HBO’s Game of Thrones suffered from a critically-panned final season, but House of the Dragon could bring fans back to George R.R. Martin’s fantasy universe. House of the Dragon, HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel, recalls the bloody history of House Targaryen. And though it’s an entirely new show, the series brings back some Game of Thrones veterans. For instance, Miguel Sapochnik, a director who helmed some of Game of Thrones’ most significant episodes, serves as House of the Dragon’s co-showrunner. In addition, an initial teaser for the series already introduced several major players fans can expect. The House of the Dragon teaser included glimpses of Paddy Considine’s King Viserys Targaryen, Emma D’Arcy’s Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Olivia Cooke’s Alicent Hightower, and Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen.
After seven seasons of build-up, Game of Thrones’ final season didn’t go as planned for HBO. Though the series continued to break its own viewership records, negativity quickly took over the narrative. Fans criticized Game of Thrones’ abbreviated season 8 for everything from episodes being too dark for home televisions to modern-day products accidentally appearing in the background of shots. There was so much backlash that it inspired a viral online petition to redo the season, and the negativity even made its way into the cast’s WhatsApp chat group.
Despite Game of Thrones’ disappointing final run, there’s a reason House of the Dragon has a chance to win back fans. In an interview (via The Hollywood Reporter), Sapochnik talked about the series, saying it wouldn’t be like Game of Thrones. “This is something else,” he said. The co-showrunner mentioned how the series would have a different cast and tone, noting that success won’t happen overnight. “We’ll be lucky if we ever come close to what the original show was, so we’re just putting our heads down and getting on with it,” he said. The House of the Dragon co-showrunner’s comments are encouraging for fans of the original show.
By treating House of the Dragon as an underdog, Sapochnik is starting the show right. Part of the problem of Game of Thrones’ final season was that the series became way overhyped. No show could live up to the lofty expectations for season 8, and in many ways, it led to its downfall. After all, the show seemed to buy into its own hype as well, with the showrunners constantly throwing in shocking events in the final season, such as Arya (Maisie Williams) killing the Night King (Vladimír Furdík), for spectacle rather than narrative sense. If the creators behind House of the Dragon put their heads down and focus on creating a great show, the series could capture the magic that the early seasons of Game of Thrones once had.
House of the Dragon has a real chance to bring fans back to Game of Thrones. HBO’s original fantasy series wasn’t an overnight success, and it had to get creative with its budget in the first few seasons to pull off a great story. The prequel series will do itself a favor if it can focus on developing itself as a show rather than riding on Game of Thrones’ coattails. If it can do that, House of the Dragon has a chance to remind fans why they fell in love with the world of Westeros in the first place.