However you feel about the final season of Game of Thrones, it was a huge deal while it aired on HBO from 2011 to 2019. And it seems like the new prequel, House of the Dragon, is trying to recapture that attention. A new photoshoot in Entertainment Weekly this week gave us a closer look at some of the main characters, and revealed even more of just what this series will be about. So what does this tell us, and how does it measure up to Season 8? Keep reading to find out why (we hope) it might just be different this time.
Rhaenyra Targaryen is a Different Kind of Princess
Rhaenyra Targaryen might be the dragon queen we all wanted and (spoiler alert) didn’t get from Dany. The daughter of King Viserys Targaryen, Rhaenyra never cared about what was expected of her as a woman, and when she’s named successor, it kicks off a civil war. As her cousin Princess Rhaenys tells her in the trailer for the series, “Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne.”
Our main character has a complicated relationship with gender, though, and as her actor, Emma D’Arcy, puts it, sees how her gender affects how much power she is allowed to have:
She is a person who feels at odds with the way that she is read by the world… It’s like she has a doppelgänger. The doppelgänger is Rhaenyra born male, who has access to all the things that she craves and feels to be hers.Emma D’Arcy, to EW
Game of Thrones has been accused of insensitivity and sexism before, with their portrayal of female nudity and sexual violence, but they’ve also been praised for representation with characters like Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth. It’ll be interesting to see where Rhaenyra fits into that space.
Closer Looks At All-New Characters
While some of the characters in the show were already announced, the full main cast is front and center in this photo shoot, with lots to catch our attention. There’s the profile of King Viserys I, a “good man, bad king” according to actor Paddy Considine, and Matt Smith’s “volatile” and dangerous Prince Daemon, who wants power for himself. There are also characters from other houses, who aren’t around in the time of the original series, Hightower and Velaryon. Otto Hightower is the Hand of the King, and Alicent, his daughter, is Rhaenyra’s childhood friend but starts to realize they are very different. Corlys Velaryon is often compared to Tywin Lannister, and his wife, Princess Rhaenys, was also passed over for the throne. With characters like these, it’s easy to imagine how the Dance of the Dragons civil war started.
The Show Isn’t Shying Away From Talking About Season 8
While some franchises don’t like to talk about decisions that were criticized by fans, the Game of Thrones universe isn’t one of them. Paddy Considine, who plays King Viserys in House of the Dragon, said that he understood the disappointment about the finale of the original show.
When you live with something for so many years and watch those characters on that adventure, I think people start to write their own endings… And I was probably one of them, as well.Paddy Considine, to EW
Ryan Condal, showrunner of House of the Dragon along with director of several Game of Thrones episodes Miguel Sapochnik, added that while he doesn’t want what fans had to say about the end of the first show to affect what this show does,
We have this huge legacy to carry forward. [And we want to] do that in the best way that honors what came before, but also doesn’t do the thing that I think a lot of sequels do: Here’s [what] you love wrapped up in a different packaging.Ryan Condal, to EW
House of the Dragon is Based on Material from George R.R. Martin
A lot of criticism of the last few seasons of Game of Thrones came from the fact that the TV show outpaced the books. Game of Thrones finished the story in their own way, since author of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin, is still finishing the last two books in the series. While The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring still aren’t out yet, House of the Dragon pulls its characters and story from Fire and Blood, the history of House Targaryen that Martin wrote in 2018. So there’s less reason to worry that the showrunners will be forced to deviate too much from the books.
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