House Of The Dragon: 7 Takeaways From Daemon's Battle In The Stepstones, Rhaenyra's Choice And More After Episode 3

Prince Daemon in the Stepstones in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of House of the Dragon Season 1.

House of the Dragon delivered its first major time jump in the third episode, with the action leaping forward around three years. It was long enough for Alicent to give King Viserys one son and become pregnant with their next child, but not so long that actresses Milly Alcock and Emily Carey have been replaced by the two who will take over their roles. While celebrating Prince Aegon’s birthday was anything but celebratory for most of the key players, Daemon wasn’t having a great time fighting in the Stepstones with Corlys Velaryon and his men either. There were some important developments that are bound to have a part to play in future episodes, so let’s dive in!

Caraxes the red dragon in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Caraxes Felt Daemon’s Pain

In the first scene of the episode (following the divisive opening credits and the Crabfeeder staking a Velaryon sailor into the surf), Daemon swooped in on his dragon Caraxes to start roasting the enemy’s men en masse. Even volleys of flaming arrows did nothing to stop Caraxes’ rampage… until an arrow hit Daemon in a chink in his armor. The dragon more or less recoiled and seemingly felt the exiled prince’s pain, and ultimately flew away from the carnage. Assuming that this is a bond between all dragons and their riders, House of the Dragon may have revealed a very big weakness in the creatures if the dragons are used as weapons of war in the future.

Emily Carey as pregnant Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Rhaenyra And Alicent’s Connection Isn’t 100% Gone… Yet

Although Rhaenyra has evidently been giving her father the cold shoulder for about three years due to his decision to marry Alicent, there were some clues in Episode 3 that the bond between the former best friends isn’t 100% broken. Alicent knew to seek Rhaenyra out in the godswood, and Rhaenyra cared enough about Alicent’s discomfort to ask if she should be traveling while pregnant. The queen even defended Rhaenyra when some ladies were talking about her replacing Daemon as heir. 

It’s clear enough from the trailer that their bond will be pretty much ruined beyond repair by the time that Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke take over their roles, but we haven’t reached that time jump just yet, and the promo for the next episode proves at least one more is left before the cast change.

Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Rhaenyra Is Of Age Now

Thanks to the latest time jump, Rhaenyra is officially of age in the Seven Kingdoms, which meant Viserys fruitlessly trying to talk her into agreeing to a marriage… or at least discussing one. Fire & Blood readers know that House of the Dragon changed the timeline to age up Rhaenyra (and age down Alicent), so she’s of age a lot earlier in the show’s timeline as opposed to George R.R. Martin’s book. If her stories start to get darker or more adult moving forward (which seems like a safe bet based on the promo), then it seems that HOTD went out of the way to make it clear to viewers that she is a legal adult in Westerosi culture. At least she wasn’t married off at 12?

VIserys and young Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Viserys Hasn’t Changed His Mind About Rhaenyra, But Otto Has Plans

Viserys and Rhaenyra had a long overdue conversation by the end of the episode, when she finally came out and accused her father of planning to replace her with Aegon now that he has a son who can take her place as heir to the Iron Throne. Although he did question his decision while drunk, he is fully committed to Rhaenyra as his heir and even revealed that he wants her to marry so that she can solidify her claim by producing heirs of her own. Viserys may not be the strongest king, but he’s holding fast on this one.

But can Viserys outfox Otto Hightower? He still seems to have full trust in his Hand, although he flatly shut down Otto’s suggestion that he betroth Rhaenyra to her two-year-old half brother. Still, Otto still has Alicent obeying him, and Viserys doesn’t seem to suspect any kind of deception or ulterior motives from his wife. Otto wants his grandson on the Iron Throne, and Viserys may not see that his Hand’s goal is in opposition of his daughter’s.

Rhaenyra and Ser Criston Cole walking in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

After Her Adventure In The Woods, Rhaenyra Can Choose Her Own Husband

In a surprising development after Rhaenyra was MIA in the woods with Ser Criston Cole for most of the hunt, Viserys decided that trying to betroth her to the most eligible bachelors in the Seven Kingdoms who asked him for her hand wasn’t going to work. She refused to even entertain the idea, and raised the valid point that in marrying Alicent instead of Laena Velaryon, her father had married for affection rather than duty to the realm. 

So, the king is allowing the princess to choose her own husband, because he wants her to be happy as well as dutiful. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen since the best-laid plans tend to fall apart in the Game of Thrones universe, but it seemingly did the trick in getting her to take the prospect of marriage seriously. 

Daniel Scott-Smith as the Crabfeeder in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

The Stepstones War Is Seemingly Over

Even though Daemon, Corlys, Corlys’ son and brother, and men-at-arms have been fighting the war in the Stepstones for around three years, viewers only watched the conflict against the Crabfeeder for one episode. (Although that conflict was pretty epic!) If anything, the war seemed designed to reveal some layers to Daemon’s character: he’s willing to put himself in very serious danger if there’s a chance at getting the job done, violently resents the idea of needing his brother’s aid to save his cause, and drives his men too hard if his cause is losing. 

It’s not guaranteed that the fighting is completely done in the Stepstones just because Daemon sliced the Crabfeeder in two, but that enemy has been quite definitively defeated. He was a pretty chilling villain, for all that he only appeared in a little bit of Season 1, and the battle also revealed Laenor as a dragonrider, which is almost certainly going to be important down the line. 

Matt Smith covered in blood as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Matt Smith Crushed The Final Battle Sequence As Daemon

Note to every single one of Daemon’s enemies in the Seven Kingdoms: if you tell him that he can’t do something, he may well go on a suicide mission to try and wreak enough havoc to take you down. He’s honestly very lucky that he didn’t perish in the mission, especially after taking three arrows to his body. As somebody whose first experience with Matt Smith was as the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who, this episode and Daemon’s crazy double-cross on the beach fully convinced me that Smith is the right man for the character. 

The whole battle was messy and dirty and occasionally even clumsy as Daemon grew tired and was injured, which raised the stakes and added a sense of realism to a very fantastical sequence. Daemon powered on through sheer force of will. If Otto Hightower had been present, I have to imagine that he’d think twice about ever entering into a standoff with Daemon ever again like he did in Episode 2. Matt Smith was no Doctor as Daemon in this episode, and I’m already ready to rewatch the sequence. And frankly, I wouldn’t complain if we got more of Daemon, Corlys, and Laenor banding together after their time together in the Stepstones.

The episode was jam-packed with developments that raise more questions about what’s on the way. Will things heat up between Rhaenyra and Ser Criston, despite his vows and her obligations? How will Daemon return to King’s Landing? Will Alicent have another son? Find out what House of the Dragon has in store with the next new episode, airing on Sunday, September 11 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO in the 2022 TV premiere schedule. If you’ve missed any of the episodes so far, you can catch up streaming with an HBO Max subscription.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).