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House Of The Dragon: Two Episodes In, Thoughts I Have About The Game Of Thrones Prequel

Viserys and Rhaenyra in front of the Iron Throne in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for the first two episodes of House of the Dragon. Proceed at your own risk!

Like many Game of Thrones fans out there, I was cautiously optimistic about House of the Dragon, the long in-the-works prequel set nearly 200 years before the events of the divisive HBO fantasy drama series. Even after reading some of the positive reviews from critics, I still wasn’t completely sold, having been let down to a devastating degree during its predecessor’s final season that seemed like it rushed its ending instead of wrapping things up in a satisfactory way.

But after watching the House of the Dragon pilot myself — and the show’s second episode the following week — I am all aboard the hype train and just can’t get enough of what showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik are doing with the world of George R.R. Martin. And now that the dust has settled, I have composed a few thoughts that I have about one of the biggest 2022 TV shows so far…

Paddy Considine as King VIserys I in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

The House Of The Dragon Pilot Does A Tremendous Job Of Setting The Stage For What’s To Come

The debut episode of House of the Dragon, titled “The Heirs of the Dragon” does that thing where a lot of characters, locations, situations, and histories are introduced in a short amount of time without ever leaving you feeling lost, confused, or exhausted. In a little over an hour’s time, multiple major characters like King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), and Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), and other members of the House of the Dragon cast are all introduced with their intentions and motivations laid bare. 

This left me watching every glance and gesture, trying to figure out what’s to come and lead to the eventual showdown between some of those characters. By allowing these relationships and situations simmer on the dragon’s fire, the show has me eagerly and anxiously waiting for the dish to be ready to serve…

Matt Smith in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

The Gold Cloaks Sequence Was Shockingly Violent And A Great Way Of Showing Daemon Targaryen’s Violent Nature

Partway through the House of the Dragon pilot episode, Daemon Targaryen is seen riling up the City Watch of King’s Landing, the ruthless and senselessly violent group of former criminals, soldiers, and brawlers often referred to as the Gold Cloaks. What follows is hands-down one of the most heinous displays of violence I have seen on an HBO show since maybe the “Red Wedding” or “Battle of the Bastards.”

The whole time I was watching the Gold Cloaks clean up the streets of King’s Landing with their unique form of justice, I couldn’t help but think of the “Run Like Hell” sequence in the 1982 film adaptation of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, with the thuggish enforcers hitting, maiming, and killing indiscriminately in the streets. It’s violent and shocking, and shows just how far the “Rogue Prince” will go when given the opportunity.

House of the Dragon cast

(Image credit: HBO)

The Uneasy Bond Shared By The Targaryens And Velaryons Is Classic Game Of Thrones

Just like Game of Thrones before it, House of the Dragon is full of rival houses who, due to the present circumstances, have to form an uneasy bond for the time being. One of the most prominent of these shaky relationships is the one shared by the Targaryens and the Velaryons, who are connected by the marriage of Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) prior to the events of the show. When Rhaenys, the oldest descendant of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen (Michael Carter), was passed over for the throne in favor of her cousin Viserys, it set up a life of resentment and patient planning.

Two episodes in, it feels like this is going to be a major aspect of the show moving forward, especially with the meeting between Lord Corlys and Daemon Targaryen (after he himself was passed over for the throne) in the show’s second episode. This is totally going to lead to bloodshed and power-grabs, right?

Milly Alcock in House of the Dragon.

(Image credit: HBO)

Will We Be Seeing More Of The Younger Rhaenyra Targaryen After The Show’s Eventual Time Jump?

One of the highlights of the first two episodes of House of the Dragon has been the performance of Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen as she goes from the young daughter of the king and experienced dragonrider to the heir apparent. But with a time jump on the horizon (Emma D’Arcy is set to play an older version of Rhaenyra at some point), it seems like our time with Alcock’s portrayal is fleeting, as the show will advance years into the future.

But one thing I can’t figure out is if this will be a proper time jump where we no longer see Alcock’s take on the character as well as Emily Carey’s portrayal of the princess’ friend and potential mother-in-law Alicent Hightower (who will be portrayed by Olivia Cooke later on), or if it will be a situation where we jump back and forth in time to add significance and more context to the show’s major events. I sincerely hope it’s the latter.

Daniel Scott-Smith on House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

The Crab Feeder And His Army Are Brutal, Terrifying And Intriguing 

The Game of Thrones franchise has seen its fair share of brutal, terrifying, and intriguing characters over the years with the likes of Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk), and the Night King (Richard Brake/Vladimír Furdík) all coming to mind from the original series. In the second episode of House of the Dragon, another character was added to that list: Prince-Admiral Craghas Drahar (Daniel Scott-Smith), aka the Crabfeeder.

From the first time I saw the Crabfeeder’s army’s actions — nailing barely alive seafarers to stakes on the beach so that the crabs and rising tide slowly kill them — in the opening minutes of the second episode, I was both terrified and intrigued by what appears to be one of the show’s major villains. And while it’s disclosed that Drahar has been hired by the Triarchy to bring chaos to Westeros, we don’t learn a lot of his backstory, making him even more mysterious and dangerous.

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

I Am Excited For The Eventual Showdown Between Daemon And King Viserys

From the first time I saw Daemon Targaryen sitting on the Iron Throne in the first episode of House of the Dragon, I had a feeling he would spend a considerable amount of time messing with his older brother, King Viserys I Targaryen. And I haven’t been wrong. 

Following the death of Viserys’ wife and newborn son, Daemon took all of his loyal men to a brothel and celebrated the occasion by toasting his dead nephew by calling him “The Heir for a Day,” knowing it would further anger his older brother. And then when Viserys makes his daughter the heir to spite Daemon, the younger brother responds by taking Dragonstone and the dragon egg meant for the king’s dead son. Eventually, this petty brotherly squabbling is going to lead to bloodshed, and I cannot wait to see how it unfolds.

Viserys and Rhaenyra in front of a dragon skull in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Random Thoughts:

On top of all of those more fleshed-out feelings about House of the Dragon so far, there are some other random thoughts floating around my head at any given time. 

  • Dragons! So many dragons!
  • It’s great hearing that classic title music again
  • I just can’t get enough of Matt Smith’s performance
  • The childbirth scene in the pilot was one of the most disturbing things I’ve watched on TV

New episodes of HBO's incredibly popular House of the Dragon air at 9 p.m. Sunday nights and are available to stream for anyone with an HBO Max subscription.

Philip Sledge
Content Producer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.