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Home of the Dragon, episode 3, “Second of His Identify” evaluation: Viserys’s weak spot is everybody’s loss


Home of the Dragon understands maybe even higher than its predecessor that the pleasures of a very good household drama come not from the explosive moments however from watching small slights and hurts deepen into unshakeable rifts over time, till the explosive moments are cathartic. Thus the present’s third episode, “Second of His Identify,” spends most of its time treating the Targaryen clan much less just like the royal household of Westeros and extra like a clan of squabbling Kardashians.

Observe: This text accommodates spoilers for Home of the Dragon, “Second of His Identify.”

Daemon (Matt Smith) is livid as a result of his brother ignored him and left him to struggle Westeros’s battles alone; the king finally stops ignoring him and sends assist, however in basic youthful brother psychology, that stings even worse. Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) is livid as a result of her father can’t appear to wrap his head round her changing into queen, not to mention to help her by means of the fixed undermining of her place at court docket. Viserys (Paddy Considine) is mad at them each for being entitled brats, mad at Rhaenyra for now not being his completely satisfied little lady, and mad at himself for being unable to shake his imaginative and prescient of a strapping younger son on the Iron Throne.

Seems like the right time for a celebration!

It’s a celebration, however nobody’s celebrating

Paddy Considine shines in roles of this kind — the well-meaning however willfully obtuse patriarch, hoping in useless to stave off calamity by means of goodwill and battle avoidance. Considine turns Viserys’s weak spot right into a flaw that’s irritating however extremely entertaining; it’s simple to narrate to each single one who desires to throttle him, from the high-strung Rhaenyra to the long-suffering Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans, nonetheless a droll villainous delight).

As we mentioned final week, Viserys’s hesitancy to decide to a agency plan of action often leaves these round him in limbo. However with this episode’s time leap — we’ve skipped forward two years — the stakes of an indecisive king have solely elevated. Throughout that point, Viserys has fathered a son, Aegon, together with his new spouse Alicent (Emily Carey), and all of the individuals who had been reluctant to welcome Rhaenyra as the subsequent ruler have embraced the child with open arms and royal nicknames. Rhaenyra, seeing the writing on the wall nicely earlier than her father, has withdrawn from him emotionally in the best way of all rebellious youngsters, which has solely elevated his doubts about naming her as his inheritor.

In the meantime, Daemon and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) have been off combating within the thankless channel islands referred to as the Stepstones, making an attempt to defeat an encroaching alliance from Essos led by a scary dude who feeds individuals to crabs. As we noticed in final week’s episode, the pair allied to start this battle with out Viserys’s express permission; he’s retaliated by passive-aggressively refusing to ship them any help or army help. Over the previous two years, their forces, primarily equipped by Corlys’s wealth and bolstered by Daemon’s loyal armies, have been depleted. Since Daemon nonetheless refuses to ask for assist, Corlys’s son Laenor (Theo Nate) takes the initiative to write down to the king himself.

That letter arrives throughout a mini-festival commemorating Aegon’s second birthday. The court docket is in full celebration mode, and the king initially shoves apart all speak of politics, together with Laenor’s request. He’s right here to celebration and hunt, and a uncommon white hart (an albino stag) has reportedly been noticed within the King’s Wooden — a very good omen for Aegon’s anticipated reign, which everybody besides Viserys absolutely expects him to have. Their certainty irritates Viserys, however not sufficient for him to decisively quash it. He’s encouraging Rhaenyra to marry and go be some landed gentry’s spouse — fully the alternative of coaching her to rule in his stead, permitting her to have a task within the small council or as a army chief, or something that might scream “right here’s my inheritor, present some respect.” When a Lannister fuckboy tries to court docket her, she storms out of the festivities and rides off into the woods on an all-day quest to nowhere.

In response, Otto floats probably the most obscene proposal we’ve had on a present that’s already crammed in a litany of obscene proposals: Why not marry Rhaenyra, the 16-year-old, to her half-brother, Aegon, the 2-year-old?

Viserys rightly recoils at this; he could also be morally reprehensible sufficient to homicide his spouse to be able to get an inheritor out of her womb sooner, however he’s not this morally reprehensible. On condition that Targaryens shall be Targaryens, the “half-brother” half doesn’t trouble Viserys as a lot because the age of the babe being proffered up for marriage. Maybe it ought to. This explicit half-brother, in spite of everything, is Otto’s key to controlling the king and his throne.

The king has at all times positioned full belief in Otto, who has maneuvered his teen daughter into the royal marital mattress and actively inspired the widening rift between Daemon and Viserys. The dialog about marrying Rhaenyra to Aegon happens instantly after Viserys opines sincerely that he desires to see Rhaenyra completely satisfied fairly than see her be pressured to marry for responsibility. Otto, a person fully fixated on energy, quadruples down on weaponizing his progeny.

One may assume that seeing Otto shamelessly and unflinchingly provide up his grandson like this may lastly snap Viserys out of the maintain Otto has over him. As an alternative, Viserys halts the entire dialog, keen to vary the topic fairly than ponder the complete ramifications of what Otto is proposing. (A a lot saner proposal arrives later, when council member Lyonel Sturdy suggests Laenor as a match for Rhaenyra — a theoretically ideally suited union.)

Later, discussing Laenor’s request for army help, Alicent has to remind Viserys to contemplate the great of the realm above what is going to merely take advantage of individuals round him completely satisfied. This, after all, needs to be the king’s foremost precedence; however Viserys, wholly centered on people-pleasing and peace-keeping amongst his speedy courtiers, must be guided and tugged towards even blatantly apparent programs of motion.

To totally drive this level house, the episode treats us to a tough scene through which the king goes on his “hunt” — that’s, he’s handed a spear and advised to stab a powerful stag that’s already been captured for him. It isn’t the white hart he was promised, however he’s nonetheless anticipated to point out his kingly prowess and slaughter it in entrance of the assembled crowds. Viserys, whether or not from inexperience, his trademark hesitation, horror, or all three, fails to strike the killing blow. As they awkwardly look forward to the tortured deer to die from his ineffective stab, one of many courtiers has to inform him the right way to put the animal out of its distress. Viserys, clearly nauseated by this complete ritual, manages to kill the stag when prompted, however his picture as a weak-willed king incapable of decisive motion has been fortified.

Out on her all-night jaunt within the forest, Rhaenyra peacefully encounters the fabled white hart herself; that is perhaps a very good omen, positive, however a fair higher image of her health for the crown arrives when she’s attacked by a wild boar. Although at first she freezes, she jumps to it and finishes the kill, slaughtering it with out hesitation. She emerges from the woods like Carrie from the promenade, drenched in blood however newly woke up.

In the meantime, within the Stepstones, Daemon receives his brother’s provide of help and flies right into a rage about it. In a delirium, he single-handedly carries out a Hail Mary assault, pretending to give up to be able to lure the Crabfeeder and his armies out into the open. Veteran director Greg Yaitanes phases a brief however thrilling rout; it’s painfully simple for the Westerosi troopers as soon as the dragon Vaghar seems to torch everybody in sight. The slaughter of numerous Essos minions, nevertheless, pales beside Daemon surfacing from the carnage, carrying the highest third or so of a dismembered, disemboweled Crabfeeder. He was a short-lived however efficient villain; probably changed by Daemon himself.

The parallels between Daemon and Rhaenyra right here carry a fittingly over-the-top symbolism. If there’s anybody to show Rhaenyra about battles, politics, and stratagems, it’s Daemon, not Viserys. When Viserys lastly tells her that he not solely helps her as his inheritor however desires her to decide on her personal husband, her response is cautious optimism as a substitute of the gratitude and love for which he clearly yearns. After years of treating her as his inheritor first and his daughter second, Viserys has sabotaged himself: She’s come to view him, inevitably, as much less her father and extra the unpredictable king upon whose whims she can not rely.

On this, after all, she’s completely right.

Westeros has been incepted

How do you resolve an issue like Rhaenyra?
Ollie Upton/HBO

The episode’s title, “Second of His Identify,” refers back to the identify Viserys provides his first surviving son: Aegon. These aware of the Targaryen household tree will acknowledge this because the identify of the unique Targaryen ruler, Aegon the Conqueror, who united Westeros underneath one rule and established the household dynasty (by now about two centuries outdated). The identify Aegon, all by itself, suggests management, means that the bearer is a successor to the crown; certainly, members of court docket are already calling the toddler “Aegon the Conqueror.”

Why would Viserys identify his son “Aegon,” with all of the hooked up connotations, if he intends to maintain Rhaenyra as his inheritor? Viserys himself can’t reply this query. We discovered within the first episode that Viserys had a imaginative and prescient of a son on the Iron Throne. Now he confides to Alicent that this longstanding obsession has stored him from absolutely committing to Rhaenyra as inheritor. Ever passive, he blames the obsession, fairly than his actions, for killing his former spouse, Aemma. Present spouse Alicent impressively holds her tongue. (By the way, Alicent’s easy at maneuvering the king and evading her personal father’s scheming, and whereas her relationship with Rhaenyra has deteriorated quickly, she’s nonetheless supportive of her with out denying her personal son’s proper to the throne. Thus far, she hasn’t missed a beat.)

Throughout final week’s episode, I stored eager about the ability of an thought. Home of the Dragon was displaying us that energy within the inverse: Rhaenyra’s vow to “create a brand new order” through which girls can rule is constructed on a pipe dream with nothing and nobody behind it besides her personal ample {qualifications} to guide.

Against this, the lure of one other Aegon Targaryen on the throne is so highly effective that the dominion is already responding to it, regardless of an utter lack of rationale. (Mockingly, the one one who appears to know this clearly is Otto, who deadpans that the would-be ruler nonetheless eats together with his fingers.) By selecting the identify “Aegon,” the king on some degree has already chosen his successor: He’s already tapped into the ability of a delusion of nationwide glory handed down by means of generations and handed that energy to his son. Rhaenyra might have her personal legendary go to from the fabled white hart, her dragon-riding and prowess within the hunt. However what are they subsequent to a story two centuries within the making?

If Rhaenyra desires to compete with that, she solely has one actual choice: Play the sport of thrones higher than anybody else ever has. Her encounters with first the hart after which the boar recommend she will be able to and she is going to. She’s lastly gotten an opportunity to take an energetic position in her personal survival.

Now, she’s baptized in blood and prepared for extra.

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