[REVIEW] House of the Dragon Episode 1

Game of Thrones proves that its favor has never decreased, with the spin-off House of the Dragon stirring up the movie community in recent days.

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Game of Thrones’ tragic demise saw the once-popular show completely wiped away from contemporary pop culture. There was a point where if you hadn’t watched Game of Thrones, you’d feel like you missed what may as well be the greatest thing man has ever made. All of that came crashing down during the final seasons of the show though, as we saw the fandom vanish away into thin air three years after airing its last episode.

Enter spin-off House of the Dragon. The show isn’t as hyped or anticipated as one would expect from the once-very active fandom. The show is a prequel to its progenitor and is set about 200 years prior to the events that took place in Game of Thrones.

From the get-go, I noticed the elaborate sets, the beautifully rendered dragons, and the impressive scenery that is all too familiar to anyone who has watched Game of Thrones. But House of the Dragon appears too familiar perhaps, not giving the much-needed different feel of being set two centuries earlier that I was expecting it to deliver.

The first episode of Game of Thrones left you shocked by the time you finished the episode. You, as the viewer, knew that this is not just an ordinary fantastical show set in a medieval fictional world. No, even though there were no prominently-featured magical creatures like dragons (at least in the beginning of the show), you knew by the end of the first instalment that this show is different and unique, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat; you can only anticipate what twists and turns the show will take you on its adventures set in Westeros.

With House of the Dragon’s premiere though, this sentiment is very much missing. There is nothing in the first episode that leaves you thinking the same. While it does feature a great cast of characters, themes like backstabbing, politics, family drama, and power struggles, there is not much that made me feel as attached to the world and wonder what would happen next as the show would hope me to be.

George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Blood is what the show is based on, unlike A Song of Ice and Fire where the story was presented through different point-of-view characters. It felt more personal to read the books, but Fire and Blood is written in a history book format, without any narration from the characters. This makes it easier for showrunners Ryan J. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik to translate the characters to the screen as we are brought back to Westeros during the height of the Targaryen rule.

The story takes place after House Targaryen has been founded since a century, and 172 years before Daenerys Targaryen’s birth. King Jaehaerys is at the throne, ruling over the Seven Kingdoms with a peaceful reign. But the time has come to pass the Iron Throne, and that’s where the tussle begins. It passes down to his grandson, Paddy Considine’s Viserys I, who appears kind-hearted and wants things to go well when it comes to the council of lords, as well as his family.

The King’s Hand, Rhys Ifans’ Ser Otto Hightower and his brother, Matt Smith’s Prince Daemon are against each other due to a multitude of reasons including differences in ideology, and this is where we get to see the first of the many signs of tension developing during Viserys’ reign. The show will not use linear storytelling and will take place in different time periods, and the premiere shows us teenagers Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, both the daughters of the King and his Hand, respectively. They are played by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey; their older counterparts are to be played by Emma D’Arcy an Olivia Cooke, respectively.

The premiere also features knights jousting, dragons flying through the skies (only for a very short while), parties in brothels, and everything else that you associated with Game of Thrones. It remains to be seen how House of the Dragon will try to take Game of Thrones’ place as peak television while also maintaining that spot, unlike its predecessor.

Some final thoughts

House of the Dragon does not feel like it takes place nearly 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Everything is too identical to the parent show, including familiar elements like backstabbings, political struggles, and family drama that fans of the show enjoy. The dragons are beautifully rendered but we barely get to see them. The premiere instead chooses to focus on the political and family drama, failing to leave a lasting impression.

*Disclaimer: We’re not the owner of this post, please access IGN for a full review. 

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