House of the Dragon is already going strong after just two episodes, but changes are on the way. The show cast younger versions of more than one character for Season 1, which means that time jumps are on the way, and the promo for Episode 3 indicates that the first significant skip ahead is coming sooner rather than later. While the gap between the first and second episodes was about six months, the gap between the second and third looks considerably longer. For just how much longer, we can look at the clues that are currently available.
The trailer for the next episode and HBO's preview photos don't give away a lot of details about what’s coming, but there’s enough to form a picture of how much time has probably passed since Viserys announced to a shocked Rhaenyra (and the rest of the small council) that he intended to marry Alicent Hightower instead of making the smarter (albeit creepier, given her age) match of Laena Velaryon.
Considering that many time jumps are likely ahead, it’s worth getting into the habit of looking for clues and making some guesses. So, let’s start with the most obvious clue!
Milly Alcock And Emily Carey Still Appear
The biggest clue about how far ahead the timeline will jump in Episode 3 is simply that Milly Alcock and Emily Carey are still playing Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, respectively. The characters will be played by Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke by the time that the show moves them into full adulthood. With Alcock and Carey appearing in the promo material, we should expect some passage of time after the end of Episode 2, but not quite a decade into the future when we might expect the older actresses to step into the roles. Given that both D'Arcy and Cooke are heavily featured in trailer footage, they definitely will have key parts to play in the first season... eventually.
King Viserys Has A Son
The story will pick up far enough down the line that Viserys has what appears to be a healthy young son who’s well out of infancy. I’m no expert at guessing children’s ages based off of mere moments of trailer footage or a still photo, but I’d say that the child – who Otto Hightower reveals in the promo is named Aegon – looks to be about 2- or 3-years-old. Enough time has passed that Viserys and Alicent got married, had a son, and that son is old enough and healthy enough that Otto is already scheming to put him on the throne instead of Rhaenyra as the king’s heir.
Alicent Is Pregnant Again
Alicent is also pregnant in the sneak peek at what’s ahead. While I’m no more an expert at guessing how far along in pregnancy a character is based on a few moments of trailer footage and/or a photo than I am at knowing ages, she looks like she’s just about ready to give birth. Viserys’ family with his new queen is growing, with enough time for one son to be born and another child seemingly set to arrive sooner rather than later.
Viserys Wants Rhaenyra To Get Married
Rhaenyra was 15 in Episode 2, which we know is not "of age" in the Seven Kingdoms based on what Daemon said to his niece on Dragonstone. There was no discussion of arranging a marriage for Rhaenyra in the first two episodes, but Viserys is talking about her having her own child “soon enough” and angrily dismissing her protest that she doesn’t want to get married in the promo for Episode 3. It seems that Rhaenyra either has or will soon come of age.
Laenor Velaryon Is All Grown Up
If you're wondering who Laenor Velaryon is, that's a fair point, as he barely qualifies as a House of the Dragon character after the first two episodes. The son of Rhaenys Targaryen and Corlys Velaryon, Laenor only briefly appeared in the series premiere, when he and his sister were watching the tourney. The scene barely even gives a good glimpse at him, but he’s definitely there. While he looks older than Laena, he doesn’t look nearly as old as Rhaenyra and Alicent, who were presumably around 14-15 at the time. A much older Laenor will evidently be fighting in the Stepstones with his father and Daemon.
The Battle For The Stepstones Is Still Happening
After the second episode, I found myself hoping that the enemies of the Seven Kingdoms in the Stepstones would find a weapon to use against dragons so that Daemon couldn’t just roast them all and win the war in one fell swoop. Based on what looks like a bloody series of battles in the trailer that aren’t exactly going well for Daemon and Co., it definitely wasn’t a conflict that could be solved overnight with Corlys’ fleet and one dragon. But how long could it reasonably take for the fight for the Stepstones to end, for better or worse?
Well, the trailer and preview photos don’t give away any hard answers about how much time has passed, but we can make some estimates. Laenor growing from the boy at the tourney to the young man in battle makes me think at least three years have passed, which could also fit with young Aegon as a toddler and Alicent heavily pregnant with her next child.
Milly Alcock and Emily Carey still playing Rhaenyra and Alicent with older actresses waiting in the wings makes me think that no more than five years at most have passed, especially with Rhaenyra still unmarried. Other than Laenor growing up, it’s hard to guess much based on the Stepstones fighting, given that Matt Smith and Steve Toussaint will continue playing Daemon and Corlys across every time jump.
At this point, my best guess is a time jump of about three years, give or take a few months. Advancing the plot to when Rhaenyra is 18 could help make some storylines a little bit more palatable to viewers, depending on how closely House of the Dragon follows George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book for young Rhaenyra. The only sticking point for the three-year theory for me is how much older Laenor looks.
Tune in to HBO on Sunday, September 4 at 9 p.m. ET to catch the newest episode of House of the Dragon, or check the show out streaming with an HBO Max subscription. The show is still honoring its roots as a Game of Thrones prequel, both with the direct connection in the series premiere and the opening credit sequence that kept the same theme song.
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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