the little people about to get caught in the crossfire of dragons.
So to set the scene, while King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) had declared that Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) was to be his new heir over Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), many in the court still wanted him to remarry quick. First, as a way of shoring up the kingdom with a marriage alliance. But also because, as the “Queen Who Never Was”, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) put it, the men would rather burn the kingdom to the ground than put a woman on the throne. While Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) maneuvered to pair the elderly king with his young daughter Laena Velaryon (Nova Foueillis-Mosé). The King stunned the small council and his own daughter when he announced that Rhaenyra’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), would be his next bride. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
In this week’s episode, we don’t so get an A-Plot, and a B-Plot interweaved together. Instead, we get an A-Plot that takes up most of the run time and is constantly reminded that the B-Plot is going on, only for the B-Plot to jump into the frame in the final moments. The only issue is that this week’s B-Plot was the more exciting affair. The main narrative thrust in this week’s episode is whether Viserys will keep Rhaenyra as his heir now that he finally has the son he has cherished. With that in mind, we get many clumsy attempts to move the new prince into the order of succession or to move Rhaenyra out of it via marriage. However, all of this felt like a holding pattern, waiting for the narrative to jump forward again rather than something interesting in its own light. That being said, Paddy Considine does a great job as a more isolated figure, and Emily Carey & Milly Alcock continue to own their roles in such a way that I am a little sad we are about to lose them from the show.
With a significant tonal shift, we move from the relatively successful hunt to the war in the Stepstones that has gone from bad to worse, so bad in fact that they were only a week or two from having to surrender. In this sequence, we see much more of Daemon’s character. There is nuance and rage happening simultaneously, which Matt Smith perfectly delivers. Additionally, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) had a sharp mind for tactics that paid off, which will be interesting to see going forward. The fight itself was well choreographed, with the long lead like a single note singing in the wind waiting for the orchestra to take flight. You understood the layout of the battlefield and the flow it took as Daemon baited the Crabfeeder (Daniel Scott-Smith) and his forces out of their caves for the trap.
In the end, do we recommend House of the Dragon: Second of His Name? Well, this is the third episode where we have been dancing around the central plot without moving it forward much, and while I like a slow burn, perhaps it is time to stop holding their cards as close ot the chest as they have so far.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of House of the Dragon
Directed by – Greg Yaitanes
Written by – Gabe Fonseca & Ryan Condal
Created by – Ryan Condal & George R. R. Martin
Based On – Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin
Production/Distribution Companies – 1:26 Pictures, HBO Max, Binge & HBO
Starring – Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Milly Alcock, Emily Carey & Rhys Ifans with Steve Toussaint, Fabien Frankel, Graham McTavish Matthew Needham & Jefferson Hall and Gavin Spokes, David Horovitch, Bill Paterson, Ryan Corr, Wil Johnson, Theo Nate, Steffan Rhodri, Solly McLeod, Jonny Weldon, Daniel Scott-Smith, Edward Rowe, Lucy Briers, Joanna David, Alana Ramsey, Thom Ashley, Oscar Salem, Aron von Adrian, Clea Martin, Kathryn Delaney & Chris Jarman