[Review] House of the Dragon revives Game of Thrones while creating a unique storyline


Tribune News Service

Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy star in “House of The Dragon.” Photo courtesy of Warner Media/TNS.

Tatiana Ortiz, Arts & Leisure and Opinion Editor

The highly anticipated spinoff of the worldwide TV show sensation ‘Game of Thrones’ was released Aug. 21 on both HBO MAX and Hulu. ‘House of the Dragon’ is a prequel to the plot of ‘Game of Thrones,’ telling the story of the infamous Targaryen family fighting over control of the Iron throne 200 years prior to the beginning of ‘Game of Thrones’.

‘Game of Thrones’ fans were expecting the same action and plot of the original show, however ‘House of the Dragon’ created its own unique storyline that attributes to ‘Game of Thrones’ while still being its own individual show. The show is a total of ten episodes, split between the past and future surrounding Rhaenyra Targaryen, the daughter of King Viserys I, played by two actresses Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy. Rhaenyra and Alicent Hightower were both recasted after the time jump to show the difference in appearance with age.

Some fans were skeptical of the time jump, expecting the show to lose its traction after the first five episodes. However, the actors were beautifully casted and did a great job at capturing the characteristics of their previous actors while creating their own impression.

The political aspects of the show capture the signature trademark of rivals between family bloodlines. Betrayal and secrets plague the Targaryen family, threatening to break the family apart. Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, Rhaenyra’s uncle is a power-hungry noble gunning for a chance on the throne. Smith does a wonderful job at playing the morally gray anti-hero of the story, showing the violence part of ‘House of the Dragon.’ Historically accurate, ‘House of the Dragon’ mentions events that were previously talked about in ‘Game of Thrones’ allowing the fans to happily connect the dots.

While still showing action and violence, ‘House of the Dragon’ portrays more civil disagreements between characters. The rivals and allies formed with the pressure of claiming the throne allows for the actors to show their talent at emotional acting. Emma D’Arcy does a brilliant job at portraying the conflicted emotions of Rhaenyra being a Princess, mother and friend. Awe-inspiring scenes of the power of women acted by D’Arcy prelude to the resilience of the ‘Game of Thrones’ descendent Dhaneyras. The familiar addition of dragons was an exciting thing to see in the series. The cinematography and detail of the dragons was my favorite part of the ‘Game of Thrones’ series and the new dragons in this series were exquisitely done.

The romance in this series was very accurate to the royal politics of history in our world. With secret affairs and questionable parentage, the drama of royal love is a main aspect of the show that causes the political plot. Incest, a regular occurence in the ‘Game of Thrones’ series, is prevalent in this show and will not faze ‘Game of Thrones’ fans, however for new viewers this might be a challenge to watch as it is unconventional, but it’s accurate to history. I would suggest viewers to check trigger warnings for this show as it mentions miscarriage, death, suicide, incest and chronic illness.

The first season was more of a slow burn, having to develop over 20 years of world building and coverage of the Targaryen family. However, for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans, they already had a general understanding of the geography and family reputations. An interesting development that occurred with the introduction of ‘House of the Dragon’ was the overwhelming number of viewers who didn’t watch ‘Game of Thrones.’

Some factors that could contribute to this could be the fewer number of seasons involved. ‘Game of Thrones’ has eight seasons with very long episodes which can be threatening to new viewers. However, ‘House of the Dragon’ is a new spinoff which offers an independent storyline but still keeping that ‘Game of Thrones’ aesthetic. The overwhelming positive reviews of the new spinoff also cultivated more traction for the show. With a whopping 4.3 stars from viewers on Google and an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, ‘House of the Dragon’ gained popularity quickly.

“For someone with limited time to dedicate to watching any given show, a fresh start meant a much lower commitment for my introduction to Westeros,” Caleb Feshmire, a writer for the Collider said.

‘House of the Dragon’ proves to be a successful spin off, a rarity with big projects like ‘Game of Thrones.’ The actors and actresses performed their roles wonderfully and the cinematography and world building was interesting to the plot. ‘House of the Dragon’ will not stop after one season and plans to come out with another season in the future, with no date set out yet.