House of the Dragon’s Episode 3 Director Dishes on That Shocking Cameo

A lot happened on last night’s House of the Dragon, a quality the show’s many fans have come to expect from HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel. But you have to assume most viewers gasped at the big cameo in “The Burning Mill,” featuring a character even diehards weren’t expecting to see.

In a new interview with Variety, “The Burning Mill” director Geeta Vasant Patel—who’s also behind the camera for the season two finale, so imagine all the secrets she could spill—talks about some of episode three’s most startling moments… including that wild surprise.

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That includes Aemond’s nude scene, the clandestine Rhaenyra-Alicent meeting, and how Ser Criston Cole has rapidly become House of the Dragon’s most hated character—an impressive feat considering he’s not even a Targaryen. But Patel also had some insights into that startling cameo, featuring the very familiar face of Milly Alcock, who played young Rhaenyra in season one.

Having just fled Dragonstone for Harrenhal after a bitter argument with his wife—the older Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy)—Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) was not expecting to run into family in the castle’s gloomy ruins. But Harrenhal has a way of preying on a troubled mind…

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Image: Ollie Upton/HBO

“I had never worked with Milly in the first season, so that was interesting,” Patel told Variety. “When she and Matt came in, the first thing we talked about was their intimacy and how much they trusted each other with each other’s feelings. The next part of it was getting inside of Daemon’s head, because, up until this point, he has been responsible for killing someone but hasn’t processed it. The reason for this scene was for Daemon to actually confront himself and see himself in the mirror.”

In the brief scene, Daemon encounters a young Rhaenyra, who’s busily stitching Jaehaerys Targaryen’s head back onto his tiny body. It’s a gruesome visualization of… well, a lot that’s been weighing on Daemon’s mind. “Always coming and going, aren’t you,” she says. “And I have to clean up afterwards.”

Rhaenyra’s ethereal appearance ends there, but it’s just one piece of the psychological pie that’ll continue hitting Daemon in the face in season two. “The whole season is a level of therapy for Daemon,” Patel continued. “He’s been running so fast, he’s never really stopped to feel things. When she turns and looks at him, I wanted to make sure that without words he would be confronted because she’s seeing him and knows him. What Matt did so beautifully is he allowed himself to feel in that moment. I remember being in tears when we were shooting that, because the way that Matt portrayed Daemon’s pain as she looked at him, I felt the remorse and regret—which we don’t see in Daemon very often.”

New episodes of House of the Dragon arrive Sundays on HBO and Max.

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