The planetary success saga returns in the form of a spin-off and the question is very simple: is it worth getting up every Monday at 3 a.m.? First elements of answers with our review of the first episode of House of the Dragon.
No matter what we think of Game of Thrones’ ending (but hey, here’s what), there’s no denying the impact DB Weiss and David Benioff’s series has had on popular culture and our Sunday sleep times. evening. For eight seasons, every conversation on Monday mornings revolved around the phenomenon show, depriving anyone who was late for viewing internet and sociability. A feat that no other series, even those inspired by other heroic fantasy works that wanted to ride the wave (The Witcher, The Wheel of Time…), has managed to reproduce.
This small introduction tends to underline the enormous weight that weighs on the shoulders of House of the Dragon, a spin-off series based on events that took place 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. At this time, the House of Dragons has reigned supreme over Westeros for a century and the question of succession is on everyone’s lips when King Viserys has no male heirs. Between his cruel and ambitious younger brother and his rebellious daughter whose feminine attributes forbid him in principle the crown, the king will have to make a choice and perhaps precipitate the fall of the Targaryens.
In the words of the general manager of OCS, which broadcasts the series in France, House of the Dragon brings together “everything we love about Game of Thrones”. Although we only saw one episode, we have no trouble understanding what he meant, for better or for worse.
Warning, this article will contain slight spoilers on the content of the first episode.
We don’t have the same jersey, but we have the same passion
This isn’t HBO’s first attempt to resurrect the Game of Thrones franchise. We remember that a first spin-off around the famous Golden Age was going to see the light of day with Naomi Watts in the cast and that, despite its 30 million spent on the production of the pilot, the latter will never see the light of day. It would seem that he did not keep the promises that the chain, property of Warner, had made. Other similar projects will not go beyond the stage of ideas on a board.
So why did HBO believe in House of The Dragon? Because it is directly inspired by the book Fire and Blood, the latest from chief procrastinator George RR Martin (willing to do anything not to write the end of his main saga)? Or because there are more elements that have made the salt of the series: violence, sex, conspiracies, betrayals, family quarrels and especially dragons?
The first episode thus presents itself as a summary of what made the success of Game of Thrones. New characters, other families, but always this desire to want to play the musical iron throne. It is also amusing to see that the episode, as if it were necessary to recall from the outset where we were, takes great care to show each ingredient listed above. Where his eldest took his time to impose his style, the series decided to hit directly on the chin by checking all the obligatory passages.
And if a central scene, perfectly staged, weren’t astonishing by its ability to tell the whole issue of the show through two acts as barbaric as they are heralding, one would almost want to play Westeros bingo. Free butcher shop to show the really nasty villain? We have. Detour to a brothel? We have. Unnecessarily wordy passages? We have. Little dirty use of his offspring? We have. A young queen that the men will want to control or challenge? We have. Peroxide wigs? We have. Dragons? We have plenty. Bingo!
House of the Pognon
If, as you will have understood, this first episode leaves us doubtful about the ability of this spin-off to reconnect with the original excitement, we cannot pass a definitive judgment on the whole season. Because if we can point the finger at the apparent cynicism of the company in its copy-paste function, we cannot deny that the gift package is damn neat.
Whether in terms of costumes or sets, the budget is visible on each shot and the show manages to take us on a journey without having to leave the nevertheless restricted framework of this first episode, confined within the walls of the city. As co-showrunner, Miguel Sapochnik, director responsible for the best episodes of Game of Thrones (the battle of the bastards, it was him!), takes his role very seriously and his work is a worthy heir. We are in Martin’s universe, there is no doubt about it.
Not to mention that it would be hard to resist the urge to see more around his families that we still don’t know (especially the Hightowers), on the Targaryen family wars and on all these little things that this first episode put in place and which are harbingers of disasters to come. Because if House of The Dragon intends not to move away from its model by taking up the formula – which is not surprising in itself – many elements, like a red thread more refocused on the ancestors of the future arsonist, give us a certain enthusiasm. But without the appeal of novelty, the feeling of deja-vu and with the imminent arrival of a major competitor in Middle-earth, it’s hard to think that it will be necessary to get up at 3 am next Monday morning.
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