When the announcement for “House of the Dragon” was first released the general feeling was excitement. Fans were going to get a new series based on the book by George R.R. Martin that solely focused on the Targaryen dynasty fans only got a hint of. But those feelings quickly turned to apprehension when we remembered the writing for the final season of “Game of Thrones” which completely ignored all prior character development. HBO had been teasing more “Game of Thrones” content for the last few years and it felt like a relationship with an ex that you know will break your heart but man is it fun for the first few months. But after the last episode of “House of the Dragon” was released there was a general consensus amongst everyone: “that was pretty good.”
“House of the Dragon” tells the history of the Targaryen family and eventual civil war set 200 years before the beginning of “Game of Thrones.” There’s a whole new set of characters, most of which are backed by stellar performances by the cast. In particular, Matt Smith ditches his 11th doctor persona to portray fan favorite Daemon Targaryen. Emma D’arcy who portrays an older Rhaenyra Targaryen was also a stand-out with their subtle but equally strong performance toward the end of the season.
For some audience members, this first season may be a bit heavy. One thing they did struggle with was pacing. In eight episodes they try to pack in 20 years of the timeline with a time jump included. Not to mention that most of the characters have incredibly similar names. I mean Daemon and Aemond, Aegon II and Aegon III, Rhaenyra and Rhaenys. Yeah … it’s a lot.
The plot however is a clear political family drama reminiscent of its predecessor. The finale sticks the landing of what could’ve been a disappointing conclusion. We get action and drama. Princess Rhaenyra, the heir to the throne, has been usurped and is apprehensive to go to war against her own family. But after suffering loss after loss the camera pans to show the face of a woman ready to fight for what is rightfully hers. The finale is well-written, memorable, and ends on the perfect note of dread that leaves the viewers excited for season two and onward. Season two will most likely expand on the foundation laid by season one and personally, I am more than excited. Now I have to find something else to look forward to every Sunday.