Dragons, the iron throne, King's Landing, and that theme song, it seems like, with the House of the Dragon episode 1, the larger-than-life era of GoT is back!
House of the Dragon episode 1 was entirely natural, given how the spectacle ended three years ago with GoT S8. Game of Thrones was not just a show that came in 2011, rather, it was a phenomenon that changed television forever and brought a collective consciousness towards streaming and pop culture. And from what I think, it wasn't really the plot that was disappointing but rather the rush of time and patience towards the end which were critical factors in telling this story from the start that took a lot away from it. Nonetheless, it seems like HBO with House of the Dragon episode 1 is trying to redeem itself back from what we can refer to as a massacre of GoT S8. And so far, it's doing better than what was expected from it!
The show is based on George RR Martin's book, Fire and Blood, which is an extension branch of the series, The Song of Ice and Fire, which turns on the clock in the past and charts the rise and downfall of the Targaryen dynasty. Though the book is quite extensive and historical in nature, the show takes chunks from it and has adapted from it. Episode 1 sets the precedence of the show as it focuses on the time, 172 years before Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). And the major worry is who is going to be the successor to the throne after King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), his firstborn daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), or his brother, Daemon (Matt Smith). From the first aerial view of King's Landing to the corridors of Harrenhal, House of the Dragon, it's clear that the show is all about how a family feud, internal struggles, jealousy, and squabbles are going to ruin and destabilize the entire realm.
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When you get over the sound of the HBO intro and the background score, dragons, King's Landing, basically the nostalgia of Game of Thrones, you start noticing new things that are happening all around. And this precisely makes me think that given that this is an extension of GoT, House of the Dragon smartly banks upon the grandness of its ancestral show while going beyond it as well. While it connects its threads to the Targaryen line and keeps precedence to the entire plotline of GoT (Aegon the conquer had a dream that one day, Westeros will be finished by winter- remember the Night King, winter is coming? That's why he conquered the land and it's a Targaryen king's job to protect humanity) yet it goes beyond and also sets precedence for the family feud (Daemon's banishment, Alicent's getting close to the King, and Rhaenrya's coronation) which is the only destroyer to the otherwise unconquered Targaryens.
Even though the episode has many things that remind you of GoT like the nude orgy, merciless killings, or conquest games being played in celebration, the bloody battlefield of the game of conquest juxtaposed with the bloodbath of birthing inside a room is a brilliant analogy and denotes how this is truly a battle of blood. It also puts the focus on women and the womb which according to Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke) is a woman's job as she says, “The childbed is our battlefield”. GoT has proudly represented many badass female characters but Rhaenyra's announcement as a successor to the throne in a male-dominated world where the rules of the game are decided by men and at a time when women could not be given that place is a challenge to bring about change.
I hope that this 10-episode season can find its own individual footing and branch out from under the wings of the massive pressure of being a Game of Thrones prequel which we've all loved to hate and hated to love! Given that the first episode was watched by 10 million viewers by now which is the biggest HBO series premiere ever, it seems like the excitement and the era of GoT is probably back.
The episode will release weekly at 6.30 am on Monday in India only on Disney+ Hotstar!
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