Last week I was discussing HOUSE OF THE DRAGON with a group of friends when one mentioned the possibility of it being “the abusive ex.” Their reasoning is that the show reels you in with shiny new GAME OF THRONES-esque stories but ultimately lets you down, harkening back to how much fans were disappointed in the GOT series finale. So am I being lured back by pretty lords and ladies in peril and fire-breathing dragons?! Yes, yes, I am. But this is just fantasy, not real life.
I’m glad I took a day to write this instead of shooting out a hot take upon finishing it Sunday evening. My original thoughts of this episode were that some of it felt like a rehash of GAME OF THRONES. Inept king, check. Incestuous royal relationships, check. A princess who will never be queen, check. “Bad boy” uncle, check. Other royal families jockeying for their chance to sit on the Iron Throne, check check check. I still think all of these are true to an extent, but I would be remiss if I didn’t praise this episode for something more important: The female perspective.
GAME OF THRONES didn’t have its first female director until S3 EP7, with Michelle MacLaren. She was the ONLY women director for GOT directing just 4 out of 73 total episodes. The rest of the male directors for GOT were all white except one: Miguel Sapochnik, a British-born Argentine director who helmed six episodes and directed the pilot of HOTD. The state of the industry being dominated by straight white cis-men is a whole other issue I don’t have the space to dive into right now, but it’s obviously NOT GOOD (ALL CAPS).
KING OF THE NARROW SEA, directed by Clare Kilner, featured multiple sex scenes that had a very different feel from the ones many GOT fans are used to. Gone was the gratuitous T&A, and it was a very sensual sequence of sex and pleasure far more titillating than the many we’ve seen before in Westeros. Woven together with scenes of a woman having sex with her husband out of duty instead of want, we were treated to another level of power play among the Targaryens and their extended families. More female directors, please! More non-white directors of all genders, also, please!
I feel for Princess Rhaenyra, knowing that in almost 200 years since the events of GOT started, there still hasn’t been a Queen on the Iron Throne. But I’m trying not to let this ruin my enjoyment of the family drama on screen now. I’m invested in what’s next for her, her father & uncle, and I’m hoping we will see more of House Velaryon sooner than later. Unfortunately, my last wish for the show will never come through. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON deserves its own theme song from Ramin Djawadi instead of using the GOT one over a rehashed title sequence far too similar to its predecessor.
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON airs on HBO and streams on HBO Max every Sunday at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT.