So here we are at last and thus here is my House of the Dragon premiere review. I reviewed almost all of the final 3/4 seasons of Game of Thrones, essentially since I began writing here at LRM. In that time I also ran a weekly column called Game of Theories that would attempt to unpick all the clues and work out what was going on (not just my own ideas)? Sadly, most fan ideas were far better than what we actually saw unfold. Jaime Lannister’s arc destruction was still the worst thing I’ve seen on TV for a long time.
By the way I’ll be keeping this almost fully SPOILER FREE as a review. Just so you know going in.
Coming into this prequel series I always had one weight hanging on my shoulders and that was the poor ending to Game of Thrones. Would I be interested in this prequel story when I know the entire saga ends in such a rushed and disappointing way? I guess for now that remains to be seen…
So was the House of the Dragon premiere any good? Yes is the short answer, as the title said, what was on show was fantastic. The acting was great, the set’s the visuals, the feel was all there. It truly does feel like less than 200 hundreds years prior to Game of Thrones. The showrunners, cast and crew should all be commended for what they have done. I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw ad as always with this universe there were moments that were not easy to watch. I think the birth scenes will remain in many memories after watching this premiere.
However, I do feel like something is missing. House of the Dragon is Game of Thrones IF you take away the existential threats of the White Walkers and The Long Night. There is so far also an absence of any kind of characters you can truly root for. It’s like episode one of Game of Thrones started with King Robert and Kings Landing with his Small Council. Yes, I know that’s the story being told here. However whilst Game of Thrones had the political maneuvering and back stabbing in spades, there was also a more simplistic tale at work.
Living vs dead, pure evil vs humanity, a trope extremely common in fantasy. The genius of Game of Thrones and its subsequent books was to take this tale we’ve all heard before and wrap it around a more gritty and realistic human civilization. Despite the impending existential threat, the people in Game of Thrones are more worried about their own immediate future. It’s an aspect Jon Snow who’s seen the threat cannot understand. Yet, it’s all really simple, human beings, being normal human beings. That’s the draw for me, it’s high fantasy wrapped in a more gritty realistic depiction of men and women and how we are.
I cannot say for certain, but so far my worry is the absence of this hook for a fan like me. I know there are some fans out there who didn’t give a damn about the existential threat. For some, Game of Thrones was about the politics, the sex, the betrayal and human drama. Yup, that;’s why I always say Game of Thrones became so popular because it’s fantasy soap opera. That’s all it is, soap opera level angst with real violence sex and nudity wrapped in some dragons. There’s a reason Succession is likened to Game of Thrones, but in modern times and that show is also huge among a broad audience.
If that’s you, then you’ll love House of the Dragon. However for the fantasy fans like me, so far there isn’t much to get into outside of the fact there’s loads of cool dragons to look at. The mysteries of magic and the White Walker threat may be referenced in House of the Dragon, but we know they do not play out for another 175 years give or take. This instead is the story of how any kind of purpose to the Targaryens was lost as their Kingdom was diminished forever during a civil war.
The Prequel Problem
As great as the House of the Dragon premiere was, I don’t have anything to speculate wildly about. I already know what happens to all these people, who dies, who lives etc. We don’t know every detail and how this milestones happen could be entertaining to watch. But we still know the end, and we know the mysterious White Walkers will not be involved.
Therefore overall I’ll still rate this episode highly. However, my worry is that overall House of the Dragon just won’t be as exciting as Game of Thrones was. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and I’ll have to eat my words?
Great cast, well shot, well acted, phenomenal score as always. There’s to my mind nothing to complain about about the episode itself. However, that lingering feeling… I just can’t shake that something is missing. I can’t see me bringing back my Game of Theories column for House of the Dragon. Not yet anyway.
Leave your own thoughts below, or your own House of the Dragon premiere review. Let us know what you thought of the House of the Dragon premiere, or what you thought of my review?