House of the Dragon remains a welcome addition to HBO’s roster and a worthy expansion to the Game of Thrones universe, despite fears that it could end up being a cheap cash-in to try to extend the life of the original series that ended in a sour note.
One of the reasons House of the Dragon works so well is because it does what Game of Thrones may have taken longer to accomplish, creating favorite characters from its cast almost instantly, and some obvious villains you’ll love to loathe.
Rhaenyra Targaryen – I’ve seen her garner a devoted fanbase miles faster than Daenerys herself, and if the show wanted a compelling lead, she definitely found one in Milly Alcock’s understated rendition of Rhaenyra, who destroys her rivals with a quick quip and a look and can also chop wild boars to death if necessary. The only real question here is whether Alcock’s love for Rhaenyra will transfer to Emma D’Arcy’s Rhaenyra when she gets older in just two more episodes.
Daemon Targaryen – Even if Daemon is supposed to be a hugely unstable, violent villain like Ramsay Bolton for instance, I think it’s… a little hard not to root for him? He’s been like this since the beginning, but that was best illustrated this week when Daemon, instead of accepting his brother’s help to win a war, offered himself as bait to lure the Crabfeeder, which is both his madness as his desire to be free from his brother and owe him nothing. Matt Smith is killing here.
Viserys Targaryen – At the other end of the spectrum here we have Viserys, who is purposefully designed to be a weak if somewhat friendly king. He’s a great character with a lot of depth, thanks to Paddy Considine’s fantastic portrayal. Without knowing any spoilers, even if he doesn’t seem to have long to wait for this world in the storyline (death from Iron Throne infection maybe?), he’s a great character who plays his role as a non-great king very well.
The High Towers – I mean, you hate them, right? Whether it’s the transparently ambitious Otto proposing that Viserys let Rhaenyra marry her two-year-old brother, his grandson, or Allicent trying to smooth things over with Rhaenyra after marry her father and have two children with him, including one that will no doubt try to replace her as heir. You hate them. They may not be ruthless killers (yet), but they are snakes, and in this case I’m really looking forward to seeing actress Olivia Coleman join the show and take Allicent more into Cersei territory as she gets older.
And this is only three more episodes. I’d say it took Game of Thrones even more time to establish the characters and really create characters you could argue for or against. Thrones did some interesting things like taking initially hated characters like Jaime and redeeming them over the course of the series, but others I’d say never quite worked. For example, it feels like Rhaenyra already has a more devoted fanbase than “series leader” Jon Snow ever did in Thrones.
I can’t wait to see how this all ends in Season 1, and now Season 2, and it’s going so well that I’m even confident in other future Thrones spin-offs.
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