Game of Thrones always had an eye for combat. Small-scale confrontations were sometimes exciting, like the Hound facing off against Brienne of Tarth, but huge melees were almost always top performers. However, in just three episodes, House of the Dragon has already given us the Game of Thrones franchises first great medium-sized confrontation.
[Ed. note: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon.]
Daemon Targaryen and Corlys Velaryon discover that the Crabfeeder is in a deadlock, and devise a whole-or-nothing strategy, hidden from both the enemy and the House of the Dragons audience.
House of the Dragons' first major encounter is transformed into something instantly recognisable as a Game of Thrones battle. There are tens of thousands of extras joining the fray, tons of close-up kills full of blood and mud, and the slow focus on the main characters that most Thrones battles include.
Corlys and Daemon may lead the Stepstones' final battle, but Laenor Velaryon's sword, Seasmoke, wins the battle. It also provides an early glimpse of how much larger the House of the Dragons is.
One of the greatest and most important moments in Game of Thrones' eight-season run would have been a dragon soaring onto the battlefield and shattered waves of Targaryen foes. In House of the Dragon, everyone is expected, except the poor Crabfeeder, who is hoped to be all in peace. The battle itself is also an indication of how large House of the Dragon may be.
The majority of Game of Thrones' main battles were separated into separate episodes. Things like the Wildling assault on Castle Black, Hardhome, the defense of Kings Landing, and the Battle of the Bastards all got most of an hour dedicated exclusively to them. While some fights late in the series, during seasons 7 and 8, featured shorter battles, none of them lived up to the standards of previous conflicts and were easily overtaken by House of the Dragons' first open combat attempt.
The Stepstones conflict feels like the perfect length to both demonstrate Daemons' unadvised bravery and the dominance of dragons on the battlefield.
This first battle in the show demonstrates that, due to the show's huge budget, huge battles are ready to break out at any time in House of the Dragon. Each episode has a bit more spontaneity and unpredictability, and, as you might expect from the House of the Dragons premise, massive battles will come up later on.