That Return In House Of The Dragon Season 2, Episode 3 Explained


Milly Alcock returns as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2, episode 3, a welcome surprise after her exit from the show back in season 1. Alcock, of course, originated the role, but House of the Dragon’s cast changed in season 1, episode 6, after a 10-year time jump, with Emma D’Arcy stepping into the role, alongside Olivia Cooke taking over from Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower. It was thought that we’d seen the last of them, but Alcock, at the very least, is back.

Her version of Rhaenyra appears to Daemon Targaryen after he has taken Harrenhal, but it’s not exactly a pleasant reunion. Building off Blood and Cheese killing Jaehaerys Targaryen (whether on the orders of Daemon or not), she comes to him in a vision, sewing Jaehaerys’ head back onto his body. It’s a dark scene, and a great one – I’m delighted to see Alcock back, and it should have an impact on Daemon moving forward.

How & Why Milly Alcock’s Rhaenyra Return’s In House Of The Dragon Season 2, Episode 3

Harrenhal Is The Key To Alcock’s Comeback

Although House of the Dragon recasting actors made sense, and Emma D’Arcy is ridiculously good in the role, it was always a little bit of a shame that Alcock had to depart so early. She was responsible for audiences investing in Rhaenyra so much to begin with, and so there’d long been hope the show would find some way to have her return. Clearly, showrunner Ryan Condal and his team agreed, and bringing her back is a great way of servicing fans and honoring just how important she was in developing the character and story.

In terms of how she comes back, it’s a smart choice that goes well beyond a simple flashback. Harrenhal is a cursed place that can mess with a person’s mind anyway, but the presence of Alys Rivers adds to this. She’s described by some accounts in the book as a witch, and has powers and potions that can meddle with people’s thoughts and feelings, which she is seemingly doing to Daemon here.

…If [Daemon’s] mind is going to be tormented, who better than Alcock’s Rhaenyra?

Exactly why she’d want to torment him is unclear – though he has just taken over the castle she calls home, and she may not be too happy with his presence, nor his actions in the war. So she is the one ostensibly feeding him these visions, and his mind would be particularly susceptible, given he arrived carrying so much anger from his fight with Rhaenyra; it may be playing tricks on him anyway, especially in a place like Harrenhal. And if his mind is going to be tormented, who better than Alcock’s Rhaenyra?

What Milly Alcock’s Rhaenyra Return Really Means

It Reveals A Lot About Daemon Targaryen

I think it’s particularly important and telling that Daemon, at this point, sees a younger Rhaenyra. At the moment when his marriage has hit a new low, where he’s feeling angry and hurt and his wife says he’s “pathetic,” it’s his idealized form of the woman he loves that comes to him.

It’s the Rhaenyra who is headstrong and rebellious in the way he liked, the way that made him feel good about himself, and the way that he used to get back a bit at Viserys…

This isn’t the Rhaenyra who would call him pathetic. It’s the version of the character over whom he had some element of control, like he did the night he took her to a brothel. It’s the Rhaenyra who is headstrong and rebellious in the way he liked, the way that made him feel good about himself, and the way that he used to get back a bit at Viserys (because so much of Daemon’s story is rooted in his relationship with his brother).


It’s the Rhaenyra he wants back, and then comes the cruel twist as she says she’s always cleaning up after him. Even she is condemning his actions. It shows just how misguided Daemon has been, and, perhaps, is the closest we’ll get to confirmation he did order Jaehaerys’ death, given she’s sewing his head back on. Daemon is not someone who will consciously open up too much or process emotional pain or regret well, but this forces him to do that.

How House Of The Dragon’s Director Explained Milly Alcock’s Return

Geeta V. Patel Gave Great Insight Into The Decision

In an interview with Screen Rant’s Tatiana Hullender, when asked if this Rhaenyra appeared because she had looked up to Daemon, director Geeta Vasant Patel agreed. She explained the decision to bring Alcock back in House of the Dragon, saying:

“You’re absolutely right. At least in my eyes, that’s what it was. ‘That’s the Rhaenyra I know.’ And in that dream, she looks at him – and the way we talked about it is she doesn’t need to say anything. We just worked on the look; the meaning that comes from all the episodes before she looks at him, and she cuts him. She says, ‘Hey, you killed a boy. You don’t do that.’

“People have said that to him all the way through. But when young Rhaenyra says it to him, it’s the first time he feels it. It’s the first time he processes his actions, though he’s been killing people left and right since the beginning. This is the first time we see him regret. We see him feel. We actually kept talking, in between takes, about how this is something we’ve never seen before in Daemon.”

Will Milly Alcock Return Again?

Could More House Of The Dragon Actors Return?

Alcock’s return very much suggests there’s an open door in terms of characters returning. Certainly, it would not be a surprise to see her again, at least for as long as Daemon and Alys Rivers are at Harrenhal together.

Whether others will be back is another matter. Casting announcements and trailers suggested Sian Brooke’s Aemma Arryn will return in House of the Dragon season 2, but that’s to be confirmed. Viserys (Paddy Considine) would make a lot of sense, though might be harder to have kept secret; Laena (Nanna Blondel) could be another option. Daemon’s visions open up multiple possibilities, and so long as they’re rooted in his character arc like Alcock’s is, I look forward to seeing what happens next as House of the Dragon season 2 continues.

New episodes of House of the Dragon season 2 release Sundays at 9pm ET on HBO and Max.