House of the Dragon episode 3 spoilers are included in this article.
When a king goes hunting, it is no small feat. As author George R.R. Martin is no doubt relieved to seeafter previously suggesting the depiction of a kings hunt in Game of Thrones was one of his greatest regretsKing Viserys chase during last nights House of the Dragon was quite the spectacle.
When a stag finally fell beneath the gaze of Viserys (Paddy Considine), there were horses and hounds, broad pavilion tents, and bards to sing in them. Even his toddler son, Alicent Hightower, who is now a teenager, can be admired for the Targaryen monarchs' alleged splendor. But right down to the dour countenance on Viserys' face something very serious is happening.
Viserys is present to honor young Aegon's second name, but to everyone else in the court, it seems like the beginning of a royal transitionone in which Viserys will take the Iron Throne from his oldest child Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and bestow it on his firstborn child.
All of which adds to the white stag (or white hart) that Viserys pursues in Aegons' honor. It also opens up many new possibilities when Rhaenyra, and not her weak-willed father, discovers the beast. But what do those and other items really represent?
Viserys, the Failed Hunter and Failing King
Viserys receives an urgent message from Ser Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) before Viserys and his child bride go on the hunt: Despite having dragons on their backs, the Velayron battle against the Crab-Feeder on the Stepstones is failing. Reinforcements are required immediately. Unfortunately, Viserys is only marginally aware of these bad tidings.
Viserys moans. It can wait another three days.
There is some irony in this. After all, Viserys does not even like to hunt. He will organize a hunting party for Aegona's youngster who is too young to remember the festivities, and he will raise him as the spare and not the heir. Viserys is determined to make Rhaenyra his Iron Throne replacement, for no other reason than because he seems determined to honor your mother's death.
Viserys is an indecisive man who waffles and stews, making matters worse for himself and ultimately his kingdom as he dies. This is proven when the king believes that a sighting of a white hart (the most rare of stags) is a sign from the gods that Aegons' royal heritage has been established.
Instead, his kings men awaken him on the final day of the hunt, who have captured a common stag on their horses and with their hounds. It can barely move as Viserys is permitted to hunt it with a spear gifted to him by Casterly Rock. His men keep the animal in place, even instructing the queen on where to strike the animal dead.
Yet, his heart isn't in it.
Viserys misses his target on the animal's body, making a bad situation worse as he is forced to reluctantly stab the creature again, leading to a long and agonizing death. A king's party becomes a butchers work.
Viserys' decision should be made in a manner that is similar to how he deals with his decisions. If Viserys is committed to defending Rhaenyras' claim on the Iron Throne, he should be willing to dispel the gossips rather than igniting their fires by celebrating Aegon at a hunt that many of his courtiers believe is a sign of the boys' ascent. So much so that Jason Lannister is brave enough to speak up to the King
A smart king would recognize Otto for being the duplicitous power-seeker he is. If he desired Rhaenyra as his heir, he should remove Otto as his Hand. But like killing the wrong stag, Viserys is a king who prefers to avoid his eyes and hope for the best.
He will be gone.
Rhaenyra, the White Hart, and the Boar
Rhaenyras' outsider-perspective of the hunt might seem like a paradox, but in a father-created situation, it is impossible to be anything other.
Consider that during the princess' first scene this week, her former friend and current mother-in-law, Queen Alicent, dismisses him. It's quite evident how tense the bard's loyalties are. He at once wants to honor the princess' wishes, but the queen's consort and mother of the child all presume to be the true heir wishes for him to depart.
Alicent and her son are seen as the future by all of the realm's men, down to a lowly bard, and Rhaenyra as the remnants of a hasty solution three years past its expiration date.
Rhaenyra goes hunting on her own, wearing her beloved white cloak of the Kingsguard, Fabien Frankel. This is all there to honor her little brother, who is expected to take her place. And they encounter two quarries of their own: a wild boar and a white hart.
King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) is positioned to fail during a hunting exercise that Martin detested (off-screen). Similarly, when a boar from a more advantageous position attempts to slay young Rhaenyra in much the same way, she is able to hold it off long enough for Ser Criston to injure the beast and then slaughter it.
Rhaenyra proved herself more worthy to serve the Iron Throne than any other person weve ever seen ascend that high position of power on any TV series: Viserys or Robert, Kings Joffrey or Tommen.
Rhaenyra and Ser Criston discover the white hart at the end of the episode, unlike her wreck of a father. The morning light has broken, and Rhaenyra's silver hair is stained with the blood of her own night of butchery. Yet it is Rhaenyra who crosses the white stags path. If Rhaenyra's claim to the throne is correct, she may be surprised.
This daughter might actually appreciate the wonders of their realm, although she refuses to take the top prize as her own. Not that they would likely notice it.
Rhaenyra receives a minor victory. Its both profound and fleeting.