House of the Dragon: Episode 1

The first episode of House of the Dragon does an admirable job of deftly juggling fan service with its own story.

When it comes to House of the Dragon, there is one task the show will have to accomplish over at least the 10 episodes this season. It’s the same task that all the prequels have to one degree or another. The show is going to have to deal with fans of the original Game of Thrones book and TV series, who know full well what happened to this realm many years later. Instead of people waiting to see what happens in this world they know pretty well, House of the Dragon needs to tell a story that will interest people even if they basically know the endpoint. As for the first episode of the season, so far so good.

In order to grab the attention of people who already know how Westeros will end, House of the Dragon needs to tell an entirely different story. Of course, having the Targaryens at the center of this particular story gives it a whole new dimension from the start. There’s also another Game of Thrones twist in that if, in GoT, the characters told the story of a Targaryen family murdering lunatics, this generation seems to make perfect sense. In fact, 172 years before the show that brought so many to Westeros at the time, it seems that this generation of Targaryens are actually far better suited to sit on the throne than anyone who came after them.

Hail to the king in the dragon house

House of the Dragon

King Viserys Targaryen (played quite well by Paddy Considine) is a far cry from ‘The Mad King’ who was such a terrible legend in Game of Thrones. Viserys is a king who seems to genuinely care about his kingdom and not just power. We’re actually quite a far cry from the first king that GoT fans discovered through the rancor-filled tales of King Robert Baratheon. Viserys isn’t a perfect man, and that’s part of what makes his character so compelling. He loves his wife, he loves his daughter and he loves his kingdom, but he’s also someone who understands what is expected of him.

Matt Smith here embodies the character of Prince Daemon Targaryen. It’s unclear if Matt Smith is actually a good actor or if he basically has two characters. There’s the carefree, sometimes somewhat brooding man that people know from Doctor Who. Then there’s the evil, sociopathic person that audiences discovered in Morbius. Having recently seen this movie, it was hard to separate Daemon Targaryen’s iteration of this character. There are oddly some pretty strong similarities given that the two characters were trusted “brothers” to the story’s main character who turns on them for power.

Of course, Daemon is slightly different from this character, and not just because he’s not a vampire. Daemon isn’t an inherently evil person, to speak of. It’s more the fact that he’s not a particularly good person who doesn’t mind hurting those he deems to be below him. Those who thought Daemon would basically be this version of Joffrey won’t be happy with that either. While both characters are cruel, Daemon is someone you can talk to and presumably reason with. He might think he’s even doing the right thing. It makes him a much more interesting character in the long run, because he’s not just evil for evil. He is a plotter and therefore actually more dangerous.

A different kind of game of thrones

House of the Dragon

There was one particularly good scene that showed why Daemon is a character that’s going to stand out this season. While there were times when he was as sleazy and slimy as any man or woman on the show, he also genuinely cares about his family and has a softer side, and House of the Dragon did a really good job of explaining that there are a few different aspects of a character that will almost certainly be in the center of the action for the rest of the season.

In this brand new series, we can thus understand that the bad guys will have several facets, they will not necessarily be “bad” in the proper sense of the term, as some GoT characters could be, nor totally “nice”. This underscores what the House of the Dragon showrunners said about this season: there won’t be an Arya Stark that people can universally root for. This show is going to have people picking sides, and there will be at least one reason to side with Daemon, as he continues to be pretty creepy.

Another highly anticipated character from this new series is Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen played by Milly Alcock. So far, Rhaenyra is mostly “there” and hasn’t really showcased much of her personality. It’s entirely possible that Alcock will do exactly what he was asked to do in this first episode.

The House of the Dragon is an epic tale so far filled with talented actors. However, we can note a first negative point, it is the treatment reserved for Princess Rhaenyra, who, with her friend Alicent Hightower were to be the two main characters of this new epic. The first episode managed to convince us that these two characters were not that important, if we forgive that for the first episode we hope despite everything that the next ones will put these two characters more forward, otherwise the series will be very long…

House of the Dragon airs on OCS every Monday.

Source – Gamerant

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House of the Dragon: Episode 1 – Review