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House of the Dragon: Season 2 Episode 3 Recap, Review & Ending Explained

HBO’s House of the Dragon season two kicks off with its first episode, “The Burning Mill,” featuring a tense standoff in an open field. Knights from House Bracken stand firm until their rivals from House Blackwood confront them over boundary stones. We soon learn that House Bracken has declared allegiance to the Greens while House Blackwood sides with Team Black. The confrontation ends gruesomely, leaving the field littered with the dead, including a Bracken knight with a sword through his neck. The mill at the center of the conflict looms blackened in the background.

In Dragonstone, the Cargyll twins, Ser Erryk (Elliott Tittensor) and Ser Arryk (Luke Tittensor), rest side by side, prepared for burial. The Blacks, led by Prince Jacaerys (Harry Collett) in his bloodthirsty era, hold a somber burial, observed by Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Rhaenys (Eve Best).

Rhaenys attempts to instill some peace, warning Rhaenyra, “Otto Hightower would never have allowed this. Hotter blood has prevailed, I think. The young men have taken the bit in their teeth. They wish to punish, to avenge. Soon they will not even remember what it was that began the war in the first place.” Rhaenyra retorts, blaming the usurpation of her throne, but Rhaenys persists, reminding her of the cycle of violence and the possibility of a different path through Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke).

In King’s Landing, a new Hand of the King is jolted from his reverie. Ser Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel), later than expected, gathers the Small Council to discuss controlling Harrenhal. Back in Dragonstone, a dragon circles the sky as Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) makes a covert appearance, seeking a place at Rhaenyra’s court after offering a warning of danger.

Rhaenyra instructs stepdaughter Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell) to relocate Joffrey, Aegon, and Viserys for safety, insisting, “I need you to be the mother to them that I cannot. Teach them, train them, guard them as a dragon guards her eggs.” The reluctant Rhaena remembers her mother’s tragic end in Pentos but agrees, recognizing the safety it affords.

Daemon (Matt Smith) takes on Harrenhal with Syrax, his dragon, in a stormy, eerie setting. He stakes his claim to the castle, forcing its lord to pledge fealty to Rhaenyra. Meanwhile, Daemon is haunted by past visions, underscoring his vulnerabilities and motivating his fierce determination.

In King’s Landing, Ser Gwayne Hightower (Freddie Fox) criticizes Ser Criston, who in turn seeks Alicent’s public favor. Rhaenyra convenes the Black Council, asserting control and garnering support despite skepticism. In Driftmark, Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint) recognizes Rhaena’s sacrifice in safeguarding Targaryen heirs, emphasizing the strategic importance of her role.

Elsewhere, Lord Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) manipulates King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) with strategic rumors. Aegon and his entourage encounter Ulf, a self-proclaimed Targaryen, in a tavern. In a brothel, Aegon finds Aemond, whose formidable dragon, Vhagar, commands more respect than Aegon’s Sunfyre.

Rhaenyra grieves privately before finally reading Alicent’s letter, contemplating their strained relationship. The evolving tension crescendos with a dual between Ser Criston and Ser Gwayne interrupted by a dragon’s roar. Baela’s sudden appearance reminds of the dragons’ immense power—yet vulnerability in close combat.

Haunted by visions of a younger Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock’s unexpected cameo), Daemon experiences deep emotions, a rare glimpse into his psyche. Confronting prophetic warnings, Daemon faces his fears at Harrenhal’s godswoods.

The episode closes with the introduction of Alys Rivers (Gayle Rankin), whose brief but intriguing presence hints at future developments. Rhaenyra, leveraging Mysaria’s network, arranges a secret meeting with Alicent. Disguised as a septa, Rhaenyra navigates King’s Landing to the Great Sept of Baelor. Their fraught reunion clarifies Viserys’ misunderstood prophecy, but it’s too late to reverse the march to war.

The unfolding drama sets the stage for the imminent Dance of the Dragons, forecasting the violent rifts soon to tear the House of the Dragon asunder.

Source: HBO’s House of the Dragon