The intensity, intricacy and sheer quality of HBO's latest flagship show just refuses to let up.
The most recent episode of Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, Second of His Name, saw another time jump even greater than the one depicted in the previous episode, and it's fair to say that quite a lot has happened since the epic standoff on Dragonstone.
Prince Daemon and Corlys Velaryon battle the foreboding Crabfeeder in the Stepstones, albeit without the support of the Crown, while celebrations in honor of King Viserys and his new wife Alicent's son Aegon stoke tensions between Rhaenyra and the rest of her family. The cast throw in the expected exemplary array of performances; Paddy Considine in particular comes roaring back to throw in his best performance as Viserys to date, perfectly capturing the vast range of emotions seething behind the platinum hair of the Targaryen King.
House of the Dragon is just absolutely unrelenting in terms of sheer quality; the latest episode is set, acted and written to the usual stratospheric standards. Throw in the usual gorgeous visuals with a few thrilling sword fights and dragons raining down fiery destruction and Second of His Name is a perfect showcase of what made Game of Thrones such a sensation, as well as the seemingly endlessly ambitious standards of the new show runners.
10. Down - Meet (and Say Goodbye To) The Crabfeeder
This all felt slightly anti-climactic.
While Craghas Drahar, aka the Crabfeeder, oozes dread during his short time on-screen, it felt rather like this was a case of a villain who looked a lot scarier than he actually was.
The episode begins by depicting Drahar's parlor trick of (you guessed it!) feeding unfortunate soldiers to crabs in deliciously grisly fashion. Daemon soon arrives on Caraxes and torches any soul unfortunate enough not to make it back to the caves; Drahar is silhouetted against the apocalyptic landscape as Daemon roars for him to come out and face him.
It all felt like it was building to an epic conclusion, that would demonstrate what a sinister villain the show had on their hands. Sadly in the interests of a strong, plot-hole free, narrative, Drahar eventually proves that only his levels of cowardice exceed that of his stupidity and physical repulsiveness.
Obviously, the famously enigmatic, untameable Targaryen must be surrendering without explanation; no chance that this is all a massive trap. You can practically hear the audience say "d'oh" as Drahar sends his entire host out to slaughter one man; not one viewer is surprised when they are inevitably ambushed and butchered by the Velaryons.
Drahar doesn't even go out in an epic sword fight; chopped in half by Daemon off-screen after fleeing the battle, what remains of him is dropped into the surf for the crabs. Considering the show has spent three episodes building the ominous threat of the Crabfeeder, said threat fell flat rather quickly.