Oh man, let me take a moment to compose myself and gather my thoughts. Like most avid GoT fans, the anticipation behind this first official spin-off was no joke. I was both excited and nervous to see how House of the Dragon would fare in reinstating fans into the world of Westeros after three long years. No doubt, there was a lot riding on this production’s success, including the future success of the GoT franchise. As a whole, House of the Dragon is facing a major challenge, walking the line between continuity and reinvention. So far, I think they’re doing it beautifully. Judging from the shape of the premiere, the prequel project is poised to pay off in abounds!
Balerion The Black Dread
In GoT, we glimpse the massive skull of Balerion the Black Dread, in the cellars of the Red Keep on a few occasions. However, it was regarded as a fearsome artifact of the past, a relic of an age gone by. Now, in House of the Dragon, with the Targaryens at the height of their power, the skull of Balerion is on display in a more powerful and pronounced way. It’s not a reminder of what was, but the might and prowess of the Targaryen dynasty.
Seeing the skull mounted above this large altar of candles was an awesome visual in the premiere. It was definitely a befitting location for King Viserys’ talk with Rhaenyra. Especially since it involved the disclosure of Aegon’s vision (we’ll get to that), overlooked by the very dragon he rode when conquering Westeros.
The Weirwood Tree
Something about weirwood trees always makes me emotional! I trace it back to the long-lasting impact of GoT season one, seeing the weirwood in the godswood at Winterfell. There’s something so serenely reverent and enduring about them.
Admittedly, I was not expecting to see a weirwood tree in the House of the Dragon. In GoT, there was no godswood at King’s Landing. It was something known to be exclusive to the North and their upholding of the “Old Gods.”
Seeing young Rhaenyra and Alicent reading beneath the weirwood was an interesting touch. It also instates a bit of a mystery. This is because it was generally understood that the Andals cut down the southern weirwoods long before the prequel’s historical timeline. The choice to include one raises some questions about who replanted this tree and who eventually removed it? Maybe we’ll receive some clarity on these questions later on. Either way, I’m happy to see a weirwood, explained or not.
Perhaps the most striking detail from the premiere last night, which established continuity with GoT, was Viserys’ relaying of Aegon’s dream. Planning to name Rhaenyra as his heir, the King passes on a prophetic message from Aegon the Conqueror, which foretells a Great Winter, bringing with it a darkness that would spell the end of the world.
For all GoT fans, this prophecy is central to the timeline of the original show – including the rise of the Night King and the Battle of Winterfell. It also encompasses the breadth of mystical talk about the Prince that was Promised (Azor Ahai) – a topic that fans fervently debated for years.
As Entertainment Weekly summed up in their feature, “Fans spent years arguing that the prophecy really referred to Jon Snow — Rhaegar’s youngest son with Lyanna Stark and was reborn after death. Others argued it was Daenerys herself, or the two of them together with Jon representing Ice and Daenerys representing Fire.”
Given that all this prophetic talk came to a hazy, unclear culmination (as it’s Arya who ends up killing the Night King and saving the world), a discussion of how this message affected the line of Targaryen rulers will be very important to examine in the prequel. On the whole, I found it a cool inclusion that nods to how ancient the lore of Westeros is and how broad the storytelling spans.
Another awesome detail that fans have been following since the official trailers started to drop is the appearance of the familiar Valyrian steel dagger. From the attempted assassination of Bran Stark to Arya’s long-overdue justice in killing Littlefinger, to the whole saving the world thing, this popular weapon is deeply entrenched in GoT. However, its origin was never fully uncovered.
Reintroducing it as a key part in the prequel’s storyline is another great way of establishing a sense of continuity between shows. Already, it is clear that the re-emergence of the dagger is not a meaningless GoT memento but a crucial (prophecy-tied) weapon that has weaved throughout Targaryen rule and beyond.
The music of GoT was a huge part of its success in captivating audiences and capturing their hearts. Therefore, I was so excited to hear what Ramin Djawadi cooked up for this prequel endeavor. Though there was no elaborate recreation of the 90-second GoT theme, this first introduction to the prequel’s score was mighty satisfying. Notably, the newly dropped piece from the premiere, “The Prince That Was Promised,” is haunting, atmospheric, and unique while still subtly incorporating the familiar elements of GoT’s score. I’m obsessed!
Admit it, when they played that familiar GoT track for the credits…it brought on the goosebumps! I’m under the impression that Ramin Djawadi is a genius who can do no wrong. Surely, his musical masterpieces will continue to cinch House of the Dragon’s success moving forward.
I hope you enjoyed my short detail recap of last night’s premiere. As you can tell, I’m just a tad bit excited for the Sunday nights to come. Make sure to check back here at Bookstr every week for more HOTD discussion. In the meantime, take to Twitter, and the GoT fandom will meet you there!
Finally, for more on HOTD, check out these 25 hilarious tweets on episode one.