'House of the Dragon' Will Win Back Fair-Weather Fans of 'Game of Thrones'

Created by George R. R. Martin and Ryan Condal

Starring Emma D'Arcy, Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Sonoya Mizuno, Fabien Frankel, Graham McTavish

Photo courtesy of WarnerMedia

BY Alex HudsonPublished Aug 23, 2022

The final season of Game of Thrones left a bad taste in viewers' mouths with its errant water bottles and coffee cups, uneven pacing, and an overly abrupt heel turn from a beloved character — all of which significantly reduced the excitement about prequel series House of the Dragon. Do we really need another season further sullying author George R.R. Martin's once-engrossing world of sex, gore and Machiavellian ambition?

Thankfully, House of the Dragon gets the franchise back on track — perhaps not quite as compellingly as those first few seasons of Game of Thrones, but enough to win back fair-weather fans.

House of the Dragon takes place about 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, focusing on House Targaryen and the power struggles that paved the way for "The Mad King" and Daenerys Targaryen.

The show's first episode, "The Heirs of the Dragon," has many of the same qualities that made Game of Thrones both engrossing and a bit silly: a convoluted cast of characters that's difficult to keep track of (having princesses named Rhaenyra and Rhaenys is unnecessarily confusing), a pseudo-medieval aesthetic where characters say things like "good morrow" instead of "hello," a lurid approach to sexuality, and CGI dragons that slightly spoil the otherwise gorgeous scenery.

The episode gets off to a slow start, as the Targaryens makes succession plans. King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) doesn't yet have a male heir, leaving his daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and brother Daemon (Matt Smith) potentially in line to succeed him on the Iron Throne — unless, of course, he can produce a son. The episode builds to a grim, gripping crescendo, with a childbirth intercut with bloody scenes from a jousting tournament. The grisly gore serves its purpose well, highlighting the brutality of this world and the way characters will sacrifice everything for a fleeting moment of power or glory.

House of the Dragon has yet to establish any characters as great as the ones from Game of Thrones — there's no Daenerys, Arya, Tyrion or Jon Snow. But, at the very least, the show is off to a very promising start for anyone who was left alienated by Game of Thrones.

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