HBO is back to deliver hard-hitting punches in the world of streaming as of late with hit shows such as Succession and Euphoria but one may argue that these shows still don’t pack the grandeur, fandom, and impact as Game of Thrones. Fret not, as the Game of Thrones prequel series is here. The success of House of the Dragon S1 cannot be denied as it has already been renewed for a second season which was honestly one of the reasons as well why we decided to watch the show and review it here at This is Hype Ph.

House of the Dragon S1 Review: Synopsis

As mentioned, House of the Dragon is the prequel to the popular HBO series Game of Thrones and is based on George R.R. Martin’s novel, Fire & Blood. The show centers on the reign of House Targaryen and is set nearly 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. House of the Dragon Season 1 primarily revolves around the beginnings of the Targaryen civil war as the house itself is torn apart from the inside as various individuals seek the control and power that comes with the Iron Throne. The show kicks off with the crowning of King Viserys I Targaryen who inherits the crown from his father King Jaehaerys I Targaryen. The show then follows the many exploits and schemes of various rulers, confidants, children, and family members of King Viserys as each has their own agenda in order to rule and gain power. 

For the majority of the series, we primarily follow Viserys’ only child, Rhaenyra who is eventually appointed as heir to the throne. Complications arise however when Viserys is forced to remarry and does so with Rhaenyra’s best friend, Alicent Hightower. As the show progresses we journey with the various characters as they engage in a variety of relationships, have children of their own, and we get to see their own political ambitions and the actions that they take to gain, regain or remain in power.

House of the Dragon S1 Review: Overview

Below are some of the notable cast members and showrunners.

Created by:
  • Ryan Condal
  • George R. R. Martin
Cast
  • Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen
  • Matt Smith as Prince / Prince Consort Daemon Targaryen
  • Emma D’Arcy as Princess / Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen
  • Milly Alcock as a young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
  • Olivia Cooke as Queen / Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower
  • Emily Carey as a young  Queen / Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower
  • Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower
  • Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon
  • Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen

House of the Dragon S1 Review: Disclaimer

Similarly to Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon contains scenes dealing with sex, incest, gore, and violence; therefore, viewer discretion is highly advised. Those who are wondering about Game Thrones continuity don’t have to worry as much as well given that this show is a prequel to the events of the original series and therefore the events seen in this show serve as a prelude to what will occur 200 years later in Game of Thrones.

House of the Dragon S1 Review: Spoiler Warnings

Given that it has just been a few days since HBO released the season 1 finale of House of the Dragon, we will keep this review of the show, for the most part, free from spoilers. Be warned however since there may be a few broad strokes in this review that may tend to be a bit spoiler-y. We will focus our review of this show on the visuals, acting, continuity, and overall direction and pacing of the show.

Game of Relevancy

House of the Dragon' review: Worthy 'Game of Thrones' successor is an excellent fantasy series in its own right | Mashable

I have to be completely honest. I wasn’t honestly a fan of the Game of Thrones series. Let me explain further. The original show is honestly a great one to the point that it has created a unique fan base of people who have religiously followed the show’s eight seasons. The only problem I honestly had was the overcrowding and over-saturation of characters and storylines that it became a bit too difficult to follow at times. This however isn’t the case for House of the Dragon. The story this time around is pretty easy to follow and consume and is pretty much engaging through and through. There aren’t as many characters or sub-plots that occur that distract us from the heart of the matter that House of the Dragon tries to portray. There is a consistent and direct flow to the story to be quite honest but of course, this is considering that we are only at the beginning of the story and this first season lays the foundations for what the future may hold. 

House of the Dragon' Season 1, Episode 7 Recap: An Ugly Game - The New York Times

Furthermore, the tackling of political and social issues is pretty enthralling to witness and the drama and intrigue of it all allow the show to entrance viewers to see how everything is set to collide down to the very last episode. Each and every scene and moment has a place in the grand scheme of things in terms of the story and therefore there aren’t that many fillers or “just for entertainment” scenes. The sex scenes and gore are admittedly tamed in comparison to previous Game of Thrones episodes but there are admittedly some intentional cringy moments. Fans of the original show may find this off-putting to be honest but the subtlety of such scenes allowed the show to truly steer us into the heart of the matter and the themes that House of the Dragon tries to unpack. The show admittedly has a great handle and ability to literally and figuratively showcase themes that revolve around gender, family, politics, and feminism. The show, therefore, goes beyond being just another source of drama and entertainment however, it also carries a lot of literary depth. This is also seen through the manner in which the script is written as there is great control in appropriating the chosen time period even if it is still in a fictionalized setting. 

House of the Dragon Showrunners on Episode 6 Time Jump, Cast Change – The Hollywood Reporter

House of the Dragon, however, does suffer in terms of its overall pacing. The show at times tends to be quite slow. There is a sluggish pace seen for the majority of the shoe’s episodes with a lot of dialogue and conversations between the different characters. These moments however are still very crucial to the story and don’t worry things do eventually pick up as each episode moves forward. There are also some episodes that have their fair share of highs and lows in terms of the engagement factor but as a whole, the show does manage to have a tight hold on our interest and attention. One of the biggest comments that we do have regarding this show is the time jumps. The story doesn’t follow conventions in terms of its timeline as there are huge noticeable fast forwards in time. These range from 10 years to six years — which admittedly are huge gaps in terms of the story. The time jumps also occur several times throughout the 10-episode story arc. These moments do initially provide some confusion as they serve almost as restart buttons to the story and therefore there is some much-needed catching up that we need to do on our part but it does I guess help lessen a couple of unnecessary sub-plots and storylines along the way.

Game of Consistency

House of the Dragon season 2 will start filming in early 2023 — and could premiere later that year | British GQ

As a whole House of the Dragon manages to provide a very consistent if not better atmosphere in comparison to its predecessor. This is seen immediately through the immersive visual experience that the show provides. The set pieces are once again grand and amazing to gawk and marvel at and the visual effects and editing are still spectacularly amazing for a TV show. There is a cinematic feel that this series has continued to deliver which we first saw with Game of Thrones and it seems to get better with this one. Even down to the dragons and fight sequences, House of the Dragon thrives in bringing us as viewers into the immersive and vivid worlds. That being said, one of the slight flaws in the cinematography and editing department however deals with the inconsistent lighting and color-grading of the film. There are moments where darker tones are needed to add a feeling of drama into the mix but these moments were a bit distracting as the extreme shifts are almost unrecognizable with the low-light shots.

The show as mentioned stands as a prequel and therefore there really isn’t much to say in terms of continuity as of now. The show does manage to provide a lot of amazing foreshadowing of events and literary devices that mention and point to familiar stories and characters that were already shown or said in the Game of Thrones series. This points to the ability of the show to continue to explore the singular universe of George R.R. Martin’s novels. Therefore world-building continues and further expands with House of the Dragon.

The show also does a phenomenal job in the casting department with most if not all of the actors and actresses in the show delivering amazing performances. This I believe is almost a given or is expected from the Game of Thrones series as the casting of actors and actresses even with the main show has always been on-point. The clear standouts for House of the Dragon are Paddy Constantine as King Viserys, Matt Smith as Prince Daemon, and Emma D’Arcy and Milly Alcock as the adult and young Princess/Queen Rhaenyra. Constantine and Smith are consistently great all throughout but the former truly shines towards the end of the series with a very riveting performance that is just so captivatingly good. Smith’s performance as the unpredictable Daemon is also spot-one and is probably one of the best roles I have seen from the actor to date. The two actresses who play Rhaenyra are a revelation to be honest as the young actress Alcock manages to subtlety portray the stoicalness of the princess while D’Arcy continuous shows brilliance even patterning it in a very consistent manner with Alcock’s performance when the second act kicks in.

House of the Dragon S1 Review: Final Verdict

Pros:
  • The entire cast (Notable performances: Constantine, Smith D’Arcy, and Alcock)
  • Easy-to-follow storyline
  • Impeccable visual effects and set designs
Cons:
  • Inconsistent color grading 
  • Slow pacing for some episodes

The prequel of the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, is a step in the right direction for loyal and new fans of the franchise. House of the Dragon S1, as seen in our review, is relatively easier to follow than its predecessor series but it still contains all the thrill, spectacle, and intriguing premise that we have come to know and love from George R.R. Martin’s stories. The show does have its moments of inconsistencies in terms of pacing and its visuals and given that season 1 is practically a 10-episode exposition for a bigger story at play it’s understandable that it’s not completely flawless or perfect. We, therefore, give House of the Dragon Season 1 a Hype Meter Rating of 8/10.

Hype Meter: 8/10

Check out House of the Dragon now on HBO Go Asia.

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