House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon Episode 3 demonstrates how the show is gradually improving


Despite the nonstop talking and conversations, the House of the Dragon is at least emitting some wisps of smoke, if not quite breathing fire (really, it could almost be a seminar at points). At last, Daemon, played by Matt Smith, demonstrates why he deserves the screen time he receives and has at last given his snark some spark. There is a flash, not much, but at this point, I’ll take it, of the old Game of Thrones riveting madness.

In Episode 3, King Viserys I keeps demonstrating his shortcomings as a ruler, a father, and a human being. A few years have passed, and the King is now happily married to Alicient, the best friend of his daughter Rhaenyra, and has at last obtained the chubby heir he so desperately desired. Everyone is certain the new baby, which Alicient is currently carrying, will be a boy. Rhaenyra is keeping her distance from everyone, as would be expected of any horrified daughter. She has resigned herself to reading under a tree or giving her father and former best friend stony glares and sarcastic responses. Alicient is still as enigmatic as ever; are there any indications of guilt? It’s difficult to say.

She wears her discontent like a shroud, and Milly Alcock deserves praise for giving this character some heft. A very recognisable name from the first Game of Thrones appears: a Lannister. For the majority of the episode, a depressed Viserys is thinking about getting married because he now has a male heir. Although the Lannisters have arrived to pay their respects, they are not exactly welcomed with open arms. 

There is no doubt that this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Lannisters, and one hopes that they will possess the same strength, biting, and magnetic sadism of the original GoT characters, Cersei, Jamie, Tyrion, and Tywin, who will endure forever due to their immense power and captivating on-screen presence. Right now, the new Lannister just comes across as smarmy and unattractive.

This episode of House of the Dragon features a lot of dialogue and more morose self-pitying from Viserys I, who admits that his obsession with having an heir has caused him to lose Rhaenyra as well. Viserys I acknowledge that his need for an heir drove him to almost murder his wife in that particular scene. I recognise that the show is attempting to elicit some sympathy for this fairly pathetic king, but it is utterly unsuccessful. Paddy Considine succeeds admirably in making you detest the character completely, though.

The most interesting parts of the episode are at the very end when Daemon beats a messenger out of icy rage that his brother has once again doubted his ability to handle a war. Finally, there is nuance and complexity here, and that is much more fascinating than watching men make bad choices and make their daughters get married. In a battle that reminded me uncomfortably of the Night King fiasco in Season 8, where almost everyone survived, he almost turns suicidal and sets out to find the Crabfeeder. It almost seems as though the stakes are not very high at all as Daemon deftly avoids arrows.

With the Daemon storyline at least, House of the Dragon is gradually improving, but the remaining scenes still alternate between gloom and some incredible dialogue. Visuals and the background music were particularly stunning in this episode. Although we’re still a long way from the storytelling, characters, and dialogue of Game of Thrones, there seems to be a chance that we might eventually get there.