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.
"Have you never imagined yourself on the Iron Throne?" - Princess Rhaenys Targaryen
Generations before Daenerys Targaryen, the House of the Dragon is plunged into a civil war that threatens to tear all of Westeros apart.
I have never watched Game of Thrones. So House of the Dragon was my introduction to this world.
Right off the bat, I loved this sense of impending doom that was present throughout every single episode. Every moment of this show is overshadowed by this ominous feeling that something terrible is going to happen. It makes it a very intense show to watch, because you just know that really bad things happen in this world and they are coming. The first season of House of the Dragon is not a super thrilling ten episodes, but they are still intense because of this looming sense of dread and danger.
They also have a very cool way of telling the story. Each episode has one or two major events that has a huge impact on the rest of the story. It creates a narrative where all of the cataclysmic moments matter. The first episode begins with a massive tragedy that sets up the events of the rest of the show, and then throughout, you just see how these events shift the characters and change the story. It's a very cool domino effect, and it added to the intensity and intrigue that this show has.
The show also has this rich set of complex characters. None of these characters are entirely good, but none of them are pure evil either. They balance it nicely, because you can sympathize with both sides of this Targaryen civil war. There is a side that you're rooting for and a side that you're against, but you understand where both sides are coming from. Likewise, they make it so you know what each character is going to do in certain situations. They give each character just enough fleshing out so that you know them well enough for their impact on the story to make sense. That's an impressive feat, because House of the Dragon has a lot of characters, and to make nearly all of them compelling is extremely, extremely difficult.
The production design for this show is also fantastic. Medieval fantasy has to look cool, otherwise it could come off as drab or lame. House of the Dragon looks very cool. It feels like this fantastic version of the 1600s with dragons in it. The sets are wonderful to look at. The CGI is stunning, especially since this is a TV show. It just adds to the quality of this show.
I also think that the actual plot of this show is pretty awesome. Seeing an empire collapse in on itself is a really interesting story template that we don't get as much of as you'd think. That story is even cooler when it's set in Westeros. You see each moment dial up the tension a little bit more as you eventually reach the explosive finale where everything comes to a head.
Another thing that House of the Dragon excels at is pure shock value. Since there is the impending sense of doom, you are on the edge of your seat throughout a lot of this show. When that dread pays off, it pays off in the best way. They have these moments that will make your jaw drop, whether it's a surprising character moment, an intense fight scene, or a brutal, brutal death. The shocking moments are what really make this show good.
House of the Dragon has a good amount of problems, and they all originate from one strange choice that the writers made: this show has four or five time jumps between the episodes. There are ten episodes, and they take place over twenty years. Most of that time is skipped between the episodes. For example, episode two ends on this super cool note where you want to see what happens next. Then episode three picks up three years later, releasing all of the tension and excitement that came in episode two. It's so frustrating. I understand they have to pack all of this story into the show and follow the source material, but they could've structured this season much, much better.
This show can also be incredibly slow at times. It's not very action-filled. Most of it is characters sitting around and talking. And that can be good at certain points, but there are times where they are talking about seemingly insignificant things that just feel like they are there to pat the runtime or to help catch you up after a time jump. It's such an uneven experience, because some of this show is just so shocking and so exciting and so good, and another part of it is just incredibly slow and frustrating.
And, because of how slow it can be, it throws off the pace of the entire show. There are episodes of House of the Dragon that move quickly and have tons of shocking moments that get you pumped up to see what's going to happen next...and then there are episodes that just feel like exposition dumps. There are episodes that are just characters sitting at tables and talking. Why? Well, mainly because of the time jumps. They need to make sure you're up to speed after a massive time jump, so the weakest episodes are always the ones that skip through time, because they are burdened with the weight of making sure the audience knows what's been going on.
I know Game of Thrones is known for its extreme violence and willingness to show everything, but sometimes that's a bit too much. There are multiple ridiculously uncomfortable birth scenes that just feel cruel at a point. Like, do I really need to see a woman screaming to deliver a baby with blood squirting everywhere for five minutes? No. That just feels mean. And there's a lot of stuff like that that is extremely unforgiving and brutal.
Final Thoughts and Score
House of the Dragon is an uneven experience, but the impending doom and shocking moments make up for some slower episodes.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 17+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"House of the Dragon"
Fun Factor: 7.5/10
Created by Ryan J. Condal and George R.R. Martin
Rated TV-MA for strong bloody violence, strong sexual content, language, frightening themes and images, thematic elements
Premiered on August 21, 2022
Episode runtime: 60 minutes
Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen
Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
Milly Alcock as Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen
Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower
Emily Carey as Young Queen Alicent Hightower
Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower
Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen
Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon
Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole
Tom Glynn-Carney as Prince Aegon II Targaryen
Ty Tennant as Young Prince Aegon II Targaryen
Ewan Mitchell as Prince Aemond Targaryen
Leo Ashton as Young Prince Aemond Targaryen
Harry Collett as Prince Jacaerys Velaryon
Leo Hart as Young Prince Jacaerys Velaryon
Elliot Grihault as Prince Lucerys Velaryon
Harvey Sadler as Young Prince Lucerys Velaryon
Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling
Matthew Needham as Lord Larys Strong
John Macmillan as Lord Laenor Velaryon
Nanna Blondell as Lady Laena Velaryon
Bethany Antonia as Lady Baela Targaryen
Phoebe Campbell as Lady Rhaena Targaryen
Phia Saban as Princess Helaena Targaryen
Jefferson Hall as Lord Jason Lannister / Ser Tyland Lannister
Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria
Gavin Spokes as Lord Lyonel Strong
Elliott Tittensor as Ser Erryk Cargyll
Luke Tittensor as Ser Arryk Cargyll