When HBO announced their plans to produce a prequel to the hit series Game of Thrones, they weren’t met with the most enthusiastic response from fans. The eighth and final series was met with dismal reviews from fans and critics alike, even sparking a petition to reshoot the ending. Thankfully, House of the Dragon managed to recapture the earlier spark of the epic drama. Both the finale and the debut episodes drew more than 9 million viewers, breaking HBO records and securing a second season within hours after its premiere.
For those of you who haven’t been watching, House of the Dragon is set 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of House Targaryen and the events leading up to the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of Dragons. It stars Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Eve Best, and Rhys Ifans, among others.
Where We Left Off
The first season ended on a dramatic (and bloody) note, with Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) traveling to Dragonstone to inform Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) that King Viserys (Paddy Considine) has died and that Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) has been crowned by the Hightower-led Green faction. Despite her husband-uncle (Matt Smith) Daemon’s wrath, Rhaenyra was willing to at least consider peace while she made some calculated moves to gather support from Westerosi lords. Turns out that sending her sons Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) and Jacaerys (Harry Collett) to do the job was not a good idea.
By the time Lucerys arrived at Storm’s End, his cousin Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) was already negotiating with the Baratheons – and eager to show dominance to the boy who took his eye. An in-air scrap follows, goes awry, and ultimately leads to Lucerys (and his dragon) being chewed up by Aemond’s dragon Vhagar. We end the season with Daemon breaking the news of her son’s demise, and judging by Rhaenyra’s deadly scowl in the final moments, peace is officially off the table in Season 2. The rest, as they say, is history.
What We Can Expect From Season 2
As always, HBO has been characteristically closed-lipped about the upcoming season, but we know that production is well underway for a likely Summer 2024 premiere. We also know that footage is currently being shot at the castle of Harrenhal, last seen in the second half of season 1, when the Strongs met their fiery end. We’re not quite sure exactly what is going to be filmed or what the plot will involve at this point, but in all likelihood, we’ll see Daemon taking the castle and dealing with the fall-out.
Per a now-deleted audition tape from Emily Beecham, we can also safely assume that Daemon is due to meet Alys Rivers following the battle. Per the source material, Alys is a sorceress who later becomes the mistress of Aemond Targaryen. Aemond alleged that she could see visions of the future in fires, pools of water, and storm clouds, but George RR Martin misled his readers with prophecies in the past; it’s hard to know what role (if any) her visions will play in the new series. Casting for the role hasn’t been confirmed yet.
By all accounts, the upcoming season of the House of Dragon will consist only of 8 episodes, two fewer than we saw in Season 1. There’s some speculation that this is either due to recent leadership changes and cost-cutting initiatives at HBO or as part of showrunner Ryan Condol’s plans to spread the action and major battles across four seasons. Either way, we know that there have been rewrites and that more plot points and events have been removed to bulk up the third season.
Either way, Condol has promised fans a return to “traditional rhythms of storytelling and Game of Thrones,” stating, “This series is very much about a house tearing itself apart from within. Now that all those pieces have been set on the board, I’m really excited to tell the next chapter, to see what happens now that Viserys is gone and no longer keeping a lid on things.”
While we already know how the Dance of the Dragons will end, Season 1 proved that there is still a lot we don’t know about the Game of Thrones universe…and that it’s a lot of fun to find out. You win, or you die, but the game has been set in motion.