TL;DR – While still mainly just politics this week, the world has come into shape, and those intrigues have weight.
Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.
House of the Dragon Review –
There is one genre that I do particularly like, and it is a political drama. It is part of why I still think Deep Space Nine is my favourite of all the Star Treks because it didn’t move, so it had to deal with the politics of where it was. However, last week was mostly just politics, but it felt flat for me. I was wondering if the show would click with me at all, but this week gave a better chance at that.
So to set the scene, in last week’s The Heirs of the Dragon, we discovered a dynasty at the point of fracture. King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) was named the king in a contested succession, and while he has tried to be a strong king, many see him as weak. But tragedy struck when his Queen Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke) died in childbirth, and even a caesarean section could not save their child. With succession now being called into question again, the king finally cuts off his petulant brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and declares his daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) as heir. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
While last week’s political machinations felt a bit pointless, this week there felt like there was some weight to them. Using the storm analogy, they discuss in this episode. It feels like everyone is walking around with lightning conductors trying to redirect the hurricane. You have people trying to get into the King’s good books, people trying to undermine the king, and foreign powers looking to stamp their mark on the Seven Kingdoms that are suddenly looking weak. This setting creates a feeling that the world is about to slip out from underneath our characters, and a simple thing like who to marry could destabilise everything. It was almost funny watching Viserys whiff it so badly at that moment.
Throughout the run of Game of Thrones, there was this feeling that the dragons were akin to nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. But the show didn’t explore all of that because only one side ever had them. Okay, bar a little bit in Season 8. Here we get to see how dragons get to shift the fundamental nature of a conversation just by their mere presence. The scene on the path up to Dragonstone was an interesting exploration of power because Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) has the full political backing of the King, the most significant power in the land. Still, none of that mattered in the face of the fire of Prince Daemon Targaryen’s (Matt Smith) dragon Caraxes. Indeed, the only reason they didn’t die is because Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen arrived on her dragon Syrax and both sides looked mutually assured destruction in the face.
This week we also reintroduced the title sequence that was missing last week due to the exposition dump at the start. I had forgotten just how powerful the combination of the HBO buzz followed straight away by the Game of Thrones theme is. Though I have watched it three times now, and for the life of me, I can’t work out what it is meant to represent, other than a lot of blood. It was also lovely to see our revisiting of old sets and locations have returned to Dragonstone, which, given they were filming in Spain, I assume was the exact location as the tv series.
In the end, do we recommend House of the Dragon: The Rogue Prince? Yes, we do. I think this episode landed a lot better for me now that we have gotten past the introductions and into the main bulk of the series. If nothing else, watching an oncoming civil war is an entertaining distraction from the current world, I hope.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of House of the Dragon
Directed by – Ryan Condal
Written by – Greg Yaitanes
Created by – Ryan Condal & George R. R. Martin
Based On – Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin
Production/Distribution Companies – 1:26 Pictures, HBO Max, Binge & HBO
Starring – Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Milly Alcock & Rhys Ifans with Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Sonoya Mizuno, Fabien Frankel, Emily Carey & Graham McTavish and Gavin Spokes, David Horovitch, Bill Paterson, Anthony Flanagan, Nova Foueillis-Mosé, Andrew Bicknell & Daniel Scott-Smith