The third episode of House of the Dragon opens a few years after the last episode—but you’d hardly know it from how all the same tensions are still lingering. These were slower times, when you kept shit stewing longer, and didn’t really have therapy beyond wine.
We’re at the second birthday party of King Paddy’s firstborn boy—an event soon to be interrupted by the burst bouncy-castle of news that, after three years, Crabfeeder and the rest of his band of Slipknot are somehow still doing fine over at the Stepstones because they’ve burrowed into the caves there. Honestly doesn’t seem like that would make them very effective pirates in that situation, and it seems like you could just toss some explosives into the caves or something, but regardless, everyone but the king is pitching a fit about it.
Meanwhile, Rhaenyra is off being a moody teen: listening to music, sulking, and reading under a tree. She is very huffy that this new little towhead is getting all the attention, but she agrees to go to her dad’s sad little trophy hunt that is for some reason part of the birthday.
See, instead of just hiring a clown (jester?) or whatever for his boy’s second, King Paddy has decided that what this kid would love to not remember anyway is a great hunt! But, per the usual powerful man’s trophy hunt format, the idea of the “hunt” is more that some better-trained guys will capture some great catch, then the king can just kill it and pose for the photo op.
So we get to the hunting camp and there’s this Kenneth-Branagh-in-Frankenstein type there who—wouldn’t you fucking know it—gives us our latest piece-of-shit Lannister. And, yeah, you’d better believe he’s a piece of shit.
He goes up to Rhaenyra all like, “Yeah, I’m actually looking to invest in dragon pits. Do you know anything about dragon pits? BECAUSE I WANT TO MARRY YOU.” Some real day-one The Bachelorette energy from this guy, and he needs to be cut before hometowns at Casterly Rock.
Shortly after, King Paddy and Rhaenyra are disrupting the whole birthday party by having a tiff about whether she should marry Branagh Lannister. Bachelorette host Rhys Ifans cools down the conversation with some big news: the hunters have found this BADASS, ALL-WHITE STAG. It’s very rare, and it could be a ghost elk or something. Definitely cool, either way. Especially for a family so dedicated to white-haired idiots.
Our king heads off to do his “hunting,” while Rhaenyra petulantly goes off on her own yet again—but this time with Dreamboat Knight in pursuit. It’s made clear that, if she’s gonna marry anyone, she would definitely prefer Dreamboat to the director and star of Murder on the Orient Express.
But Rhys Ifans has other ideas. Back at this really dull birthday party, he’s whispering in King Paddy’s ear another idea for whom Rhaenyra could wed: her toddler brother. A husband’s first words being “I do” is a pretty good story, but it’s nonetheless fucked up.
Given that this is some George R. R. Martin shit, the incest part was in no was unexpected. But as the king points out, “The boy just turned two.” Paddy has been the audience’s voice of reason this whole episode, first rightly pointing out that the Crabfeeder battle has been going on for three years, so who cares about a few more days? And now, here he just as rightly notes that it’s pretty wild to wed your teenage daughter to your two-year-old boy. If nothing else, it’s just begging for an awkward third birthday.
Don’t worry, though; there’s still yet another suitor option. And this one did not direct Thor nor recently shit himself.
The king’s sort of chubby, bearded, scraggly-haired advisor who looks like he probably does improv has a third option: the Sea Snake’s son. Remember how we were already trying to get the various white-haired families together by having Paddy marry a child? Well, this is a somewhat less gross alternative. It’s a shame Paddy won’t remember it, though, because he seems pretty blackout drunk at this point.
Rhaenyra and Dreamboat kill a hog, in the meantime.
The next morning, King Paddy awakens to big, disappointing news: his hunters couldn’t actually sort out that white stag. Sorry, dude. But here’s this other, normal-colored one? Want to kill that?
The king is just supposed to stab it and kill it, but in a (literally) pointed metaphor, this impotent jagoff can’t even do that right, plunging in his spear and leaving the animal screaming and suffering. Second time’s the charm, though!
It seems that the white elk or whatever will survive, as Rhaenyra soon after finds it herself before it skitters off. It’s probably a metaphor for something. Who cares.
Finally, back at the castle, the king and princess reunite so that he may concede in all his ideas about whether his son should be king, or whether Rhaenyra should marry her two-year-old brother. He’s like, “Never mind; you can just marry whoever you want and you’re still next in line and it’s fine.”
Phew! Off to the Stepstones!
Sea Snake and his dudes are having a tiff when Doctor Who struts up—along with a messenger from King’s Landing. The messenger’s scroll apparently says how King Paddy is sending some aid along to help win the ongoing war, and the ever-prideful Doctor Who is not happy about that concession at all. He proceeds to shoot the messenger as literally as one can without the gun being invented, then heads off to prove that he can, just as near-literally, take care of it himself.
He heads into the shit and surrenders himself to Crabman—only to then turn on Rage Mode, hacking up his men with basically no stamina depletion. In turn, Crabby sends out his whole army to fight back, but that ends up being a bit of a mistake, with the Sea Snake’s troops and a fucking dragon quickly decimating them.
Crabfeeder casually retreats into a cave; the Doctor follows; and soon after, the latter reemerges with the top half of Crabfeeder dragging behind him.
Crabfeeder has lost the war, but he’s won the battle. Congratulations to the winner of Best New Darth Maul in the category of Least-Talkative Red-Faced Idiot You Assumed Was a Central Prequel Villain But Almost Immediately Got Halved at the Waist.