House of the Dragon S1E1 Review
Here’s my House of the Dragon S1E1 review which is now out on HBO, HBO Max and HBO Go
The episode stars Milly Alcock, Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Eve Best, Rhys Ifans and more!
This series is set a hundred or so years before the events of Game of Thrones and its focal point would be for the Targaryen family, the ancestors of Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen.
That is an important fact to digest because the lead, Milly Alcock plays Rhaenyra Targaryen, who is thrust into a potential power play with her uncle Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith).
I really think that this could be a challenge for new viewers who are interested in the series and have never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones. The good thing here however is that the showrunners for the show had doubled down on the references and the easter eggs and chose to tell a straight story.
This episode wanted to do a lot and I am actually surprised that they managed to fit in all that world building and lore building while at the same time still barely giving us any huge info dump about the House Targaryen. The writing seems to be tight enough for HBO’s standard and I did enjoy the series.
I did like how they established a closeness between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Daemon at the start of the episode. It’s borderline creepy if I think about because there’s a something more with the way they look. Remember, this is Game of Thrones aka A Song of Ice and Fire so incest is something that they deal with from time to time. Plus the Targaryens have been known to do inbreeding so this little bit could pop up in future episodes or seasons.
They did not shy away from setting up the power struggle for this series and its an interesting dynamic to me almost Shakespearean.
One big hope I have for the series is that they can’t fuck it up anyway by the time they wrap it up. The worst they can do is struggle at the end to set things in motion so that the characters, the place, the bloodline, is back to where they were in the first episode of Game of Thrones. Or they could even shake it up a little perhaps to create another spin-off. Either way, the timeline’s soooo far from GOT that its barely going to matter to the characters we know from the previous series.
Casting and Acting
I liked Milly Alcock here in House of the Dragon. She’s definitely following the character development of Daenerys where she starts off as this innocent and naive young girl born out of royalty and destined for greatness.
She’s one of the reasons I’m giving this show a weekly follow. Her character arc is also intriguing because does she have feelings for the Hightower girl attendant?
The former Doctor Who, Matt Smith, is also such a treat to watch in this series. Whether he’s whoring, acting as judge, jury and executioner or showing a faint glimmer of his scheming ways, he’s such a joy to watch. Plus the way they dressed him up and made him up, he’s totally an imposing figure.
I also have to give big props to Paddy Considine who plays Viserys Targaryen here. He’s pained reactions and heartbreak was pretty convincing for me. Plus the way he perks up the moment he finally decides who his heir is at the end of the episode subsequently speaking to Rhaenyra is a classic acting trope for kings about to entrust something big. It’s also nice to see how he brings to life the scene of regret and karma.
We’ve already grown accustomed to the brutality of some scenes but this episode still manages to shock me. Plus there are a nude scenes here so there’s your trigger warning.
A little bit more on this. It felt like the show wanted to remind us of what it is and what it does and even kind of reminds us of what Game of Thrones did constantly until towards season 5 or 6. There’s blatant sex scenes here and then there’s violence and mutilation. They actually managed to turn it up a notch actually, I reckon they’ll continue to do this on the show for as long as possible.
Ramin Djawadi is back for this show and we’re already seeing his brilliance when it comes to scoring. His whole schtick of making things grand and epic is also on full display here. What I didn’t like however are the constant references to the past series. Not that I don’t like it per se, its just that its too much in this episode alone. I feel like I can do a drinking game when season 1 wraps up and be drunk before I reach the season finale.
I guess I wanted to hear more of its own voice, its own distinct flavor not a remix and mash-up of classics. This is a new series so make it feel like everything’s new.
I liked episode 1 but with reservations. You can see that they want to be their own show and I can already see how they want to set things up but they still stick to what made Game of Thrones popular. I really can’t blame them especially since this is uncharted waters for them. There’s no book that will guide them, just source materials and guidance (I’m assuming this bit) from George R.R. Martin.
House of the Dragon S1E1 is like taking a dip at your favorite pool knowing you’ll encounter strangers who also seem familiar.