Watching House of the Dragon and comparing it to the final four seasons of Game of Thrones, it's hard to reconcile that these shows take place in the same universe. The tone, pace, and nuance to the story telling in House of the Dragon feels carefully considered and geared towards taking viewers on a journey they do not expect (unless they've read Fire & Blood).
House of the Dragon is off to such a good start that it makes me wonder how much George R.R. Martin was involved in the production of the show. Martin said that he has "more influence now than I did on the original show" where he was "pretty much out of the loop" after Season Five of Thrones. Whether Martin was more involved with this latest foray into Westeros adapted for TV, HotD feels much more similar to Martin's writing than anything else we've seen on HBO to date.
In lieu of an in-depth breakdown of the episodes, I'm going to focus on the way HotD handles some of the important themes and story points in Martin's work.
Marriage is one of the biggest political tools that powerful families have in Westeros (and in real life during most of pre-industrialized history). Otto Hightower successfully schemes to have his daughter (Alicent) wed the King after the death of his wife. Alicent gives the King a male heir (Baby Aegon), Otto now has a grandchild with the best claim to the throne in Westeros (where male inheritance is clearly preferred). Should Aegon replace his half-sister, Rhaenyra, as heir to the throne - the Hightower's have now solidified their familial power in Westeros.
Meanwhile, Viserys has spurned the Velayrons' proposal to wed the King to their daughter, Laena. The King has pissed off the most wealthy family in Westeros, who also happen to have the biggest naval fleet in the Seven Kingdoms.
This is why we see so much scheming take place in Episodes Three and Four over Rhaenyra's betrothal. The Hightowers want to wed Baby Aegon to his half-sister to solidify any potential successorship issues and "for the good of the realm". The Lannisters want to wed Rhaenyra for power and her Dragonrider blood. Daemon sees a marriage with Rhaenyra as means of restoring House Targaryen to its roots of scaring the living shit out of everyone.
The decision to explore and lean into the political and power dynamics of medieval marriage feels like Martin's influence on the show and it's showrunners, Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik. In a narrative universe that includes many dragons, much killing and lots of tits, it's encouraging that HotD chose to use those narrative elements in furtherance of the plot, rather than at the expense of the plot.
In Episodes Three and Four, we do get dragons liquifying the armies at the Stepstones. We do get Daemon committing war crimes and chopping Crab Feeder in two. We do get Princess Rhaenyra traveling to a pleasure house, almost fucking her uncle and then actually fucking the man she appointed to the Kingsguard.
Speaking of Rhaenyra's journey to a whore house outside the Red Keep, Episode Four gave us our first real experience of life as a commoner in King's Landing. In a scene that is suggested at, but does not exist in any of Martin's work, we see Daemon and Rhaenyra walk past drunkards, mystics and whores before stumbling upon a band of mummers performing a bawdy street performance that mocks the King and his heirs (Daemon and Rhaenrya included).
When the crowd loudly jeers at the prospect of Rhaenyra becoming queen over her younger brother, Aegon, the young princess scoffs to her uncle that "their wants are of no consequence". In what felt like a moment of foreboding, Daemon reminds his niece that the will of the people is "of great consequence, if you intend to rule them one day."
Highlighting Rhaenyra's callousness to the people she hopes to one day govern, is an effective way to contrast her youth and the royal bubble she's lived in with Daemon's experience being the Lord of Flea Bottom and regularly cavorting with the poor of King's Landing.
This too feels inspired by Martin, who spends chapters of his books having his POV characters interact with the commonfolk, squires, whores, and soldiers whose lives are tragically impacted by the decisions (and wars) made by the Kings, Lords and Bannermen in power.
Now, bad decisions by a king doesn't necessarily mean the King is a bad man, yet a well intentioned monarch can be as devastating for his subjects as one fueled by malevolence.
In House of the Dragon, Viserys is a nominally good man that is being crushed by the weight of his crown. After the time jump between Episodes Two and Three (about 3 years), we find Viserys drinking heavily to dull the stress of his current predicament. The King now lacks two fingers, lost to infection caused by cuts from the throne he suffered while fighting with his brother.
The King is literally falling apart. Why?
Because he tried to (in his mind) do the right thing. He knows his brother is trouble, but loves him and cannot punish him in a manner befitting his disobedience. He knows that the realm prefers male inheritance, but names his daughter heir, perhaps out of guilt for usurping his female cousin's superior claim. He doesn't seem interested in marrying again, but his advisors convince him its necessary, so he does, sires a male heir and now struggles with how to manage succession to the throne. He knows he should arrange a strategically valuable marriage for Rhaenrya, but allows her to choose, setting off the events of Episode Four where rumors that she fucked her uncle cloud an already murky ascendency to the throne (as well as the secret truth that she fucked Cristen Cole).
All of this portends bloodshed for Westeros. All because the King was unable to make tough decisions that could've avoided conflict.
“The seeds of war are oft planted during times of peace.”
So yeah, I think the show is good and it's getting better every week. I'm a little nervous about what they're doing with the Targaryen prophecy stuff, as that's a pretty solid departure from the written universe, but otherwise they're sticking pretty close to the source material. Moreover, when they are adapting source material from Fire & Blood, which didn't really have dialogue, they're exceeding my expectations.
I think that's because Martin was involved. Let's hope they keep it up.
If they do, I promise that you will not see where the story is taking you and I think you'll enjoy the ride.
Happy Monday and God Bless America.
Update 9.13.22 (12:45 PM)
BEWBS. BEWBS. BEWWWWWBS!
Ok, you people win. I try and write about things other than MILFs or Milkers, but all you want is MILFs and/or Milkers.
I get it. It makes me sad, because I think this blog has merit beyond tits, but I get it. You're all sick fucks and I'm a whore who wants you to read what I write. That's the situation we find ourselves in.
Here's the thing though, House of the Dragon has exponentially LESS BEWWWWBS than Game of Thrones. This is by design. Yes, there are bewbs, but the showrunners felt the backlash from wokescolds who criticized Game of Thrones for having too much "gratuitous sex." I don't even hate this decision, sex scenes on film are rarely all that sexy and, believe it or not, I don't watch these shows for bewbs.
Yet, you're still reading because you're way too horny online, so I will do my duty and highlight some of the best BEWBBBBBS scenes in the show thus far:
Yep, those are bewbs. In an orgy scene during Episode One, the one where Daemon (allegedly) toasts to his brother's dead son.
Welp, there's a nipple (blocked out because we're classy). That's Japanese actress, Sonoya Mizuno, who plays Mysaria on the show.
She also gets railed by Daemon in this same scene from Episode One:
In Episode Four, there was another big orgy scene where there were some quick background boobs, like here:
The big nude scene on the show so far, wasn't really very nude at all. As noted above, Rhaenyra almost bangs her uncle, then actually bangs Ser Cristen Cole. So, we got a glimpse of partial milker from Milly Alcock (lol), who plays young Rhaenyra on the show:
See what I mean? There isn't a whole lot of BEWWWWB in this show, especially when compared to Game of Thrones which provided us with these classic shots:
You see? They're actively dialing back the nudity this time around and I don't think that's problem. As I said above, bewbs are only useful for story telling when they're used in service of the plot. if there isn't a need for bewbs, you don't need to include bewbs.
There you have it, you won, you got me to update this blog with bewbs. LOTS OF BEWBS.
I hope you're happy.