No Dungeons, But Plenty of Dragons
A Review of House of the Dragon‘s First Episode
Like times of ole (2019 to be exact), here there be dragons! For those who tuned into the House of the Dragon premiere, the Game of Thrones world once again drew fans in with its invigorating spirit and astounding costume design. The costume designer, Jany Temime who has previously worked on the Harry Potter and Skyfall sets, acknowledges the almost two-hundred-year difference between HOTD and GOT, by dressing the Targaryen family in noble regalia that mimics a weathered medieval fashion with tattered scaled riding wear and aged fabrics compared to the crisp and, dare I say, almost modern looks we see in the later GOT. But the venerated royal jewel is to be seen at the end of the first episode. Moreover, the Gold Cloaks undoubtedly strike dread and repulsion within the minds of the viewers, but the impressive ornate armory display and adorned gold embellishment, is nothing to be feared. The wig department has reasonably been debated on it falling into the unavoidable wheel of Targaryen madness, although I would beg to differ. One “Queen Who Never Was,” in particular, is gilded with a platinum braided crown that would make Marie Antoinette green with envy.
Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, portrayed by Milly Alcock for the time being, acts as the fantasy heroine we so desperately are waiting for, after the displeasing and disastrous fall of Daenerys Targaryen as the leading noble queen of fantasy and the unfortunate namesake leader of over 700 newborns in 2019 alone. Syrax and Caraxes, the first dragons of 17 confirmed colorful flying showrunners, offer reflective personalities of their riders Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen, played by well-known actor, Matt Smith (if you are looking for another morally gray character named Daemon, look no further!). Daemon, “The Rogue Prince,” both in episode title and character, is undeniably a fascinating Game of Thrones male protagonist that is vast with complexities and will have your condemnation and admiration all in the first two episodes.
However common new dragon sightings might be in the Game of Thrones universe, nothing is more common than extremely questionable relationship choices and brutally backstabbing consorts. Despite these consistent tropes in George R.R. Martin’s adaptations, nothing can quite prepare you for how fast things go downhill for the royal family. If you find yourself asking the question “did they just *insert questionable action here*?” The answer is always yes. Do not let the almost natural family dynamic and court life fool you, this is still most definitely Game of Thrones. Nonetheless, there is an overwhelming feeling that cannot be shaken. For almost all fans, we know what it is. It is the knowing that House of the Dragon is a prequel, and the ultimate ending is the universally controversial and blacklisted Season 8 of Game of Thrones. This knowledge shadows any hope for the House of Targaryen to truly be restored to its former glory. In spite of this, no one can deny House of the Dragon fills the fantasy lover’s heart with the warmth of dragon fire and the impending battle roar of Dracarys.
House of the Dragon Seeks GoT Redemption
George R.R. Martin Returns to Advise the Prequel
by Dave Argento ’21 A&E Staff
Just three days before the 10-year anniversary of the premiere of the record-breaking series Game of Thrones, HBO officially announced production of the highly anticipated prequel series House of the Dragon. Fans of George R.R. Martin’s high fantasy universe have been anticipating House of the Dragon since the show was unveiled by WarnerMedia in October 2019. Co-creators Martin and Ryan Condal will have an upward battle in producing the first official project from the Song of Fire and Ice world since what many consider to be one of the most disappointing final seasons and finales in television history.
House of the Dragon will take place 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones and will follow the story of House Targaryen using material from Martin’s 2018 book Fire & Blood. The ancestors of Daenerys Targaryen (a.k.a. the Mother of Dragons) ruled the lands of Westeros prior to Robert’s Rebellion which had preceded the Game of Thrones story arc. Considering the series will take place during the peak of Targaryen military power, the massive budget of $15 million per episode as the most expensive show to date should suffice to provide fans with all of the CGI dragon action one’s heart could desire.
The massive project will surely have the production value and media buzz to succeed, but the quality of the writing will be observed incredibly closely considering the bad taste left in fans’ mouths as a consequence of House of the Dragon’s predecessor. Some good indications have come from the staff announced to create the show as the likes of Miguel Sapochnik who has directing credits for six Game of Thrones episodes for which he won an Emmy and DGA honors for “Battle of the Bastards” will be involved.
Contrary to the last seasons of Game of Thrones, where it was rumored George R.R. Martin and co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had severed ties over creative differences, Martin is back to being a more active contributor to the new project. Many attribute Martin’s absence and lack of source material to why the ending to Game of Thrones was what most consider a tremendous failure in story writing, so at least these two corrections seem to have been made. There will likely be a mix of hope and skepticism as diehard fans would love to see more of Martin’s highly regarded writing come to life on screen without the disappointment that was felt throughout the fandom following the finale approximately two years ago.
House of the Dragon lacks an official release date, but HBO programming chief Casey Bloys suggested in a January interview that it might premiere sometime in 2022. Other Game of Thrones spinoff series are likely to come in the coming years, but production delays and budget cuts during the COVID pandemic have led to even more questions surrounding if and when such projects might come to life. House of the Dragon serves as a new opportunity to dive into George R.R. Martin’s genius and incredibly detailed fantasy universe, causing fans to eagerly await any content to come in the coming months of production.