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This page is about the episode. For other uses, see: The Burning Mill (disambiguation)

"The Burning Mill"[5] is the third episode of the second season of House of the Dragon. It is the thirteenth episode of the series overall. It premiered on June 30, 2024 on HBO and Max. It was written by David Hancock and directed by Geeta Vasant Patel.

Premise[]

As ancient grudges resurface, Rhaenys suggests that Alicent may see reason while the men around her seek bloodshed. Ser Criston proposes a bold scheme. Daemon arrives at Harrenhal to raise an army for the Blacks.[5]

Synopsis[]

In the Riverlands[]

On the borders of the lands of House Bracken and House Blackwood, a group of Bracken knights, including Ser Aeron Bracken, are confronted by several Blackwood men led by Davos Blackwood, accusing them of moving the boundary stones between their lands to annex more Blackwood territory. Aeron denies any wrongdoing and insults Davos as a "babe-killer" for his house's support of Rhaenyra Targaryen. An outraged Davos denounces Aegon Targaryen as no true king and Aeron as a craven in retaliation, prompting Aeron to draw his sword. Davos dares him to do more, and what follows is a brutal and savage battle that leaves many dead on both sides, including Aeron and Lord Samwell Blackwood.

In the middle of a heavy storm, Prince Daemon Targaryen arrives at Harrenhal to claim the castle for the Blacks. Landing his dragon Caraxes atop Kingspyre Tower, Daemon descends to the ground with Dark Sister in hand, encountering only minimal resistance from the castle's garrison as he bursts into the great hall and announces he is claiming Harrenhal. Ser Simon Strong, castellan and great-uncle to Harrenhal's lord, Larys Strong, hastily bends the knee and swears his allegiance to Queen Rhaenyra, inviting Daemon to dine with him, apologizing for the poor fare on offer. Daemon, displeased at the ease of his victory, initially refuses to touch his plate, suspecting Simon of trying to poison him, despite Simon's reassurances he is a welcome guest at Harrenhal. Daemon questions Simon's alacrity in declaring for Rhaenyra, given his house's lord supports Aegon; Simon insults Larys as a curse on their family, making it clear he both owes Larys no loyalty and considers his great-nephew a kinslayer who engineered the deaths of his father and brother to claim lordship of Harrenhal for himself, noting that the fire that claimed their lives was the first one Harrenhal had suffered since Aegon the Conqueror set the castle ablaze to defeat Harren the Black. Simon inadvertantly annoys Daemon by addressing him as "my Prince," for which Daemon corrects him with "Your Grace," asserting his right to the title as Rhaenyra's king consort.

Simon presses Daemon about the reasons for his presence; Daemon makes clear he intends to use Harrenhal as a place where the Riverlords can muster their troops in support of Rhaenyra, and commands Simon must repair Harrenhal sufficiently to garrison an army and summon Lord Grover Tully, Lord Paramount of the Trident, so Daemon can negotiate with him. Simon warns Daemon Grover is a fading old man whose control over his bannermen is limited, as evidenced by Houses Blackwood and Bracken's actions, but Daemon is adamant, concluding that once he has rallied the Riverlands to his banner, his intention is to march on King's Landing.

That night, Daemon is disturbed by something pounding on the doors of his quarters in Harrenhal. He draws Dark Sister and opens his doors, only to find no one outside. Rattled, he wanders Harrenhal's corridors, drawn by the sound of a woman humming to herself. Following the sound to its source in a nearby room, Daemon is shocked to find inside a vision of Rhaenyra as the girl she was, stitching her nephew Jaehaerys's head back onto his shoulders. As Daemon looks on, tears in his eyes, his niece's younger self upbraids him for always creating messes that she must clean up after him. Daemon then abruptly wakes to find himself standing before the weirwood heart tree in Harrenhal's godswood, looking out onto the Gods Eye. As he tries to understand how he got there and what he just saw, a mysterious, dark-haired woman he previously noticed in the hall when Ser Simon knelt to him ominously tells Daemon he will die at Harrenhal, disturbing him further.

On Dragonstone[]

A funeral is held for Sers Erryk and Arryk Cargyll of the Kingsguard following their deaths in combat against one another, attended by Rhaenyra, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, Jacaerys Velaryon and Sers Lorent Marbrand and Steffon Darklyn. Jace denounces Arryk as a villain for his attempt on Rhaenyra's life, asserting that it demeans Erryk, who gave his life defending her, to bury them side by side, but Rhaenyra insists she cannot fault Arryk for keeping to his oath as a Kingsguard, even if in service to a usurper. Unappeased by his mother's words, Jace storms off, followed by Steffon and Lorent. As the gravediggers fill in the grave, Rhaenys remarks that Otto Hightower would never have sanctioned Arryk's attempt on Rhaenyra's life, concluding it is the work of younger, more vengeful men, who will soon not remember the reason the war began. Rhaenyra rebukes that it was the Greens usurping her throne, to which Rhaenys counters some would argue the cause was Jaehaerys's murder, or Lucerys's murder, or Lucerys taking Aemond's eye, before concluding it no longer matters; regardless of the cause, Westeros teeters on the brink of a war that will cause untold devestation. Rhaenys urges Rhaenyra to reach out to Alicent Hightower, who tried to convince Rhaenys in the hours following Viserys's death to help her avert war; Rhaenys insists Alicent doesn't want war, merely being pressured into it by the men around her. Rhaenyra counters that Alicent permitted Aegon's usurping of the Iron Throne and Lucerys's murder, to which Rhaenys points out Rhaenyra permitted Daemon's murder of Jaehaerys, but Rhaenyra insists there is nothing more to be said between her and Alicent and storms off.

Later that day, Rhaenyra meets with Mysaria, offering thanks for raising the alarm of Arryk's infiltration of Dragonstone. Mysaria infers she wants to be rewarded for her part in saving Rhaenyra's life, specifically a place at Rhaenyra's court. Mysaria points out that her spies and knowledge of the Red Keep's inner workings would be invaluable to Rhaenyra's cause; when Rhaenyra asks why Mysaria wants to aid her, Mysaria admits it is partly to punish the Hightowers for trying to kill her, but also because she believes Rhaenyra, who showed her mercy when she didn't have to, is better suited to rule the smallfolk of King's Landing than Aegon. Their meeting is frequently interrupted by screeches from Seasmoke circling the ocean nearby; when Rhaenyra comments on the dragon's restlessness of late, Mysaria speculates he might be lonely following the death of his rider, Laenor Velaryon.

Rhaenyra then summons her stepdaughter, Rhaena Targaryen, to inform her she is sending Rhaena, along with her sons Joffrey, Aegon and Viserys to be wards of Lady Jeyne Arryn at the Eyrie. While Joffrey is to remain in the Vale of Arryn with his dragon Tyraxes to fulfil the terms of the Blacks' alliance with Jeyne, Rhaenyra asks Rhaena to write to Prince Reggio Haratis of Pentos to take her, Aegon and Viserys into his household so her younger sons will be out of danger in the wake of Arryk's assassination attempt, and to look after and protect the boys. Rhaena is displeased with the command, aware it is being given to her because unlike her sister Baela, she has no dragon and cannot contribute to the war effort, but grudgingly consents. A few days later, Rhaena's party, comprising herself, Joffrey, Aegon, Viserys, several guards and a handful of Dragonkeepers to tend to Tyraxes and Aegon's dragon Stormcloud, departs Dragonstone; Baela reassures her disappointed sister that she is doing important work and may find herself glad to be out of danger, while Rhaenyra urges Rhaena to impress on Lady Arryn the urgency of their need for soldiers, and entrusts an awed Rhaena with a clutch of four dragon eggs, insisting she will bear their hope for the future if the war goes against them. Rhaenyra then hugs her younger sons goodbye before sending them off, aware she might never see them again. Likewise, Jace hugs Joffrey and Baela hugs Rhaena, both pairs of siblings holding each other fiercely. Rhaenyra returns to her chambers and finally reads the previously-ignored letter Alicent sent to her after Lucerys's death.

At a following meeting of the Black Council, Rhaenys informs the gathered lords that her latest patrol atop Meleys has not sighted any ships, armies or dragons moving against them. In the wake of the assassination attempt and the Battle of the Burning Mill, and with no word from Daemon, Lord Gormon Massey and Ser Alfred Broome both urge Rhaenyra to start sending dragons out against Green strongholds to either force them to submit or burn them to the ground if they resist. Rhaenyra refuses, insisting that if their dragons and the Greens' dragons meet in battle, it will invite their destruction, and that armies, rather than dragons alone, are needed to secure victory. She reiterates that the Vale and the North will send men, as will Daemon given time. Lord Bartimos Celtigar proposes Rhaenyra withdraw herself to a more secluded location for her protection while they remain on Dragonstone; Rhaenyra rebukes him for daring to suggest the Black Council fight the war in her absence and storms out. Rhaenys also rebukes them for their attitudes, reminding them that the crown Rhaenyra wears was also worn by her grandfather, King Jaehaerys the Conciliator, whose wise and prudent rule outlasted that of every other Targaryen king.

Rhaenys departs Dragonstone for Driftmark, visiting her husband, Lord Corlys Velaryon at the Velaryon shipyards. Corlys commiserates with his wife having to endure "the ditherers of Dragonstone," as he dubs the Black Council; Rhaenys insists Rhaenyra will need Corlys at her side soon to counterbalance her more bellicose councillors. Rhaenys informs Corlys of their granddaughter Rhaena's departure for the Vale of Arryn; Corlys sympathizes with Rhaena being sent off into exile with only babes for company. Rhaenys reminds him one of those babes is now his heir, to which Corlys scoffs at the six year old Joffrey now being heir to Driftmark. Rhaenys suggest he name Rhaena instead, but Corlys laughes off the idea of naming his granddaughter Lord of the Tides, insisting another solution may present itself in time. Rhaenys worriedly warns him there may be no time, as they are at war and Corlys could die without a successor, but Corlys reassures his wife he is a good sailor and takes his leave, even as she calls after him.

Following her encounter with Criston Cole, Baela returns to Dragonstone and reports to the Black Council. The Council conclude that Cole is making for Harrenhal, but Lord Simon Staunton, aware his seat of Rook's Rest will likely come under attack from Cole's army on its way, begs Rhaenyra's leave to depart Dragonstone and fortify his lands and castle. Alfred and Bartimos again beseech Rhaenyra to send out dragons to destroy Cole and his army, particularly since the Greens may despatch their own to aid Cole if they realize the Blacks are hunting him, but Rhaenyra only promises to consider their advice before leaving.

Returning to her chambers to find Mysaria talking with her handmaiden Elinda Massey, Rhaenyra sends Elinda away and asks for Mysaria's aid in getting into King's Landing to negotiate with Alicent in person, as Alicent would likely dismiss any message Rhaenyra sends her. Mysaria admits there are fishing boats she could use to get into the city unnoticed, advises Rhaenyra to disguise herself, and admits that while Alicent is frequently watched in her comings and goings, there is one place they can potentially speak privately.

In King's Landing[]

Ser Criston Cole nervously anticipates his first council meeting as Hand of the King. He is startled by the arrival of his squire, informing him that the rest of the council is waiting for him. On his way towards the council chamber, Criston encounters Ser Martyn Reyne and Ser Eddard Waters, newly clad in the armour of the Kingsguard, lazily sitting and talking. Upon seeing him, the two Knights stand and take their positions.

Upon arriving at the council chamber, Criston takes his new seat on King Aegon's right-hand side, and comments on the new Kingsguard appointments. Aegon explains that Ser Martyn, Ser Eddard and Ser Leon Estermont were appointed to replace the Kingsguard who have either died or defected to Rhaenyra's cause. When both Jasper Wylde and Alicent Hightower denounce Criston's scheme to send Ser Arryk Cargyll to assassinate Rhaenyra as rash, Criston defends his actions, saying they cannot wait in their castles for war to come to them. Prince Aemond remarks that the war has already begun, thanks to House Bracken attacking the Blackwoods. Aegon is pleased to learn of Lord Samwell Blackwood's death in battle, calling it first blood to the Greens, though Ser Tyland Lannister argues the casualties sustained by both sides make it difficult to call the Burning Mill a victory for their cause. Jasper insist the battle was merely a continuation of the age-old feud between the two Houses, but King Aegon angrily insists both he and the Blacks will consider it war, and demands reponses. Grand Maester Orwyle proposes sending a raven to Riverrun, ordering Lord Grover Tully to rein in his bannermen, but Jasper insults Grover as an old fool unable to control them. When Aegon asks Jasper for an alternative, Jasper suggests summoning both Lord Ormund Hightower's army, along with Aegon's younger brother Prince Daeron Targaryen and his dragon to subdue the Riverlands. Tyland dismisses the idea, insisting Ormund's army is months away. Tyland adds his twin brother, Lord Jason Lannister, is raising the armies of the Westerlands at Casterly Rock, and they will be able to march in a matter of weeks. Orwyle proposes marching both armies together against their enemies, prompting Tyland to mock Orwyle's lack of experience in military matters before Alicent shouts at them to cease squabbling.

Recognizing that control of Harrenhal is essential to subdue the Riverlands, Criston proposes he take a small force of hand-picked men and march out. Alicent insists he will need greater numbers to deal with the rebellious Rivermen, but Criston insists he needs to move swiftly; his plan is to force the Crownlands houses that have declared for Rhaenyra to submit to him and add their forces to his, then link up with the forces of House Bracken and take Harrenhal. Alicent mocks the plan as hasty and likely to fail, so Criston turns to Aegon for support. Aegon asks if Criston means to take Aemond and Vhagar with him; after exchanging a glance with Aemond, Criston admits he intends for Vhagar to remain and defend King's Landing. Satisfied they're marching to war, Aegon declares his intention to accompany Cole's army along with his own dragon Sunfyre; Criston insists that having a dragon with him will draw too much attention. Aegon argues that without a dragon to aid them, Cole's army will be defenseless if Rhaenyra deploys one of her own against him, but Cole insists taking a dragon with his army only increases the likelihood the Blacks will send out their own in response, with Aemond adding they cannot risk losing the king in battle, much to Aegon's displeasure.

A few days later, Criston has mustered his army and prepares to march from King's Landing. In the Red Keep's courtyard, Alicent presents her brother, Ser Gwayne Hightower to Criston, explaining he is recently arrived from Oldtown and will be joining the march. Gwayne backhandedly insults Criston for his Dornish origins and for displacing their father, Ser Otto Hightower, as Hand of the King before taking his leave. Alicent offers Criston her prayers for his safety and, at his request, her favor to wear into battle, before Criston mounts his horse and leads his army from the city.

Lord Larys Strong comes to Aegon's chambers, finding the king being attired in the Valyrian steel armor of Aegon the Conqueror himself, as he intends to catch up with Ser Criston's army and ride to war with them. Larys informs the King rumors are circulating around King's Landing that Alicent and Aemond have encouraged him to march to war with Ser Criston so they can rule the city as they see fit in his absence. Annoyed, Aegon tells Larys to deal with the source of the rumors, naming him Master of Whisperers. Once Larys is gone, Aegon dismisses Martyn's suggestion he head to the Dragonpit and instead takes his Kingsguard to a brothel in Flea Bottom, (unwittingly interrupting the bragging of a man called Ulf claiming to be a bastard son of Prince Baelon Targaryen, half-brother to Daemon and Viserys, uncle to Rhaenyra). Inside, Aegon finds Aemond lying with his mistress Sylvi, mocking them both for still sleeping together before an annoyed Aemond storms out.

Out in the Crownlands, Criston intercepts Gwayne and a party of Hightower knights leaving their army's camp to enjoy themselves at a nearby tavern. As Gwayne blithely dismisses Cole's protests, the sun passes behind a cloud, and Cole realizes they're exposed on open ground, and being watched from overhead. He shouts at the group to make for a forest nearby, and Gwayne and his retinue panic as they spot the dragon Moondancer, ridden by Baela Targaryen, diving towards them. The Greens make the treeline just ahead of Moondancer, who breaks off her attack to avoid crashing into the trees, with Cole, Gwayne and their companions nervously watching as Baela circles the canopy overhead before flying off. Gwayne thanks Criston for saving his life, but Cole angrily rebukes him, snapping that now the Blacks know they're marching, others will come hunting for them. Criston orders the army will now have to move at night under tree cover to avoid detection, and makes it clear to Gwayne there will be no more stopping at inns along the way.

With Mysaria's aid, Rhaenyra slips into King's Landing, disguised as a septa and accompanied by Ser Steffon, disguised as a septon, to try and speak with Alicent. They make their way through the city gates to the Grand Sept, where they witness Alicent arrive, accompanied by two Hightower guardsmen. Once they see Alicent enter the Sept alone to pray, Rhaenyra slips inside after her, while Steffon nervously waits outside for her to return.

Rhaenyra confronts Alicent as she prays at the main altar, holding a dagger to Alicent's side to stop her from calling out for her guards. Rhaenyra insists she is there because Rhaenys counselled her Alicent has no desire for war, and hoped they can try and find a peaceful resolution. Alicent rebuffs the idea, insisting Rhaenyra is only attempting to bargain because her allies are deserting her for her part in Jaehaerys's murder. Rhaenyra angrily denies any involvement in the crime, countering that by the same token, Alicent is equally complicit in Lucerys's murder, and is seemingly willing to let thousands die just so her "feckless son" can be king. Alicent rejects Rhaenyra's accusation she approved Lucerys's death and insists Viserys named Aegon heir on his deathbed. Rhaenyra scoffs at the idea her father, who loved and considered her his heir to the Iron Throne for years, changed his mind on a whim, but Alicent vows on her mother's memory she is telling the truth. Genuinely hurt by the idea her father turned against her, Rhaenya demands Alicent tell her what transpired; Alicent admits Viserys was incoherent at the end, but says Viserys called Aegon the Prince That Was Promised. Shocked, Rhaenyra explains that her father was referring to a story he once told her from Aegon the Conqueror's time, to which an appalled Alicent realizes she misinterpreted Viserys's dying words.

Shaken, Alicent tells Rhaenyra to leave before she's discovered. Rhaenyra begs Alicent to admit she made a mistake and help avert a war that will mean devastation to Westeros regardless of which side is victorious, but Alicent insists it's too late to stop the coming conflict; her father is gone from court, Cole and his army are on the march, and Aegon and Aemond are out for blood. Alicent flees the sept, even as Rhaenyra pleads with her.

Appearances[]

Main page: The Burning Mill/Appearances

Firsts[]

Deaths[]

  • Ser Aeron Bracken
  • Lord Samwell Blackwood

Cast[]

Starring[]

Guest starring[]

Co-starring[]

Uncredited[]

Notes[]

Behind the scenes[]

  • The episode title refers to the Battle of the Burning Mill in the opening scene.
  • Despite the copious amount of full frontal nudity in this episode, the premiere night on the Max streaming platform began with a content warning that only listed violence and profanity. The premiere on SkyTV in the UK did have a nudity warning.
  • Gwayne Hightower states that his father served three kings; indeed, Otto Hightower served as Hand of the King to Jaehaerys I, Viserys I, and Aegon II.
  • Rhaenyra refers to Seasmoke as "my late lord husband's dragon," since she cannot admit Laenor is alive.
  • Rhaenyra states "If dragons begin fighting dragons, we invite our own destruction. Fear of it is in itself a weapon. The Greens will make the same calculation." This idea is similar to the principle which restrained USA and Russia since the beginning of the nuclear arms race: each side knew that using nuclear weapons against the other would cause the other to use the same weapons, resulting in total destruction of both sides.
  • The term "dragonseed" is mentioned for the first time in the show.
  • The episode director Geeta Vasant Patel confirmed that three of four dragon eggs Rhaenyra gave Rhaena - were in fact the same three eggs Daenerys would receive many years later at her wedding day in "Winter Is Coming."[7]

In the books[]

Main page: Differences in adaptation/House of the Dragon: Season 2#"The Burning Mill"

This episode is adapted from the chapters "The Dying of the Dragons — A Son for a Son" and "The Dying of the Dragons — The Red Dragon and the Gold" from Fire & Blood.

Gallery[]

Videos[]

Images[]

Stills[]

Screenshots[]

Behind the scenes[]

References[]

  1. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON (HBO). The Futon Critic. Retrieved February 23, 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 House of the Dragon: Season 2, Episode 3: "The Burning Mill" (2024).
  3. 3.0 3.1 House of the Dragon. HBO. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 House of the Dragon: Season 2. HBO. Retrieved June 17, 2024.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Burning Mill. HBO. Retrieved July 3, 2024.
  6. "It was an amazing experience": Peak District girl makes screen debut in HBO hit House of the Dragon (derbyshiretimes.co.uk)
  7. Sydney Bucksbaum (July 1, 2024). House of the Dragon director confirms major Game of Thrones Easter egg in episode 3. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 3, 2024.

Notes[]

  1. In "A Son for a Son," Daemon Targaryen and Otto Hightower mention that days have passed since Viserys Targaryen and Lucerys Velaryon's deaths. Unlike the first season, no major time jumps are expected; therefore, House of the Dragon: Season 2 takes place in 132 AC.

External links[]


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