A glance at House of the Dragon

It has been three years since the unforgivable and heart-destroying finale of the mega-popular HBO show Game of Thrones. Three years of crying, complaining and petitioning to have it re-made. Finally, they have come back for redemption. Risen from the embers of season 8 has come the canonical spin-off sequel to the original show. Finally.

My face during most of the scenes while watching S8

For those (hopefully few) who have no idea what I am on about, House of the Dragon goes back in time by approximately 130 years. Before Jon Snow swore his vows, before Tyrion lost his nose, and before Daenerys hatched her dragons. The story takes place at the apex of Targaryen rule, where dragons fly freely through the skies of Westeros, and the silver hair of our favourite ‘burn them all’ family is planted firmly on the throne. If you still have no idea what I’m on about, just look at the big poster by Manningtree bridge, you can’t miss it.

HBO knew even before the dreaded finale that they would have to make some spin-offs; the show was simply too popular and profitable not to do so. But this time, after sending a strongly worded letter to the writers of the last season that they should stay in their house upon penalty of beheading, the suits at HBO reached out to George RR Martin, writer of the original books the show was based on. After giving a small but much-needed reading lesson to the new showrunners, they set about creating the new show, sticking firmly to the content already at hand and available to them.

Before long, it was in the works, and actors were being called forward. The much-loved Matt Smith, a former Doctor Who was selected for the role of Daemon Targaryen, the proverbial bad boy of the Targaryen family at the time. With a ‘screw you’ attitude and recklessness to match, he has become a fan favourite with his insistence to return from every exile looking fine as hell.

To play the fiery and rebellious co-lead Rhaenyra Targaryen, a new unheard-of actress by the name of Milly Alcock has rocked the stage with her enigmatic and endearing performance as the young heir to the throne. I think I will not be the only one stating that her departure from the show due to an older version of the character being needed has been met by sadness all around.

King Viserys I is played by the talented Paddy Considine, while the Hand of the King Otto Hightower is portrayed excellently as the new sly player of the game by Rhys Ifans, last seen as Rasputin in ‘The Kingsman’. Finally, the shrewd yet kind Alicent Hightower is shown excellently by Emily Carey.

Left to right: Old Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), Old Rhaenys Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy), Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith).

The views for the show have been astronomical. The premier reached 10 million people across all platforms; the highest pilot ever released by HBO. The largest TV show released in 2022, even surpassing the much-anticipated Stranger Things S4. Claiming the top spot for internet searches, IMDB viewings and an 85% score on Rotten Tomatoes. If the critics like it, must be good…

As far as the plot goes, I don’t want to spoil too much for those who have not yet watched it, but I shall give the basic premise. At a time when the succession of the throne was in dispute, two Targaryens emerge, both with strong claims to the throne. While the ailing King attempts to patch the rifts in his realm, the rifts in his family only grow, leaving two distinct sides of allegiance. With the King’s health failing and his death near, the great houses of Westeros watch and wait, choosing the monarch they will send their armies to fight for, all the while, the looming threat of dragons dancing in the sky above them, and the Targaryen’s tearing themselves apart.

House of the Dragons, Emma Darcy, Matt Smith and Paddy Considine

For my overall assessment, I would like to call upon my fellow bubble writer Izzy S. Izzy, what have you got to say about the show?

The show has been absolutely fantastic, and the incredible use of real live dragons has been extraordinary in show production. How did they get the dragons so well trained for those scenes? The development of characters has been amazing, the Targaryens especially, whom we learned so much about, but finally get to see properly. Daemon has been irrational and impulsive, but with an elegant and charismatic air, that means you can’t help but love him. Bit weird he has a thing for his niece though…guess it’s normal at this point.

Rhaenyra is the absolute epitome of a ‘game of thrones girl boss’. While still valuing tradition, she also shows the rebellious fire of the Targaryens combined with trying to breach the heavy patriarchal boundaries imposed upon her by society.  I am excited to see the characters change with the actors, and how the time jump will affect the show. I’m also looking forward to seeing some people being burnt alive, and for all the other death and destruction to come. I think there’s going to be a war. Lots of fun to be had. Highly recommend.

Thank you, Izzy, I couldn’t agree more. House of the Dragon really has something for everyone. A first-time watcher can very much keep up with the plot if they focus, and those who’ve watched Game of Thrones will see and notice even more. And of course, if you are like me and Izzy, who have read all the books several times over, including the one the show is based off, you know exactly what will happen already! No matter your background with Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon can be enjoyed by all. With compelling characters, beautiful shots and intriguing action-filled plots, it is truly a highlight of 2022.

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