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‘House of the Dragon’ proves to be the true king of TV

‘House of the Dragon’ proves to be the true king of TV

‘House of the Dragon’ proves to be the true king of TV
November 03
13:00 2022

Content warning: The following story contains spoilers.

“Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon” aired its stunningly epic season finale on Oct. 23.

The season ran for 10 episodes, each displaying an untold level of intrigue and drama each week. Its premiere debuted to nearly 10 million viewers and the finale to about 9.3 million, according to the LA Times.

“House of the Dragon” is set roughly 200 years before the events of the main series and covers the Targaryen family civil war over the Iron Throne. The cast includes young Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), young Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) and Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans).

The season goes through several time jumps, with a 10-year gap in episode six that recasts some of the characters. Rhaenyra is then played by Emma D’Arcy and Alicent by Olivia Cooke.

These numerous time skips may be confusing for a lesser show, but “House of the Dragon” showcases it in a clever way through subtle character dialogue and new actors. When the primary time jump occurs, there’s hardly confusion, since both sets of actresses act and appear uncannily similar.

Its first half mainly spends time setting up the relationships between the Targaryen family and Hightowers. Princess Rhaenyra is named heir to the throne after King Viserys loses his wife in a failed childbirth. Her best friend Alicent is eventually forced to marry Viserys in order to bear a male heir. This causes a falling out between the two that only continues to escalate as years go by.

The second half deals with the failing health of Viserys due to leprosy and the tensions between Rhaenyra and Alicent’s growing families. It gets particularly intense because Rhaenyra has children with another man and the entire court is keeping the secret.

Her two sons, Jacaerys and Lucerys, get into a brutal fight with Alicent’s son Aaemond, resulting in him losing an eye. Alicent demands Lucerys’ eye for payback, but King Viserys defends his daughter despite the rumors about her sons. This is what elevates the series over others, with highly intense character drama and mature situations with long-lasting consequences.

The most developed characters are Rhaenyra and Alicent, who turn from close friends to bitter rivals due to their opposing ideologies. Rhaenyra bends the rules and traditions, while Alicent holds them to a high standard. Smith’s Daemon is the perfect instigator and wildcard with questionable morals. He brings an untold level of anarchy and chaos, pushing audiences to see what he’ll do next.

Paddy Considine’s Viserys stands as the best performance of the series so far. His health has deteriorated to the point where he’s missing an arm, eye and half his face. Episode eight showcases the immense strength and resolve it takes him to walk onto the throne for the defense of Rhaenyra.

The series’ cinematography and visual effects also spectacularly surpass its predecessor. Famous locations like King’s Landing, Dragonstone, Driftmark and the Step Stones all appear as awe-inspiring as possible.

The many dragons featured throughout are breathtaking. They’re wild animals that can’t be controlled, no matter how convincingly Targaryens look riding them. Every scene with the dragons in the air is both majestic and suspenseful.

The series doesn’t hold back with the level of gore and violence that comes standard with HBO productions. It creates tension for every character introduced who might meet an untimely end by simple bad luck.

Nearing the end of the season, Rhaenyra and Alicent form two opposing sides called the blacks and greens. While Rhaenyra was named heir, Alicent’s son Aegon is being pushed by Otto and the high council as the true king. Neither side wants to draw first blood, but an unfortunate accident forces them both into war, which is where the season leaves off.

The hardest part remains a wait for the next season, which sadly won’t air until fall 2024. It’ll be worth the wait, since a series with this level of quality requires the proper time and energy to build. 

Joaquin’s rating 5/5

Featured Illustration by Isabella Alva

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Joaquin Fernandez

Joaquin Fernandez

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