The world of Westeros is simply as thrilling as you bear in mind. And possibly that’s a little bit little bit of the issue.
Home of the Dragon, the brand new prequel that returns to the world of Sport of Thrones, takes place roughly 172 years earlier than the occasions of that sequence. Now we’re seeing a really totally different King’s Touchdown, dominated by the Targaryens on the apex of their energy. This being a Sport of Thrones joint, quickly it would all spoil into battles and intercourse, betrayals and energy grabs, politicking each petty and bonafide. However for now, the whole lot is organising for an epic story.
However since this present is a successor (in our timeline) to the very fashionable Sport of Thrones sequence, it’s just about unimaginable to method it with a recent thoughts. When one makes the selection to join one other huge chronicle of Westeros, they’re met with a complete lot of burden about the place the story, inevitably, goes. But when the primary episode painted with as broad a brush as doable to carry us in control on the Westeros of outdated and its many gamers, then episode 2 is extra of a pointillist portrait of the Targaryen household because it got here to be. In “The Rogue Prince,” we zoom in on the finer factors of what individuals care about, all the higher organising Home of the Dragon as its personal creature fully.
Maybe the strongest factor I can say about Home of the Dragon is that nearly each element within the present feels worthwhile, with no hazard of pulling too laborious and unraveling the tapestry it’s weaving. Which may appear to be damning with faint reward, however Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) is extremely taken with particulars — the Dornish knight who has fight expertise, or the jewellery she wears to dinner along with her dad, King Viserys (Paddy Considine). That she removes the Valyrian metal necklace for a dinner the place she hopes to higher join with him is a revealing subtlety in a manufacturing stacked with them.
Picture: Ollie Upton/HBO
Up to now a lot of the household dynamics of Home of the Dragon have been much less violence and bloodshed and extra the heartbreaking meta-communication the place two individuals solely appear to be they’re speaking about the identical factor. Viserys cares about nostalgia, waxing poetic to his daughter’s greatest pal, Alicent (Emily Carey), in regards to the glories of outdated Valyria and the difficulties of his duties. However within the presence of his daughter, he can’t sit and pay attention sufficient to listen to what she’s actually attempting to get at. When Rhaenyra broaches the awkward second throughout the Small Council assembly, he tries to avoid wasting her what he sees as additional embarrassment — “You’re younger; you’ll study” — lacking a chance to really discuss to her a lot in any respect. It’s not a leap from this to see how Rhaenyra sees the scenario as much less her personal rise to energy and extra being chosen to spurn Daemon. Home of the Dragon presents each Rhaenyra and Viserys with empathy, nevertheless it additionally simply presents them extremely clearly. It’s laborious to fault both of them for each being trapped by conference.
That Viserys and Rhaenyra depend on the identical particular person — Alicent — to assist them by way of their grief is only a cruelty of destiny, nevertheless it’s one for which the present additionally has laid cautious emotional groundwork. In simply two episodes Home has made a case for why they each really feel seen, whereas additionally ensuring Alicent and her take care of each of them doesn’t ring false.
That’s the best way Home of the Dragon received me over, and it feels constructed to reward rewatch. The present is filled with forceful smaller beats, just like the maester seeking to the Hand of the King to coax Viserys by way of his emotional rejection of marriage proposals, and the visible composition of the present follows swimsuit. This does really feel like old-school Sport of Thrones, solely right here that’s not some backhanded praise in regards to the lingering aftertaste of the eighth season. At its peak that present was one that might demand your consideration and reward it with telling character notes and tales grounded in one million little moments. In its second episode, Home of the Dragon proves itself able to doing the identical.
Picture: Ollie Upton/HBO
Picture: Ollie Upton/HBO
The focus of Sunday’s episode (and the place it will get closest to the normal swords-drawn motion that audiences affiliate with the franchise) is at Dragonstone, as all the main points come to a head in one of many earliest exams of Rhaenyra. She’s come to the Targaryen fortress the place Daemon (Matt Smith) has been squatting for a while, and she or he hopes to keep away from the bloodshed Otto Hightower’s (Rhys Ifans) efforts would have definitely led to. She succeeds, appropriately sizing Daemon’s bluff up for what it’s: the smug act of an asshole with the impulse management and harebrained schemes of a center schooler. However nonetheless the scene is all rigidity, with the digicam ping-ponging across the varied gamers and their respective motivations for having ended up on these Dragonstone steps. And it really works (whether or not or not you consider the CGI background of all of it).
Maybe she nonetheless had her aunt Rhaenys’ (Eve Finest) phrases ringing in her ears, reminding her that although she is a named inheritor she continues to be carrying her father’s cups, or maybe it was the visible of her dad happening a date with a 12-year-old. Both means, it provides as much as a clearer portrait of who Alcock’s Rhaenyra is and who she would possibly develop to be. When her father conceives of a menace he thinks usually, warning her solely to fend off “whomever could dare to problem us.” However Rhaenyra is aware of that menace might come from wherever, and she or he’s confirmed herself to be recreation to the problem it doesn’t matter what comes her means.
Which is sweet, since, as this episode is fast to remind us, there are threats outdoors King’s Touchdown. Throughout the first few moments of the episode, earlier than we even know what we’re seeing or listening to, we all know it’s grabbing and horrifying. These particulars might quantity to nothing, however right here, in its second episode, Home of the Dragon makes them revealing: There are risks of all kinds on this world; the Crabfeeder and his nautical horror is simply the beginning. However it’s sufficient to scrub away the reminiscence of season eight and its “greatest tales.” For now, it’s sufficient to simply have enjoyable with Westeros once more.