Nutshell Review: House of the Dragon, S1: E1
PG Score: 9/10
House of the Dragon is available on HBO Max. New episodes every Sunday at 9 PM ET.
*SOME SPOILERS BELOW*
"The Heirs of the Dragon" was an excellent episode to kick off our next adventure in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Focusing predominantly on House Targaryen (obviously), House of the Dragon takes place 172 years before the birth of Danaerys Targaryen and the fall of House Targaryen.
Taking us to the peak of Targaryen rule, we join the Great Council of Jahaerys the Conciliator at the great castle of Harrenhal. An opening reminiscent of Lord of the Rings with the scope and feel, we get caught up to date thanks to the narration of an older Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy). Since the king has no direct heirs, it is this council that is the first domino in what is to come for our Dragon Riders and the realm.
The show wastes no time in introducing us to the dragons, as we meet Rhaenyra and her dragon flying over the coast. We also get to see the glory of the Dragon Pit, which is in ruins when we come across it in Game of Thrones.
Quests for Power
Political machinations are still prevalent, just with different Houses fighting to gain a scrap of power from the Throne. There are a few who stand out in the first batch of pivotal players. Otto Hightower (Ryhs Ifans) as Hand of the King holds a lot of sway and ambitions for the future of his house, even going as far as to use his daughter, Alicent (Emily Carey), a close friend of Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), as a piece in the game. Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), younger brother to the King, has a streak of cruelty and aspirations of his own with an ego to match. It is a battle of wills between Otto and Daemon that causes a lot of friction for the King.
Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is the Master of Ships and married to the Queen Who Never Was, Princess Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best), the eldest heir of Jahaerys who was overlooked due to her being female. The ambition of those three men drives the plot as King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and his wife expect the birth of his son and Heir after multiple miscarriages. Her pregnancy plays out during the brutal tournament taking place in King's Landing. It compares the battle of birth to the battle of men. The birth scene is tough to watch and very relevant to events happening today in how it plays out.
A Blazing Start
"The Heirs of the Dragon" was a fantastic opener with familiar themes. The music is subtle but helps convey the emotions of each scene and has tones that connect to the original series. The cast play their parts well, setting up rivalries and showing us the relationship between themselves very effectively. With multiple players all pushing their own agendas, we are being set up for one heck of a ride in House of the Dragon.