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What the Cameo in House of the Dragon S2E3 Foreshadows

What the Cameo in House of the Dragon S2E3 Foreshadows

The third episode of House of the Dragon’s second season, “The Burning Mill,” delivered a delightful surprise with the return of the young Rhaenyra, portrayed by Milly Alcock.

When Prince Daemon, played by Matt Smith, reaches Harrenhal, his claim to the castle is not contested. Instead, it is welcomed by Ser Simon Strong, played by Simon Russell Beale. As Daemon struggles to sleep later that night amidst the disrepair of the castle, someone tries to forcefully open his door, secured using his Valyrian sword, Dark Sister. The rattling door prompts him to investigate, and he ends up in another room where he sees young Rhaenyra from behind.

Younger Rhaenyra, seemingly unfazed, taunts him about his carefree comings and goings, while she deals with his messes. During this encounter, she is seen sewing Jaehaerys’ head back onto his body. Daemon is shocked, not by her actions but by her presence. This young Rhaenyra is the one he asked his brother, King Viserys, her father, to marry. She is not the Rhaenyra that later became known as ‘Rhaenyra the Cruel.’ Her challenge was winning Daemon’s heart, unlike the older Rhaenyra who faces challenges beyond him.

When asked about the logistics of bringing Milly Alcock back for this cameo, series co-creator Ryan Condal revealed to Entertainment Weekly that it was surprisingly easy.

“Milly was eager to come back, and everyone was excited to have her. Despite her busy schedule, especially with her role as Supergirl in the upcoming DC superhero movies, we managed to have her on set for a couple of days at the beginning of production,” Condal explained.

He mentioned that one of their greatest achievements was keeping Alcock’s cameo a secret throughout the production process.

The idea for this ghostly cameo came from wanting to tell a haunted house – or castle – story, where Daemon faces his deepest fears. Rather than battling warfare or dragons, Daemon is haunted by people he wronged in the past, particularly young Rhaenyra. This young version of Rhaenyra is the one who took away Daemon’s claim to the throne.

Far be it from me to challenge the show’s co-creator, but there’s an opinion worth mentioning. The younger Rhaenyra was indeed the one who removed Daemon from the line of succession, yet the older Rhaenyra, now his wife, also played her part. Part of Daemon’s reckoning involves his decision against firmly demanding Rhaenyra’s hand in marriage.

Remembering the first season, there’s a poignant scene where a hungover Daemon is confronted by King Viserys about taking Rhaenyra to a brothel. Daemon boldly requests to wed Rhaenyra, claiming he would keep her as she is, adhering to their house’s traditions.

Now, as Daemon spends time in eerie Harrenhal, one wonders if he ponders the what-ifs. If he had taken young Rhaenyra as his wife without his brother’s approval, would the Dance of the Dragons have transpired? While already married to Rhea Royce at that time, Daemon’s argument that Aegon the Conqueror also had a second wife holds weight.

Subsequently, after the deaths of their respective spouses, Daemon and Rhaenyra married without Viserys’ consent, taking a convoluted path that contributed to the eventual turmoil. Had Daemon and Rhaenyra married earlier, her claim to the throne could have been much stronger, undoubtedly clashing with Alicent’s half-Hightower children.

A pressing question also lingers for Daemon: Does he accept Rhaenyra as his true queen and ruler, or does he still covet the throne for himself? While probably not a feminist by modern standards, Daemon’s opposition to Rhaenyra ruling wasn’t because she’s a woman; it stemmed from his belief that the throne was rightfully his.

Will his time at Harrenhal provide him the clarity he needs? Can he reconcile supporting Rhaenyra as his queen, rather than fighting for his own ambitions?

New episodes of House of the Dragon season two are released on HBO and Max every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Source: Entertainment Weekly