This could mean an awful lot of things to an awful lot of people, but I’ll simplify: many were upset with the particulars of how Game Of Thrones reached its final destination. Its eighth season – the last – took audiences, indeed, to some curious places, and it goes without saying that how it all winded down was the source of some great controversy across all of – ahem – social media and beyond. I don’t want to belabor this point – my two cents is that it was a show destined to never have a happy ending for fans and characters – but I will say that, largely, I was fine with much of its wrap-up. There were a few characters I didn’t feel were put into precisely where they could’ve been – and maybe one or two who proved to be so insignificant that perhaps they weren’t needed – but those kinds of impressions are to be expected when you’re a participant and not the storyteller.
I know, I know, I know: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Still, I left the original with enough closure that I wasn’t much interested with all of the talk involving spin-offs, sequels, and prequels. While I’d welcome a return visit to the Seven Kingdoms if it looked like Home Box Office had something interesting to offer, I didn’t feel the need to climb aboard any new incarnations.
Well, well, well …
House Of The Dragon recently landed on the pay cable network with the airing of its pilot episode, “The Heirs Of The Dragon.” This show is designed as a prequel, taking audiences two hundred years into the past, promising to detail the events surrounding the House Targaryen, their rise and inevitable fall. (Viewers ‘in the know’ are aware that much of Thrones’ political drama involved Daenerys Targaryen’s quest to bring not only her claim to the highest office in the land back into the fold – as well as a handful of needed dragons.) As I honestly found much of that queen’s plight to be a bit predictable, I wasn’t sure what I’d make of a look back at her ancestry; I’m glad I’ve finally tuned in as this first episode was quite good.
Again, I think it helps to understand what my issues with the original was as it helps to clarify why this Dragon soars in the first hour.
It's the human drama that compels an audience to stay focused on any program, and “The Heirs” definitely gives audiences coming back to the Seven Kingdoms the promise of a return to form. A good handful are introduced, and their respective foundations clearly point in the direction of inevitable conflict. Some of these new faces are young – and likely to be with us for some time – and some are seasoned veterans … whose fate might end up being a bit more transitory if not downright expendable than others. However, it all feels like it’s structured to involve palace intrigue, something that I felt was sidelined (and a loss) in the HBO original series. Granted, we don’t spend much time outside of the House Targaryen in this first chapter; but there’s enough material to lay the foundation for where we might be headed, why this saga might be even stronger than the previous, and how it all may rise and fall looks damn delicious.
Because it’s early, I may be proven wrong in my biggest complaint: former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith just feels miscast as the kinda/sorta villainous Prince Daemon Targaryen. It’s more impression at this point than anything else – he’s sharing a lot of screen time with others in this installment, so most of what I have at this point are only my feelings of his work here – and I’m hoping this’ll change as this prince comes face-to-face with the trials and tribulations owed to any member of the royal family … even its black sheep, for which he’s obviously destined. Alas, he’s going to need to fill some very big shoes to become the tragic center player methinks this script wants him to be.
As first episodes go, “The Heirs Of The Dragon” is very dynamic. It balances the player introductions and only hints at where the show could go … but I’d be a fool to look away at this point.