If you were a diehard fan of the “Game of Thrones” franchise, you would have been absolutely stoked to hear that the series was getting a prequel spinoff. “House of the Dragon” aired on August 21st, 2022. Highly anticipated by fans, it has generally received favorable reviews from critics. The show is set to have four seasons, each containing 10 episodes. We’re still on season one, and the storyline has been nothing short of explosive. Fans are left on the edge of their seats, and many online discussions center the show’s events any time a new episode airs.
But how has this season held up overall halfway through? Is it so loved simply because the series is so popular, and the legions of fans are subjectively bound to like everything that takes place in the world of Westeros? Or is it a must-watch series even if you’ve never seen Game of Thrones and are not even a devoted fan of the fantasy genre? Let’s explore the mid-season in a little more depth and gain more insight into how watching it can be an integral part of your education in captivating TV. But before getting into the series’ intrigues, we advise you to check out ExpressVPN’s infographic on the Targaryen family relations to ensure you’re on track with their tangled ties.
“House of the Dragon” is a prequel set roughly 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.” The show focuses on the Targaryen dynasty, the current ruling family of the Seven Kingdoms. At the beginning of the series, King Viserys I Targaryen has to brave the death of his wife and son, and is left to choose between his younger brother, Daemon, and his daughter, Rhaenyra as to the throne. The first, while a formidable warrior, is also an unpredictable and often violent character, and therefore, unfit for the crown in the eyes of the small council. The latter is a woman, who is not a traditionally accepted choice for a monarch.
While the king remarries Alicent Hightower and his sons, he chooses to name his daughter his heir, potentially making her the first queen regnant of the Seven Kingdoms. However, if you watched “Game of Thrones” or read George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” you know that things never run so smoothly in this fictional world. The first five episodes focus on Viserys’s decision to name his daughter his heir to the Iron Throne and the political intrigue that follows.
Like its predecessor, “House of the Dragon” provides the viewer with many bombastic scenes and plot twists. If the show leaves you with your head in your hands, you’re not alone. At the center of the story is the throne. Rhaenyra wants to be queen and is confident that the Iron Throne is her birthright as her father’s eldest child. She often rallies against him and accuses him of having wanted her to be male. During the third episode, Rhaenyra, now seventeen, is urged by her father to choose a suitor to marry to secure a powerful political and military alliance.
The princess is very much against this proposition and frequently derides it. She refuses to take it seriously, and considers her situation to be akin to being sold like an animal. Her father’s concerns are legitimate, however, since the powerful and scheming Otto Hightower, a figure not unlike “Game of Thrones”‘ Petyr Baelish, commonly referred to by the other characters as Littlefinger, is already moving the metaphorical chess pieces of court and seeks to place one of his daughter’s children on the throne. Viserys’ failing health is why he wants to see his daughter safe and secure. All the while, Daemon is waging war in the Stepstones and, in a mad scheme, acts as bait to lure out the Crabfeeder, a Prince-Admiral terrorizing the archipelago at the behest of the Essos Triarchy, and brutally kills him by severing him in half.
During the fourth episode, Alicent and Rhaenyra share a tender moment. The former reveals the loneliness of her position, and the two admit they’ve been missing their friendship. This sweet moment, however, doesn’t last long, and the rift that follows continues to deepen between the two, leading to a quiet hostility that will surely persist throughout the rest of the show. The cause lies in Rhaenyra sneaking outside the Red Keep in the dead of night, accompanied by her uncle Daemon, freshly returned from his conquest of the Stepstones. The two wear cloaks to disguise themselves and, as such, spend their night carousing around, drinking, watching a ribald play, and ultimately visiting a brothel. While there, Daemon attempts to seduce a willing Rhaenyra but doesn’t go further and instead abandons her there. She returns to the Red Keep and sleeps with Ser Criston instead.
However, her actions have swift repercussions because Otto tells the king that his spies have spotted Rhaenyra and her uncle in an indecent situation. While the king rebuffs the idea and claims that Otto is just seeking to discredit his daughter to install one of his descendants on the throne, he later forces her to marry Laenor Velaryon and drink an abortifacient tea. Alicent, who overhears her father’s conversation with her husband, confronts Rhaenyra. The princess denies that anything happened between her and Daemon. Later, however, Ser Criston confesses to the queen that he has been the princess’s lover. He reveals this truth due to a misunderstanding, but it is enough to provoke a shift in Alicent’s loyalties; she arrives at Rhaenyra’s wedding wearing a gown of brilliant green, her house’s color.
Daemon seems to confirm to the king that he and Rhaenyra have actually been together and proposes that they be wedded. Viserys, however, decides that his brother is only seeking the crown and refuses. In the Vale, Daemon murders his wife, Lady Rhea Royce. Rhaenyra denies Ser Criston’s proposal to elope to Essos, and Alicent later saves him from committing suicide.
The sixth episode follows a ten-year leap that sees Rhaenyra and Alicent all grown up and ready to deal with even more intrigue. If you’ve been watching with bated breath so far, you can be sure that the show will continue in the same vein from now on. After all, there’s no way to tell the story of the blood of the dragon without all the twists and turns.