“House of the Dragon”: “Game of Thrones” Redemption Arc

Since “Game of Thrones” first aired in 2011, my allegiance has been with House Targaryen…So, with my entire ADHD-hyperfixated heart, I urge you to raise your banners, go forth to binge-watch the entire season and pick a side.


The 2019 season eight “Game of Thrones” finale was a disaster of epic proportions to say the least. The fan base has been left to continue to pen a list of grievances against the show writers and showrunners. However, the franchise has finally redeemed itself with season one of “House of the Dragon.”


The ten-episode season acts as the prologue to the Dance of the Dragons: House Targaryen’s three-year-long civil war over a succession of the Iron Throne in wake of the king’s death in which dragons fought dragons and family fought family. This event is detailed in George R.R. Martin’s novel “Fire and Blood,” a sort of House Targaryen history book that timelines the events leading up to the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series.


Season one takes place about 200 years before Daenerys Targaryen begins her journey to reclaim her birthright and ascend the Iron Throne as the rightful heir of the Seven Kingdoms. King Viserys I Targaryen, the fifth king of the Targaryen dynasty, names his eldest daughter, Princess Rhaenyra, his heir. While the lords of the realm bend the knee and pledge their undying loyalty to her, this will later change when he finally produces a male heir, Prince Aegon II Targaryen. After Viserys dies, the kingdom is divided over which child should sit on the throne. Should they follow the late king’s wishes and let Westeros break tradition and have its first queen, or should they crown the eldest male child?


Milly Alcock plays the role of young Rhaenyra in the first five episodes with Emily Carrey co-starring opposite her as young Alicent. After a ten-year time jump between episodes five and six, Emma D’Arcy takes on the role of Princess Rhaenyra with Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent. The casting directors outsold themselves with these decisions. The “House of the Dragon” fan base is still in a frenzy about the striking resemblance between the actresses playing their respective roles. The Targaryen family is rounded out with Matt Daemon playing Prince Daemon and Paddy Considine playing King Viserys. Each person that dawns a white wig in this series has managed to capture the hearts of the audience because of their attractiveness. Tiktok, Instagram, and Tumblr have been overflowing with edits of the royal family. It seems the attraction to people in white wigs is an epidemic.


The acting is raw and emotional with some of the most powerful performances I have ever seen on screen. For example, the concluding shot of the season in which Emma D’Arcy’s stares into the camera is a haunting callback to Emilia Clarke’s performance as Daenerys Targaryen in season 8 of “Game of Thrones.”  wrought with sorrow. Not to mention the special effects and action coordination are fantastic, and the costume department went above and beyond with details. It seemed that a majority of watchers agreed with my sentiment, many posting on social media that “House of the Dragon” redeemed the ending of “Game of Thrones.” However, sentiments definitely changed right before episode 10 was scheduled to air on October 23.


The episode was leaked two days early and many audience members were vying to get their hands on it only to be severely disappointed and often angry after watching. Creative decisions made by the director and showrunners were called into question as people stormed to social media to critique them, but others defended the decisions, reminding them of the source material.


As mentioned before, “House of the Dragon” is based on George R.R. Martin’s prequel titled “Fire and Blood.” The novel reads like a history book, timelining the Targaryen history from the accounts of various sources, all of which are biased and unreliable in their own ways. Martin has publicly acknowledged the unreliability of the narrative and showrunners spoke about the room provided for creative interpretation as one cannot be certain what actually happened. “One of the themes that we ran with when we started thinking about it was that history is written by the victors, history is written by men. It’s men talking about what they think happened, and they are probably wrong,” writer and executive producer Sara Hess said. It should also be noted that Martin worked closely with writers for this project. In my opinion, the ambiguity of source material is what allows the show to have such an edge. As someone who has read and obsessed over “Fire and Blood,” I truly believe the show has done the book justice so far.


But the best part? The dragons! “Game of Thrones” may have had three, but “House of the Dragon” showcases at least eight, with more to come in the following seasons. For me, they were the real stars of the show. We are given a variety of dragon content, but I still found myself wanting more because of my love for them. I mean, who doesn’t love a show with dragons? I want a dragon. 


Since “Game of Thrones” first aired in 2011, my allegiance has been with House Targaryen. I found myself scouring the internet and book series for any Targaryen content as “Game of Thrones” was lacking with Daenerys being the last dragon. “House of the Dragon” has provided the content I deserve. So, with my entire ADHD-hyperfixated heart, I urge you to raise your banners, go forth to binge-watch the entire season and pick a side.


I, Chase Berger, News Editor of the Reporter, promise to be faithful to Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, First of her name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms, protector of the realm. Long may she reign.