It is no secret that Game of Thrones delivered a somewhat disappointing final few seasons for viewers, leaving many skeptical toward the upcoming prequel, House of the Dragon, but the very nature of its setting can avoid a huge mistake of the original show. The world of Westeros and its surrounding continents are well fleshed out by author George R. R. Martin, not only in Game of Thrones’ time period but also beforehand. With the next show to dive into this fantasy world being a prequel to the original hit show, there is an abundance of storytelling opportunities, foreshadowing, and in-world historical lore to explore.
Set some 300 years before Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon will tell the tale of the Targaryen Civil War, during a time when their house still reigned supreme over the Seven Kingdoms. It may succeed where Game of Thrones failed in many areas, both in production and in storytelling, and its change of overarching plot isn’t the only reason. In fact, George R. R. Martin himself is perhaps the one to thank for the potential success of House of the Dragon over its predecessor, Game of Thrones.
While there are multiple reasons why the focal point of Game of Thrones’ narrative changed, and as a result, the degradation of its quality after season 4, perhaps the most glaring of them all can be summarized as “availability of source material.” In other words, the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones relied heavily on pre-written, meticulously detailed content, with the stories in the books told from the characters’ points of view. As the show progressed and weaned away from the books, less pre-existing detail was available, and the show’s focal point shifted. While some fear the prequel will repeat Game of Thrones’ blunder, there is far less room for the same mistake to be repeated.
Previously intricate and ambiguously motivated characters such as Littlefinger or Tyrion saw their writing become far less intriguing as the show progressed, being left on the sidelines in favor of grand spectacles and bigger plot movements. In short, the show evolved from interpersonal politics and scheming, to a more Hollywood-esque blockbuster, something that House of the Dragon has less room for. The source material for this era of Westeros’ history is already written, from start to finish, and its writing style equally differs from that of A Song of Ice and Fire, the sourcebooks for the original show.
The writers of this new show are forced to be more consistent since their reliance on the books will not need to ebb and flow, dependent on the availability of them. While House of the Dragon needs to avoid mistakes of its own, the story arcs of its characters and the show’s focus on them needn’t vary, and the narrative style needn’t change over time. Therefore, the focal point can remain the same throughout, opposed to Game of Thrones’ initial focus on characters and shift toward the plot in later seasons. Knowing this from the get-go, that the lives and stories of these characters have a definitive endpoint, compared to the relatively mysterious nature of many of the characters from Game of Thrones, is an absolute win. It ultimately reassures the viewer that they needn’t fear that the narrative will pick up and drop characters on a whim to serve some lackluster spectacle instead.
House of the Dragon is sure to revive the political and character intrigue that had viewers hooked from season 1 of the original show. Thanks to House of the Dragons’ story of a Civil War, it will inevitably feature the brutal and gritty conflict of this time period in Westeros’ history. This new slate is the perfect opportunity for the screenwriters to do something interesting with the characters throughout, not leave them at the wayside in favor of big-budget sets, battles, and visual effects, proving that they are not mutually exclusive. In conclusion, thanks to the already established lore for this period of history in Westeros, the characters of House of the Dragon are not doomed to degrade in quality over time, avoiding a huge mistake made by Game of Thrones.