House of the Dragon, A Breath of Fresh Air Since Game of Thrones: Spoilers Ahead
Luis Laboy, Grade 11, Staff Writer
197 years before the events of the popular TV show Game of Thrones, the Targaryen family ruled the island of Westeros. This rule was not peaceful, though, as detailed in HBO’s House of the Dragon, with a shift in their line of succession to the Iron Throne leading to the infamous war between two heirs known as the Dance of Dragons.
After the death of his wife and his only son during childbirth, King Viserys I only had one female heir, Rhaenyra. Decades later, the battle for the throne between her and King Viserys’ future sons would cause one of the biggest and most dangerous wars to be seen in Westeros.
Many fans have said the show has been a breath of fresh air since the flawed ending of the original series due to bad writing. The first season of House of the Dragon had the exact elements that made people fall in love with Game of Thrones in the first place: the political drama and intrigue of different parties scheming to gain control of the Iron Throne, loved ones being betrayed or tricked, and conflict between the many houses uprising and leading to a war.
The show initially implies that the king's brother, Daemon, portrayed by Matt Smith, would possibly be a villain. Displaying his desire to be the heir to the Iron Throne and continuous arguments between him and the king, leading to his exile from capital city King’s Landing, initially portray him as a nefarious character, but throughout the later episodes, his charm and charisma catapult him to his current standing as a fan favorite.
Matt Smith, along with Paddy Considine, Milly Alcock, and Emma D’Arcy demonstrate exceptional acting skills throughout the show. Matt Smith gives Daemon depth as a brooding “rogue prince” that also expresses compassion for his family, having excellent chemistry with Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy, who both play Rhaenyra Targaryen at different ages. Paddy Considine shows King Viserys I has immense love for his daughter and will do anything to help her. These actors make a spectacle of the show and give it heart with a mixture of drama and love.
Game of Thrones season one starts out by establishing the different houses of Westeros and a backstory for why the Targaryens are no longer on the Iron Throne. The whole season unravels in chaos until it is very obvious that war is imminent. House of the Dragon provides a prequel of an older time when everything was ruled over by the Targaryens and parallels Game of Thrones with a main conflict of who gets to sit on the Iron Throne.
Overall, the show has the potential to become just as good as, or even better than, Game of Thrones if the writers use the source material correctly. The last season of Game of Thrones’ rushed character development and unsatisfactory ending lead many to consider it one of the worst television downfalls ever. The suspense of each episode of House of the Dragon, as well as the ultimate idea of knowing where the events all lead up to 197 years later, makes the show a good candidate for redemption of Game of Thrones and makes viewers eager for more to come.
Poster for the critically acclaimed series House of the Dragon