Publisher’s note: This story contains spoilers for the season finale of “House of the Dragon.”
The two giant fantasy series that premiered within weeks of each other shared a massive scope and scale. In terms of pacing, though, “House of the Dragon” moved by leaps and bounds, sometimes literally in its multi-year time jumps, while “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” crawled along. .
The season finale of “Dragon” which premiered on October 23, subtitled “The Black Queen”, in a sense brought this sometimes uneven but always interesting first season full circle. After being told by her mother before she died in childbirth at the premiere that having children was the battlefield of queens, Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) endured another gruesome stillbirth, in the midst of of preparations and planning for the battle to come.
Still, if Rhaenyra’s husband and uncle (this is the incest-ridden world of “Game of Thrones” after all), Daemon (Matt Smith), was ready to unleash hell on the newly crowned King Aegon and his minions, saying: “Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did” – Rhaenyra at first seemed to want to take a more cautious approach.
“I do not wish to rule a kingdom of ashes and bones,” he told him and his advisers.
Diplomacy, however, required reaching out to the other realms, with Rhaenyra sending her children as messengers across the dragon seeking support for her cause. That led to the long-awaited climax, with a display of dogfighting with dragons (at one point, it looked a bit like the Millennium Falcon in action) and the brutal death of Rhaenyra’s son.
The final look of hate and resolve from the princess-to-be-queen cemented the idea that the second season will be devoted to war between rival factions, a conflict likely to be governed by Daemon’s take-no-prisoners attitude.
After a somewhat slow start, “House of the Dragon” picked up steam over the course of the season, encompassing an entire generation with its leaps forward, which was a bit disorienting at the time. Still, the net effect was compelling and offered enough major attention-grabbing moments for the show to be both a ratings hit and a regular trending topic, achieving a place in the cultural ethos that “The Rings of Power” rarely seldom does. seemed to reach. Amazon Prime.
Some of that could come from the money raised by both “Game of Thrones” (despite all the complaints about its ending) and HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.
The time jumps served another purpose by establishing additional characters, an area in which the series initially felt lacking. That includes Ewan Mitchell as the eyepatch-wearing Aemond Targaryen, whose mean streak played a pivotal role in the finale, while also proving that flying dragons and actually taming them aren’t necessarily the same thing.
Although it wasn’t a direct competition between “Dragon” and “Rings”, the parallels between them and the timing of their release made comparisons almost inevitable. Furthermore, the first few seasons essentially served as long prologues for the epic battles to come.
Neither one was perfect, but the latest episodes of “House of the Dragon” reinforced the distance between them and did a good job of whetting the audience’s appetite for what’s next.
Within the show, the game of thrones will continue. But based on its opening salvo, rate “House of the Dragon” as a victory for the old guard.