‘House Of The Dragon’ Season One Expectations: Let The Fight For The Iron Throne Begin

Three years have passed since Game of Thrones concluded in a way that disappointed plenty of fans. Bran Stark ended up taking the Iron Throne (and even he didn’t seem that impressed by this development), and at that point, Jon Snow had already killed off Daenerys Targaryen (the Khaleesi, the Unburnt Breaker of Chains, and so on), who was the last of her family if one doesn’t actually count bastard Jon Snow. He’ll get his own show (and I assume that he’ll still know nothing), but in the meantime, the first spinoff will officially be upon us as of August 21 (at 9:00pm EST).

What will see see beyond Matt Smith and Paddy Considine in Targaryen wigs? Plenty, as it turns out, but notably, the scope of the show is smaller than Game of Thrones and to the spinoff’s benefit. At least initially, this is a more close-knit, intimate story, but since there are soaring, winged beasts involved, there’s a tendency towards adopting the “epic” descriptor. Let’s talk about what to expect from House Of The Dragon:

(1) Dragons, obviously: As the title suggests, this show revolves around the dragon-riding dynasty, meaning that we’ll see 17 different firebreathers, and they’ll all have their own distinct personalities. We haven’t met these dragons, even though we already knew that Drogon and Rhaegal were a scrappy pair in the series proper. They obviously did not exist during House of the Dragon, which takes place 172 years before Dany was born, and she was the Mother Of (Her) Dragons. But the show definitely delivers the goods on these nuclear-weapon creatures, no doubt about it, and visually speaking, they’re fantastically rendered.

(2) That lineage: This is the overriding subject and what the show will predominantly explore. Of course, the series is necessarily based upon the George R.R. Martin’s works (specifically Fire & Blood), and we’re all aware that — in the long term — the Targaryen bunch didn’t fare too well. In fact, only a few of theme existed by the time that Game of Thrones rolled around, but this show will head back in time to explore their time at King’s Landing when they reigned over Westeros and the biggest (initial) concern was for King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) to drum up a proper heir to succeed him. Younger bro Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) would have been the presumptive heir (and that’s how he thought things would go), but of course, there will be no easy path to who rules. No spoilers here on what happens in the first handful of episodes, but it’s no secret that what eventually goes down does not bode well for those with white-blonde hair.

(3) Those franchise-famous sex scenes: George R.R. Martin has gone on record to reassure people that this prequel series won’t be “more misogynistic than real life” when it comes to bedroom behavior, but we’ll see. Matt Smith has gone on record to admit how he could have done with fewer sex scenes, and he wondered, “What are you doing? Are you representing the books, or are you diluting the books to represent the time [we’re living in]?” He concluded, “And I actually think it’s your job to represent the books truthfully and honestly, as they were written.” Let’s just say that Daemon Targaryen gets down plenty. “Slightly too much, if you ask me,” Smith declared.

(4) Will this series move past the source material, too? Much of why Game of Thrones veered off the fan-favoring path likely had to do with the series moving past what George R.R. Martin wrote. And he’s still trying to finish the story while promising a different ending to the entire saga. Realistically, we may never see Martin’s preferred conclusion, but will HotD bump into the same sort of issue? Perhaps. That’s because Martin has been promising a Part 2 of Fire & Blood with no release date on the horizon. Don’t hold your breath, people.

Still, we can expect to meet dozens of characters while the first season of HotD will largely revolve around the history of the Targaryen kings, including King Viserys I, and we’ll also see a lot of Daemon. Expect major developments for Viserys’ daughter, Rhaenyra (portrayed by Milly Alcock during younger years and Emma D’Arcy as the character moves into adulthood). Likewise, expect to see a great deal of Alicent Hightower, close friend to Rhaenyra (portrayed by both Emily Carey and Olivia Cooke), as the show’s own version of a power play comes into view.

From there, HBO hopes to avoid another Starbucks blender while still engrossing a live audience in a bid to really bring back event TV. Presumably, we were supposed to experience that with AMC’s recent Better Call Saul finale, but the streaming audience largely got shafted from watching it live. Fortunately, House of the Dragon will stream live on HBO Max while also airing on HBO this Sunday, August 21.