3 years of no Westeros coverage came and went in the blink of an eye. Even with how the last couple of seasons ended, The House of the Dragon was appointment television, and will continue to be throughout the duration of the show.
ONE BIG FLASHBACK
If you somehow stumbled upon the Season 1 Primer, you’re likely a little confused and that’s ok. It was expected that the series might start closer to the actual Dance of Dragons, which is around 129 AC. This entire episode, save the Great Council of Harrenhall at the very beginning, was in 109 AC, so the show is sowing seeds even earlier and deeper than expected, which is fantastic news considering the rush of Game of Thrones. It seems now that this series is going to be jumping back and forth. We should still expect to see a lot more of young Rhaenyra and Alicent to set up the conflicts and series. Slow burning plots are good news!
We saw the *arguably* greatest King in Targaryen history, Jaehaerys, during the opening scene, where the Great Council sided with Viserys, the male heir and the current king, over Rhaenys, the female with the better claim, and Corlys’ wife. This will set a precedent for the next 200 years in Westeros.
The creatives really nailed Viserys and his uneasiness over conflict. When the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower verbally sparred with Corlys and Daemon, they had slick camera work showing how it affected Viserys. He just wants everyone to get along and drink and party.
Young Rhaenyra is a bit of a mix of Arya and Daenerys. Willful and disobedient, she doesn’t really pay much attention to the gender norms of Westeros. Alicent is the Sansa of the duo, very proper and wary of toeing out of line. Daemon the Rogue Prince (Matt Smith) was every bit the violent, irrational character from the novel who always speaks before he thinks.
And we got Dragons! They seem to be a lot more colorful this time around, and they have some distinct individual features. Daemon’s dragon Caraxes has wings on its feet and a longer neck. Truly peak dragonshit.
Changes from Fire and Blood
House of the Dragon is adapted from a book the author George R.R. Martin wrote about the history of the Targaryen Dynasty. It’s pretty broad, so it’s up to the show to fill in the details between events. Below are changes that the show has made from the text.
Corlys Velaryon is black – This one sparked some controversy when the initial cast news came out. The Velaryons and Targaryens are both ancient Valyrian houses, obsessed with blood purity. It would make sense for them both to have the pale skin, platinum silver hair and violet eyes, but in the show only the platinum hair is shared between the two families. This will come into play later in the show, but for now it’s a detail that only will piss off the worst kind of people.
Rhaenyra and Alicent are the same age – In the book these two did not grow up as friends within King’s Landing. Alicent was 9 years older, and they weren’t as close as in the show. I like the change in the show, especially as these two drift apart trying to play the game of thrones.
Very small changes, and on the whole, this was as faithful an adaptation as the first few seasons of GoT.
When Viserys named Rhaenyra heir to the Iron Throne, he talked about the dream that Aegon had that motivated him to take the Seven Kingdoms: the long night and the White Walkers descending onto the continent, and how only the Targaryens could defeat it. This dream has been passed down from king to heir since Aegon, but it curiously does not reappear until Rhaegar (Dany’s brother and Jon Snow’s father) rediscovers it before getting his chest caved in by Bobby B. Does this dream never get passed down after the Dance? Makes you wonder.
Alicent and Viserys – Alicent was prodded by her father to put on a dress and “console” Viserys after his wife and son have died. This is hinting towards her father Otto from overreaching in the kingdom, as well as hinting towards their marriage.
Rhaenyra and Criston Cole – In the novel, Rhaenyra develops a massive crush on the newest Kingsguard, Criston Cole. He becomes her personal shield and bodyguard. It will be interesting to see how the showrunners handle this.
Corlys’s warning about the Stepstones – The Stepstones are the islands between Westeros and Essos, which is what Corlys warned the small council about – particularly the “Triarchy.” While nobody is worried about that right now, both Corlys and Daemon will team up to try and handle these islands.
All in all, it’s fantastic to be back in Westeros, and this is a great start to a series.