‘House Of The Dragon’ Ramps Drama Up Fast

by Frank Martin

With such an expansive universe, Game of Thrones immediately started with a disadvantage. There were so many different locations and so many different characters that it took a while to introduce it all and get the story going. It helped in the end, but it definitely worked against itself in the beginning. Meanwhile, all of that work benefits House of the Dragon. It doesn’t have nearly as many characters or locations and already has a foundation thanks to most viewers familiarity with Westeros. Because of that, the story is able to get started almost immediately and kick up the drama and stakes right from the start.

This new episode continues with the fallout from last week, as the king’s only daughter, Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), was named his heir. Six months later, the king’s brother, Daemon (Matt Smith), causes further drama by stealing a dragon egg and claiming to be the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. This is all placed over the backdrop of the fact King Viserys (Paddy Considine) needs to choose a new wife. With these two issues playing out at the same time, it really shows the stress and difficult decisions that come with absolute power. The fact that so much more attention gets to be paid to a smaller stable of characters means that in just two episodes this show established more tension than Game of Thrones did in an entire season.

The episode also deals with incredible subtext. The princess and her uncle are in direct confrontation to the throne. Each of them knows this, but it goes unspoken as they have a strange mutual respect for each other. They were both pushed to the side as the king tried to father a male heir. They understand each other and sympathize with one another. But now, as the princess is in a higher position of power, they are forced into confrontation. Their relationship alone has made this show extremely interesting and a worthy successor to Game of Thrones. Hopefully, it will continue this quality storytelling throughout the rest of the season and beyond.

House of the Dragon airs Sundays on HBO.

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