Battles of different kinds are fought this week on House of the Dragon episode 3. After House of the Dragon episode 1 set up a game of thrones, episode 2 saw characters making (and burning) alliances. In episode 3, after another time jump, the Targaryen dynasty has become more complicated than ever.
The forthcoming civil war called Dance of the Dragons, detailed in George R.R. Martin's Targaryen history, Fire and Blood, is some years away but all the pieces are moving into place. Episode 3, "Second of His Name," introduces several new players who will become very important in future events.
Here are the two winners and two losers from this week's game.
Warning: Extensive spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 3
Loser: King Viserys I
You'd think the king was a winner after marrying Alicent and finally getting the son he's always wanted (and apparently dreamed in a vision). Around three years have passed since he announced his betrothal, and Alicent has birthed son Aegon and is pregnant with another child.
Viserys is visibly happy with his new family, but also highly troubled. Daughter and heir Rhaenyra is still angry at him and her former friend. He knows that the nobles want him to chuck Rhaenyra and name Aegon as his heir. He's also trying to broker a marriage for Rhaenyra, too, and she's not having one bit of it.
For Aegon's second nameday, the king holds a celebratory hunt. He's told that a white hart has been spotted in the woods — a symbol of royalty before dragons came to Westeros. But the hunt quickly sours. The master of ships, Tyland Lannister, is pestering him about the Stepstones war. Lords and ladies are gossiping about the crown's lack of action. Rhaenyra rejects his chosen suitor, Tyland's twin Jason Lannister.
Then, he admits to Alicent that he might've made a mistake in elevating Rhaenyra as heir. When the stag is caught, it's not the white hart. And it takes him a galling two tries to kill it properly.
When Viserys returns to King's Landing, he's nursing a fierce hangover. He allows Alicent to nudge him to do something about the Stepstones. He may be king, but his weakness is all too apparent.
Loser: Rhaenyra Targaryen
Rhaenyra is absolutely acting like the bitter teen stomping around the house because her parent got remarried and gave her half-siblings she never wanted. In her case, though, the stakes are higher than having to share a bathroom. Her 2-year-old brother Aegon represents a threat to her future as queen.
Just as bad is her father's insistence that she get married. The oily Jason Lannister approaches her at the hunt, bragging about Lannisport wine, the views from Casterly Rock and his wealth. Rhaenyra doesn't want to get married at all, and ends up in a shouting match with her father about it.
She storms off on her horse, with Ser Criston Cole chasing after her. They spend the day and night talking about her future and whether the realm will ever accept her as queen. While sitting by a campfire, a wild boar attacks them. Things look dire for Rhaenyra until she's finally able to stab it (multiple times) to death.
Back at King's Landing, Viserys tries to thaw the ice between them. He tells her he won't replace her as heir, but she must marry. However, the choice of husband is up to her.
Winner: Prince Daemon Targaryen
At first, Prince Daemon seems like he belongs on the losers list. He's been exiled and then ignored by his brother, displaced as the heir to the Iron Throne by his niece and has spent three years fighting a fruitless war against the Crabfeeder in the Stepstones.
After his brother finally decides to send him aid, Daemon reads his message and grimly smirks. Then, he beats the living daylights out of the messenger. He doesn't want nor need the king's help. And he's certainly not going to be known as a failure in battle and lose to some ugly dude called the Crabfeeder.
Instead, Daemon goes on what seems like a suicide mission. He waves a white flag, but only to trick the enemy fighters into coming out of their caves. Wielding Dark Sister, he cuts down a lot of them as the Crabfeeder watches.
When arrows pierce his shoulder and leg, Daemon seems done for. Even the arrival of Velaryon troops may not save him. What will? A dragon, of course! Laenor Velaryon swoops in on a dragon, shouting "Dracarys" and blasting the fighters.
That gives Daemon a chance to go after the Crabfeeder himself. And he emerges from the cave with the upper half of the man — to be fed to the crabs, of course.
Daemon has triumphed and shown strength. In your face, Viserys!
Winner: Laenor Velaryon
As previously mentioned, Laenor rides his dragon to save the day (and Daemon's life). Who is this guy? He's the eldest son of Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen, and according to Fire and Blood, he rides Seasmoke.
That's not all that's going for Laenor. He's mentioned as a possible husband for Rhaenyra. Not only does he have Valyrian blood and Targaryen heritage, marriage would repair the rift between their houses.
So, Laenor has a dragon, he's rich and he's possibly the spouse of the next ruler of Westeros. No notes so far.