House of the Dragon is the latest installment in the Game of Thrones universe. It tells the tale of some Targaryens that lived two hundred years before Daenerys Targaryen was ever born. GOT fans had reasons to be skeptical about this new HBO original series (since the season finale of Game of Thrones was so utterly disappointing). But I’m here to tell you the pilot episode of House of the Dragon was actually quite remarkable, and made me thoroughly excited to see where this fantasy series is heading. Here’s my House of the Dragon episode one review.
While it may not have been the perfect hour of TV (the episode notably lacked the charm Tyrion Lannister brought to Game of Thrones), The Heirs of the Dragon provocatively introduced fans old and new alike to the cast of characters involved in one of the most infamous chapters in Westoros history. Those familiar with George RR Martin’s Fire & Blood novel (which House of the Dragon is based on), you know what I’m talking about.
In The Heirs of the Dragon, the first few minutes of the show make it clear: during this era, Westoros is a man’s world. After the renowned King Jaehaerys Targaryen chooses his grandson Viserys (Paddy Constantine) and not his granddaughter Rhaenys (Eve Best) to be his heir, we cut ahead 9-years into Viserys’ reign and are introduced to the King’s testosterone-heavy council which includes Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), and the absent Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), along with other small time players. We’re also introduced to King Viserys’ daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), who we find rightfully frustrated over her father’s obsession with having a male heir when he has a perfectly capable woman in front of him.
The episode’s central plotline finds Viserys’ wife Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke) dying while giving birth to Viserys’ first born son, only for the young baby to die shorty after. Having suffered this terrible fate, the episode ends with Viserys finally deciding the next King will be a woman. Viserys declares to his kingdom that his daughter Rhaenyra will be the next King. However, crowning Rhaenyra King in such a dude-centered world seems easier said than done.
Rhaenyra’s sadistic uncle Daemon is in the picture. We are first introduced to Daemon when he visits his niece Rhaenyra in the Iron Throne room. With Daemon’s introduction seeing him sitting on the Iron Throne, it’s clear he has his eyes on becoming the King. And Daemon isn’t one to mess with, as we’re shown his dark side this episode after he uses his City Watch to butcher criminals and then gleefully participates in feats of violence during a tournament.
Then there is the innocent and soft-spoken Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), the daughter of Otto Hightower (the hand of the King) and a friend of Rhaenyra. While Alicent comes across as rather harmless in this episode, a suggestion from her father to comfort the widowed Viserys might just complicate things for Rhaenyra down the road (if you read Fire & Blood, you know what I’m talking about).
Although the episode started a bit slow and lacked some of the charm found in Game of Thrones, overall I would rate The Heirs of the Dragon an 8.7 / 10.0. What do you think of this rating? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.