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House of the Dragon S01E03 Review: Dual Depression & An Epic Finish

This week's episode of House of the Dragon has three parts depression & two parts epic battles. There is a two-year time jump in "Second of His Name" from the second episode "The Rogue Prince." The forces of Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and the Sea Snake, Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), are battling Prince-Admiral Craghas Drahar (Daniel Scott-Smith) and his army. The Crabfeeder is known to pin his opponents alive and let the local crustaceans feast off their flesh to finish them off, as much of his warfare takes place onshore. We find in the cold opening that despite their frequent skirmishes, the Crabfeeder constantly uses guerilla tactics while his forces retreat to the caves where dragons can't reach. This is your minor spoilers warning.

House of the Dragon: S01 E03 Review: Dual Depression & Epic Finish
Matt Smith in House of the Dragon. Image courtesy of Ollie Upton / HBO

Despite the exciting beginning, most of it deals with the narrative of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) dealing with Otto (Rhys Ifans) contesting that his newborn male heir produced by his new wife Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey)should be next in line of succession instead of his chosen successor in his firstborn and daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock). He's more depressed over the fact that relations have strained with her, which is made worse as houses throughout Westeros are vying for her hand in marriage. Rhaenyra is depressed and frustrated because she's very cognizant of the inherent misogyny from the patriarchy while having marriage forced upon her. Ironically, this was the exact same pressure her father dealt with the previous episode as a widower before he picked Alicent. The only problem? With a story like that and from what we've seen from the past two episodes, things shouldn't feel as dragged out as they do in this episode. Much it felt like wheel-spinning without the level of forwarding momentum that I was expecting.

House of the Dragon: S01 E03 Review: Dual Depression & Epic Finish
Milly Alcock and Fabien Frankel in House of the Dragon. Image courtesy of Ollie Upton / HBO

Bookending the episode, we also find out how war-weary Daemon and Corlys become battling the episode before its shocking conclusion. Directed by Greg Yaitanes and written by Gabe Fonseca and Ryan Condal, "Second of His Name" sees more building up of new characters and houses we haven't seen in previous episodes. We get some CG animals to build some tension with Visery's trying to convincingly stab a stag and Rharnyra finishing off a wild boar, both actually convey their proper emotions at the primal level. Smith continues to be money for the series, making the most of his limited screen time, especially in the final sequence to close the episode. While Considine and Alcock carry the bulk of the load for the episode, we do see Carey get far more involved. New episodes of House of the Dragon premiere Sundays on HBO and stream on HBO Max, and here's a preview of what's ahead with the trailer for S01E04 "King of the Narrow Sea":

House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3 "Second of His Name"

House of the Dragon: S01 E03 Review: Dual Depression & Epic Finish
Review by Tom Chang

Matt Smith's blazing stand as Prince Daemon Targaryen at the conclusion of House of the Dragon S01E03 "Second of His Name" is the episode's biggest bright spot in-between dragging narratives that slowed down the pacing set by the first two episodes a bit too much to my liking.

Greg Yaitanes

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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