Game of Thrones legacy lives on: House of The Dragon review

HBO’s latest hit series “House of the Dragon” soars high and mighty on the ratings chart with a fiery 8.9 on IMDB and over 10.2 million tuned in viewers for the Pilot. The captivating new show brings George R.R. Martin’s fantastical world back to life, as we watch the Targaryen dynasty’s reign over Westeros unfold almost 200 years prior to the events of “Game of Thrones.” 

“House of the Dragon” has been long anticipated by “Game of Thrones” fans ever since the show’s finale in 2019. The new fantasy drama acts as a prequel to its mega-famous precursor while maintaining the same film style and vernacular of the beloved show. Parallel themes of family, betrayal, dynasty and destiny are also common aspects between the two series. 

However, as many fans have noticed, “House of the Dragon” differs from its predecessor in the number of storylines the show has us follow. While “Game of Thrones” would often have fans following three to four storylines an episode, each following a different protagonist of a distinct house in a specific location around Westeros, “House of the Dragon” revolves around the Targaryan household and the members of its clan.

 This focus on one house allows fans to become more familiarized with a specific set of characters, rather than meeting many in short intervals throughout an episode. Though this is optimal for character development, it doesn’t give us an opportunity to further map the vast lands of Westeros. Because the geography of the fictional world is what intrigued so many “Game of Thrones” viewers, the lack of its exploration leaves me disappointed and underwhelmed in that category. Still, there is opportunity for the showrunners to change that. 

The show is an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novel “Fire and Blood,” which follows the events prior to and during the Targaryan war of succession, known as “The Dance of the Dragon.” The series’ main focus is on Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, first-born daughter of King Viserys Targaryan, played by Emma D’Arcy as an adult and Milly Alcock as a teenager

Conflict arises when King Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, marries Lady Alicent Hightower, Rheanerya’s best friend. Alicent, played by Olivia Cooke as an adult and Emily Carey as a teenager, would go on to mother the first born son of King Viserys which creates controversy within the kingdom of who is the rightful successor to the King. 

A distinct characteristic of the show is the use of time jumps to travel from one period of Targaryen history to another. The most notable time jump came early in the show, between episodes five and six, where the story leaped ten years into the future prompting an actor change amongst various characters portrayed. 

While the actor changes are necessary for the evolution of the story, the young actresses portraying the main two protagonists didn’t get enough screen time. Alcock pulled off a spectacular performance in her adaptation of Princess Rhaenyra. She both revealed and concealed the motives of her character willingly by the mere expressions on her face. While D’Arcy brings her own elements to the complex character, I think most fans would agree Alcot deserved a longer session as the future queen of Westeros. 

George R.R. Martin attributes a majority of his inspiration to real historical events. For instance, the “Red Wedding” scene in episode 9 season 3 of “Game of Thrones” was inspired by “The Black Dinner” of 1692 in which James Douglass II killed William Douglas to break the power his family held over lowland Scotland. The true stories behind these fictional scenes melt down the chunks of what’s real and fake until it becomes one homogenized soup of entertainment. 

Although the episode six time jump was originally planned to be the biggest in the series, show-runner Ryan Condell has growing aspirations for the future of the show.

“There is really 300 years of Targaryen history to explore, and there are many stories within there that are really fascinating,” Condell said. “ I think the fan base is willing and eager. There’s a lot of storytelling left in this world, if people want it.”

While there is only one episode left in the first season, season two has already been approved and scheduled for filming in the Spring of 2023 and I for one can’t wait to see what the “House of the Dragon” has in store for the future.