First Impressions : House of the Dragon

First Impressions : House of the Dragonby George R. R. Martin, Ryan J. Condal
on August 21, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic
Source: HBO MAX

House of the Dragon tells the story of an internal succession war within House Targaryen at the height of its power, 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. Based on Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin

The ending to Game of Thrones absolutely broke me. My two favorite characters destroyed in different ways, my hopes for their own future and the future of Westeros completely dashed. But here I am, watching a show about their ancestors, who we already know, are also doomed, depending on how you choose to look at it. Why do I do this to myself?

 

Perhaps it’s that tiny sliver of hope that this time, things will end differently. Or maybe it’s just my undying self-hatred. But probably, I find myself watching simply because it’s Game of Thrones and my favorite house, the dragon-riding Targaryens. Whatever the reason, I find myself getting completely invested in yet another show created by the man who loves killing off characters as much as a gardener loves whacking weeds. Anyways, I figured before I viewed the fourth episode this Sunday, it was time for me to get around to sharing my initial thoughts about the show.

 

Now, full disclosure, I have read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series and parts of Fire & Blood, but I have an atrocious memory, so watching this show was like the first time for me, but I have since refreshed myself with what is coming. Gotta soften those future blows for myself.

 

There are no major spoilers in my commentary below, but read at your own discretion.

 

Rhaenyra

The funeral scene was when I really saw Milly’s talent.

At first I wasn’t big on Milly Alcock’s performance, but as the very first episode unfurled, I came to see that she just hadn’t had time to flex her wings yet. Her emotional range during the scene at View Spoiler » really captivated me. And the actress has proven herself to me again and again in episodes two and three as well. I find Milly’s performance incredibly compelling, having just the right of teenage rebelliousness and force of will. Plus, her chemistry with Matt Smith is off the charts. I never thought this girl could compare to Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys, but she proved me wrong in episode two with her rebellious appearance at Dragonstone. I am so excited to see more of Rhaneyra’s rebellions and exertions of her power. I already love her so much and I am afraid for her. Very afraid.

 

Time Skips

 

I’m sadly so conditioned to seeing much younger women in Hollywood acting against much older male love interests that I don’t even think a change in actresses is actually necessary. It’s hard not to be sad at the thought of different actresses playing Rhaenyra and Alicent, but perhaps I’ll come to love the post time-skip actresses just as much. I’m trying to keep an open mind, but I already love the actresses we have! And truth be told, I was already a bit bummed that there was a mini time skip between the second and third episodes, because I really don’t want to miss a minute of what’s going on in this show and with its characters.

 

Daemon Targaryen

I love Daemon Targaryen. I love problematic and morally gray characters—they are the absolutely the most interesting for me to watch and the easiest for me to love. I especially love when these types of characters challenge our protagonists and force them to make decisions they normally wouldn’t have to face. In my mind, the existence of these types of characters simply makes everyone else better characters by default. Pretty sure Daemon exists to challenge the status quo of not only his brother and the Targaryen dynasty, but of the entirety of Westeros. This man is an entire force of nature. And Matt’s Smith portrayal is, of course, amazing. The man doesn’t even need to speak in order to capture the entire screen, which is exactly what he did in the mind-blowing conclusion of episode three.

 

House of the Dragon does a great job sprinkling moments of likeability into his otherwise often heinous character. This is a married man who is a frequent flyer at brothels, who shamelessly sprawls on his brother’s seat on the Iron Throne (and doesn’t get cut), jokes about the death of his baby nephew, and metes out harsh and merciless punishments to criminals. But we also see him supporting an otherwise alone Rhaenrya after the death of her mother, laughing at a joke at his own expense by someone who bested him, forbidding others to bad mouth his brother because only he has the right to do so, and choosing his niece over his claim to the throne. His pettiness, bravery, loyalty, and ambition truly make this the man to watch on this show.

 

Alicent Hightower

Like Daemon, Alicent should also be despicable, coming from a family already in power, who is constantly angling for more and not afraid to use their connections in order to grasp it. I have no doubt that Alicent will become a more villainous figure in the coming Dance of Dragons, but for now, she seems entirely sympathetic being forced to ingratiate herself with the king, her best friend’s father, for fear of her own father’s displeasure. Perhaps I’m over-empathizing with the character or viewing her with rose colored glasses, but I still see young Alicent, portrayed by Emily Carey, as trying to genuinely help Viserys get over his grief and to advocate for her former best friend and new stepddaughter (*shudder*), Rhaenyra. Yes, she made an incredibly tactless comment in episode three, and viewers are starting to see her exert her own newfound power as Queen—the red flags are indeed all there—but I still don’t hate her.

 

King Viserys

King Viserys is portrayed so well by Paddy Considine. I could easily see myself loathing such a selfish, oblivious, and wishy-washy character if he were portrayed by another actor. Somehow, Paddy manages to make him seem somewhat sympathetic and not completely ridiculous, almost like some of the king’s actions actually have thought behind them. This doesn’t mean that I still don’t want to slap some sense into this man, but it is quite the feat and a testament to the actor’s talent that King Viserys isn’t completely contemptible despite being so utterly unsuited to the job of being king. The man seems completely clueless to the fact that he has basically painted a target on his daughter Rhaenyra’s back by naming her his heir.

 

Incest

Here we go again…

Why does GOT always make me ship incest? I love a good power couple, okay? I’m weak. And Jon and Dany never really had a chance to become one themselves before that awful, rushed ending. Forever crushed that Jonerys didn’t get to live happily ever after ruling from the Iron Throne and rekindling the Targaryen line, or you know, going for a confident dragon ride together. I would love to see any of these things in House of the Dragon.

 

House of the Dragon is doing a phenomenal job building up the relationship between Rhaenyra, and her uncle, Prince Daemon, who clearly already have some kind of special bond. This is shown by their communication entirely in Valyrian, as if the two are in their own secret world, using their own language. And I can’t help but to see the parallels in Rhaenyra and her Daemon in other ways too–the rebellious nature, the strength of will, and the hunger.  Check out this tweet showing off the parallels between the two so far, but please be advised that there is violence, gore, and blood in these clips:

 

 

I am also relieved that while the Targaryens do practice incest, they do have some lines that they aren’t willing to cross. It was morally reassuring to see King Viserys completely disgusted by his Hand Otto’s suggestion that Rhaenyra marry Aegon II, his newly turned two year old son–but logically, this betrothal would have prevented a lot of problems that are already brewing. Though honestly, it’s laughable and incredulous that someone suggested that marriage before the marriage of Rhaenyra and Daemon (the previous heir before Rhaenyra). Though at this point in the story Dameon does technically have a wife legally, but one that he loathes and never visits. It wouldn’t be the first time in royal history that a marriage was annulled. And it would not have been outside of Targaryen tradition for a prince to have multiple (related or not) wives.

 

Smaller Cast

I like that there is a smaller cast of characters in House of the Dragon than in Game of Thrones. To me, it feels like the lack of a massive cast with vastly different motivations and alliances in different parts of the world was a little harder to keep straight. It was also more challenging to reconcile with liking so many characters with conflicting goals. To me, House of the Dragon feels like a much more cohesive narrative due to this smaller cast, which makes it even easier to follow and to invest in.

 

 

 

This is my first time having HBO in order to watch Game of Thrones as soon as it releases, with the rest of the world. In the past, I waited and bought the seasons on blu-ray, so it’s been really fun to look at the memes and to see how everyone is reacting to the newest episode. I am already super invested House of the Dragon, it’s so cool to not only return to this world, but to look back and know what’s ahead for the realm, and I honestly look forward to the show all week.

 

Watch the first three episodes of House of Dragon now and catch new episodes on HBO Max Sundays at 9pm ET.

 

What is your favorite part of House of the Dragon so far?

 

 

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First Impressions : House of the Dragon

Posted September 9, 2022 in Other Shows, Watch

Tags: , ,

2 responses to “First Impressions : House of the Dragon

  1. P.K.

    Hi, when did you add the cool sketch of the dragon eating popcorn with the remote in its hand? — Papa Kerr

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