Spoiler Alert: This story contains spoilers for HBO’s “House of the Dragon” and descriptions of sex and violence.
“House of the Dragon,” a “Game of Thrones” prequel, first aired on Aug. 21. The show is set 172 years before the death of the mad king from the original “Game of Thrones” lore, Aerys, and the birth of his daughter, Daenerys Targaryen. “House of the Dragon” focuses on her ancestors and the events that ultimately ended their multi-generational reign over the continent and kingdom of Westeros.
In the show, a young princess named Rhaenrya Targaryen, played by Milly Alcock, must come to understand the limitations in her female world as she is named the heir to the Iron Throne after her father Viserys Targaryen, played by Paddy Considine. When her father marries her best friend, Alicent Hightower, played by Emily Carey, and has a son, this battle becomes more difficult. Making it a true game of thrones, Rhaenyra’s uncle, Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, also fights to be named heir.
Daemon Targaryen is the brother of the king, but has been disinherited. Rhaenyra was then named the next heir by the king himself, and there has never been a woman on the Iron Throne. Finally, King Viserys’ son is born to Alicent Hightower, and being the firstborn son, has a better claim than either of his family members. When there are three possible heirs, all with good claims to the throne, it is bound to end in fire and blood.
The show has let the actors showcase their fantastic skills. There are many intense scenes of dialogue that focus on the receiver of the information and really lets the viewer take in their reaction. Also, there are quite a few scenes with no dialogue at all, and you are forced to watch the characters’ faces and use your knowledge of the story and relationships within the show to form your own conclusions.
Within just the first four episodes of “House of the Dragon,” there have been many dragons, battles, bloody duels and some very intimate scenes. These are all staples of the original series as well, but “House of the Dragon” takes each of these concepts to a new level.
The most recent episode titled, “King of the Narrow Sea,” featured almost seven minutes of sex which is a very unexpected turn from the original series. While “Game of Thrones” offered a scene or two every few episodes, this was a very significant plot point for the new series. “Game of Thrones” also does not include nearly as much incest as is depicted in “House of the Dragon,” though this is a tradition within the Targaryen family. While it makes sense that it would be portrayed in such detail, it is a stark difference between the two shows.
The show certainly does not shy away from shock value, including aspects like crude cesarean sections and violent jousting competitions. “House of the Dragon” is a very exciting show all around, and definitely focuses more on the big details and shocking aspects than some of the specifics of the characters’ motivations and traumas. “Game of Thrones” was a show about deceit and moral gray areas, while “House of the Dragon” seems to lean into its more taboo and unsettling aspects than exploring the deeper, subtle character arcs. This isn’t necessarily a problem for the show, but rather an unexpected turn from the heart of “Game of Thrones.”
Compared to the original series, the show also has a much more linear plot. “Game of Thrones” followed many plotlines and perspectives all across the continent of Westeros. The prequel series has mainly been centered at the royal capital, King’s Landing. It has also mainly focused on the conflicts within the Targaryen family, keeping a few central characters close and letting only a few arcs truly shine. This has definitely led to a stronger early connection to characters and better cohesion of the initial story.
While there are only four episodes out now, fans have already begun predicting the future of the series. It seems like King Viserys may be nearing his final days. An infection from cutting himself while sitting on the Iron Throne has slowly been creeping through him, and weakening him by the day. The Iron Throne is made of the melted swords of those the Targaryen’s previously conquered. Within this story, there are stories of the throne “rejecting” unfit kings, all of which were said to be cut or injured by the throne.
We are assuming that his death will spark a flame within the family and leave everyone reaching for the Iron Throne. Maybe Princess Rhaenyra and Daemon will bind themselves through marriage and leave Aegon, the young boy heir behind. Will the urge for power undermine the strength and bond of blood? We cannot wait to find out.
New episodes of “House of the Dragon” air Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max.