game of thrones was a revolution. The show once not so eloquently described as “tits and dragonsturned out to be so much more, introducing a seemingly endless parade of compelling characters likely to die from episode to episode. High production values and truly impressive CGI further helped the show soar. at the pinnacle of pop culture, but thronesThe secret weapon has always been writing.
Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens; thrones I knew that. Its action episodes were thrilling and massive – from Stannis’ invasion of King’s Landing to the infamous Battle of the Bastards. However, many of the show’s most iconic confrontations were verbal; think of the sarcastic remarks of Littlefinger and Varys or the surprisingly honest conversations of Cersei and Tyrion. Guided by the sprawling source material of George RR Martin, game of thrones was a writer’s dream. Enhanced by delightful readings from a cast of icons in their prime, Westeros’ dialogue was a writer’s dream come true. thrones was the perfect combination of smarts and wit mixed with political intrigue, high stakes, ambitious world-building, relentless violence, and yes, “tits and dragons.”
And then it wasn’t.
Far from Martin’s help, seasons 7 and 8 descended into chaos and, worse, simplicity. Gone is the sense of danger that lurked in every episode, replaced by plot armor so thick it could have saved Ned Stark. All trace of intelligence has disappeared from the writing, replaced by bad dialogue and eunuch jokes, the characters making borderline stupid decisions that made less sense the more you thought about it. Seasons 7 and 8 nearly destroyed the reputation the show had carefully built over six seasons, leaving only the bitter aftertaste of swallowing something that turned out to be rotten.
Heirs of the Dragon
Because Hollywood is greedy and World of Ice and Fire too valuable to forget, HBO began planning several spin-offs as soon as thrones ended. Fans pleaded for Martin’s World Will Expand To Animation, While HBO Will Be Lit Up – And Quickly Canceled – a $30 million pilot with Naomi Watts. However, one idea seemed genuinely promising: a prequel focusing on the Targaryens, arguably the most intriguing family in Westeros (sorry Starks).
Now, the Targaryens are a tricky act to balance. Of course Daenerys Targaryen was game of thrones‘ original breakout star, an inspirational character for the female boss generation. The parents actually named their daughters Khaleesi, an incredibly unfortunate decision considering how the character ended the series. However, Daenerys remains a star, despite her rapid descent into a medieval Mad Queen. Part of it has to do with Emilia Clarke’s superb performance, but the other part is the same reason the Targaryens are the most intriguing and compelling characters in Martin’s world: the dragons.
Daenerys was the mother of dragons, the sole provider of the fantasy elements of a show that more often than not felt too realistic for comfort. Her dragons, or her children as she liked to call them, were mighty beasts of wonder and menace and the embodiment of everything people expected from a fantasy spectacle. It is neither a wonder nor a coincidence that the first thrones The scene that really blew up involved Daenerys’ main dragon, Drogon, burning down the city of Astapor.
The scene, from the Season 3 episode “And Now His Watch Is Over,” is the perfect portrayal of the Targaryens. They are powerful and ruthless to their enemies but fiercely loyal to their allies; firmly committed to their cause but willing to break the rules; always prepared but smart enough to improvise. The scene, which lasts nearly eight minutes, has many elements that would become thrones‘ most distinctive and famous, including the invented Valyrian language and Clarke’s towering performance. It was an instant hit, exploding into the burgeoning social media landscape and cementing Daenerys as a chain breaker. Clarke even picked the episode to support her nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series at the 2013 Emmys.
Like the best families of thrones —Lannisters, Tyrells, NOT Starks—the Targaryens were complicated and fascinating. However, unlike the other, mostly homogeneous Houses of Westeros, the Targaryens were adversarial, capable of considerable kindness and endless cruelty. Unlike the Lannisters or the Tyrells, they weren’t just smart or cunning, elegant or graceful. The Targaryens were messy, unstable, and out of control, much like the dragons who gave them their power. And the more people learned about them, the more appalled but captivated they were. Like a car crash you can’t take your eyes off of, the Targaryens demanded attention, and we willingly obeyed.
Martin expanded on the Targaryen lore with his 2018 novel Fire & Bloodwhich he wrote in place of the long delay The Winds of Winter. Fire & Blood tells the story of the Targaryens, from Aegon’s conquest to the aftermath of the Dragon Dance. It offers a comprehensive look at the dragonlords, chronicling their rise to power and describing the intricacies of their often chaotic rules.
Fire & Blood is sometimes uneven and difficult to follow. Not because of a particularly convoluted story, but because the material lacks the detailed nature of Martin’s first account. Yet, despite all its flaws, Fire & Blood is at its most entertaining during its first and last thirds – the middle is best ignored. Aegon’s conquest will forever be the crowning glory of Targaryen’s story, which makes it even stranger than Dragon House does not start his story there. However, the dance of the dragons is just as fascinating and much more convincing.
The dance has everything that has done thrones successful in the first place. It features plenty of political conflict, betrayals, crude sexism, murderous schemes, conversations in dimly lit rooms, and a healthy dose of cruelty. Above all, it features dragons. Dozens of them, including some of the most powerful in Westerosi history. game of thrones didn’t really feature dragon-on-dragon action – Daenerys’ kids all got along. Once Viserion became an ice dragon, fans got closer to a battle of dragons, but only just; The long night the episode is so badly lit that we don’t see much in this episode, even the battle of the dragon.
However, the Dance of the Dragons has one dragon fight after another. Arrax versus Vhagar! Sunfyre and Vhagar against Meleys! And the piece de resistance, Vhagar versus Caraxes! Burn them all, the Mad King would say. But epic literary battles breed high expectations, and HBO is no stranger to letting fans down. Can he really bring these mighty clashes to life in a satisfying way? VFX artists speak out about poor working conditions compounded by absurdly tight deadlines, just as Hollywood begins to push back against toxic, empowered fans. East Dragon House a recipe for disaster?
The OBTAINED fandom is fractured as a result of those-who-must-not-be-named and their mishandling of Season 8. And yet, interest in Dragon House seems considerable. The show might not be in the same position it would be in if thrones had a good ending, but it’s not in a dire situation either. Fans are willing to give it a chance, if only to see the dance come to life. But can HBO bring the dance to life with precision? Or will it be another Long night situation where the network’s bark is better than its bite?
Dragon House could wage a losing battle. He is not only responsible for meeting the high expectations of fans, but must also redeem the reputation of an undone show on his own. And don’t get me wrong, Dragon House is HBO’s last chance with the World of Ice and Fire as far as the fans are concerned. In their mind, they’ve been deceived once game of thrones‘s ending and twice by Martin’s refusal to complete his book series. The third time is the last straw, and it could be Dragon House.
The show will also face a lot of criticism from an audience that has only become more critical since Thrones ended. In its original and pure form, game of thrones may not be able to thrive in today’s television landscape, with its graphic sexual violence and problematic messages about race. And while Dragon House taken corrective action on the latter front, the former remains to be seen. Much of Martin’s narrative hinges on sexual power dynamics; how will the show deal with these? The Targaryens of the book thrive on their sexist ways and reprehensible behavior towards each other, including their joyous propensity for incest. Box Dragon House do them justice when their nature is so divisive?
Then there’s the question of the characters in the story and the fact that none of them are good people. All of them, men and women, are selfish and deceitful, bordering on the invaluable. On the page, the Dance of the Dragons was a power struggle between two factions obsessed with sitting on the Iron Throne. No one cared about the people or the kingdom; there were no chain breakers or kings in the dancing north, only mad kings and queens seeking their chance to rule a still prosperous Westeros. If every story needs a hero, fans are going to have a rude awakening with Dragon House.
And yet, all is not lost. The age of the anti-hero may be coming to an end, but the age of the anti-heroine is just beginning. Shows like The stewardess, someone somewhere, The morning showand Kill Eve gave birth to the anti-heroine on television; game of thrones he himself led the movement with characters like Cersei, Arya, Yara, Margaery, and ultimately Daenerys. Dragon House will feature antiheroines to spare, from Rhaenyra and Rhaenys Targaryen to Alicent Hightower and the Dragonseed Nettles. And while the dance features several crucial male characters, it’s a battle that lives and dies with its women.
Maybe it will be house of dragons‘ true angle. After game of thrones failed its female characters so spectacularly, the spinoff will be fighting for their redemption. It’s a compelling goal, but only time will tell if the series will achieve it. One thing is certain, however: Dragon House must be more than just “boobs and dragons”. So far it is doesn’t do a great job at thisbut even game of thrones needed time to develop into the cultural and critical juggernaut it eventually became.