House of the Dragon episode 7 was a great episode. In fact, it was one of the best episodes of the series. The only complain regarding the episode was that it was too dark to watch for some fans. Despite having their brightness at maximum, fans were still unable to watch several scenes and had to depend on only dialogues to understand what was going on. Here’s why the episode was so dark and why Miguel Sapochnik deserves a little slack.
A number of fans took to Twitter to complain about the dim lighting. A lot of them initially thought that their TVs or Phones were broken or that the episode had some bug which made it that dark. Despite their efforts to close the drapes and watch the episode on maximum brightness, they still could not enjoy some of the scenes. Some fans were extremely bitter about the situation too as they called it the worst episode. After a ton of similar responses and backlash, the Twitter account of HBO Max tweeted in defense of House of the Dragon episode 7. They claimed that the dimmed lighting was an intentional creative decision.
This was not the first time that Miguel Sapochnik had filmed an episode in such dim lighting. The episode “The Long Night” from Game of Thrones was also directed by Sapochnik. This episode too was very dark and fans struggled to watch it. The episode revolved around final battle to stop the Night King’s invasion of Westeros. It was dark, it was violent and it was a brilliant episode if viewed from a cinematographic sense. However, for fans at home their TV’s were not prepared for such dim lighting.
Similarly the darkness that hung over Westeros in House of the Dragon episode 7 was portrayed by Sapochnik through the dim lights and the dark atmosphere he created. It was a creative decision. Not only was the episode retelling the events that occurred at night but the darkness was meant to give an eerie quality to the episode. After all, a lot was happening. Aemond claimed Vhagar and had his eye slashed by Lucerys.
There were other moments too that fit in theme with the darkness. For example, Vhagar opening her eyes and Rhaena telling Baela that someone stole Vhagar. These scenes were meant to drive a chill up your spine and the darkness was a requirement to further better the effect. Even Laenor escaping Driftmark was a scene that had dim lighting. It makes sense because Laenor escaping would require a lot of stealth and hiding. He required the darkness to conceal his escape.
What filmmakers and directors often forget is that usual TVs and phones are unable to capture the same level of art that editing room projectors and screens can. While we wholeheartedly understand the creative inspiration behind this decision, it truly was tough to watch some of the scenes. In editing rooms, there are OLED reference monitors that can handle the greyish tone of the episode without being too dark to watch. In fact it must have looked brilliant on those screens, portraying exactly what Sapochnik wanted. However the devices used by the audience cannot handle the same range of greys. It will probably be even worse if you’re watching on satellite and cable. Filmmakers should probably be a bit more mindful regarding this issue.