House of the Dragon Episode 3 Breakdown and Symbology

We have now been blessed with three beautiful episodes of House of the Dragon, and it is not disappointing fans! Episode 3 aired Sunday and brought us a lot of political discourse, a King drinking (we’ve seen that before), and a battle worthy of the Game of Thrones name!

We’re going to get into the goodies of this episode, but first up, don't miss our new show, "Decoding Dragons," where my talented co-host Liza Phoenix and I break down all things House of the Dragon (also available on YouTube and podcast format)! If you don’t have 20 minutes to listen or watch but have a few minutes to read, continue forth, my Lords and Ladies. If you don’t want to get burned by spoilers, I suggest watching the third episode before continuing on! 

Now, let’s go ahead and get into what happened in episode 3, “Second of His Name.”

Again with the timeline jump

In episode 2, we learned it had been about six months since the events of episode 1. At the end of episode 2, we saw King Viserys announce his new wife would be his daughter’s best friend, Alicent Hightower. At the beginning of episode 3, the time gap has increased. King Viserys now has a son with Alicent Hightower, named Aegon, and she is pregnant with another baby. It is Aegon’s 2nd ‘name-day’ so we have bypassed the wedding, the consummation, the pregnancy, the birth, and the first two years of Prince Aegon’s life. The War at the Stepstones gets introduced as ‘they have been fighting for three years…’ so a lot has come to pass. More on the Stepstones later.

We see that Rhaenyra and Alicent’s relationship has become incredibly strained. Rhaenyra and her father are more distant than in episode 2, and she has now come of age to marry. King Viserys is attempting to find her a proper match, much to the dismay of Rhaenyra. She is also in fear of losing her position as both the heir and the importance to her father because he now has a son- what he has wanted since we met the characters!

Easter Eggs: Aegon was the name of the Targaryen who conquered Westeros (otherwise known as Aegon the conqueror). Prince Aegon in this episode will be Aegon 2nd of his name if or when he takes the throne. If you remember, Jon Snow was also Aegon Targaryen, and he would have been Aegon, 6th of his name. That’s how far these characters are in lineage with our Game of Thrones characters.

Battle of the Stags and Cups

This episode centered around a royal hunt in celebration of Aegon turning 2. The King, the new queen, Rhaenyra, and Aegon all traveled to the camp set up by the locals. There were rumors of a great white stag being tracked for the king to slay during the hunt. The symbolism was not lost on Tywin Otto Hightower, Alicent’s father, who made it clear he thought it was time Aegon be made heir, displacing Rhaenyra. King Viserys is clearly conflicted with his decision and spends the duration of camp ‘taken by his cup,’ or rather, drinking a shit ton of wine.

Cristen Cole and Rhaenyra in the woods after she runs away from camp

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra discovers her father is trying to marry her off due to a proposal from none other than Jason Lannister, twin to the King’s High Council member Tyland Lannister. Twins run in the family, apparently! After a verbal argument in front of the townsfolk with her father, Rhaenyra takes off into the woods on a horse, with Ser Cristen Cole dutifully following her to ensure her safety. While they are traipsing through the woods in an attempt to avoid returning to camp, they cross paths with an angry and dangerous boar! Cristen Cole gets the first shot, saving Rhaenyra, but Rhaenyra is able to take out the frustrations of her family, her father, her proposals, and her position on the throne on the boar, splattering blood all over herself and the boar.

Following the boar battle, and after King Viserys has had copious amounts of wine, the hunting dogs and townsfolk have cornered a stag for the King to slay. It turns out to not be the white stag, which helps Viserys feel more confident in his decision to keep Rhaenyra as heir. Viserys begrudgingly kills the stag and returns to camp, just in time to see Rhaenyra and Cristen return with a dead boar being dragged behind Rhaenyra’s horse, both covered in blood. The resolution of King Viserys and Rhaenyra’s disagreement comes with Rhaenyra being able to choose whom she marries as Alicent tries to encourage the King to change the heir to Aegon. Back at the Red Keep, the King receives word that the Daemon and Corlys are losing their War at the Stepstones and are asking for aid.

Easter Eggs: There were several nods of symbolism to the original Game of Thrones series, as well as Arthurian tales of a white stag. As a member of the hunting party mentions, the white stag was a symbol of royalty before dragons ruled over Westeros. The boar storyline reminds us of the boar that killed Robert Baratheon. Also, if you look closely, you can see a hand on King Viserys’ spear before he kills the brown stag that has a few fewer digits underneath a glove! The maggots didn’t seem to help.

War at the Stepstones

Corlys Valeryon being a badass on the battlefield

The best battle scene of the series so far is also the first large battle scene in the series. (Like saying Cersei is Jamie’s favorite sister, haha!) We meet Corlys’ younger brother Vaemund Valaryon. We see Corlys’ son Laenor, now a battle hero, and we see Daemon and Caraxes unsuccessfully battling the Triarchy. They are standing on a hill surrounding a war table in which Laenor is directing the next moves when Vaemund begins voicing his frustrations with the lack of victories. This is directed towards Daemon, in particular, right when he lands with Caraxes. A Kings Landing rider appears with a message from King Viserys to hand directly to Daemon, which explains the aid he will offer. It is 10 ships and 2,000 men. Daemon proceeds to then beat the crap out of the messenger and embark on a suicide mission. Seriously. This man raised a white flag and his sword to draw the crab-feeder and his fighters out of the caves they hid in. He then Jon-Snow-a-la-Battle-of-the-Bastards high-tails it across the battlefield directly for Craghas himself, slaughtering as many as he could on the way there.

Daemon flying a false white flag and offering his sword in apparent truce.

Craghas looks to be in fear of dragons but not Daemon, drawing our eyes to the skies with his. Assuming Caraxes would come to save his rider is where the mistake lies, as it was Laenor riding Seasmoke arriving just as the foot soldiers of Valaryon ran to the beach in Daemon’s aid. The episode ends with Daemon covered in blood, emerging from the cave with Craghas Drahar’s torso.

Easter Egg: The battle sequence looking like the Battle of the Bastards is no coincidence. The showrunners of this series are two directors from the original Game of Thrones series. Some notable episodes would be Hardhome, Battle of the Bastards, and The Long Night.

If you’re wondering where House of the Dragon fits into our Game of Thrones world and timeline, be sure to check out Liza’s article “House of the Dragon: the main Who’s Who” to get your questions answered! 

We now have more pieces to fit into the puzzle of how the Targaryen War for succession, called Dance of the Dragons, occurred.  The Dance of the Dragons is the catalyst in which House of the Dragon is revolving around. Daemon is victorious, Rhaenyra is more content, and Viserys is sound in his decision-making. What do you think will happen in the next episode? Are you enjoying the story so far? Let us know in the comments!

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