“Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” is confusing. Fans and reviewers have been comparing the new show to its predecessor’s huge size and awful finale since Sunday. Many fans, including this one, are wondering if their broken hearts may be restored by “Game of Thrones” concluding episodes.
It’s worth questioning if this new program, which concentrates on one strand of the “Game of Thrones” world, matters despite its smaller size, and what it could suggest about our society almost a decade after the first series premiered. As a fan of the original series who remains viscerally upset by its finale, especially the way the authors abused their characters and boundaries of time and space, I’m left wondering what it means to be a fan after all these years and why I’m watching “House of the Dragon” at all.
We’ve been asked to forgive a lot, and I’m wondering if that’s feasible on “House of the Dragon.”
After 2.5 years of living amid a global epidemic, with lockdowns, positive tests derailing family gatherings, and canceled vacations, perhaps there’s solace in returning to old plotlines and people, even if they’re their ancestors. In the opening episode of “House of the Dragon,” the heads of major Westerosi houses pledge loyalty to Viserys Targaryen and his successor, Princess Rhaenyra.
There’s excitement in watching a Stark ancestor of Jon, Sansa, and Arya bend the knee to House Targaryen (though it didn’t work out so well for Jon) and a Baratheon patriarch swears to support a new (female) Targaryen successor, even though his descendant Robert later tries to murder Daenerys Targaryen. The premiere concludes with King Viserys disclosing a secret to his daughter, a prediction he says has been passed down from monarch to heir since the Targaryen first conquered Westeros: that “a terrible winter gusting from the distant north” will someday threaten to “destroy the world of the living,” and “all of Westeros must stand against it.”
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Critics have raised doubts regarding HBO’s “House of the Dragon” and Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” HBO, which shares a parent company with CNN, claimed the launch was the most-watched in HBO and HBO Max history, demonstrating an initial enthusiasm for Westeros’ incestuous and murderous intrigue.
As with any prequel, we know how this one end: patriarchy, White supremacy, and sexism will prevail and last for 200 years in Westeros. “House of the Dragon” continues the “Game of Thrones” portrayal of medieval cruelty, including mutilation, dismemberment, nudity, and bodily autonomy breaches. The show’s makers avoid the post-MeToo environment by shifting violence against women from sexual coercion to delivery, which is deeply uncomfortable in a post-Roe America.
Why watch? To see a familiar castle, Dornish prince, or centuries-old prophecy? Incest wreck a dynasty? To witness The Queen Who Never Was’s face as she’s passed over as ruler and think, “I know that look?”