House of the Dragon

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House of the Dragon
Genre
Created by
Based onFire & Blood
by George R. R. Martin
Showrunners
Starring
Theme music composerRamin Djawadi
Opening theme"Game of Thrones Theme"
ComposerRamin Djawadi
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10
Production
Executive producers
  • Miguel Sapochnik
  • Ryan Condal
  • George R. R. Martin
  • Ron Schmidt
  • Jocelyn Diaz
  • Sara Hess
  • Vince Gerardis
Producers
  • Karen Wacker
  • Angus More Gordon
  • Alexis Raben
  • Kevin Lau
Production locations
Cinematography
  • Fabian Wagner
  • Pepe Avila del Pino
  • Alejandro Martínez
  • Catherine Goldschmidt
Editors
  • Tim Porter
  • Selina MacArthur
  • Crispin Green
  • Chris Hunter
Running time54–68 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkHBO
ReleaseAugust 21, 2022 (2022-08-21) –
present (present)
Related
Game of Thrones

House of the Dragon is an American fantasy drama television series created by George R. R. Martin and Ryan Condal for HBO. A prequel to Game of Thrones (2011–2019), it is the second television series in the A Song of Ice and Fire franchise. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik served as the showrunners for the first season. Based on parts of Martin's 2018 book Fire & Blood, the series begins about 100 years after the Seven Kingdoms are united by the Targaryen conquest, nearly 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, and 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. Featuring an ensemble cast, the show portrays the events leading up to the decline of House Targaryen, a devastating war of succession known as the "Dance of the Dragons".

House of the Dragon received a straight-to-series order in October 2019, with casting beginning in July 2020 and principal photography starting in April 2021 in the United Kingdom. The series premiered on August 21, 2022, with the first season consisting of ten episodes. Five days after its premiere, the series was renewed for a second season. Sapochnik departed as showrunner after the first season, leaving Condal to serve as the sole showrunner for the second season. The second season is set to premiere on June 16, 2024, consisting of eight episodes. In June 2024, ahead of the second season premiere, the series was renewed for a third season.

The first season received positive reviews, with praise towards its character development, visual effects, writing, score by Ramin Djawadi, and performances. However, the pacing, specifically of the time jumps, and the dark lighting of some scenes were criticized. The series premiere was watched by over 10 million viewers across the linear channels and HBO Max on the first day, the biggest in HBO's history. At the 80th Golden Globe Awards, House of the Dragon won Best Television Series – Drama and Emma D'Arcy was nominated for Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama. The series earned nine Emmy Award nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, and won three British Academy Television Craft Awards.

Cast and characters

Starring

  • Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen (season 1): The fifth king of the Seven Kingdoms. Known as "a warm, kind, and decent man", Viserys was chosen by a council of lords to succeed his grandfather, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen, as king. Viserys is the firstborn son of King Jaehaerys' second son Prince Baelon Targaryen and his sister-wife Princess Alyssa Targaryen. Viserys is a former dragonrider who rode the dragon Balerion, also known as the "Black Dread", and was Balerion's last rider before its death before Viserys' succession.
  • Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen: The younger brother of King Viserys I Targaryen and uncle / husband of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. Known as the "Rogue Prince" for his unpredictable behavior, Daemon is a fierce warrior and wields the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister. He is an experienced dragonrider who rides the dragon Caraxes, also known as the "Blood Wyrm".
  • Emma D'Arcy as Princess / Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen: King Viserys I Targaryen's daughter and heir apparent, the firstborn and only surviving child of Viserys and his first wife, Queen Aemma Arryn. She was praised as the "Realm's Delight" during her youth. She is crowned queen by her supporters, the "Blacks", after her half-brother usurped the throne. She is a dragonrider who rides the dragon Syrax.
    • Milly Alcock portrays young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (season 1).
  • Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower: Queen Alicent's father and the Hand of the King to King Viserys I Targaryen's small council and continues to hold his position under King Aegon II Targaryen. When his daughter Alicent became queen, he began plotting to put her eldest son Aegon on the Iron Throne, instead of Rhaenyra.
  • Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon: The Lord of Driftmark and head of House Velaryon, one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the Seven Kingdoms. Known as "the Sea Snake", he is the most famous seafarer in Westerosi history.
  • Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen: King Viserys and Daemon's older cousin and the wife of Lord Corlys Velaryon. Rhaenys is the only child of Prince Aemon Targaryen, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen's late heir apparent and oldest son, and Jocelyn Baratheon, Jaehaerys' half-sister. Known as the "Queen Who Never Was", she was once a candidate to succeed her grandfather as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, but was passed over in favor of her younger cousin Viserys due to her gender. She is a formidable dragonrider who rides the dragon Meleys, also known as the "Red Queen".
  • Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria: A foreign-born brothel dancer who rose to become Prince Daemon Targaryen's paramour and most trusted confidante until they eventually parted ways. She is later known as the "White Worm" and leads a network of spies throughout King's Landing.
  • Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole: A skilled swordsman from the Dornish Marches and the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven, who is hand-picked by Princess Rhaenyra to become a member of King Viserys I Targaryen's Kingsguard. He later replaces Ser Harrold Westerling as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard following the ascension of King Aegon II Targaryen.
  • Olivia Cooke as Queen / Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower: Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen's childhood companion and best friend, and later the second wife and queen consort of King Viserys I Targaryen. She is raised in the Red Keep as part of the King's inner circle and is known as the most comely woman in the court.
    • Emily Carey portrays young Lady / Queen Alicent Hightower (season 1).
  • Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling: A seasoned knight of the Kingsguard who has served the Crown since King Jaehaerys I Targaryen. He was tasked with watching over and protecting Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. He later replaces Ser Ryam Redwyne as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
  • Matthew Needham as Lord Larys Strong: The younger son of Lord Lyonel Strong, he is known as "Clubfoot" due to a birth abnormality that causes him to walk with a limp. He is Queen Alicent's trusted confidant and later serves as the Lord Confessor.
  • Jefferson Hall as identical twins
    • Lord Jason Lannister: The Lord of Casterly Rock, head of House Lannister and Warden of the West. An arrogant hunter and a warrior, he unsuccessfully vies for the hand of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen.
    • Ser Tyland Lannister: Lord Jason Lannister's younger twin brother and a cunning politician. He replaces Lord Corlys Velaryon as Master of Ships on King Viserys I Targaryen's small council and continues to hold his position under King Aegon II Targaryen.
  • Harry Collett as Prince Jacaerys "Jace" Velaryon: The firstborn son of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Ser Laenor Velaryon. He is a dragonrider who rides the young dragon Vermax.
    • Leo Hart portrays young Jacaerys Velaryon (recurring season 1).
  • Tom Glynn-Carney as Prince / King Aegon II Targaryen: The sixth king of the Seven Kingdoms. He is the firstborn son of King Viserys I Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower, half-brother to Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, husband of his sister-wife Helaena Targaryen, and father to her children Jaehaerys, Jaehaera and Maelor. Despite the best efforts of his mother, his hedonism and depravity is legendary in King's Landing's Street of Silk. He is a dragonrider who rides the young dragon Sunfyre.
    • Ty Tennant portrays young Prince Aegon Targaryen (recurring season 1).
  • Ewan Mitchell as Prince Aemond Targaryen: The third child and second son of King Viserys I Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower. He is known as "Aemond One-Eye" after losing his left eye in a brawl with his nephews and has grown to become a fearsome and aggressive warrior. He aspires to be a dragonrider and later claims the old dragon Vhagar.
    • Leo Ashton portrays young Prince Aemond Targaryen (recurring season 1).
  • Phia Saban as Princess / Queen Helaena Targaryen: The secondborn child and only daughter of King Viserys I Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower, sister-wife of King Aegon II Targaryen, and mother to his children. She has a unique interest in bugs and often speaks in cryptic prophetic language. She is a dragonrider who rides the dragon Dreamfyre.
    • Evie Allen portrays young Princess Helaena Targaryen (recurring season 1).
  • Bethany Antonia as Lady Baela Targaryen: The elder daughter of Prince Daemon Targaryen and Lady Laena Velaryon. She is a dragonrider who rides the young dragon Moondancer.
    • Shani Smethurst portrays young Baela Targaryen (recurring season 1).
  • Phoebe Campbell as Lady Rhaena Targaryen: The younger daughter of Prince Daemon Targaryen and Lady Laena Velaryon. She is in possession of a dragon egg, although it has yet to hatch.
    • Eva Ossei-Gerning portrays a young Rhaena Targaryen (recurring season 1).

Recurring

  • Gavin Spokes as Lord Lyonel Strong (season 1): The Lord of Harrenhal and head of House Strong, and Master of Laws on King Viserys I Targaryen's small council. He later replaces Ser Otto Hightower as the Hand of the King.
  • David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos (season 1): A maester of the Citadel and Grand Maester on King Viserys I Targaryen's small council, as well as serving as his personal physician.
  • Bill Paterson as Lord Lyman Beesbury (season 1): The Lord of Honeyholt and head of House Beesbury, and Master of Coin on King Viserys I Targaryen's small council.
  • Steffan Rhodri as Lord Hobert Hightower: The Lord of Oldtown and head of House Hightower, and the older brother of Ser Otto Hightower.
  • John Macmillan as Ser Laenor Velaryon: The son of Lord Corlys Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, and later the husband of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. He is a dragonrider who rides the dragon Seasmoke.
    • Theo Nate portrays young Laenor Velaryon (season 1).
    • Matthew Carver portrays child Laenor Velaryon (season 1).
  • Nanna Blondell as Lady Laena Velaryon (season 1): The daughter of Lord Corlys Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, and later the second wife of Prince Daemon Targaryen. She is a dragonrider who rides the old, legendary dragon Vhagar.
    • Savannah Steyn portrays a young Laena Velaryon (season 1).
    • Nova Foueillis-Mosé portrays child Laena Velaryon (season 1).
  • Elliott Tittensor as Ser Erryk Cargyll: The twin brother of Ser Arryk Cargyll and a member of King Viserys I Targaryen's Kingsguard and later Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen's Queensguard.
  • Luke Tittensor as Ser Arryk Cargyll: The twin brother of Ser Erryk Cargyll and a member of the Kingsguard for both King Viserys I Targaryen and his successor King Aegon II Targaryen.
  • Anthony Flanagan as Ser Steffon Darklyn: A member of King Viserys I Targaryen's Kingsguard and later Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen's Queensguard.
  • Max Wrottesley as Ser Lorent Marbrand: A member of King Viserys I Targaryen's Kingsguard and later Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen's Queensguard.
  • Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin Strong (season 1): The eldest son of Lord Lyonel Strong and heir to Harrenhal. Known as "Breakbones", he is said to be the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms. He was Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen's secret lover and the biological father of her first three sons.
  • Wil Johnson as Ser Vaemond Velaryon (season 1): The younger brother of Lord Corlys Velaryon, and a commander in the Velaryon navy.
  • Kurt Egyiawan as Grand Maester Orwyle: A maester of the Citadel who replaces Mellos as Grand Maester on King Viserys I Targaryen's small council and continues to hold his position under King Aegon II Targaryen.
  • Elliot Grihault as Prince Lucerys "Luke" Velaryon (season 1): The secondborn son of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Ser Laenor Velaryon. He is a dragonrider who rides the young dragon Arrax.
    • Harvey Sadler portrays young Lucerys Velaryon (season 1).
  • Paul Kennedy as Lord Jasper Wylde: The Lord of Rain House and head of House Wylde. Known as "Ironrod", he replaces Lord Lyonel Strong as Master of Laws on King Viserys I Targaryen's small council and continues to hold his position under King Aegon II Targaryen.
  • Alexis Raben as Talya (season 1): Queen Alicent Hightower's lady-in-waiting and a spy for Mysaria.
  • Paul Hickey as Lord Allun Caswell (season 1): The Lord of Bitterbridge and head of House Caswell.
  • Phil Daniels as Maester Gerardys: The Maester of Dragonstone.

Guest

  • Siân Brooke as Queen Aemma Arryn (season 1): The queen consort and first wife of King Viserys I Targaryen and Rhaenyra's mother. She is a granddaughter of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen through her mother, Princess Daella Targaryen, making Viserys her first cousin.
  • Michael Carter as King Jaehaerys I Targaryen (season 1): The fourth king of the Seven Kingdoms. He is the grandfather of King Viserys I Targaryen, Prince Daemon Targaryen, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and Queen Aemma Arryn. Known as the "Conciliator" or the "Old King", he ruled for over half a century and ended up outliving all his children, and eventually had to organize a great council to choose an heir from his grandchildren. He was a dragonrider and rode the dragon Vermithor.
  • Garry Cooper as Ser Ryam Redwyne (season 1): The aging Lord Commander of King Viserys I Targaryen's Kingsguard.
  • Julian Lewis Jones as Lord Boremund Baratheon (season 1): The Lord of Storm's End, head of House Baratheon and Lord Paramount of the Stormlands. He is also a maternal cousin of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and is the great-grandson of house-founder Orys Baratheon, the half-brother of King Aegon the Conqueror.
  • Daniel Scott-Smith as Craghas Drahar (season 1): A Myrish prince-admiral who leads the Triarchy in conquering the Stepstones, plaguing the Westerosi sea trade. He is known as the "Crabfeeder" for his practice of crucifying and feeding his captured enemies to crabs.
  • Solly McLeod as Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (season 1): A knight of House Lonmouth, the battle companion and lover to Ser Laenor Velaryon.
  • Rachel Redford as Lady Rhea Royce (season 1): The heir to Runestone, the seat of House Royce, and Prince Daemon Targaryen's estranged first wife.
  • Owen Oakeshott as Ser Gerold Royce: A cousin of Lady Rhea Royce.
  • Arty Froushan as Ser Qarl Correy (season 1): A household knight and lover of Ser Laenor Velaryon.
  • Dean Nolan as Prince Reggio Haratis: The ruler of the Free City of Pentos.
  • Maddie Evans as Dyana: A handmaid raped by then Prince Aegon Targaryen.
  • Roger Evans as Lord Borros Baratheon: The son of Lord Boremund Baratheon who succeeds him as Lord of Storm's End and Lord Paramount of the Stormlands.
  • Nicholas Jones as Lord Bartimos Celtigar: The Lord of Claw Isle and head of House Celtigar. He is part of a council of lords and knights that support Rhaenyra's claim to the throne.
  • Michael Elwyn as Lord Simon Staunton: The Lord of Rook's Rest and head of House Staunton. He is part of a council of lords and knights that support Rhaenyra's claim to the throne.

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
110August 21, 2022 (2022-08-21)October 23, 2022 (2022-10-23)
2[5]8June 16, 2024 (2024-06-16)August 4, 2024 (2024-08-04)

Season 1 (2022)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"The Heirs of the Dragon"Miguel SapochnikRyan CondalAugust 21, 2022 (2022-08-21)
With both his sons dead, old King Jaehaerys I Targaryen convenes a Great Council to choose an heir. The Westerosi lords select Jaehaerys' eldest grandson, Prince Viserys, over Princess Rhaenys, the eldest grandchild. Nine years into his reign, King Viserys organizes a tournament to celebrate Queen Aemma Arryn's pregnancy, confident she is carrying his long-awaited male heir. The Small Council disregards Master of Ships Lord Corlys Velaryon's warning that the Triarchy, an alliance of Essos' Free Cities, threatens to cripple Westerosi shipping lanes. Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower, criticizes Viserys's brother and heir, Prince Daemon, for his brutality as the City Watch commander. At the tournament, the young, handsome Ser Criston Cole, a common-born knight, outcompetes Daemon. Meanwhile, Viserys sacrifices Aemma in childbirth, performing a C-section. Their newborn son, Baelon, dies shortly after. Viserys refuses the council's pleas to appoint a new heir until Otto reveals that Daemon mockingly styled Baelon as, "The Heir for a Day." Outraged, Viserys banishes Daemon from King's Landing and appoints his only living child, Princess Rhaenyra, heir to the Iron Throne, revealing to her Aegon the Conqueror's dream that inspired him to unify Westeros.
22"The Rogue Prince"Greg YaitanesRyan CondalAugust 28, 2022 (2022-08-28)
Six months later, Daemon has illegally occupied Castle Dragonstone. Prince-Admiral Craghas Drahar, known as the Crabfeeder, menaces the Stepstones archipelago at the Essos Triarchy's behest. The Small Council dismisses Rhaenyra's suggestion to show force and instead relegate her to appointing a new Kingsguard knight. Ignoring others' advice, she chooses Ser Criston, the only knight with actual battle experience. Ser Otto sends his teen-aged daughter, Lady Alicent, to console the grieving king; she advises Viserys to discuss his kingly duty to remarry with Rhaenyra. Lord Corlys and his wife, Princess Rhaenys, propose that Viserys unite their Valyrian houses by marrying their twelve-year-old daughter, Laena. Meanwhile, the Small Council learns that Daemon, proclaiming himself the true heir, stole a dragon egg and intends to marry his mistress, Mysaria, as a secondary spouse. Otto and a small detachment sail to Dragonstone to retrieve the egg. Rhaenyra follows on her dragon, Syrax, and forces Daemon to renounce his false claims and return the egg. Viserys announces his intention to wed Alicent, angering Corlys, who proposes an alliance to Daemon.
33"Second of His Name"Greg YaitanesGabe Fonseca & Ryan CondalSeptember 4, 2022 (2022-09-04)
For three years, Lord Corlys and Prince Daemon have battled the Crabfeeder and his forces in the Stepstones without the Iron Throne's support. Meanwhile, King Viserys plans a great hunt to celebrate his and pregnant Queen Alicent's son Aegon's second birthday. Rhaenyra resents her father's excessive attention towards her half-brother, Aegon. The ailing king insists that Rhaenyra, now seventeen, must marry to form a strong alliance and protect their lineage. Many suitors are considered, including two-year old Prince Aegon. Lord Lyonel Strong recommends Ser Laenor Velaryon, Lord Corlys' son, as a potential match to mend the rift between the two houses. Overcoming previous doubts, Viserys assures Rhaenyra she remains his heir and can choose her consort. Meanwhile, brothers Hobert and Otto Hightower secretly scheme to make Aegon the successor, furthering their family's power and prestige. After Ser Vaemond Velaryon pleads for the king's help, Viserys sends aid to the Stepstones. Seeing his brother's support as ending his chance to prove himself, Daemon acts as bait to ambush the Crabfeeder, winning the ensuing battle before the crown's forces arrive.
44"King of the Narrow Sea"Clare KilnerIra ParkerSeptember 11, 2022 (2022-09-11)
After an unsuccessful months-long tour to choose a consort, Rhaenyra returns to King's Landing. Daemon also returns after conquering most of the Stepstones. Now called "King of the Narrow Sea", Daemon swears allegiance to Viserys and hands over his crown. As the reunited brothers celebrate, Alicent and Rhaenyra reconcile. After dark, Daemon and Rhaenyra sneak out to explore King's Landing, attend a bawdy play, and visit a brothel. Daemon seduces a willing Rhaenyra, but unable to consummate their affair, he abandons her there. Returning to the Red Keep, Rhaenyra seduces Ser Criston. Informed by the White Worm's spy, Ser Otto informs the king about Daemon and Rhaenyra's carousing. Alicent overhears and privately questions Rhaenyra, who swears she is still a maid. Viserys confronts Daemon who, hungover and disheveled, seemingly confirms the rumors and proposes he wed Rhaenyra. Viserys claims Daemon only wants the crown and exiles him to the Vale. To avoid scandal and strengthen the throne, Viserys orders Rhaenyra to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon. Viserys dismisses Otto as his Hand after Rhaenyra accuses Otto of manipulating him for his personal gain. Grand Maester Mellos gives Rhaenyra a precautionary abortifacient tea at Viserys' request.
55"We Light the Way"Clare KilnerCharmaine DeGratéSeptember 18, 2022 (2022-09-18)
In the Vale, Daemon murders his wife, Lady Rhea Royce. Before departing King's Landing, Ser Otto warns Queen Alicent that Rhaenyra becoming queen would make Alicent's two sons a threat to the crown. Rhaenyra and Ser Laenor Velaryon are betrothed, mollifying Lord Corlys. Understanding Laenor's homosexuality, Rhaenyra proposes fulfilling their royal duties to produce heirs, then pursue their own lovers. Ser Criston is humiliated when Rhaenyra declines his proposal to elope to Essos and assume new identities; she prefers their current sexual liaison. Alicent questions Criston about Rhaenyra and Daemon, but misunderstanding, he confesses to being Rhaenyra's lover. During Rhaenyra and Laenor's betrothal celebration, Alicent enters, interrupting Viserys' speech, wearing a green gown, the signal color for House Hightower's call to arms. Daemon also unexpectedly attends. Confronted by Rhea's cousin, Daemon denies murdering her and wishes to assert his claim to inherit her lands. Laenor's lover, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, surmises Criston is Rhaenyra's paramour. When Criston believes Joffrey is threatening blackmail, he brutally kills him, devastating Laenor and horrifying guests. Rhaenyra and Laenor are privately wed late that night. Viserys collapses after the ceremony. Meanwhile, Alicent intervenes as a disgraced Criston is about to commit suicide.
66"The Princess and the Queen"Miguel SapochnikSara HessSeptember 25, 2022 (2022-09-25)
Ten years later, Rhaenyra has three sons—Jacaerys, Lucerys, and newborn Joffrey. All lack the Valyrian platinum hair, but King Viserys rejects Queen Alicent's assertion that Ser Laenor is not their father. Alicent tells Aegon he must prepare to one day dispute Rhaenyra’s claim for the Iron Throne. As Viserys’s firstborn son, he will always be a threat to Rhaenyra's claim and his life will be threatened. Daemon and his wife, Laena Velaryon, visit Pentos with daughters Baela and Rhaena. The prince offers them a lordship in exchange for an alliance against a resurgent Triarchy. Unable to give birth after an agonizing labor, Laena commands her dragon Vhagar to incinerate her. Ser Criston, now serving Alicent, goads Ser Harwin into attacking him by implying that Harwin fathered Rhaenyra's children. To ease family strife, Rhaenyra proposes Jacaerys marry Helaena, Alicent's daughter, which Alicent rejects since she believes Jacaerys is a bastard. Shortly after, a disgraced Ser Harwin bids Rhaenyra and her sons farewell before his father, Hand of the King Ser Lyonel Strong escorts him to Harrenhal castle. It is implied that Ser Harwin fathered Rhaenyra's three sons. Alicent confides to Ser Lyonel's younger son, Larys, that she wishes her father, Ser Otto, was still the king's Hand. Larys recruits three criminals to set a fire at Harrenhal, killing Lyonel and Harwin. Rhaenyra moves her household to Dragonstone, also bringing Laenor's lover, Ser Qarl Correy.
77"Driftmark"Miguel SapochnikKevin LauOctober 2, 2022 (2022-10-02)
King Viserys and his court attend Lady Laena's funeral in Driftmark. Rhaenyra and Daemon reunite and are physically intimate. Meanwhile, Viserys fails to reconcile with Daemon. Prince Aemond claims Vhagar as his dragon, causing an altercation with his cousins and nephews in which Lucerys slashes Aemond's eye with a knife. As revenge, Queen Alicent lunges at Lucerys with Viserys' Valyrian steel dagger. Rhaenyra blocks Alicent, but injures herself. After claims that Rhaenyra's sons are bastards, Viserys decrees anyone questioning their legitimacy will be punished. Later, former Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, assures Alicent they will prevail, while Rhaenyra and Daemon unite against Alicent and her family. To continue the true Velaryon lineage, Princess Rhaenys suggests that Lord Corlys pass his title through his granddaughter, Baela, by marriage to Prince Lucerys, as Laenor has not sired any children. Ser Qarl appears to murder Laenor, leaving behind a charred body. Daemon and Rhaenyra privately marry in the old Valyrian Dragonlord tradition to perpetuate the Targaryen bloodline. Meanwhile, Laenor, having faked his death, escapes Driftmark with Qarl.
88"The Lord of the Tides"Geeta Vasant PatelEileen ShimOctober 9, 2022 (2022-10-09)
Six years later, Lord Corlys Velaryon is wounded fighting in the Stepstones. His brother, Ser Vaemond, petitions King's Landing to name him Corlys' heir, proclaiming Rhaenyra's son, Lucerys, illegitimate. Rhaenyra and Daemon return to the capital to defend Lucerys' claim. King Viserys is now bedridden, disfigured, and mentally muddled. Queen Alicent and the king's Hand, Otto Hightower, oversee all royal matters. Alicent covers-up Prince Aegon raping a handmaiden. Rhaenyra proposes two marriage arrangements with House Velaryon to gain Princess Rhaenys' support. She implores Viserys to defend her succession, quoting Aegon the Conqueror's dream about the Prince That Was Promised. As Vaemond's petition is presented at court, Viserys declares Lucerys the Driftmark heir. Daemon beheads Vaemond when he denounces Rhaenyra as a whore and her children bastards. The family appears to reconcile during a feast, but Aemond later incites a fight, insinuating Rhaenyra's three sons are bastards. Meanwhile, Alicent's lady-in-waiting, Talya, regularly provides Daemon's former mistress, Mysaria, with information. Viserys, near death, mutters parts of Aegon the Conqueror's dream, which Alicent mistakenly believes refers to Prince Aegon.
99"The Green Council"Clare KilnerSara HessOctober 16, 2022 (2022-10-16)
After Viserys' death, Ser Otto and the Small Council plot to crown Prince Aegon. Ser Criston kills Lord Beesbury, who opposed the scheme. Kingsguard Lord Commander Harrold Westerling resigns in protest. Otto keeps Viserys's death a secret to fortify the council's position, then coerces the noble houses to switch their allegiance to Aegon. Those resisting are imprisoned or hanged. Otto and Alicent discuss on whether to kill or exile Rhaenyra and separately rush to find and influence the missing Prince Aegon: Otto sends Kingsguard brothers Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk Cargyll, while Alicent tasks Criston and Prince Aemond. The Cargylls find Aegon first, but Criston and Aemond forcibly take him. Lord Larys tells Alicent that spies, including lady-in-waiting, Talya, are within the Red Keep. Alicent approves eliminating the head spy. Alicent persuades a resistant Aegon to claim his birthright. King's Landing citizens are herded into the Dragonpit to witness Aegon's coronation. Princess Rhaenys, refusing to support Aegon’s claim, is held captive. Erryk frees her and she enters the Dragonpit caverns. Astride her dragon, Meleys, she violently breaches the grand hall, causing mayhem, death, and threatening the royals; Rhaenys then flees King’s Landing on Meleys.
1010"The Black Queen"Greg YaitanesRyan CondalOctober 23, 2022 (2022-10-23)
Princess Rhaenys arrives on Dragonstone to announce King Viserys's death and Prince Aegon ascending the throne; the news shocks Rhaenyra into a premature stillbirth. Daemon pressures Rhaenyra to go to war. When Ser Erryk brings Viserys' crown, Rhaenyra is declared queen. Ser Otto Hightower presents King Aegon II's terms for Rhaenyra's concession, including retaining her royal title and Dragonstone, and her sons' rights to inherit Driftmark; Daemon is angered when Rhaenyra considers conceding to unify the realm against the Northern threat foretold by Aegon the Conqueror's dream. Lord Corlys pledges House Velaryon's allegiance to Rhaenyra's "Black" faction; Daemon plans to recruit more dragonriders and awakens a large dragon hibernating in a cave. Princes Jacaerys and Lucerys are sent as envoys to secure Houses Arryn, Stark, and Baratheon as allies. Lucerys meets with Lord Borros Baratheon and discovers Prince Aemond is also there to secure the Baratheons as allies for Aegon II. King Aegon II has offered Borros a political alliance through marriage between his daughter and Aemond while Rhaenyra has offered nothing. Lucerys leaves on his dragon, Arrax, but Aemond pursues him on Vhagar. The fractious dragons defy their riders; Arrax burns Vhagar; Vhagar then devours Lucerys and Arrax, stunning Aemond. Rhaenyra is devastated and enraged upon receiving the news.

Season 2

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected by [6]Written by [7]Original air date [5]
111"A Son for a Son"[8]Alan TaylorRyan CondalJune 16, 2024 (2024-06-16)
122TBAClare KilnerTBAJune 23, 2024 (2024-06-23)
133TBAGeeta PatelTBAJune 30, 2024 (2024-06-30)
144TBAAlan TaylorTBAJuly 7, 2024 (2024-07-07)
155TBAClare KilnerTBAJuly 14, 2024 (2024-07-14)
166TBAAndrij ParekhTBAJuly 21, 2024 (2024-07-21)
177TBALoni PeristereTBAJuly 28, 2024 (2024-07-28)
188TBAGeeta PatelTBAAugust 4, 2024 (2024-08-04)

Production

Development

Closeup of show creator Ryan Condal
Closeup of show creator George R. R. Martin
Show creators and executive producers Ryan Condal (left) and George R. R. Martin (right)

In 2015, with Game of Thrones still in production, HBO executives approached A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R. R. Martin regarding possible successors or spin-offs to the series.[9] In November 2018, Martin stated that a "potential spin-off series would be solidly based on material in Fire & Blood."[10] Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss stated they wanted to "move on" from the franchise and declined involvement in subsequent projects.[11] By September 2019, a Game of Thrones prequel series from Martin and Ryan Condal that "tracks the beginning of the end for House Targaryen" was close to receiving a pilot order from HBO.[12] The following month, House of the Dragon was given a straight-to-series order.[13] Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, who won an Emmy Award for directing the episode "Battle of the Bastards", were selected to serve as showrunners.[14] In 2016, Condal pitched the idea of a series based on Martin's Tales of Dunk and Egg, however HBO initially passed on it.[15] Sapochnik was also hired to direct the series premiere as well as additional episodes.[16] The series begins 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones during the reign of King Viserys I Targaryen, ultimately leading to the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.[17][18] The project is a reworking of the rejected spin-off concept from Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman, on which HBO officially passed.[19]

Inspiration for the series came from English medieval history and the Anarchy, a war of succession after the death of Henry I of England between his nephew Stephen of Blois and only surviving child, Empress Matilda, who had fled to Normandy in the 12th century.[20][21][22] In January 2020, Casey Bloys, HBO's president of programming, stated that writing had begun.[23] Writers for the show include Condal and Sara Hess, who previously wrote for Deadwood and Orange Is the New Black.[24] Martin was also involved in the pre-production, providing input on storylines and reviewed scripts and rough cuts.[25] On August 26, 2022, less than a week after its premiere, the series was renewed for a second season.[26] On August 31, Miguel Sapochnik stepped down as director and co-showrunner for the second season, but remained an executive producer. Sapochnik stated, "It was incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally."[27] Alan Taylor, who directed Game of Thrones episodes, will join in season two and serve as an executive producer and direct.[28] Following the second season renewal, Bloys stated that it is expected to premiere in 2024.[29] Hess told Variety in late December 2022 that most of season 2 had been written and will include a revenge plot against Alicent following the events of the first-season finale.[30] The second season will consist of eight episodes and is set to premiere on June 16, 2024.[31][32] On his personal blog in December 2023, Martin stated the third and fourth seasons are being written.[33] In June 2024, ahead of the second season premiere, the series was renewed for a third season.[34]

Changes from the novels

It was very important for Miguel and I to create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen. We wanted to find a way to put diversity in the show, but we didn't want to do it in a way that felt like it was an afterthought or, worse, tokenism.

Ryan Condal, July 2022 interview with Entertainment Weekly[35]

In the novels, members of House Velaryon are generally described as having "silver-gold hair, pale skin, and violet eyes", similar to the Targaryens.[36] However, Condal and Sapochnik wanted to introduce more racial diversity with its casting.[37] Game of Thrones was criticized for lacking a diverse cast and including cultural stereotypes.[38][39] As a result, House Velaryon are portrayed as black in the television series.[40] According to Condal, Martin, while writing the novels, considered making the Velaryons a house of black aristocrats who traveled to Westeros from the culturally diverse area of Valyria.[40] Despite initial fan criticism of the ethnicity change,[41] publications and commentators stated it helped distinguish between the large number of characters between the two families.[42][43]

Fire & Blood is written in the style of a history book authored by an in-universe fictional historian studying the Targaryen dynasty and various civil conflicts.[44] The novels of A Song of Ice and Fire, however, are more immersive, with each chapter written in a third-person limited perspective from the immediate point of view of a character.[45] As a result, some accounts of events recorded in Fire & Blood are second-hand narrations that are potentially speculative or distorted, therefore making the narrator unreliable from the reader's perspective.[46] In an effort to make the story more clear for viewers, the show writers decided to portray the book events in chronological order from a third-person perspective.[47]

Casting

Casting for the first season began in July 2020.[48] In October 2020, Paddy Considine was cast as Viserys I Targaryen.[49] Considine was offered a role in Game of Thrones but declined due to the fantasy elements of the series.[50] Condal in a 2020 interview stated that Considine was their first choice for Viserys.[51] By December, Olivia Cooke, Matt Smith, and Emma D'Arcy were cast as Alicent Hightower, Daemon Targaryen, and Rhaenyra Targaryen, respectively.[52] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Smith stated he was initially hesitant to star in a Game of Thrones prequel but accepted the role after learning of Considine's attachment to the project.[53]

In February 2021, Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, and Sonoya Mizuno were added to the main cast.[54] By April, Fabien Frankel joined the cast as Ser Criston Cole.[55] In May, Graham McTavish was spotted on set in full wardrobe.[56] In July 2021, Emily Carey and Milly Alcock were added to the cast as younger counterparts of Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen, respectively.[57] The time jump midway through the first season prompted the casting of multiple actors for the same role.[58]

In April 2023, Gayle Rankin, Simon Russell Beale, Freddie Fox, and Abubakar Salim were announced to have joined the cast for the second season as Alys Rivers, Ser Simon Strong, Ser Gwayne Hightower and Alyn of Hull, respectively.[59] In December 2023, Tom Taylor, Clinton Liberty, Jamie Kenna, Kieran Bew, Tom Bennett, and Vincent Regan were announced to have joined the cast for the second season as Lord Cregan Stark, Addam of Hull, Ser Alfred Broome, Hugh Hammer, Ulf the White and Ser Rickard Thorne, respectively.[60]

Filming

Principal photography on the ten-episode first season of the series began in April 2021.[61] The series was filmed primarily in the United Kingdom.[62] House of the Dragon was the first production to be shot at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios' new virtual production stage.[63] On July 18, 2021, a positive COVID-19 case forced the pausing of production for two days.[64] The Spanish publication Hoy reported that House of the Dragon would be filmed in the Province of Cáceres in western Spain between October 11–21, 2021.[65] The provincial capital of Cáceres along with the medieval town of Trujillo were used in scenes for King's Landing.[66] From October 26–31, the series was filmed in Portugal at the Castle of Monsanto.[67] The majority of season 1 was shot using Arri Alexa cameras; specifically Alexa 65s for the main camera and the Alexa Mini LFs as additional cameras.[68]

Locations in Cornwall, England included St Michael's Mount, Holywell Beach and Kynance Cove. Other locations included Castleton, Derbyshire, in areas such as Cave Dale, Eldon Hill Quarry and the Market Place. Some scenes were shot in Aldershot, Hampshire.[69] In February 2022, HBO confirmed that the first season of House of the Dragon had wrapped production.[70] Visual effects for the series were produced in part by Pixomondo, who worked on Game of Thrones and received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects.[71][72][73] In October 2022, it was reported that the OSVP stage at Leavesden Studios, used in the series, was shutting down.[74]

The second season began filming on April 11, 2023, at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in Watford, England,[75] and moved to Cáceres, Spain on May 18, 2023.[76][77] The series continued filming throughout the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike.[78] Despite the show originating in the United States, the largely British cast works under local rules governed by the sister union Equity.[79] Filming wrapped by September 29, 2023.[80]

Music

It was announced in February 2021 that Ramin Djawadi would compose the series score.[81] Djawadi composed the music for all eight seasons of Game of Thrones, which garnered him three Grammy Awards nominations and two Emmy Awards wins.[82][81] Djawadi and the showrunners opted to retain the original theme song, "Game of Thrones Theme", for House of the Dragon. The song debuted in the opening credits of the second episode.[83] In an interview with The A.V. Club, Djawadi stated that the original theme song was used to "tie the shows together".[84] For the first season, Djawadi, along with Condal and Sapochnik, watched each episode and made notes on when the music should occur and what mood the music should set.[85] Character motifs from Game of Thrones are also featured in House of the Dragon, including the Dragon theme "Dracarys".[86]

Language

Game of Thrones linguist David J. Peterson returned to continue his work on the constructed language High Valyrian.[87] Peterson stated that, unlike Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon features scene-long dialogue in High Valyrian.[88] In the series, High Valyrian is spoken by both Targaryens and Velaryons, requiring cast members to learn the language.[89] Emma D'Arcy reportedly enjoyed learning it, while Matt Smith initially dreaded it and found it daunting.[90]

Budget

The production budget of the first season of House of the Dragon was nearly $200 million, which equates to an average of under $20 million per episode.[91] In comparison, its parent series, Game of Thrones, cost around $100 million per season, beginning with nearly $6 million per episode from seasons one to five, around $10 million for every episode in seasons six and seven, and up to $15 million each episode in its eighth and final season, earning $285 million in profits per season over its eight seasons.[92][93] According to Deadline Hollywood, the marketing budget was over $100 million, comparable to the budget for a blockbuster theatrical film.[94]

Release

House of the Dragon premiered on August 21, 2022.[95] It is HBO's first new series to stream in 4K, Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos on its sister streaming platform HBO Max.[96] The first episode was released for free on YouTube on September 2, 2022.[97] The first-season finale was leaked online the week before the actual air date, with the full episode appearing on torrent sites.[98] According to HBO, the leak came from a Europe, the Middle East and Africa partner and it will "aggressively" monitor for additional leaks.[99] The second season is set to premiere on June 16, 2024.[32]

International broadcast

In New Zealand, the series is distributed by Sky's SoHo TV channel and Neon streaming service.[100] In the Philippines, SKY broadcasts the show via its main cable television services and other digital streaming platforms.[101] In India, JioCinema distributes the show.[102] In the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the series airs on Sky Atlantic and its accompanying streaming service Now.[103] In Canada, House of the Dragon is available on Bell Media's Crave streaming service and its HBO linear channel.[104] In Australia, the series is available for streaming on Binge and Foxtel.[105]

Home media

The first season was released on 4K UHD Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray, and DVD on December 20, 2022, and contains over an hour of behind-the-scenes features.[106]

Reception

Critical response

House of the Dragon: Critical reception by episode

Percentage of positive critics' reviews tracked by the website Rotten Tomatoes[107]

Season 1

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds an approval rating of 93%, based on 869 reviews, with an average rating of 7.75/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Covering an era of tenuous peace with ferocious – albeit abbreviated – focus, House of the Dragon is an impressive prequel that exemplifies the court intrigue that distinguished its predecessor."[107] On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the first season received a score of 69 out of 100 based on 43 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[108]

Paddy Considine at the "Tyrannosaur" Q&A at the Quad in Derby.
Paddy Considine received critical acclaim for his performance as Viserys.

Reviews for the first season were positive, with critics praising the writing, directing, score and cast performances.[109] Lucy Mangan of The Guardian called the show a "roaring success" with Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times stating the show mirrors the acclaim of the early seasons of Game of Thrones.[110][111] Reviews pointed out the reliance on Martin's novel was one of the reasons the series fared better critically than the later seasons of its predecessor, specifically the last season.[112][113] The cast also received praise, with Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Emma D'Arcy, and Olivia Cooke being singled out for their performances.[114] In an interview with GQ, Considine stated that Martin told him that "Your Viserys is better than my Viserys".[115] The diversity of the characters was mostly met with praise,[116][117][118] with Jeff Yang of The New York Times stating that diversification of the cast can help the series gain a more diverse audience.[119] The series was included on multiple critics' top ten television series lists of 2022, including Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, and Polygon.[120]

Despite the praise, the show's first season did receive criticism for the depiction of violence, pacing and cinematography. Reviewing the early episodes, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly said the series leaned too much on grand imagery and lacked the breakout supporting characters that Game of Thrones had.[121][122] Before the premiere, Martin stated that the series is similar to a Shakespearean tragedy with each character being morally grey with no "character everybody's going to love".[123] The Guardian stated the "dullness" of the characters makes the series more of a period drama than an action-adventure fantasy.[124] The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times cited the constant actor changes as a reason for the lack of emotional attachment to characters.[125][126] The graphic violence in the season premiere with a failed caesarean section was criticized for being excessive, and according to USA Today, "exploitive and in poor taste".[127][128][129] The time jumps throughout the first season were also noted for being jarring and causing confusion,[130][131] while George R. R. Martin defended them as being "handled very well".[132][133] In addition, the dark cinematography in Episode 7 was a point of criticism from both critics and fans alike.[134][135] HBO responded that the dimmed lighting in those scenes was an "intentional creative decision".[136] Game of Thrones faced similar criticism regarding the lighting of scenes in Season 8, with one of the show's cinematographers stating it was a "deliberate choice".[137][138]

Season 2

On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season holds an approval rating of 87%, based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Approaching its dynastic cataclysm with a deliberate stride rather than a charging gallop, House of the Dragon carefully sets up its emotional stakes to make the fiery spectacle all the more scorching."[139] On Metacritic, the second season received a score of 73 out of 100 based on 29 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[140]

Viewership

The day after the series premiere, HBO said the episode had been viewed by an estimated 9.99 million viewers in the U.S. on its first night of availability – including linear viewers and streams on HBO Max – which it said was the largest single-day viewership for a series debut in the service's history, dethroning Euphoria.[141] After one week of availability, the viewership rose to nearly 25 million in the U.S. across all platforms.[142] Nielsen estimated that the episode was watched by 10.6 million viewers on HBO Max in the first four days, with the number increasing to 14.5 million when including the viewership on the main HBO channel.[a][143] Samba TV meanwhile stated that 4.8 million U.S. households streamed the episode in the first four days.[144] The series was also popular on social media, with the show premiere being the number one trending topic on Twitter and Google Trends.[145]

The finale of the first season was watched by 9.3 million viewers across all platforms during its premiere night according to HBO, which was the highest viewership for any finale of a HBO show since the series finale of Game of Thrones. The show averaged 9–9.5 million viewers for an episode on premiere night and 29 million total viewers after a week of release.[146]

Nielsen stated in November 2022 that 35% of the viewers of the show were in the age range of 18–34.[147] Similar to Game of Thrones, the first season of House of the Dragon was extensively pirated.[148] According to TorrentFreak, it was the most pirated series of 2022, ahead of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and other series.[149]

Comparisons with The Rings of Power

Critics, fans, and publications have drawn comparisons between House of the Dragon and fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime Video. The Rings of Power is a prequel series set thousands of years before the events of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, while House of the Dragon is a prequel series set before Game of Thrones.[150] The similar fantasy genre, close release dates, and extensive fan bases were cited in articles comparing the two series.[3][151][152] Commentators and fans alike have described these comparisons as the "biggest battle in TV history".[153][154] More negative criticism from the two fan bases also included the character diversity, with some publications describing some of the criticism as racist.[155][156][157][158] Martin stated that although he hopes both shows are successful, he wants to see House of the Dragon "succeed more."[159] Lindsey Weber, an executive producer for The Rings of Power, stated that the head-to-head conflict between the two shows are "totally manufactured by the media for headlines".[154] Show co-creator J. D. Payne said the only competition he sees is with "themselves"; however, he wishes well for "anyone else working on storytelling".[160]

Financially, the budget for The Rings of Power is almost $450 million more than House of the Dragon.[91] Both series fared successfully in the ratings.[161] According to Nielsen and first-party data, The Rings of Power's first two episodes had more than 1.25 billion minutes of streaming minutes after three days of availability. In comparison, a few hours after the episode two premiere of House of the Dragon, the show had reached more than 1.06 billion minutes of streaming minutes.[b][143][162] Following the season finale for House of the Dragon, weekly streaming viewership passed 1 billion viewing minutes for the first time.[162] According to Nielsen data, The Rings of Power has a higher percentage of older viewers, with more than 70% of viewers being over the age of 35.[163] In any given week, The Rings of Power tended to have more streams than House of the Dragon given that the viewership of House of the Dragon was split between those watching online and those watching on HBO channel while that of The Rings of Power was online only. However, following both series debuts, streaming viewership for The Rings of Power decreased over the first season, while House of the Dragon viewership increased. The viewership of individual episodes of House of the Dragon also tended to increase over a number of weeks after the episodes became available while that of The Rings of Power dropped sharply after the first two weeks.[164] Despite the age gap in viewership, commentators have stated one of the reasons both shows did well was the consistent release schedule that helped create social-media buzz.[165][166] Both shows have highlighted the "streaming wars" between both Amazon and HBO and the entertainment industry as a whole.[167][168][169]

Accolades

The first season was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, in addition to eight nominations at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, winning one for Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes.[170][171] It received two nominations at the 80th Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Drama and Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama for D'Arcy, winning the former.[172] Other nominations include three Critics' Choice Television Awards and one Screen Actors Guild Award.[173][174]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Nielsen measures linear viewership in number of viewers while streaming shows are measured in number of minutes.[29]
  2. ^ Linear viewership numbers for House of the Dragon are not included in the streaming viewership numbers.

References

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