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Westeros Returns With Fire And Blood In HOTD

By Mohit Srivastava
August 22,2022

August 21, 2022, saw the return of Westeros with the highly anticipated House of The Dragon (HOTD). The first episode was aptly titled ‘The Heirs of the Dragon’ and premiered on HBO. It is based on George R. R. Martin’s book titled ‘Fire and Blood’ which tells the story of Westeros 172 years before the events of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire.’

Here is our review of the first episode of House Of The Dragon (HOTD).

A tasty treat after a bitter lunch

Game Of Thrones finale

Game Of Thrones finale

The last season of Game of Thrones disappointed a lot of its fans. It left a sour taste in their mouth and tarnished the legacy of the highly successful run of the show. Fans blamed it on the hurried plot, lesser number of episodes, and lack of books (for final seasons) to guide the show.

However, as soon as House of Dragon was announced, fans saw another glimmer of hope. Because the GoT lore was full of Targaryen history and fans wanted to know more about them. Notably, the book on which this series is based on (Fire and Blood) has already been finished and published. This would surely guide the show in the right direction.

The feud and the new ‘game’ of thrones

The Iron Throne in Game of Thrones

The Iron Throne in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones became famous due to its masterful world-building, memorable characters, impeccable storyline, and incredible visual effects. Its new spinoff HOTD also promises the same grandeur starting with its first frame. The show opens with Jaehaerys Targaryen, the Old King about to announce his heir at Harrenhal in front of a Great Council. Jaehaerys then decides to name Viserys Targaryen, his younger son over her elder daughter – Rhaenys Targaryen, as his sole heir. This seeded the upcoming rift in the Targaryen family.

The show boasts some really exceptional visual effects, especially those of Dragons. They are massive, fearsome, and awesome to look at. The new spinoff definitely has some hooks, but it’s more focused on the characters rather than the storyline itself. Nevertheless, the pacing of the show is not weak at all as it may simply be a creative choice to keep the first episode limited to just establishing the universe.

HOTD vs GOT

Viserys and Rhaenys Targaryen in HOTD

Viserys Targaryen and Rhaenyra Targaryen in HOTD

Jaehaerys called the Great Council to prevent a war being fought over his succession. For he knew the cold truth. The only thing that could tear down the House of Dragon…was itself.

From its beginning, the show establishes the central conflict: choosing a new heir. King Viserys is left with a hard choice of announcing his heir between his brother – the impulsive and reckless Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), or his daughter – Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy).

This conflict is reminiscent of GOT when Ned Stark decides to include the word ‘rightful heir’ in the will of Robert Baratheon during his death. This drove the plot forward as Cersei Lannister did all she could to ascend her children to the iron throne.

The first episode of GOT very well established the three houses that shall be the main character pieces for the story – Starks, Lannisters, and the Targaryens. It established the inherent politics that was played between them and built over its central characters. Similar to that, HOTD’s first episode took its time navigating through the multi-dimensional characters and ended in a ground-breaking decision that would go on to form the backbone of the entire storyline.

The verdict

House of the Dragon official poster

HOTD saw brilliant acting by both Matt Smith and Emma D’Arcy and all of the other supporting cast members. Their characters contrast each other brilliantly. The direction and cinematography were superb. Ramin Djawadi’s background score strengthened the eerie setting of the episode and really elevated some intense scenes. With the controversial decision of succession already in place, a high adrenaline action piece is inevitable.

Directed by Miguel Sapochnik, the show is on a very good start as far as a prequel goes. Although it has some very large shoes to fill and the road is still long. With Rings of Power, (another prequel to a beloved franchise – Lord of the Rings) about to debut after a few days, HOTD has to establish itself on much higher ground before that. As of today, it looks like the series will build up in a very fascinating way in the coming weeks.