Like a lot of fans I consider, Game of Thrones’ final two seasons unmitigated disasters. They were so bad some think they ruined the whole series. And for others the show’s ending turned them off of the entire franchise. But you can’t deliver an historic disappointment unless you did something very right before that. An all-time fall from grace is only possible if you first reached rarified television heights. So while it’s more than understandable you might be hesitant to revisit the Seven Kingdoms after so much disappointment, there are lots of good reasons to look forward to HBO’s upcoming prequel series House of the Dragon. It will feature many of the elements that made you once fall in love with Westeros. So rather than look back at what could have been with Game of Thrones, let’s talk ourselves into what could be with its prequel House of the Dragon.
The Wonder of HBO’s Westeros and Game of Thrones World
Game of Thrones‘ production standards changed television’s landscape forever. In addition to a sprawling cast, HBO invested heavily in the costumes, settings, makeup, and special effects needed to truly bring George R.R. Martin’s world to life. None of that will change with House of the Dragon. The show’s trailers look just as impressive as the original series.
The prequel series might even end up exceeding Game of Thrones in some aspects. Like how it will use more book-accurate helmets. Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen will sport an ornate dragon-shaped helmet in House of the Dragon, much cooler than any seen on Game of Thrones.
Political Intrigue and a Clash Over the Iron Throne
The White Walkers had a huge impact on Game of Thrones, but they didn’t actually appear all that often. The show wasn’t built on the back of the Night King. A fantasy series full of magic and dragons became a worldwide phenomenon with mass crossover appeal thanks to its human characters and political intrigue. Which family would prevail over the others? Who was secretly scheming against whom? Which alliances would falter, and which ones rise? And who would ultimately sit on the Iron Throne? Those questions drove Game of Thrones to be what it became.
While House of the Dragon doesn’t have Game of Thrones‘ ice zombies, it comes with an overload of political machinations, deadly plots, and an unrelenting quest for power. If you loved watching people like Littlefinger and Cersei Lannister work (and if you loved Game of Thrones, you almost certainly did), you’ll love House of the Dragon.
Even More Complicated Family Dynamics in House of the Dragon
Game of Thrones would have been a lot less interesting if every family were a unified clan. That would have robbed us of Tyrion’s problems with his sister and father, Jaime and Cersei’s split, Stannis and Renly’s battle, Arya and Sansa’s strife, and just about every other story in the Realm. It also would have meant every marriage was a happy one, and no one ever betrayed their oath or marriage. That would have been a boring story for a lot of reasons. The show’s political intrigue only worked as well as it did because of the personal element underlying all of it. Messy families, whether fighting with themselves or other messy families, make for entertaining and engaging stories. (With obvious apologies to Shireen Baratheon.)
House of the Dragon will give us all of that. The show will bring the Dance of the Dragons to the screen. That infamous civil war saw dragon fight dragon, both human dragons and fire made flesh. This era of House Targaryen will make Lysa Arryn look like a loyal wife and sister.
Incredible Battles and Unforgettable Moments
I fell out of my chair (honest to the old gods and the new) when Locke chopped off Jaime Lannister’s hand in Game of Thrones. It left me as speechless as when the Kingslayer pushed Bran out of that window and Ilyn Payne beheaded Ned Stark. The White Walker attack on Hardhome is still my all-time favorite on-screen battle. Yet, those unforgettable events are just a fraction of a fraction of the show’s best moments. Game of Thrones always delivered shocking, unforgettable scenes, like when Daenerys attacked the Loot Train or claimed the Unsullied. House of the Dragon won’t be any different. Wait until you learn why one character has an eyepatch, watch the worst decision any mother in King’s Landing ever faced, or realize why a Rogue Prince more than deserved his moniker. And you’ll definitely want to see what happens when multiple dragons square off against their own kind.
The enmity within House Targaryen simmered for years. Family members hated each other and craved the same thing. They broke promises and turned on each other. Sometimes that cold war got hot and people got hurt. Then all hell truly broke loose with the Dance of the Dragons. All of which is going to make for some fantastic television every single week. (We know because this time we won’t have to worry about them running out of source material.)
Dragons. So Many Dragons in House of the Dragon
If we haven’t talked you into House of the Dragon yet, we get it. You still haven’t healed from your Game of Thrones wounds. But this might be all you need to know: the show features dragons – a lot of dragons. Way, way, way more dragons than Game of Thrones‘ had. The prequel spinoff’s first season alone will have nine of the 17 dragons House Targaryen controlled at the time. But the number of living dragons during that era is even higher. And yes, that discrepancy is going to contribute to some of those signature moments we just discussed.
If nothing else, they’ll be worth tuning in to see. Because if there’s one thing that can burn away the disappointment of Game of Thrones‘ final seasons, it’s House of the Dragon‘s dragon flame.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings. (And that would be true whether House of the Dragon was about to premiere or not.)