House of the Dragon – S1 Ep 1 – The Heirs of the Dragon: Initial Reaction

And now it begins! Season 1 of House of the Dragon made it’s debut last night on HBO.

I’ve been tiptoeing around the internet all day trying not to actually read any major articles or critiques of episode 1. I also didn’t re-watch the episode yet to avoid developing any real analysis of the episode. This is just an initial reaction based on things I noticed, initial dislikes and things I thought went well. Here goes.

Liked: Nods to Game of Thrones. I loved the GOT references to draw the return audience in. I have to admit, I have listened to the Fire & Blood audiobook and read bits and pieces of A Song of Ice and Fire; however, I am primarily a “show watcher”. I only mention it for context as fans who have read the books and those who have not tend to have different POV’s of the show. I digress. Even though we got a cold opening and there was no theme music, I think I heard the original theme music several times, unless it was my Imagination. One of the opening sequences gave us the years between the current show timeline and Daenerys being born as a great you are here star to the audience. Another great reference point was the prophecy conversation scene between Viserys and Rhaenyra. The conversation itself was a little awkward in the acting but the content was good. This wasn’t necessarily a reference to GOT but it definitely was nostalgic of it, the moment when Rhaenyra commanded her dragon to ignite her mother’s funeral pyre “Dracarys” was a great parallel between her and Daenerys.

Disliked: Pace. The episode seemed to be a little choppy and fast paced. I felt as though we went through several years but I couldn’t tell you how many. From starting with King Jaehaerys overlooking Princess Rhaenys to Queen Aemma dying and her funeral seeming to be the next day almost. I felt a little lost on the timeline. Again, I only watched the episode once so I could have missed it in my excitement.

Disliked: Otto Hightower. I did not want to make any enemies in the first episode but right out the gate Otto did it for me, ugh! Kudos to Rhys Ifans for bringing the asshole right upfront. I don’t suspect he’s a Joffery or Ramsey type of character, but I dislike him all the same. He seems to have a power fueled motivation, by any means necessary, including his daughter as a pawn. If I had to compare him so early, I’d say he reminded me of GOT’s Viserys with some Littlefinger.

Neutral: No Cliffhanger. It didn’t ruin the episode for me but I could have used a cliffhanger. I’m pretty sure Bran getting flung from the tower had lots of people coming back the following week for Game of Thrones. However, the episode was interesting enough to want to come back so not a big deal, but it would’ve been a nice to have.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Great casting so far, no one felt misplaced. I know we haven’t met all the cast yet but so far it feels natural. Despite a couple wig issues. Not as many as I expected from some reviews going into it.
  • Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen works! I’m surprised, I thought I’d still see Prince Philip from The Crown but I was able to suspend by disbelief.
  • I thought it was cute how the King’s Landing folks carried on with their day as dragons flew overhead unlike the common folk in GOT being blown away.
  • Despite the rumors there was lots of nudity, sex and violence. I’m not opposed to it; however, some of it seemed to just be placed in the scene in a checkbox manner.
  • Rhaenyra and Harrold Westerling’s relationship wasn’t the focus in much screen time but the brief interactions reminded me of interactions between Sansa/Arya and Brienne/The Hound. It’s probably a premature assessment but that was my initial reaction.

The trailer for next week and it looks like we’re going into battle, which seems soon and I hope it’s not more fast pacing but we’ll see.

Here’s to an entertaining season! Comment, like and share. Let me know if you had some of the same reactions or share what you liked or disliked about episode 1.

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