We are now three episodes into House of the Dragon, and some of the airy expectations we had can now be more defined. Other than a Game of Thrones spin-off, what is it, and what can we expect? Let’s look at things so far, what we know about the upcoming episodes, where it will leave us all in the wider Westeros world and will it explain the tangled Targaryen family tree in more depth.
Not the Only Series
Despite the negative public opinion on how the Game of Thrones ended, HBO has still gone all-in on producing sequels. House of the Dragon exposes us to the shenanigans that would eventually bring the Targaryens to their knees and leave them in the weak position we saw at the opening of Game of Thrones. So Game of Thrones fans will likely see a lot more of their favorite fictional playground.
HBO and its streaming services, HBO Max, have recently merged with Discovery under the broader banner of Warner Bros Discovery. For now, while we know the HBO and Discovery streaming services will merge sometime soon, we don’t know precisely when this will take place, and it may affect items planned for production.
What We Know About Plot
House of the Dragon is set two centuries before the happenings of Game of Thrones, so we see the Targaryens in all their glory – for now, that is. What will happen to them later in the series, who knows? Of course, the rather squicky incest themes return, but would it be Westeros without them? Currently, we’re seeing the beginning of nefarious plots in the shadows as people squabble for power and prestige and the threat of the king’s daughter’s best friend becoming queen. We have yet to see whether it will be worse if she does or not.
The backdrop of the larger story arc will be the ‘Dance of Dragons’, a notorious historical civil war that wrecked the Targaryen family and left them at the low point we see in the Game of Thrones opening seasons. There will be 10 episodes in the first season.
We’ve been promised several multi-year time skips throughout the series and have already seen a relatively small 6-month skimp in episode 2. It’s also clear that this will be a more tightly-run storyline, perhaps closer to The Crown and The Tudors than the original sweeping epic-style of Game of Thrones.
The original series shied away from tangling with time, so this is a new concept for viewers. We didn’t even see a flashback until Season 5. Will this be smooth or confusing? It’s early to tell, but it may help keep the pacing tight and the tension high if done well.
House of Dragon is also better written than the original seasons of Game of Thrones. HBO had many teams pitching spin-offs of various ideas. House of the Dragon came to the fore because George RR Martin has written so much about this part of Westeros history.
Nevertheless, the show promises to be very faithful to his vision. We’ll get dragons and battles but it holds close to the author’s love of human conflict, gray character exploration, love and hate, and character drama. Some believe that this tangle of sophisticated politics, so prevalent in the first few seasons of Game of Thrones, made the series great. That assures even GoT fans will be happy. Supposedly, we’ll see a lot of the Red Keep itself, and the overall focus will be tighter and more family-centric.
We have been promised a little bit of a drift from the gratuitous nudity of the first seasons of Game of Thrones, but so far, there’s been plenty of raunchiness too. Surprisingly, Martin himself claims that this series will focus more on women and the fact that the Iron Throne has never been held by a woman- and that this is ‘the way things must be, according to the powerful men in the Westeros universe. We’ve also been promised a strangely sinister focus on the perils of childbirth.
Dragons and Politics
In this iteration of Westeros, we’ll also see more dragons than the famous three from the original series. Set in the past, we’ll see them in their heyday, with dragon riders aplenty too. So far, we’ve been promised at least 17 dragons and the possibility of dragon-on-dragon battles, a closer look at human-dragon interactions and the broader culture around them.
A spin-off show like this will inevitably be heavily compared to its original and needs to build around the heart of what we already know about the wider Westeros setting. We see the same families and locations, a story by the same author, and a heavy lean to the same vibes. Several of the cast auditioned for their roles with Game of Thrones dialogue, even! The story is pulled from George RR Martin’s Blood and Fire book, so there’s plenty of material to develop in depth. So far, it looks like it may stand up to these lofty comparisons well.
We may be far from the famous Winter that was always coming, but some productive seasons are ahead. What are you most looking forward to in the latest adventure in the Game of Thrones universe? What do you hope to see, and what would you rather avoid? Do you think this new stand-alone adventure will manage to avoid the pitfalls of the infamous last seasons of Game of Thrones? Be sure to let us know your thoughts!