The race for the Iron Throne is on once more, but this time, the contenders are much weaker. According to the first episode, The House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel series that dominated television conversation for almost a decade, had a rough ride.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the self-made queen and mother of dragons in Game of Thrones, is casually mentioned at the beginning of the eagerly anticipated prequel series. She mysteriously succumbed to the infamous Targaryen madness and destroyed King’s Landing, a mistake the audience has never quite forgiven the much-criticized Season 8 for, and for good reason. It is made clear in House of the Dragon that the story takes place 172 years before her birth.
We concentrate on the Targaryens and their lengthy dominance, before they were deposed, before the events of Game of Thrones, in contrast to the conflicting families that filled Game of Thrones to the full. The main characters of the dysfunctional family are introduced in the series premiere, including father and daughter Otto and Alicent Hightower (Rhys Ifans) (Emily Carey). Alicent doesn’t seem to be a reliable person, yet at the moment she is close friends with Rhaenyra, the king Viserys I’s daughter. There is Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, who exudes nothing but evil energy. You can always predict when someone is going to cause problems after 8 seasons of Game of Thrones.
The protagonists’ goals are almost established in the first few minutes, setting the stage for the bloody confrontations and deceit that are to follow. In this repressive patriarchal culture, succession is as usual the torment of everyone’s existence. Instead of his sister Rhaenys, who is thereafter referred to as the Queen That Never Was, Viserys I takes the throne. Viserys is a well-meaning and kind-hearted king, but despite these endearing qualities, he makes a terrible choice during his wife’s arduous labour, demonstrating that the only thing that matters is having an heir to the throne. This scenario is set against a jousting competition to emphasise how brutal life is. A Shakespearean tragedy is being played out.