Review: House of the Dragon - Season One
An internal succession war within House Targaryen at the height of its power, 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen.
Showrunner: Ryan J. Condal.
Cast: Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans, Fabian Frankel, Olivia Cooke, Graham McTavish, Eve Best, Steve Toussaint, Milly Alcock & Emily Carey.
Following the renowned disappointing end to ‘Game of Thrones’, the announcement of ‘House of the Dragon’ left fans feeling nothing, no anticipation or hope. I personally pride myself in the hope I had for this season, identifying the completed story from George R R Martin as well as a whole new creative team behind the project. It goes without saying that, I now pride myself with the fact that ‘House of the Dragon’ did not disappoint.
Starting off the season, we are presented with a wonderfully shot opening sequence introducing us back into the world of Westeros, as well as setting up the season’s events. The tone in which we are thrown into is wildly different to that of Game of Thrones, with a more gritty, darker atmosphere that for the most part stays consistent from episode 1 to the finale. Fans of Thrones are expertly familiar with the craziness that ensues throughout the whole show & that is found here too, giving us enough to connect with these characters and this world, while simultaneously raising the stakes each episode with jaw dropping sequences leaving audiences frozen to their couches on delight.
All George R R Martin book readers are aware of the plot which House of the Dragon covers, but as for casual audiences, the show does a terrific job at keeping us invested in each sequence. The camerawork is subtle, yet tells a grand story and how characters feel rather than think. Ramin Djawadi returns with quite possibly my favourite original soundtrack of his, that enhances every sequence with beauty and almost acts as a naturalistic sound for the world of Westeros. There’s no denying that the Emmy’s will have a close eye on every actor this season, due to the phenomenal performances from Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Eve Best, Milly Alcock & Emily Carey. Supported superbly by Matt Smith as Daemon, whom surprised me most with how perfect he worked as a Targaryen. As well as Rhys Ifans delivery an incredibly subtle but impactful performance as Otto Hightower, who’s journey has greatly excited me this season along with his dynamic with Alicent.
It’s almost an impossible task to pin point the greatest strength of this first season, as a show so consistent with its production and technicals to the performances itself, it leaves all viewers able to dissect and analyse every frame, line of dialogue and layered themes. Each character is unique and have well established relationships with one another that build each episode, generating the heaviest of weight to each interaction, raising the stakes higher than any season of Game of Thrones has had before. Each episode is brimmed with brilliantly written sequences and shot to perfection, gluing our eyes to the screen and not letting go.
While all this is greatly admirable, the only flaw I find with this first season is with our final episode. As established, the atmosphere and tone is dark, which is more than obvious with its cinematography. However, in this final episode, I was left with the feeling that until the final shot, it felt lighter and that a different director had taken over. Rather confusing me with its intent, despite the horrific events that would follow. While consistently gorgeous as usual, I felt a small disconnect from the world that had already been established through the tone and I was sat comfortably in that atmosphere. The episode still stays consistent with its writing and acting, if I were to pick out my only gripe, it would be that.
Nonetheless, this first season of House of the Dragon left me in awe with how much incredible detail went into every aspect of production. Constantly leaving me in excitement and anticipation for more, while filling me with great sadness now that the following season is years away. The final shot will leave viewers discussing it for years, including myself as I was full of tears and fear, while simultaneously screaming internally with excitement. I will not be forgetting it.
An incredible first season.