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Why House Of The Dragon Needs To Learn One Valuable Lesson From Game Of Thrones' Final Seasons

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 2 of House of the Dragon Season 1.

After House of the Dragon used the series premiere to establish the state of the Targaryen dynasty nearly two seasons ahead of Game of Thrones (and deliver a major tie to the original show), the second episode began putting the pieces in motion. Daemon found a way to make trouble in King’s Landing even while in exile on Dragonstone, while Viserys pondered who should become his next queen before making the one choice guaranteed to upset his daughter, all while Corlys Velaryon tried to make his voice heard to the reluctant king. 

By the end of the hour, I was left with the impression that House of the Dragon is off to a fantastic start so far, but needs to learn a valuable lesson about dragons from the final seasons of Game of Thrones as it moves forward.

Caraxes the red dragon in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

How House Of The Dragon Is Handling The Dragons

The incident involving dragons this week  started, fittingly, on Dragonstone. The biggest conflict of the episode involved a showdown between Daemon with his gold cloaks and Otto Hightower, Ser Criston Cole, and men of King’s Landing when they arrived to try and take back the dragon egg that the prince stole for his theoretical child that might one day be born. All signs pointed to the two sides fighting each other to a draw and possibly killing each other… until Caraxes, Daemon’s red dragon, arrived, and Hightower immediately told his men to lower their blades. 

It was a pretty unfair situation, since Daemon could have used a “Dracarys” and had Caraxes roast them all alive in mere moments, but given that this was Otto Hightower, not all fans were probably too worried about him. Plus, Daemon pulling out the figurative big guns with his dragon made for an epic scene when Rhaenyra arrived on the back of Syrax, her own dragon. After some back and forth with her uncle in Valyrian in which she challenged him to kill her, he tossed the egg to her and retreated with his men back into Dragonstone. 

This was the first major scene of House of the Dragon with different players using their dragons as weapons, and I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t already rewound and rewatched it. It was one Targaryen and a dragon staring down another Targaryen and a dragon in challenge, which never happened on Game of Thrones. What left me thinking that HOTD could actually learn something from the show with fewer dragons and Targaryens was the very last scene, with Corlys Velaryon telling the backstory of his house to Daemon in a clandestine conversation about the Stepstones and Crabfeeder. 

Now, the scenes featuring the Crabfeeder were plenty nightmarish, with victims being staked into the surf so that the crabs could feed on them. He seems to have plenty of men and resources since Viserys hasn't unleashed the navy of the Seven Kingdoms on them, and it seems like a grand naval battle – or many – will be necessary… unless somebody fighting them has the Westerosi equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction, anyway. Corlys pitched the Stepstones to Daemon as “a chance for you to prove your worth to any who might yet doubt it." And Daemon has a dragon.

Syrax the yellow dragon on House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

What House Of The Dragon Should Learn About Dragons From Game Of Thrones

And the dragons are where House of the Dragon could use a lesson from Game of Thrones. For some time, Daenerys seemed unstoppable once her dragons were fully grown, aside from Drogon’s flesh wound when Dany first unleashed him on Westeros in the massive loot train attack. I found it hard to root for her – even against the Lannisters – when nobody else had a shot against her because of her dragons. It wasn’t until the Night King shot Viserion out of the sky with an ice spear beyond the Wall in Season 7 that her dragons (and by extension, Dany herself) began to feel more mortal, which meant higher stakes. It was sad to lose a dragon, but good for the show overall. (And undead Viserion was pretty awesome!)

I can easily love the magical creatures in House of the Dragon in situations like Daemon and Rhaenyra facing off at Dragonstone, when they’re at least somewhat evenly matched. If Daemon is going to take Caraxes into battle against the Crabfeeder’s forces in the Stepstones, then the new show should follow in the footsteps of its predecessor and show that dragons can in fact be injured and killed by normal people. After all, Dany’s dragon Rhaegal was one of the Season 8 deaths not due to a magical ice spear like Viserion, but because Euron Greyjoy’s fleet had the right kind of man-made weapon.

I’m definitely not saying that House of the Dragon should following in Thrones’ final seasons' footsteps and start killing off dragons right and left, but I think the stakes will feel a whole lot higher for Daemon, Corlys, and the fight in the Stepstones if the show makes it very clear that the prince can’t just climb on top of Caraxes and roast the Crabfeeder and all of his ships, because that would put an end to the conflict too quickly. After all, Dany was able to rain fire and blood with her relatively young dragons. If anything, Daemon’s dragon should be even more formidable, and he has more experience on dragonback than she did. 

It seems like Daemon should be able to finish off a battle in next to no time on the back of his dragon unless HOTD presents some serious obstacles. It seems safe to say that the Stepstones aren’t going to be the site of the major conflict of this series, as the trailers make it clear that time jumps are on the way with Emma D’arcy and Olivia Cooke taking over as the older versions of Rhaenyra and Alicent, respectively, after a skip ahead. 

Still, the Stepstones battle can’t be too easy for Daemon and Corlys if the fight is going to matter in the grand scheme of things, so HOTD needs to provide a reason why dragonriders can’t just wrap up the conflict in a day. If the ironborn could come up with a weapon to shoot down dragons in Game of Thrones, maybe the Crabfeeder and Co. can do the same. No dragons have to die this early; they can just run into enough trouble to make things more interesting than Daemon just using Caraxes to scare his enemies into surrender, like what happened in Episode 2 on Dragonstone.

There will be plenty of time for House of the Dragon to get creative with the creatures; on the heels of the series premiere making history for HBO, the network renewed the show for Season 2. That’s definitely not a surprise, and fans with an HBO Max subscription can look forward to at least two full seasons of Targaryen-filled action. For now, new episodes air on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO in the 2022 TV schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.