Premiere Review: HBO's House of the Dragon, Episode 1

Fire and blood.

House of the Dragon is a 2022 fantasy action drama series directed by Miguel Sapochnik, created by Ryan J. Condal and George R.R. Martin, and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. The show is based off of George R.R. Martin's 2018 novel, Fire & Blood. It stars Paddy Considine and Emma D'Arcy. This is the second show in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It acts as a prequel to Game of Thrones.


"I will not be made to choose between my brother and my daughter." - King Viserys I Targaryen

Plot


House Targaryen, the most powerful family in Westeros, has long sat upon the Iron Throne. As its current king, Viserys I Targaryen, awaits the birth of his son to announce as his heir, tensions arise between the rest of the family as well as the king's court. When tragedy strikes, the king is stuck with a dilemma that could tear his family apart.


The Sweet


Let me say this real quick: I have never watched Game of Thrones. I know barely anything about that show, so this was my introduction to this world. And, as an introduction into the Targaryens and the rules of Westeros and the Iron Throne, it worked really well. I felt like I was being eased into a world that I wasn't familiar with, but I became relatively familiar with it by the time the credits rolled.


I don't exactly know where this show is going, but I have a general idea, and I really liked the setup of this episode. It works really well as a pilot, because it introduces our characters and the world we're in while setting up a story and building lots of intrigue. I'm invested in the characters and this eventual conflict. I'm super interested to see where the rest of the season goes from here.


To me, this show felt a little bit like the fantasy version of Dune. This is a complex world with complex characters that has a good amount of politics in it, but the politics are all interesting. There are rules and traditions established at the beginning of the episode that carry into the end, and I found that really interesting. Like I said, I was just shocked by how well House of the Dragon introduced me into the world of Game of Thrones.


Finally, I felt that the production design was top notch. From the costumes to the visual effects to the sets to the props...everything. I'm sure the production design for Game of Thrones was just as amazing, but the fact that they were able to achieve this level of decoration with a TV budget (a really big TV budget, but nonetheless) was amazing.


The Sour


Now, I do think some of my criticisms will stem from the fact that I have not watched Game of Thrones.


First off, I found the violence in this episode to be cruel. I'm not usually one to criticize a show or movie for having too much violence or being too explicit with its violence, but there's a specific scene in this episode that crossed the line for me. There's a scene of a mother giving birth to a child that was too graphic and too disturbing for me to watch. I did not feel like they needed to show that scene in all of its disgusting glory. I don't know if Game of Thrones has that level of extreme violence, but I was not used to it.


Secondly, there are some things that I didn't really understand. While I do think they eased new viewers into Westeros nicely, there were parts of this episode that seemed like references to Game of Thrones that I just didn't catch onto. That's not really a huge criticism, because the expectation is that you have watched Game of Thrones going into House of the Dragon, so that one is more on me.


Finally, I felt like this episode dragged on for a little too long. I felt myself looking at the time left in the episode a few too many times because it just felt like it was moving a little too slow at certain times. Game of Thrones is famous for its epic, cinematic storytelling, but TV is just generally supposed to be shorter than film. Episode runtimes are usually forty-five minutes. The pilot of House of the Dragon is an hour and five minutes. That's a long episode of TV.


Final Thoughts


As my introduction to the world of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon was a solidly entertaining and really intriguing first episode that sets up an interesting story for me to look forward to every Sunday night.


Fun Factor: 8/10

Acting: 8/10

Story: 8.5/10

Characters: 8/10

Quality: 8/10


"House of the Dragon"

"The Heirs of the Dragon"


Directed by Miguel Sapochnik


Rated TV-MA for strong bloody violence, strong sexual content, language, frightening scenes and images, thematic elements


Premiered on August 21, 2022


1 hour and 6 minutes


Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen

Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen

Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower

Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon

Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon

Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent Hightower

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole

Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria

Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling

Sian Brooke as Queen Aemma Arryn

David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos