House of the Dragon is the most popular show of 2022. The ever-changing political climate and family feuds never seem old.
Creator: Ryan J. Condal, George R.R. Martin
Series: House of the Dragon
Genre: Epic Fantasy
IMDB Rating: 8.6/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 85%
My Rating: 9/10
Episode 1 was maybe the best introduction to the characters in any show I have recently watched. I could easily tell which character to look out for and what motivates them. The horrifying moment of this episode was the c-section of Aemma, Rhaenyra’s mother. It was gruesome and seriously made me not want children of my own ever. The sexual tension between Rhaenyra and Daemon was so clear, I could immediately tell that they are endgame.
Episode 2 was confusing for me about Daemon’s 180 on his mission. I thought he really wanted to be the heir. Then he changed his mind because Rhaenyra challenged him to kill her. I know that he doesn’t do it because he has feelings for her but that was not well communicated. He came across a petulant child wanting everybody’s attention. The most amazing moment was when Viserys was about to declare that he is going to marry Alicent. The reactionary shots were brilliant. Rhaenyra instantly knew who he was going to marry even before he announced it.
Episode 3 doesn’t have many important moments. It gives a good insight into the world and the character. Rhaenyra was seen to avoid her duty to marry as much as she could but she knows eventually she has to give in. Her personality indicates that she will be a good queen when she fights the boar but refuses to kill the stag. It shows how she will not seek war but if war comes she will be prepared. The battle of the Stepstones was some top-tier acting from Matt Smith. He doesn’t say a word yet makes the most impact in the final minutes of the episode.
Episode 4 is the most scandalous one in House of The Dragon. We see how Daemon and Rhaenyra are attracted to each other and reach 2nd base. Daemon takes her niece to a brothel to show her the ways of pleasure. The Targaryen family tradition comes fully into play. GOT fans will be relieved. But the intention behind Daemon's action is really confusing. It seemed he wants to taint Rhaenyra’s reputation to invalidate her claim to the throne but there is no evidence backing this claim. The straight-up lie Rhaenyra told Alicent was the start of hatred between them that will cause all the problems in House of The Dragon.
Episode 5 was a great mid-season episode. It sets up the time jump in the next episode really well. Rhaenyra breaks up with Ser Criston and marries Ser Leanor Velaryon to strengthen her claim. Ser Criston doesn’t take the rejection well though. He brutally murders Leanor’s boyfriend in the wedding ceremony. The murder was horrifying to watch. Ser Criston appeared a good person in the beginning but this episode establishes him as ‘The Nice Guy’ who thinks he deserves the love of the woman he likes just because he is nice to her. I hate him now.
Episode 6 starts with the labor of Rhaenyra’s 3rd child and a 10-year time jump. House of The Dragon masterfully communicated the tension in the kingdom because her children were clearly not from Leanor. Leanor is a good husband to Rhaenyra but he’s into men. The most confusing part for me was how Ser Criston is still on his post after brutally murdering someone and assaulting the groom. This plot hole is glaring. These types of settings get confusing with the time jumps. We also see how the conflict between Rhaenyra and Alicent is poisoning the children as well.
Episode 7 was entertaining as hell. Leana’s funeral causes all the family members to come together and cause many problems. The most thrilling moment was when Aemond claims Vhagar the biggest dragon alive in the world for himself. This led to him losing an eye by accident in the hands of Lucerys. The fight between Alicent & Rhaenyra comes out in the open as Alicent demands an eye for an eye. This was very entertaining.
Alicent and Daemon finally talk and have sex on the beach. Later, Alicent makes a plan to fake Leanor’s death so she could marry Daemon. The episode ends with them married. For a moment, I thought they are actually going to kill Leanor. But I am relieved that they didn’t do it.
Episode 8 was the most emotional episode for me. Viserys shine in this episode. The gradual decay of his body is gruesome and causes pity for him. He proves to be a great father to Rhaenyra when he refuses to take his pain medication to defend her claim in court in sound mind. He takes a stand for her. I was glad he got to see his whole family laughing and enjoying themselves in his last moments even if it was all fake. His death scene was so painful to watch. I loved Paddy Considine’s performance in this episode. The most badass moment was when Daemon cuts Corlys’s brother’s head off because he called Rhaenyra a whore and her children were bastards.
Episode 9 had a lot of political intrigues. Alicent really becomes a key player in the impending civil war. She finally comes out of Otto’s shadows and stands against him. I loved Olivia Cooke’s performance in this episode. This episode highlights how she misunderstood Viserys’s last words and truly believes that Viserys wanted Aegon to be King. However, one could argue that she is falling into her confirmation bias and doesn’t want to think that Viserys could mean something else in his dying moments.
Episode 10 was the best finale I have watched this year. This was truly remarkable. It generates such hype for the next season. It starts with Rhaenyra going into shock labour after hearing the news about her father’s death. This labour was even more gruesome than the one in episode 1. Many things here are reminiscent of episode 1. Such as the face-off between Daemon & Otto with Rhaenyra on dragon-back, the last shop of Rhaenyra looking into the camera like when she did it after being named as heir, and the labour. The child is stillborn and premature. It was bloody & horrific. Childbirth truly is as bloody as war. The tender moments between Lucerys and Rhaenyra foreshadowed the coming demise of Lucerys.
Aemond reaction after Vhagar kills Lucerys and his dragon. Arrax was interesting. He didn’t mean to kill him and it was an accident yet he single-handedly started the Dance of the Dragon (adeptly named the civil war between the Greens & the Blacks). The showdown of Vhagar above Lucerys and Arrax was so good. It beautifully showed how enormous Vhagar is compared to other dragons. The news of her son’s death was the last straw for Rhaenyra. She breaks down and set on revenge. So the Dance of Dragons begins.
Worldbuilding sometime works and sometimes it doesn’t. The dragons are there simply for aesthetic purposes. The only time it becomes important is when Aemond claims Vhagar as his dragon. The palaces look very lived in and integrate well with the story. The secret tunnels don’t come into play after episode 4 which is disappointing. The throne design has been updated to match the books more and I am impressed by it. I haven’t watched Game of Thrones.
The creators created a convincing world for me. I didn’t find myself confused about any important world-building because of not catching up with Game of Thrones. House of The Dragon has mild nudity in the first episode but almost none in the later ones. It also cuts down on the graphic depiction of women suffering which I really appreciated. This is the reason why I didn’t continue to watch Game of Thrones after season one. The nudity and women’s suffering were too much for me in Game of Thrones.
Rhaenyra is the main protagonist of House of The Dragon and a worthy one. Emma D’arcy and Milly Alcock do a phenomenal job with their acting. The casting was spot on for young and adult Rhaneyra. They even look like their mother which is mind-blowing.
Rhaenyra’s character is the strongest in House of The Dragon. She goes through the best character arc. Milly Alcock perfectly captures the trappings of youth and her coming-of-age journey. She is not certain if she wants to be heir to the Iron Throne. After the time jump in episode 6, Emma D’arcy takes the helm of the character and plays it to perfection.
Daemon is a confusing character and is hurt by the time jumps the most. His motivations are all over the place. Despite being the most interesting and talked about character, we don’t really know what he wants. In first two episodes, he was after the throne. Then he kills his wife and gets frisky with young Rhaenyra. Then he becomes a family man withdrawn from war wanting a quiet life with his family with Leana. After Leana’s death, he marries Rhaenyra to strengthen her claim on the throne and is fiercely loyal to her. If there were some scenes showing why he is doing what he is doing, his character would have been the best House of The Dragon.
Alicent’s arc is very interesting. But the time jumps also hurts her motivation. In episode 5, she was justifiably angry at Rhaenyra for lying to her. But in episode 6, she completely hates her. The lie is not a good enough reason for such fierce hatred. Maybe if there was a scene that showed something big happening that turns her against Rhaenyra completely, it would have been much easier for the viewers to connect with her.
Emily Carey did a fantastic job of communicating the innocence of young Alicent and how she has to accept her duty whereas Rhaenyra can do whatever she wants. I loved her in House of The Dragon. Olivia Cooke as Alicent shines in episode 9 where she has to balance her need for Aegon to be the King and her friendship with Rhaenyra. She was the best character in that episode. In that episode, we can see how she still has some reservations about the things she is doing to Rhaenyra and the moral dilemma is brilliantly portrayed by Olivia Cooke.
Viserys is a good man but not a great king. He always took the decision that hurt the kingdom and was extremely avoidant of conflict. His acting performance was the best in House of The Dragon. The gradual decay of his health & body was something that horrified me. His pain felt so real. Episode 8 was where he shines. It was the most emotional episode for me. I am happy that he got to see his family laughing and enjoying themselves in his last moments even if that was all fake. His death affected me so much. Paddy Considine is an amazing actor.
Otto Hightower is one of my most hated characters. Rhys Ifans played the character really well. His manipulation of Alicent is where he shines most. The quest for power at the expense of his daughter truly makes him the worst father ever.
House of The Dragon is the best show of 2022 so far. The stellar performance from the cast is the main highlight of the show. There is no one in House of The Dragon who acted poorly. House of The Dragon doesn’t concern itself with unnecessary plots and focuses on the thick of the story. The time jumps allowed the creator to show the key moments only and get the viewer primed for the main civil war that is coming in later seasons. The introduction to every character was handled perfectly. There are many badass moments throughout House of The Dragon.
Sometimes the time jumps hurt the characters by changing their motivations & personalities drastically over the years with little to no explanation. But it is not something that impacts the enjoyment of House of The Dragon. The depiction of women and their suffering is a much-appreciated and drastic improvement from Game of Thrones. House of the Dragon cuts back a lot on women suffering and nudity and I am eternally grateful for it. This was my main complaint with Game of Thrones. The 1st season sets up the later seasons beautifully. I can’t wait for the next seasons. I am really hyped for season 2.