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House Of The Dragon Episode 3 Recap: Boar On The Floor

The world is now three full episodes into HBO's massively successful "Game of Thrones" prequel "House of the Dragon," and within the sprawling narrative centered on the powerful, dragon-wielding Targaryen family, the line of succession is still a massive question. Though Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (currently played by Milly Alcock) was, at the end of the series premiere, named the unquestioned and uncontested heir to the Iron Throne by her father King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), some obvious roadblocks have popped up in the time since then, and the next occupant of the throne is anyone's guess at this point.

Set just about two years after the second episode, the series' third episode, "Second of His Name," sees Rhaenyra and Viserys firmly at odds over that succession question, his second marriage, and a few other factors. Beyond those two, there's also a whole war being waged at the Stepstones between the mysterious, creepy Crabfeeder and the alliance of Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and the Velaryons. Though the episode really front-loads itself with talks of marriage and heirs, the back half gets back into the swing of things with a classic "Game of Thrones" battle scene, and all of it has huge implications for the rest of the series. Here's everything you need to know about the third episode of "House of the Dragon."

Rhaenyra's all riled up

Nobody would call Rhaenyra the bubbliest girl in the Seven Kingdoms, but in this installment, she's particularly sullen — and with good reason. Once the sole heir to the Iron Throne, Rhaenyra has now watched as her best friend and closest confidante Alicent Hightower (currently played by Emily Carey) married Viserys and produced a male heir, the now two-year-old Aegon II Targaryen. Naturally, Rhaenyra assumes she'll be replaced by this shiny new boy, and beyond that, she's now told she has to get married to someone of decent standing — quickly.

All sorts of suitors are bandied about, including Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate), the utterly smarmy Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall), and even — ew — her tiny half-brother Aegon II, but Rhaenyra isn't interested in marriage to begin with. That said, she does share a pretty intense afternoon and evening with Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel), whom she recently appointed to the Kingsguard, and the two even survive a vicious boar attack. (Ser Criston lands the first killing blow on the beast, but the way Rhaenyra finishes it off by stabbing it repeatedly definitely, uh, puts her feelings about things in general on blast.)

Though Viserys, at the end of the episode, swears on his late wife and Rhaenyra's mother that she "will not be supplanted," plenty of people are urging him to do exactly that... and there's really no question that Rhaenyra should be worried about her standing.

Viserys' self-doubt takes center stage

Meanwhile, while Rhaenyra is pretty angry at her father, Viserys isn't exactly feeling great about himself either. For most of the episode, he's either extraordinarily drunk or blatantly hungover, and with everyone telling him who Rhaenyra should marry and that he should probably name Aegon II as his heir, he's clearly quite torn between his son and daughter. With all of that in mind, this is probably the episode where Viserys just seems the weakest; even though we don't get any in-depth glimpses at his gross medical problems this time around, he definitely seems mentally unfit for his current job.

As he hosts the name day celebrations for his long-awaited son Aegon, Viserys is visibly distraught the whole time, and even admits to Alicent after probably a gallon of wine that he never expected to marry again or have a son — but that he named Rhaenyra his heir "for a reason." Naturally, Alicent's father Otto (Rhys Ifans), the power-hungry Hand of the King, wants his grandson to be named heir as soon as possible, meaning that Alicent has now been tasked with asking that of her husband... but right now, it seems fairly hard to predict where the confused, anxious Viserys will land on the matter.

Going stag

Rhaenyra and Viserys are both going through it during this episode, but there's one piece of connective tissue that's fairly intriguing: the stags they see in the forest. As a part of the hunt to celebrate Aegon II's name day, Viserys is looking for the White Hart, a magnificent white deer that can be found in the Westerosi woods. Ultimately, he doesn't find it, but you know what he does do? He ineffectively stabs a different, smaller stag with a spear given to him by Jason Lannister, hitting the poor beast on the wrong side before eventually putting it out of its misery.

Meanwhile, during her jaunt in the woods with Ser Criston, Rhaenyra, somehow, spots the White Hart in a small clearing — and though Ser Criston goes to take it out to protect the princess, she has him stand down. After a short moment, the deer disappears, but it certainly seems significant that Rhaenyra, who's gunning to become the first recognized Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, saw this mythical stag that her father couldn't quite pin down.

Daemon's detente

Meanwhile, over in the Stepstones, Daemon, Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Touissant), and Corlys' sons are locked in a fierce battle with the Crabfeeder, who keeps eluding their powerful dragonfire by... hiding in a cave. (Yeah, apparently it's that easy.) Considering their armies are being ravaged by the Crabfeeder's motley crew, this unsteady alliance is growing more troubled by the minute, especially as Corlys' brother and son lose a fair amount of faith in Daemon and insist he's why they're losing.

Ultimately, Daemon proves his worth — after attacking a messenger from his brother, who's finally offering aid after years of inaction — by staging an elaborate ruse and pretending to surrender entirely to the Crabfeeder, going as far to lay down his sword before Corlys and Daemon's forces sneak up and decimate the Crabfeeder's army. Daemon then just... easily kills the Crabfeeder off-screen, apparently putting an end to a character that definitely seemed like he would be a pretty important villain going forward.

When does House of the Dragon Episode 4 air?

The next episode of "House of the Dragon" is set to air on Sunday, September 11, at 9 PM EST on both HBO and HBO Max. With six episodes left in this inaugural season, there's still plenty that can happen before the show arrives at the Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil war that serves as part of the basis for the series.

Beyond that, this third episode was missing a lot of major players; Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) doesn't appear at all, though we see her husband fighting at the Stepstones. Rhaenys, or the "Queen Who Never Was," is pretty much always scheming, so it'll be fascinating to see what she's cooking up now. Daemon's partner in crime Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) was also conspicuously absent, and as for other powerful people like Otto and Alicent Hightower, they don't do much of anything in this episode. Hopefully, Episode 4 will bring some of these characters back into the action — and beyond that, every episode past the premiere has involved a time jump, whether it's six months or two years. Until the next episode airs, we can only guess as to when the next installment even takes place.