With less than a month to go until the premiere of HBO’s House of the Dragon, we’re getting more and more intriguing glimpses by the day into the prequel’s plotline, casting, cinematography, and more. Perhaps most enlightening of these developments is the show’s prominent role in spearheading post-GOT television.
In a recent interview for The Hollywood Reporter, the show’s leading creative voices earnestly discussed the layout of this ambitious project and its role in expanding the legacy of Game of Thrones.
Carrying The Torch
For three years, GOT fans have wondered what a return to Westeros would look like. Upon the completion of House of the Dragon, we finally have a definitive idea.
Jumping back a couple of centuries in George R.R. Martin’s timeline, the prequel will hone in on the Targaryen family dynasty. Specifically, it picks up during the reign of King Viserys I (played by Paddy Considine) and the succession dispute that caused a civil war – other known as The Dance of the Dragons.
Amusingly, as the first successor of the GOT franchise, House of The Dragon is a story about contested succession – which is oddly on-brand given the state of the wider franchise! Also, despite the central fantasy element of dragons, the prequel is poised to tell a much more insular story of human flaws and family dysfunction. In George R.R. Martin’s own words, it’s “like a Shakespearean tragedy.”
Whereas GOT’s magnitude of sprawling plot arcs grew so big that constructing a sufficient ending became seemingly impossible, House of the Dragon has a much more manageable storytelling task ahead of them. Not only are they working with completed written material from Martin’s Fire & Blood, but it is, by design, a more condensed tale, honing in on Targaryen power politics in the Red Keep.
To cover a larger span of GOT history, there will also be a time jump halfway through. Subsequently, the two female leads, Rhaenyra and Alicent, are cast in two sets. The younger version of the leads is played by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey (pictured above), then morphing into their adult selves played by Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke.
The Fate of the Franchise
Amidst all the pop culture buzz surrounding the prequel, surely HBO is eager to gauge audience perception upon premiere. If the project pays off and ratings are high, they are sure to greenlight a second season. If it bombs…well, the TV universe for GOT may be in some trouble. As of now, there are three additional live-action projects waiting in the wings (including the Jon Snow spin-off).
With that in mind, House of the Dragon’s premiere comes across as a sort of test subject – a way to see how many lapsed GOT fans will tune in and commit to a fresh story with a brand new cast.
I don’t know about you, but I think things are lining up for prequel success. The Targaryen family history is rich and, in my mind, made for television. Plus, I feel inclined to trust George R.R. Martin’s opinion, and he has reiterated in both his blog and interviews that he approves of the product. According to showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal, George “loved the pilot so much” that he sent them text messages abounding with “exclamation points.”
Taking all of this into account, the prequel clearly has a great opportunity to rekindle the magic of Martin’s fantastical universe without having to worry about the pressure of endings. Said pressure is what led to the rushed, highly unsatisfying culmination of the original show.
In other words, House of the Dragon reportedly wowed Martin; now it just has to win over the GOT fans. If the prequel lives up to the hype, we may very well be set to see the GOT franchise grow to spin-off heights on the same level as the MCU. It all depends on the fan base reception and ratings.
Official Trailer Drops
Though we’ve had plenty of teaser trailers over the last year or so, the official trailer released this week gives us a more complete vision into what we are to expect in prequel territory.
With plenty of dragon representation and a glimpse into Rhaenyra’s arc (reminiscent of Dany and her quest to “break the wheel” of power), the prequel looks stacked with plenty of action and high-stakes drama.
A glimpse at the Youtube comments also reveals a generally positive reception. Fans seem eager to give the series a try, hoping to experience the all-consuming thrill of GOT once again. On that optimistic note, make sure to mark your calendars; the countdown to August 21st is on!
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