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What we'd like to see in House of the Dragon season 2
House of the Dragon just wrapped up its first season with an explosive finale, setting up major conflicts including a probable war of some kind between Rhaenyra Targaryen and her childhood friend Alicent Hightower. So, what can we expect from House of the Dragon season 2 on HBO (streaming on HBO Max)? Or more precisely, what would we like to see?
The series takes place about 200 years before Game of Thrones, focusing on the rise and eventual fall of the Targaryen family. Much of the action is based on George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, though the show promises to continue beyond those pages.
Please be warned that this post does include some spoilers for season 1, though we’ve tried not to give away all of the major plot points and reveals.
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You can get caught up on season one of House of the Dragon on HBO Max by clicking the link below.
What happened in House of the Dragon?
Much like Game of Thrones before it, House of the Dragon centers on a struggle to claim the Iron Throne. King Viserys, whose own claim to the throne is tenuous, is in poor health Without a male son, he names his daughter Rhaenyra as heir after his wife’s passing. But when Viserys remarries, his sons with wife Allicent are sources of tension between the families and throughout the kingdom.
Set 200 years before Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon follows a different clash over the Iron Throne.
The first season follows the forming of allegiances over many years until Viserys’s death, upon which Alicent claims the throne for her son Aegon.
In the finale, we see Rhaenyra, now married to her uncle Daemon who once stood to inherit the throne before her, as she receives the news and marshalls her supporters to claim her rightful place on the Iron Throne.
But nothing is ever easy. Rhaenyra will have to win the hearts and minds of her people as well as those who swore allegiance to her if she wants to face off against a powerful foe. Both sides command armies as well as dragons, but Rhaenyra doesn’t wish to fight a needless war, despite Daemon’s growing bloodthirst.
House of the Dragon review: Season 1 was a killer start
So, is House of the Dragon any good?
Let’s start with what doesn’t work. The pacing of this show has been messy. It jumps ahead several years every couple of episodes. That makes it hard to stay invested in any small-scale drama and interpersonal relationships since so much is quietly happening offscreen.
“Who’s this guy?” I asked myself, more than once, wondering about new characters who were suddenly important. Seeing someone die within an episode of learning they even exist can be a bit jarring and unsatisfying. I want to feel more invested than this stop-and-start format allows.
Hopefully Paddy Considine and Emma D'Arcy get some awards love for their stellar work here.
Having said all that, the show is overall electrifying. The actors are stunning, with Paddy Considine, Emma D’Arcy, and Olivia Cooke standing out in particular.
Prequels can fall into the trap of just dropping Easter eggs and announcing their connections to the other shows and media you’re already familiar with. House of the Dragon doesn’t do that. There is foreshadowing to events we know from Game of Thrones, certainly. And yes, we’re dealing with Targaryens, Lannisters, and more. But we’re following a very different power struggle with new characters who are compelling in their own rights.
There’s a tragic sense of futility that comes with knowing who stands victorious in 200 years, but that makes these very human stories all the more impactful.
What will happen in House of the Dragon season 2?
HBO was quick to renew House of the Dragon for a second season just days after it premiered. The cable network reported over 20 million viewers, making the premiere the most watched of any new series in HBO’s history.
There’s not much we know about House of the Dragon season 2 yet. HBO has not released a tentative airdate or any plot details yet. We can make a few safe assumptions though.
Fans of Fire & Blood can likely look forward to more familiar narrative beats from that storyline. With existing changes to the source material and the inevitable reality that the show will have to keep going beyond those pages soon, it’s still mostly all up in the air.
See also: The best fantasy movies on Netflix
Hopefully, we can expect fewer time jumps. On the one hand, they can be useful for cutting through narrative bloat. On the other, the political machinations of Westeros are the whole point. There’s action, romance, and carnage here, but the main event is the political infighting. If it takes years to settle everyone’s competing claims for the throne, would that be so bad? Let us see it all play out. That’s why we’re here, after all.
The finale ended on the eve of an upcoming war. While Rhaenyra is hesitant, she does seem committed to her claim and has accepted the crown. Daemon is increasingly a loose cannon. Rhaenyra is his best chance at getting close to the throne, so he’s invested in her success, but he also has his own tactics. He’s killed one of his wives already, so it’s fair to assume he’s not to be trusted.
Then there’s the matter of Alicent’s son Aemond, who has now killed a member of Raenyra’s family after claiming the dragon of Daemon’s late wife. Animosity is growing, and there’s sure to be a battle between these families beyond claims to the throne. All in all, it’s looking good for House of the Dragon season 2.
What to watch until season 2
Season 1 of House of the Dragon may be over, but there are tons of great fantasy shows to watch. Since Game of Thrones premiered in 2011, the genre has exploded on TV. There are cheap imitators, but there’s also a slew of solid original shows too.
On Netflix, you can watch The Witcher, The Letter for the King, The Sandman, Shadow and Bone, Fate: The Winx Saga, Arcane, Cursed, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and more.
See also: Shows like House of the Dragon
Amazon Prime Video has become something of a home for prestige fantasy with shows like Carnival Row, The Legend of Vox Machina, The Wheel of Time, American Gods, and of course Amazon’s new flagship show The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
It’s a great time to be a fantasy fan. There are more shows to watch than most people can make time for. And if those don’t appeal to you, well, House of the Dragon will be back for season 2.