‘House of the Dragon’ Recap: 5 Most Shocking Moments From Season 2, Episode 3

Note: This story contains spoilers from “House of the Dragon” Season 2, Episode 3.

The Dance of the Dragons civil war officially kicked off in the latest episode of “House of the Dragon.”

Episode 3 opens with a quick but bloody battle of two already feuding families arguing over the rightful heir, and smash-cuts to the aftermath of a bloody battle with hundreds of casualties. Things don’t slow down from there as the Battle of the Burning Mill urges everyone to prepare for war.

Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) musters himself an army, Daemon (Matt Smith) finally heads to Harrenhal, and Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) goes off book to make a diplomatic plea to Alicent (Olivia Cooke).

These are the most shocking moments from “House of the Dragon” Season 2, Episode 3.

The Battle of the Burning Mill

The episode opens with a squabble gone wrong. A group of young adults from neighboring families – the Brackens and the Blackwoods – roll up on each other and begin arguing about where the land for one family ends and the other truly begins. These families have been feuding for hundreds of years, and have been mentioned going back to the pre-time jump days of Season 1. Things were bound to hit a boil.

One side supports Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) while the other sides with Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), and when their allegiances are put into question, we get a smash cut to not just this small group of men dead, but hundreds of casualties in the field with a smoking and burned mill in the background. It’s dealer’s choice if you want to decide if it was Rhaenyra’s throne being taken, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) killing Luke (Elliot Grihault), Blood and Cheese killing Jaehaerys, etc. what caused the final schism between Team Black and Team Green – but the Battle of the Burning Mill is the first real fight in the Dance of the Dragons civil war.

Daemon Claims Harrenhal

After mentioning it no less than 50 times in the first two episodes, Daemon (Matt Smith) finally made good on his yearning to claim Harrenhal as a foothold for the war. Granted, he ended up heading there because Rhaenyra kicked him out of Dragonstone for botching Blood and Cheese, but a win is a win.

What he finds is a cursed keep in complete disrepair. It takes no less than 30 seconds for the castellan of Harrenhal to surrender it over to Daemon, but the place is a far cry from what he was expecting. Our poor, child-murdering prince just can’t catch a break.

Matt Smith in House of the Dragon (Credit: HBO)
Matt Smith in “House of the Dragon.” (Credit: HBO)

Criston Cole Musters An Army

Daemon isn’t the only one itching to get armies in place as the war begun in earnest. The Battle of the Burning Mill was the final catalyst to convince Aegon they need to get more proactive. Against the urgings of his mother, the king orders Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) to ride out with a small but swift force and bolster it with Houses they meet on the way that are loyal to them.

Criston agrees and when Aegon suggest he accompanies them with Sunfyre, both the new Hand of the King and Aemond shoot down the idea in a faux complimentary way. The king agrees to stay and Criston sets out – but not before Alicent (Olivia Cooke) convinces him to bring along her brother Gwayne Hightower (Freddie Fox).

It isn’t long before a contingent of his men – including Crison himself – cross paths with Baela (Bethany Antonia) and her dragon Moondancer. The men make a beeline for the nearby woods after being caught out in the open (another signifier Criston doesn’t know what he’s doing) and just barely make it before being charred. The Blacks might know that Criston and a small army are behind their borders, but Criston thinks maybe that can be used to their advantage.

Milly Alcock Returns in a Vision

Harrenhal really isn’t treating Daemon like he expected. The first night spent in his leaky bedchambers lead him to terrible and incredibly lifelike dreams. He stumbles through a room and sees a person sitting by a fire. He walks closer and is horrified to see a younger Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) sitting in the chair and sewing Jaehaerys’ little head back on his body.

It’s a thrill to see Alcock back in a role she crushed for the first half of Season 1. Ghosts of the past is something many men say Harrenhal is cursed with, so Daemon coming across her while grabbling with the Blood and Cheese debacle and the fallout on Dragonstone makes sense.

It’s unclear if this was a quick one and done moment for Alcock on the show, but here’s hoping Daemon’s ghosts aren’t quite done with him yet.

Rhaenyra Heads to King’s Landing, and Alicent Learns the Truth

For Team Black, the Battle of the Burning Mill spurred Rhaenyra to act as well. Unlike her half-brother Aegon, she hopes there might be a diplomatic way to stop the war before it spirals – and it’s through Alicent.

Going off book — literally, because Rhaenyra doesn’t head here in “Fire and Blood” — the queen sneaks herself into King’s Landing dressed as a septon. She knows Alicent’s religious nature means she’ll be alone in the Sept. The sneaking through the city is very reminiscent of Arryk’s tense journey through Dragonstone last week — but this mission has a less bloody ending.

Rhaenyra makes a plea to Alicent that they have a chance to end the bloodshed and see if there’s a way forward peacefully. It’s during this talk that she learns Alicent confused Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) last words of Aegon were about Aegon the Conquerer and not their son. Rhaenyra explains Alicent heard the king rambling about the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy.

To Alicent’s credit, she looks shaken by the news for a moment. She’s in too deep though and to many things are in motion — Otto (Rhys Ifans) fired, Criston on the move, Aemond being Aemond — and she tells Rhaenyra to leave the city before she’s discovered.

New episodes of “House of the Dragon” air Sundays on HBO and stream on Max.

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