I know, I know, I know. Those sentiments may be harsh, and yet writing and performances have been suggesting that King Viserys Targaryen (played by Paddy Considine) isn’t long for this world. Since the show’s launch, he’s grown grayer and grayer, sicker and sicker, and less and less plausible as a believable patriarch to the Seven Kingdoms with each passing hour. At this juncture, isn’t it just masochism on the part of these storytellers to keep him around? Or is it sadism? I sometimes confuse the two. I hope that never happens at the wrong moment.
In any event …
King Viserys spent a wealth of time coughing, puking, and spitting blood – looking regal all the time – throughout much of the darkly-tinged “We Light The Way,” the fifth installment to the underwhelming first season of House Of The Dragon. And, yes, I say “underwhelming” mostly because that’s how I’ve found it … a bit of a mess as the narrative keeps jerking forward a year (if not more) at a time with each passing episode. Speaking of mess, is it just me or has the CGI grown increasingly less convincing as well?
Occasionally, it’s hard not to nitpick a scene here and there, especially where special effects are included. Seemingly, HBO spared no expense when it came to elevating the general look of Game Of Thrones – this show’s inspiration and predecessor – but House is looking less and less like a narrative prequel and more and more like a novice’s knock-off. Perhaps for me it’s just that these events seem to be only meandering from point to point with no clear progression, or perhaps it’s owed to the fact that the conflict seems tied only to one family – one kingdom – but it’s all a bit too nebulous at this point.
Now – and again, folks, you know that it isn’t in my nature to hate any program – I think it’s fair to suggest that a lot of this can be chalked up to ‘first season’ jitters. House offers a vastly smaller cast than did Thrones. The advantage here is that we, as an audience, have been able to spend a bit more time getting to know each of them; but it’s those returns I’m finding a bit questionable. Matt Smith – an actor I thought superb in Doctor Who – feels a bit out of sync here – is he a villain or is he just misunderstood – and I’m hoping he evolves into suffering something greater than ‘throne envy,’ though I’m holding out little hope.
On the plus side, I have enjoyed most of what I’ve seen from young Emily Carey. She’s been an inspiration, and her arc as a character has been both relatable and well-plotted out for any in the audience to follow. She’s tried to be the dutiful daughter. She’s tried to be the good queen. Life and circumstances have conspired against her, so it’s perfectly plausible to see precisely how she’s arrived at this point in her journey. Her anger has grown more and more palpable, and the actress has done great work in conveying this creation’s angst and growing desire to move against those she’s long supported.
“We Light The Way,” however, ended up playing out more like a reminder of the lessons we learned already from Thrones, namely that weddings and unions never quite go off the way they should in this universe. Whereas they’re meant to be a union of souls destined to find peace and happiness, this universe as conceived by George RR Martin they’re the absolute antithesis of that. They’re filled with violence, hints of violence, or the promise of violence. Sometimes, there’s madness! Sometimes, there’ rape. In this world, marriage is coupled with as much bloodshed as they are social ritual (always an interesting visual combination), and someone’s definitely going to lose an eye over all of this.
(Someone did … and then some!)
So I guess the whole ‘more of the same’ could aptly be applied to House at this point.
I guess my hope with House Of The Dragon was that it would be both a journey through some familiar trails as well as the promise of something more. Thrones always managed to look up from time-to-time, even when the scripts kept promising that ‘Winter was coming.’ At this point, it looks like HBO and these storytellers are really only fascinated with the darkness of human nature, as I see no players in the wings waiting to show up and give audiences hope for a better existence. Jon Snow did that – even in the darkest times – but House offers slim pickings at best in that regard.