*Contains “Game of Thrones” finale spoilers, no “House of the Dragon” spoilers in review
After a long three years, the “Game of Thrones” franchise returns with “House of the Dragon,” the prequel to the fantasy series. During the three year gap, I had some free time to reflect on the GOT series ending. Confused, underwhelmed, sad and angry are all words that come to mind (if you know, you know). While many people fell in love with the series when it first premiered in 2011, I binged watched the show in one summer after its ending and was still caught off guard by Daenerys Targaryen’s “Mad Queen” descent. Naturally, when I heard about the prequel dedicated to her ancestors’ storyline, I had my hesitations about getting invested in another show from the franchise. Nonetheless, I couldn’t resist giving it a chance. I rarely watch prequels because they ruin the original series more often than not, but within the first ten minutes I knew I’d made the right choice to tune in.
The series is set 172 years before Danerys Targaryen’s birth. The show introduces the viewers to the Targaryen line: King Viserys Targaryen, fierce first-born daughter Rhaenrya Targaryen who also rides dragons, youngest brother and current heir Daemon Targaryen, and Queen Aemma Targaryen who is pregnant and hopeful for a boy. If you’d like to see an interactive Targaryen family tree, HBO created one (fair warning: it does include spoilers about death status). Like all noble houses in Westeros, there is no shortage of drama that drives the show’s narrative.
With King Viserys ruling without a proper son heir, the series takes on the familiar battle for the throne which causes people to act without morals. So to reword– great television. The show features a jousting ceremony, courting woes, horrifying villains, best friend drama, gory fight scenes, heated debates over thrice-refilled cups of wine – basically all the stops. The characters are well-written, the cast shares great chemistry and the pacing leaves perfect breadcrumbs for the developing plot. The series at times can feel a bit too paralleled to the GOT series. For example, Rhaenyra’s headstrong demeanor exactly matches that of Daenerys. However, an argument could be made that it simply runs in the family.
The writers remain true to what made the early seasons of GOT so hooking to watch. HOTD has cunning one-liners, bold and graphic writing that make your skin tingle, daring characters with personal motives, family drama on steroids, stunning cinematography in and out of the sky on dragonback, impending war that makes you wish next Sunday would come sooner and drama worth sitting on the couch for an hour. It finds a way to stand on its own and has potential to be a Sunday classic in its own right.
Episodes are airing on HBO and HBO Max on Sundays at 9pm ET.