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House of the Dragon season one shows how good it hurts when you see it all coming

From the beginning, HBO house of the dragon he had to deal with an audience that at times seemed like a deserted lover. game of Thrones, its predecessor, had ended in such a divisive fashion that any follow-up immediately had to deal with disgust. HBO’s response, after many, Many attempts aborted and still in progress, it was house of the dragon: a show based on a story that was done.

the completeness of house of the dragonThe source material for was the biggest selling point for skeptics, a book that gave the game of Thrones prequel permission to be basically game of Thrones but smaller and more conservative, wearing her perfume and brazenly raising her theme song. From a distance, this made the show seem regressive, like a creative retreat for nervous producers and showrunners worried about jeopardizing their big-budget cash cow, and in many ways, that reading is correct. house of the dragon Television is not daring. It’s oddly self-referential at times, with writing more in conversation with the show’s own status as a game of Thrones spin-off of what is like its own discreet story.

However, thanks to the bizarre nature of its source material: George RR Martin’s supplementary text fire and bloodwhich is more of a fictional history book than a proper novel. house of the dragonThe first season of was able to savor the pleasures of what makes television good. Effectively freed from the burden of adaptation, the show became a performance piece. Given the grand historical goals of Martin’s book, showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal were free to decide how they thought some events happened or how they happened differently. That was reflected in the conversations the writers put into the mouths of the Targaryens and those around them, the decisions the actors made in portraying the inner selves of these characters and their relationships, and in choosing the moments worth showing on screen. and leave them off the screen. as his story jumped through the years.

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Daemon (Matt Smith) placing a crown on Rhaenyra's (Emma D'Arcy) head

Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

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King Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) standing before a crowd of cheering Westerosi audience members, holding his sword in the air triumphantly

Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

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This is not necessarily different from what you did game of Thrones – or any TV show, really – good at its best, but it serves as a significant rethinking of the show and its relationship with the audience. It cannot be emphasized enough how much of house of the dragonThe looming plot is out there. Look up, say, the name of a dragon, and chances are you’ll find out something about the Targaryen family that probably needs to be addressed in a future season or episode of the show. Unlike, however, with game of Thrones —or any adaptation of a more direct narrative work—there’s far less room for fans to debate the war intentions between the various adapters of the text and the (already dubious by design) source material.

In an era of popular culture where spoilerphobia drives much of the conversation around entertainment, leaving little room for really to converse Art, house of the dragon inadvertently turned into a show that is arguably impervious to spoilers, or at the very least, eliminates the question of Where does it all go the best that an epic fantasy can. The big signs are all there for anyone who wants to watch: the war that is imminent at the end of “The Black Queen” was always going to come, the friendship between Rhaenyra and Alicent was always going to be dissolved, Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne. he was always going to be challenged. house of the dragon definitely not a show about what. is a show about why.

This is the secret of the program’s high and low points. The climax of the Season 1 finale, where Aemond inadvertently kills Luke? George RR Martin put them on a collision course in a few lines of text. house of the dragonthrough careful selection of moments in his family history to dramatize and wonderful performances from his cast, he turned that into a heartbreaking moment that would emotionally anchor a war that was always going to happen.

Similarly, the decision to house of the dragonThe writers of depicting Martin’s chronicle of the Targaryen family fortune largely through the ordeal of childbirth seems clumsy. It’s a narrow and reductive way of looking at gender and power dynamics that the show is genuinely interested in, as it tracks the fortunes of two women who become rivals. However, the show’s writers and directors continually obsess over him, feebly offering him as restitution for the frequent sexual assaults on women in game of Thrones.

This is a level of critical appreciation that should be given to all shows, including game of Thrones. There’s some truth to the old adage that travel matters more than destinations, and it’s one of the best ways to interact with and appreciate art of all kinds. What’s so remarkable house of the dragon‘s first season is ultimately its restraint. It’s a show that was free to include all the bombast of dragons and was bold enough to have its biggest moments happen at the bedside and at dinner parties, where a misunderstanding or miscommunication is more devastating than anything. amount of dragon fire. It’s a show that, despite its hiccups, knows that while the endings are memorable, it’s the earlier episodes that make them hurt.

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