Chris Connor reviews the second episode of HBO’s House of the Dragon…
After a promising opening episode, House of the Dragon continues its strong start with ‘The Rogue Prince’. The premiere broke viewing records for HBO, proving there is an appetite for more content from the world of George RR Martin despite the reception to the latter seasons of Game of Thrones. This episode continues to see King’s Landing fighting over who will succeed King Viserys, played with gusto by Paddy Considine in a welcome leading role for one of Britain’s unsung greats.
While Game of Thrones was a sprawling, vast trek across Westeros, thus far the action has largely been confined to King’s Landing, helping make this a far more laid back and sedate series. This is to its credit, allowing each of the characters room to breathe and show us their motives. Much as with its predecessor however there is clearly more to some of the characters than meets the eye, and the King’s brother Daemon is clearly one to be watched. So far he is a standout character giving Matt Smith one of his best roles post Doctor Who.
Daemon is such an unpredictable and dangerous character, in the vein of say a Littlefinger or Varys from the original series, charming but lethal, and we as an audience have to decipher his true loyalties. A standoff over a stolen dragon egg between two generations of Targaryen as Daemon and Rhaenyra is thrilling. This segment also lets us see a new location in Dragonstone. While the focus on Kings Landing is helping to give the series a more distinct tone, it would be good to explore more of Westeros at this earlier point in its history later in the series and this will no doubt be the case.
While the series will later be led by Emma D’arcy and Olivia Cooke as Rhaenyra and Alicent, the early episodes feature some stellar work from Milly Alcock and Emily Carey as their younger counterparts. Bearing strong resemblances to the older actors, these scenes help show their formative years and the clear strength of their friendship, which based upon the climax of this episode will come to be tested later in the series.
As with its opening episode the scope of this series is truly breathtaking to behold, and brings George RR Martin’s writing to life in truly spectacular fashion. It carries over the sense of visual grandeur from Game of Thrones, whilst making this feel a more regal and prosperous Westeros prior to the Targaryens’ downfall.
Two episodes in and House of The Dragon has cemented itself as a truly worthy successor to Game of Thrones, expanding on the legacy of A Song Of Ice and Fire with a strong commitment to world building, fleshing out the inner court of King Viserys with schemes and twists surely to unfold in the coming weeks. The performances as one would expect from a cast of this calibre continue to impress, especially Milly Alcock, Emily Carey, Matt Smith and Paddy Considine.
Should House of the Dragon continue in this fashion it will make itself a truly iconic series in its own right.