In terms of long-form television, the original is returning with a prequel. Beginning with creating a connection between the developing events and the gorgeous Princess Daenerys Targaryen, House of the Dragon, which takes place about 200 years before Game of Thrones, pays many hats to its hectically successful successor. There is less action and, regrettably, fewer dragons in The Heirs of the Dragons since the first episode is primarily about introducing the many characters in the House Targaryen. The series, based on George R.R. Martin’s 2018 novel Fire & Blood, centers on the fall of House Targaryen and the ensuing struggle for succession.
Viserys, a kind-hearted monarch played by Paddy Considine, is concerned that he won’t have a son to take the Iron throne. The firstborn Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) is accomplished, the pleasure of the kingdom, and would have been the ideal heir but for her gender. Daemon, Viserys’ younger brother, is ambitious and battle-tested (played with exquisite teeth-gnashing by Matt Smith). Although he is the presumed successor, did the coin land on the incorrect side? Dancer Mysaria is his best friend and love interest (Sonoya Mizuno). Daemon is fiercely despised by Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King (Rhys Ifans). In addition to being the most stunning lady in the Seven Kingdoms, Alicent (Olivia Cooke), Otto’s daughter, is a dear friend to Rhaenyra. Lord Corlys (Steve Toussaint), the ruler of House Velaryon, and Rhaenys, the Queen that Never Was (she was rejected in favor of Viserys), appear to be biding their time.
The Heirs of the Dragon begins with Viserys being crowned, with Viserys persuading his council members that the child his queen, Aemma (Sian Brooke), is carrying is a boy. The battleground for women, according to Aemma’s daughter Rhaenyra, who prefers to engage in combat while riding her dragon Syrax, is the mother’s bed. Her advice is spot-on in light of the challenging birth. The Heirs of the Dragon is laced with tragedy, crushed hopes, a shocking revelation, and a banishment, along with the required jousts, couplings, nudity, decapitations, swearing, and flying dragons. The clothes are stunning, and the music features a return by Ramin Djawadi—walks a fine line between familiar and fresh while still being passable CGI.
Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the issues with House of the Dragon is that we already know how it ends. Similar to how we know that Obi-Wan Kenobi was slain by Darth Vader in Star Wars, we know that the crazy King Aerys was killed by Jaime Lannister during the revolt headed by Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark, and Jon Arryn.
The 2011 release of Game of Thrones carved a new route for fantasy. It is followed by House of the Dragon. Only time and the nine upcoming episodes will be able to tell if it will be able to carve out a unique identity for itself outside of the massive shadow of Game of Thrones to become its beastie.