House of the Dragon: The Heirs of the Dragon
August 21, 2022 12:50 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen tries to find her place within the court of King Viserys I.
posted by geoff. (59 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fan sites are gushing about this and I really want to like it, but at least for a first episode it was just okay. Not bad, not great and kind of a boring medieval drama centered around palace intrigue.

While it might not be fair to compare it to Game of Thrones, I don't know how you don't as it throws you into a world where it expects you to have at least a tacit understanding of the mythology. So I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones and what a difference the two shows are. I forgot the pilot threw us right into the mystery of the White Walkers, brothels and all kinds of action and depravity. I was taken in and I already had watch the entire series! We even hardly saw any CGI.

Unfortunately CGI is pretty much right out of the gate here and I think some budget restraints or at least moving the budget off CGI and into more budget for traditional scenery would have helped. I felt like I wasn't looking at a medieval city but a cover of a fantasy novel, or a giant matte painting. Beautifully done, but sort of like a Wes Anderson film I was made aware that I was watching a film ... but not in a good way like a Wes Anderson film. If Game of Thrones was fall of the Roman Empire and this the height, the castle scenes that were supposed to be bustling seemed to be a half a dozen extras short?

That said, the cast was great if a little stiff but it can be expected of a pilot before the writers and actors fall into characters. The sex scenes seemed so bland they could have been from basic cable ten years ago, and I think they should have just cut them out entirely if they're going to be as tawdry as they were with the Game of Thrones. I agree that the "sexposition" of some of the scenes were too much, but in other cases it actually progressed the plot and showed the progression of characters like Tyrion. The writers blaming it on #metoo and intimacy coordinators seems like a pretty lame excuse for not being able to creatively think around it, or just you know leave it out if it isn't that important.

The only character I thought was written poorly or at least not believably was Matt Smith. At one moment we're lead to believe he's so bad he's a threat to assassinate the king and on the other hand he's left to freely wander the castle and hide behind screens or sit on the Iron Throne? I mean come on it seems like a bad Disney movie.

Also what are those billiard balls the council puts down before they talk? I don't recall those from GOT?
posted by geoff. at 1:16 PM on August 21, 2022


💩 or not 💩?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:44 PM on August 21, 2022 [3 favorites]


Shit. Or at least wait until it is a few episodes in. I'm going to give it a month or so to let the episodes build up and give it another chance. It reminded me of Rome for some reason, but without the tawdry sex and violence. If you're a big GOT fan I'm sure you'll like it, but definitely not must watch right off the bat like the first one was.
posted by geoff. at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2022 [1 favorite]


This isn't very good. It feels like it kind of requires one to be pro-GoT to give it more than a chance - and the last couple of seasons burned all remaining goodwill.

In some of the shots, Matt Smith's helmet's wings looked like rubber - and it's a gd stupid design. The other helmets were ok but felt like some had a near thousand year difference in tech.

Comet flails with a long chain were never used because they are absolutely useless.

The tourney to the death doesn't make any sense for free men with expensive equipment from important families - unless they have close relatives captive. No matter how stupid politically powerful the king is, they'd have a revolt. But yeah, sure, Dragons. Whoop.

But they had a male nude dancer at the pub along with the female nude dancers.

Some of the music sounds out of tune on purpose, so that's neat following real differences across cultures and time.
posted by porpoise at 4:43 PM on August 21, 2022 [1 favorite]


Entirely pedestrian. Given the conclusion of GoT this was even worse than I expected. Look at a great production in terms of pace, direction, set design, wardrobe, and acting like The Queen's Gambit that is superb less than 5 minutes in.

They have the budget and freedom to produce something great or at least good. Instead they've produced something that belongs on NBC. Matt Smith is totally miscast. Dull.
posted by juiceCake at 6:27 PM on August 21, 2022 [2 favorites]


Comparing fantasy tech to historical tech seems like a mistake. This is an entirely fictional story not even set on Earth. Any expertise born of experience on Earth is completely irrelevant.
posted by yonega at 7:16 PM on August 21, 2022 [3 favorites]


I thought it was a little slow to get going, but I was into it by the end. The plot seems remarkably simple for a GoT spinoff (really, I think it's more of a GoT season zero; it ends with the GoT theme), and the scope narrower; part of me wonders if this isn't symptomatic of covid-era filmmaking, where a smaller number of moving parts is a necessity. I guess we'll see if a more intimate show will lead to more centered drama or just GoT, but Not So Much.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:33 PM on August 21, 2022 [2 favorites]


This was fairly lackluster start to the series. There was entirely too much exposition at the beginning, which is worrisome. Not many people will care about history, especially at first.

But by the end, the stakes were more clear and obvious and it has piqued my interest. Rhaenyra is to be queen, but there are various people that won't be pleased with that. But more importantly, she's clearly pleased with it, which adds another layer of fun.

Daemon Targaryen is being overplayed, IMO. He'd be much more interesting, if he was just as deadly, but more lowkey in his dealings with others or actually charming.

Rhaenys (the older woman who was denied being queen) is my current favorite, based on her attitude alone. As it was announced that she was not to be Queen, the expression on her face told she was going to make someone pay for that down the line.

Then when she realizes that Rhaenyra will get to be Queen, her face again telegraphs that she issues with that. She's going to be a delight to watch.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:15 PM on August 21, 2022 [5 favorites]


Matt Smith is totally miscast.

My partner's fantasy-casting for this role is Lee Pace, but I don't think my TV could withstand the heat.
posted by jeoc at 8:20 PM on August 21, 2022 [6 favorites]


After the last few seasons of Game of Thrones they needed to hit this one out of the park, and they haven't done that yet.

Matt Smith is totally miscast.

My wife felt the same way until I pointed out that he's supposed to be the latest in a line that has married brother to sister for hundreds of years and Matt Smith has maybe the most Hapsburg-y face in media today.

I have a long rant about how audiences think guys like Cumberbatch, Hiddleston, Holland, and to some extent Matt Smith are handsome because when you take the clear markers of inbreeding and add a British accent it gives them the opposite class significance they have if that same face produces an Arkansas accent, but I think I'll save that for another day.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:06 PM on August 21, 2022 [22 favorites]


guys like Cumberbatch, Hiddleston, Holland, and to some extent Matt Smith are handsome because when you take the clear markers of inbreeding and add a British accent it gives them the opposite class significance they have if that same face produces an Arkansas accent

? If there's anyone who's benefited from Western culture's tendency to read widely-spaced eyes as a sign of intelligence, it's Cumberbatch.
posted by praemunire at 10:11 PM on August 21, 2022 [5 favorites]


We laughed when the intro card faded only some of the words so anybody who couldn't be bovvered with the endless stream of fantasy names in the voiceover could get the gist. 178 years before Danys. Gotcha.

Gratuitous sex and violence? Yep. Relatively inane succession plot that might have come from (~three episodes of) Becoming Elizabeth. Yep. A couple of twists to remind you of when GoT was playing its A game. Yep.

I distinctly recall Tyrion being knocked out in one battle of the first season of GoT to save on costs. If the increased budget is being spent on more sex and violence I fear they have learned the wrong lesson of the later seasons.

That said, I watched Becoming Elizabeth as well, so I guess I'll stick around to see what happens next. Daemon worries me though. If he's supposed to be psychopath what was up with him being nice to the princess? I suspect his ulterior motives have ulterior motives.
posted by Sparx at 10:16 PM on August 21, 2022


I was a huge Game of Thrones fan back in the day. I watched season 1, then devoured all the books and followed fan theories obsessively as I watched subsequent seasons come out. I'd follow online discussions of each episode and be one of those annoying people who pointed out how such-and-such was different in the books.

I'm such a different person now and the world has changed so much that I don't know if I have it in me to go again. This episode was...fine? But the violence was rough to watch (as cartoon-y as it was at times). I'm tired of sexposition. Nice mom was doomed from the start and nice friend's dad is suddenly trying to pimp her out to the king or something. And I'm not sure if I can watch a show about a so-far-reasonable-seeming woman who should become queen instead of an asshole guy who's all tough on crime and chopping off people's balls and hands, but the other men in charge can't stand to see a woman above them so they'll back the asshole guy.

I'll watch at least one more episode but I'm holding this thing at arm's length.
posted by j.r at 10:19 PM on August 21, 2022 [2 favorites]


It was fine? At least fine enough to give it a bit of a chance to settle into its own groove rather than constantly House-name-dropping references to GoT.

It does seem odd that the super secret Council room has a convenient lurking screen for eavesdroppers to hide behind?

Also: the really very vulval design of the jousting arena, which they kept on showing to you in overhead shots just in case we were missing the parallel they're drawing between the violence of combat and the violence of childbirth.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:01 PM on August 21, 2022 [4 favorites]


Also also: totally Chekhov's unhealing wound, right?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:02 PM on August 21, 2022 [6 favorites]


I'm just here for the scenery-chewing and extremely nude Matt Smith. I started liking him about a month ago, which is 100% correlated with his move to more villainous roles and is extremely on-brand for me.

Tangent: as a brand new Matt Smith stan I have to take issue with the classism theory of why he, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston are considered attractive. I once saw an excellent Twitter thread which I have never been able to find again and so will paraphrase. It was a thread spawned by complaints that a "conventionally attractive" actress who had been cast as Helen of Troy in a recent TV series adaptation of the legend was not believable in the role because of her conventional attractiveness. The thread proposed a theory that in order for someone to be considered so beautiful that they inspire extreme reactions in other people they have to have the sort of interesting face that at least some people would would find ugly. This really stuck with me because it very much tracks with the way that I find other people attractive or beautiful -- the people whom I find really breathtaking to look at all have interesting faces which, if you analysed them using what you could call conventional beauty standards, you could find various things "wrong"with. A recent example of a similarly-aged and similarly-popular male actor with an American accent: Adam Driver!

(I don't know why Tom Holland is on this list, though; I would file him in the "conventionally attractive" box.)
posted by confluency at 2:19 AM on August 22, 2022 [9 favorites]


In terms of why Daemon was nice to Rhaenyra, it was telegraphed for me at least by the first brothel scene, where his mistress says she could get a whore with silver hair. It seemed like the kind of thing that she is doing because she knows he kind of wants to sleep with (at least) his niece.
posted by corb at 3:54 AM on August 22, 2022


I think it's interesting that we don't see Daemon say the awful thing about the dead baby. We never see it. When called on the carpet by his brother, Daemon says something like, "We all mourn in our own ways," but even then he doesn't confess it. So here's what I'm wondering: Did he say it at all? Or was Daemon also testing his brother, to see what Viserys really thought of him?

Similarly, I wonder if what we're supposed to make of Daemon's feelings for his niece is what's really going on. Certainly characters with incestuous leanings are nothing new to this show, but neither are plotlines about hidden lineages. I'm wondering if Daemon's relationship to Rhaenyra is not quite what it seems.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:15 AM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


Oh, c'mon... it's the first episode of a long, (likely) convoluted story. There's so much setup to be done, characters to be introduced, etc. It takes a few episodes for shows like this to hit stride.

I agree it was really CG heavy to its detriment. But I guess they needed to show this kingdom at its height of wealth and power. And again, they had to introduce that and set it up for a casual viewer who doesn't know the back story.

I thought it was good, not great. I had a lot of nitpicks with it, too. The flail use and the tourney to the death stuff has got to have Medieval history buffs groaning! But I'll give it a chance for the rest of the season at least. You want War and Peace? You want Hamlet? They exist. Go read them. This is a sword and sorcery TV show.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:30 AM on August 22, 2022 [9 favorites]


I thought it made it pretty clear that Daemon and Rhaenyra had or will have some sort of relationship. Their interactions fall flat and I don't find that attraction in the dialogue or even with their stage presence like I did with Cersei and Jaime. Daemon giving her the necklace was as awkward as a boy at a middle school dance and I don't think it was meant to be, it was truly cringeworthy.

Hopefully they really tighten the dialogue and we get some good Bronn or Tyrion-like expositions, if not necessarily in the middle of a brothel at least not in the middle of a garden. That put me to sleep and again, reminded me of the worst of Attack of the Clones with Darth Vader and Natalie Portman having strained dialogue in whatever weird field they were in.

I also am nominating Daemon as the most obvious eye-rolling name to come about since Hud from Cloverfield.

This article is a pretty good take on it. For some reason I had totally forgotten about Jon Snow and Daenerys, and their incest, because there was a lot going on in the show at the end and Jon Snow's sad face was beginning to grate on me.

And I guess if we have 17 (!!!!!) more dragons to see. I hope the overworked special effects department didn't just put their best foot forward on last night's episode and maybe we do less with the closeups and more with dragons kind of far away. Everytime I see a dragon though I really want a recreation of the scene from North by Northwest but I doubt my dream will come true.
posted by geoff. at 5:38 AM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


Guys I'm seriously worried about the future of HBO. The Discovery+ takeover has already wreaked havoc on HBO Max and shown the new management's total disregard for art and artists.

And the pre-takeover decision that there simply *must* be another GoT may have made sense from a beancounter's point of view (GoT being the all-time champ and all) but totally sailed past the issue of the goodwill incinerated by the original series' ending.

And here we are, the tentpole savior of the network landing with a resounding "meh." The new bosses ain't gonna like that and could very well tear HBO down to the studs as a result.
posted by whuppy at 6:05 AM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


Paul Feig made a really excellent point on Twitter: "My only issue with House of the Dragon is that no matter how awesome it is I know that Bran will still end up as king."

Which burns extra crispy when you think about Viserys bringing up the threat of the White Walkers. A, that story turned out to be much ado about nothing and the audience knows it. B, if you have this world ending prophecy, don't you think you should mention that to a few people other than you heir? This is the sadly classic narrative trope of having a problem because no one fucking talks to each other.

But C, it doesn't really matter because we know the White Walker storyline is shit. Stop trying to connect this to Game of Thrones, it's not a winning strategy. I wouldn't be surprised if some character has a dream of future progeny and oh hey, it's guest appearance by Emilia Clarke as Daenarys. Probably done by using unused photoage from GOT.

All that said, I'm intrigued and interested by the political games hinted at the end of episode one. Hopefully the show gells a bit more over the season.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 AM on August 22, 2022 [5 favorites]


In some of the shots, Matt Smith's helmet's wings looked like rubber - and it's a gd stupid design

I didn't mind the wings, but that open face helmet in a tourney with splintering lances made me wince. I kept thinking "that poor stuntman is gonna get a faceful of splinters."
posted by ishmael at 8:29 AM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


As a heads up, the article Geoff posted has very, very vague spoilers for future episodes.

That said, and this is entirely speculation, I thought the awkwardness of the necklace thing was meant to show that Rhaenyra and Daemon’s relationship is or will be complicated - based on both desire and fear. There’s a moment of pause, where she’s not sure she wants to turn her back on him, before kind of doing the “brush hair off neck and look back intensely” thing so common in 90s rom-coms.

My guess is that the clash between Unknown Knight Handsome McRhaenyraFavor and Daemon is also going to come up again. (Also, did it look to anyone else like Daemon was considering stealth stabbing him to death before he accepted the hand up?)
posted by corb at 9:15 AM on August 22, 2022


I have been thoroughly spoiled re: the book storyline, but it's so detailed and crunchy that I have already forgotten most of the executive summary I read on the wiki. Mostly I am relieved that it has all already been written by an actual writer; I'm assuming that while some of it may be streamlined and otherwise modified for TV they aren't going to go completely rogue and make up a bunch of random crap like last time.

So I am ready to be entertained by a lot of backstabbing, incest and CGI dragons, even if none of it is novel or surprising.
posted by confluency at 9:26 AM on August 22, 2022 [4 favorites]


Yep, some of the tension is taken out for me by the nature of a prequel. Back in the day I was also enough of a nerd to go read wiki articles about Targaryen history, so while I don't remember all the beats, I know some broad strokes about their ultimate fates (never mind that all of it is will just result in lots more incest as a matter of course, and then the mad king, rebellion, Daenerys, etc.).

I did go off and read a bunch about Habsburg chins last night. All the articles made a big deal of how Charles II was so inbred by generations of first cousins, uncle/niece pairings, that he was as inbred as though his parents had been brother and sister! Well, the Targaryens said "hold my ale." Remember that Daenerys assumed she and Viserys would be paired up before the Khal Drogo marriage happened, since that's the family tradition. If we're going to be realistic, it's amazing any of them can function, though the problems are certainly hinted at by how few of their pregnancies survive to adulthood.
posted by j.r at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


I just found this really boring...
posted by supermedusa at 10:51 AM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]


I thought it was fine, though jebus could have done without the birthing scene.

It's a long arc character-driven show, I'm going to give it the time needed to develop some momentum. I'm reminded of seeing the first episode of The Wire and I was like "meh," and wow was I wrong about that one.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:47 AM on August 22, 2022


I'm so glad to have avoided most Discourse about it, here or elsewhere, otherwise I might have skipped what turned out to be a pretty good time. For once, Twitter really did beat out MetaFilter on this discussion, with a lot of people commenting just... happy to see it, enjoying the show.

If you don't like GoT stuff (bad politics, bad history, overlong glaives, whatever), you won't like this. If you loved or liked GoT but gosh darn it went off the rails when [whatever], this may not be for you. I went off GoT after Season 4 for life reasons, but I may start up again in Season 5, given how much I enjoyed this.

Y'all, speaking as a GenX-er who was here before prestige TV, before CGI was everywhere, and before the vast proliferation of content, this show is something else. It has *~*dragons*~* that look plausible, sumptuous sets and costumes, etc., etc. The major fantasy/sword & sorcery competition right now would be, I guess, Wheel of Time and the upcoming Lord of the Rings: The Amazoning show. I enjoyed the former and will be interested in the latter, but I expect to continue watching this.

Personally, I'm a little excited by the possibility that this show will be smaller in scope than GoT. I gave up on the books almost immediately on release of A Feast for Crows, when I started flipping pages and realized that he'd saved half the cast for... "4.2." That doesn't hit me as hard in the show, but it's sometimes still a factor.

Yeah, the BattleWomb(TM) section was heavy-handed, but... I dunno. I feel like there should be room in the world for unsubtle metaphors.
posted by cupcakeninja at 12:08 PM on August 22, 2022 [7 favorites]


A recent example of a similarly-aged and similarly-popular male actor with an American accent: Adam Driver!

Adam Driver falls outside what many people think of as the Hollywood template but he has lips and a chin and his eyes aren’t gradually migrating to the sides of his head like a fish and his forehead is proportional to the rest of his face. What I guess I’m trying to say is that he doesn’t look like he’s two generations away from the royal family needing to hide him away at a country estate to prevent rumors they’ve been consorting with the devil from spreading amongst the peasantry.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:12 PM on August 22, 2022


Daemon seems to be written as one-dimensional asshole but I love that Matt Smith just throws himself into that part. He's going to be fun to watch as this goes on. The show does need someone of good heart and noble intentions to fill that Stark/Snow void. I'll give it time to develop to see if they hit that note as well to counter all the darkness.
posted by Ber at 1:50 PM on August 22, 2022


‘House Of The Dragon’ Pulls In 2.6 Million U.S. Households, Highest Same-Day Viewership Of 2022 In Samba TV Metrics

HBO is really banking on this being an all out hit, they'll pretty much stop at nothing to make sure that happens.

"Samba clocked House of the Dragon viewing during its initial six hours, between 9-p.m.-3 a.m. ET on both traditional linear HBO and HBO Max."
posted by geoff. at 2:30 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


If I'm understanding the comparison to Nielsen right it is nothing compared to Sunday Night Football at 18 million, or something I never even heard of: Judge Steve Harvey at 4 million.
posted by geoff. at 2:40 PM on August 22, 2022


So far this seems like an alternate history prequel to Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth, but with McShane's "tits and dragons". I might be here for that kind of royal drama.

The King's Hand pimping his daughter out to the King could yield some interesting narrative, given that same character's kindy-physical-touchy-possibly-more-than-platonic relationship with the princess.

I dunno. Kind of boring and CGI-ed to the point of parodying Lord of the Rings, but I'll give it a few more episodes to see if it catches its stride or has something interesting to say.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:49 PM on August 22, 2022


I am interested but weekly episodes?

Come on, this isn't 1986 where we all stand around the water cooler talking about whatever happened on Hill Street Blues last night.

Just release the full season and let people watch the way they want.
posted by madajb at 3:11 PM on August 22, 2022 [3 favorites]


I did go off and read a bunch about Habsburg chins last night. All the articles made a big deal of how Charles II was so inbred by generations of first cousins, uncle/niece pairings, that he was as inbred as though his parents had been brother and sister! Well, the Targaryens said "hold my ale." Remember that Daenerys assumed she and Viserys would be paired up before the Khal Drogo marriage happened, since that's the family tradition. If we're going to be realistic, it's amazing any of them can function, though the problems are certainly hinted at by how few of their pregnancies survive to adulthood.

Not that I'm pro-incest or anything, but sometimes people have a really weird conception of whether it affects the health of any children produced. What you're doing is increasing the odds of problems that depend on double-recessives and the like--a roll of the dice with some weight towards the unlucky outcomes. It's not like you're probably going to hideous deformity in three generations. Inbreeding doesn't inherently select for jaw length!
posted by praemunire at 3:17 PM on August 22, 2022 [4 favorites]


If I'm understanding the comparison to Nielsen right it is nothing compared to Sunday Night Football at 18 million, or something I never even heard of: Judge Steve Harvey at 4 million.

The critical difference is that no one is paying $17 a month to watch Judge Steve Harvey (or Sunday Night Football, for that matter, but at least people would pay $17 a month for that). A lot of people will watch any old bullshit if it's free.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:38 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of seeing the first episode of The Wire and I was like "meh," and wow was I wrong about that one.

I was also reminded of The Wire, but for me it was the notable absence of a Snot Boogie moment.

That said, I didn't think it was bad, it just didn't have enough of a hook to carry a first episode. This felt more like some mid season exposition dump episode. I'll give it a couple more before making an actual decision as to whether or not to continue watching.
posted by wierdo at 4:01 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


Look, I know women have suffered and continue to suffer a lot violence on many, many levels.

But if I'm watching a fantasy show that has house sized dragons that can be trained, then I would like to see said to not have so much violence against women. If we are doing fantasy, let's go all in every now and then, and let that fantasy extend to no violence against women.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 PM on August 22, 2022 [17 favorites]


Come on, this isn't 1986 where we all stand around the water cooler talking about whatever happened on Hill Street Blues last night.

The water cooler is Metafilter or Twitter or whatever.

Just release the full season and let people watch the way they want.

The number of shows that come and go over a weekend without any discussion is the absolute worst thing about streaming. If I don't watch a show the weekend it drops, there's no one to discuss it with once I watch it a few weeks later. If a show is on weekly, at least I can keep up with it and the discussion. (And if I start late, I can catch up.)

If HBO dumped this at once, no one would be talking about it in two weeks time. The only reason people talked about Stranger Things for more than two weeks is because Netflix held back the two-part finale until the next calendar month.
posted by crossoverman at 10:27 PM on August 22, 2022 [17 favorites]


In post-Dobbs America, I feel like that birth scene needs every warning imaginable. I expect to be horrified by game of thrones, but lord almighty, I did not expect that level of sobbing trauma (I also have two pregnant sisters right now so . . .)

Otherwise, I enjoyed it? Paddy Considine is one of my favorite actors. And this is basically just "Succession" but without the dick jokes, right? I'll stick around for a while.
posted by thivaia at 8:53 AM on August 23, 2022 [3 favorites]


Full disclosure: I only watched the first 40 minutes of it last night? Will finish tonight.

I thought it was... OK. Got a little more compelling as the episode went on and the stakes/relationships were laid out. No one seems especially interesting as a character, but that may change.

The tourney to the death doesn't make any sense for free men with expensive equipment from important families

What was especially dumb about it was that fighting to the death seemed optional. Clearly some people -- like Daemon vs. Mystery Dude -- chose not to take it that far. But some of the other knights apparently just got so pissed off that they decided, "screw it, I don't care if I'm the first-born heir to a minor noble, I'm gonna mess that dude up"? And no one tries to step in and be like, "yo, chill out, man! it's just a tournament"? No one from their families? Just like no one said anything when Daemon CLEARLY tripped the Hand's son's horse, nearly killing the rider, but whatever the crowd eats it up because Daemon is a sexy bad boy everyone loves? Despite also being terrified of him for his uncalled for brutality towards the citizenry? OK, whatever.

Speaking of King's Landing and crime... I feel like the Targaryens and their advisors must be watching a lot of Fox News. They keep talking about how out of control and dangerous the city is, crime in the streets, visiting nobility in danger of being robbed, raped, maimed, murdered... and we see ZERO evidence of that. I was struck by how much nicer King's Landing seemed than in GoT, which tracks with the idea that the GoT era is the "dark age" after the height of the Roman Empire Galactic Republic Targaryen family reign.

Speaking of Star Wars Prequel parallels...When the King's Council started talking about trade routes and taxes or whatever, I rolled my eyes and audibly groaned.

On the incest topic: So it seems obvious there is some inbreeding in the Targaryen's (how else would they all have the same white hair?), but I wonder if we are seeing them prior to the tradition of marrying brother & sister. I don't recall from GoT or the books how long that tradition has supposedly been going on, but 178 years from now until the Mad King's death seems about right to develop some severe mental aberrations in the offspring. My current prediction: the succession problem is solved by marrying Daemon & Rhaenyra, beginning the tradition of marrying close relatives. Maybe Viserys "adopts" his brother as his son, maybe Daemon is revealed to be his secret son, although Viserys would have had to father him when he was like 10 so that's probably unlikely. Of course, I could be totally wrong if there's already established lineage in canon, so whatevs.

Anyone else think they missed an opportunity by not naming the show House of Targaryen? Then we'd have GoT and HoT. The next show could be IoT: Invasion of Thrones? Intrigue of Thrones?
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:52 AM on August 23, 2022 [2 favorites]


On the incest topic: So it seems obvious there is some inbreeding in the Targaryen's (how else would they all have the same white hair?), but I wonder if we are seeing them prior to the tradition of marrying brother & sister. I don't recall from GoT or the books how long that tradition has supposedly been going on, but 178 years from now until the Mad King's death seems about right to develop some severe mental aberrations in the offspring.
Sorry, I know too much about this. Canonically the first Targaryen ruler married both his sisters and all the current Targaryens are descended from one of those lines. There are more brother-sister pairings before and after the timeline of the current show (and it looks like Viserys (current king) and Daemon are sons of a brother/sister pair) but it's not all the time because of diplomacy and maybe health reasons. So...it's a lot of incest. They think dragon affinity is passed down genetically so they're trying not to dilute that, but even before the Mad King other problems show up sometimes.

A warning, don't look up the family trees if you prefer to be unspoiled for this show!
posted by j.r at 12:54 PM on August 23, 2022 [5 favorites]


As someone who watched all of Game of Thrones and mostly enjoyed it, I was really put off by watching the rest of this after the first episode. I found the acting too wooden and the characters uncompelling and the violence and cruelty way too much to bear. That birthing scene gave me nightmares. It's like they took the worst of GoT and doubled down on it. And yeah I get it it's a fantasy of a brutal world but I could do with less unjustified titillation about that.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:29 AM on August 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


I have never seen a dragon in real life. For all I know, that’s exactly what dragons look like and they’re high-budget CGI captured it perfectly.

But I have seen hair and with all the money HBO threw at this project you’d think they could have poached a rig consultant from Ru-Paul’s Drag Race.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:17 AM on August 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


Damn autocorrect. WIG consultant!
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:30 AM on August 24, 2022


Yeah, the wigs are ... not great.

Sorry, I know too much about [Targaryen incest]

No worries! I figured there was at least a 50% chance I was wrong; I was just going off my sense that there was less overt talk about sibling-cest than I expected from a show about the Targaryen's :)
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:06 AM on August 24, 2022


Speaking of Star Wars Prequel parallels...When the King's Council started talking about trade routes and taxes or whatever, I rolled my eyes and audibly groaned.


There's probably not very many people who feels this way, but I actually like this stuff. I like getting at least glimpses of some sort of real economy & trade. It grounds the universe and makes it a bit more believable. Rather than just assuming everything runs effortlessly on magic or dragon poop or dilithium powered replicators. In the right hands, this type of plot point can be very effective.

ASOIAF (the book version) was actually halfway decent about this. Explaining that the Iron Throne was deeply in debt to bankers on the islands (whose name I've completely forgotten) and this shapes some of the throne's incredibly bad decisions. Or explaining how the civil war had devastated some of the best croplands as the long Summer was ending, and all the terrible things that would result.

As for the show itself: Moderately happy with it. It was clunky in parts. But I skipped the last 2 or 3 seasons of GoT so I'm harboring fewer bad vibes about this cinematic universe than others might be. Since Matt Smith played a royal in another show (Prince Philip in The Crown), I had some fun imagining a cross between Philip and a Targaryen. Those two shows have one thing in common: a royal Matt Smith unhappy about playing second to a woman. It's a little amusing to think of The Crown having sexposition scenes and Philip randomly stabbing people. Or this show having Daemon sent off on good will tours across Westeros where he has to smile often and pretend to like the local food.

But I have no idea how the name "Daemon" passed muster with anyone. Might as well call him "Baron Evil McBad". I hope his character ends up at least slightly sympathetic to make the unsubtle name a bit of a head fake.

As for hair, I really liked the grey white dreadlocks. But some of the other wigs were a bit too obvious. Though, who knows, maybe this was a conscious decision. That rich people of the Summer Isles had a fashion for wearing obvious and elaborate wigs. I suppose that would be a good head canon / fan wank.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:38 AM on August 25, 2022 [5 favorites]


There's probably not very many people who feels this way, but I actually like this stuff. I like getting at least glimpses of some sort of real economy & trade.

I like it too, when it is done well. GoT and the books handled the topic in a way that worked, not so much this show -- which may be just because it was brought up so early in the very first episode, I was getting definite Cosmic Wars: The Gathering Shadow vibes.

But I have no idea how the name "Daemon" passed muster with anyone.

Well, presumably their names are not derived from the Greek, so maybe it means something different... Also, it strikes me as the GRRM technique of taking one of our words and adding an 'e' somewhere: Damon + e = Daemon; sir + e - i = ser. And other examples I can't remember right now.

But regardless of all that, remember that this is a society where an entire House has the image of a man crucified and skinned as their official sigil. So, a name that sounds like "demon" is pretty tame in comparison, is what I'm trying to say ;)
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:12 AM on August 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


My fellow fantasy nerd co-workers were raving about this episode, so I went into it with... shall I say... heightened expectations. Which I can't say were entirely met. It was fine. Paddy Considine was outstanding-- I actually found myself tearing up during the part of the birthing scene where he made the decision to get Aemma cut open. But other actors, as it's been noted by others, I found awfully wooden (like Sonoya Mizuno). It really is like one of those Starz period dramas like Becoming Elizabeth or The White Princess but with dragons.

With that said, it was nice to get back into that world for a bit. I was a GOT superfan back in the day (some of you guys might remember I was defending it up to its ignominious end... *sighs*), and after a few years of processing it all, I don't mind being thrown back into the breach. Elaborate costumes! Sidelong gazes in marble halls! Ridiculous violence! Sexposition in brothels! As you know Bob dialogue! Okay. Let's hope that this turns into a show about characters we care about, as opposed to straight-up exploitative tits-and-dragons pulp. But honestly? I would still watch it even if it turned into a Robert Howard pastiche.

Anyway, thanks for the slightly grumpy commentary, guys, I needed the laugh after watching that episode. I can't wait to catch up with you all this weekend!
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 7:00 PM on August 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


I will probably keep watching for a while, but here is my bitchy comment: I do not like any of the characters we have met yet. I know it's just the first episode, but the fairly meh pilot for Game of Thrones introduced the very likeable Stark family (everybody likes at least 2 of them!) and had one hell of a shock ending. This pilot has the plodding pace of the only ride in town. It feels a lot less interested in impressing its audience.

I wonder how bad the treatments for the other, not-optioned Westeros spinoffs were. Or did they just go with the one that GRRM had already written? Because honestly, I think I'd be more interested in a show set further away from the GOT/ASOIAF timeline.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:28 AM on August 26, 2022 [4 favorites]


Because honestly, I think I'd be more interested in a show set further away from the GOT/ASOIAF timeline.

Star Wars syndrome. If you want to return to the universe, tell a different story from a different part of it! We don't need infinite variations of the same basic characters.


I too will keep watching for a while, but if the reviews don't start getting better, I would put money on it not going past 2, maybe 3 seasons, what with the current mentality at HBO/Discovery/Halliburton/Time Warner/Weyland-Yutani.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:33 AM on August 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


Matt Smith looks like Vigo the Carpathian.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:46 AM on August 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


Agree with most of the crits above, but on balance, I liked it. I found the scene with Viserys and Rhaenyra affecting. Him making her his heir, admitting he was wrong to overlook her, the ice 'n fire vision/burden- all worked for me.

I'm also looking forward to see what Olivia Cooke does with Alicent. She's usually one of the brighter spots in anything I've seen her in. Saw her in Thoroughbreds with Anya Taylor-Joy a little while back and she blew me away with her performance.
posted by ishmael at 10:37 AM on August 27, 2022


But I have no idea how the name "Daemon" passed muster with anyone.

Dr Who had previously seen the Doctor defeat the Daemons of course. Pre Matt Smith.
posted by biffa at 4:17 PM on August 29, 2022 [1 favorite]


Naming a character "Daemon" and insisting on pronouncing it "Damon" throughout and not, you know, demon (or even Dye-mon or something else), is somehow deeply annoying to me, and it managed to puncture my suspension of disbelief in a way that just going for it and calling him "demon" wouldn't have.

Also this episode seemed like a bunch of blond(e)s moping around in giant empty hallways most of the time and having portentous conversations about prophesies. And did we need the "Song of Ice and Fire" prophecy come up quite so... explicitly? It felt like they were trying to assure the audience that yes, this is still GoT, we promise.

I dunno, I'm probably just not in the right mood for this, but I didn't particularly enjoy it. Probably I'll watch a couple more episodes, but I am not feeling it so far at all.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:52 PM on August 30, 2022


(like, obviously this show is going to involve a bunch of blond(e)s yammering about prophesies, this is the premise. But still)
posted by BungaDunga at 4:53 PM on August 30, 2022


On the matter of the incest - I think maybe I misunderstood it, or am misremembering. It's been quite a while since I read the books. But one of the themes of the story was that magic had been going away, in a sense, during the centuries preceding the first book. That's why the White Walkers hadn't been seen, why the dragons had died out, why the sorcerers of Quarth had been reduced in power, why the magical candles or whatever in the Citadel didn't light - and I thought that in a way the Valyrian bloodline was magical, and that's why inbreeding didn't result in the sort of dysfunction that it does normally originally, but that as the magic faded out the inbreeding began to have more and more effects, until you got Mad Aerys, etc.

The birthing scene was horrifying, but I also felt that it was trying to actually say something, in the way that generic murder/rape scenes in the original series often failed to - the latter tended to just be there as a way of saying "this show is dark and gritty and realistic", whereas this was a statement about who the king is, deep down, and whatever his protestations, how little he valued his beloved wife in the end next to his own fears and ambitions. It reminded me a lot of Wolf Hall and Henry VIII's combination of surface gentility and deep monsterousness. Whether that was worth the gut-wrenching, or whether the scene is otherwise problematic, I'm not making any judgements on. Just that it worked in context for me to do something more than say "look at this horribleness".
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:16 PM on September 3, 2022 [2 favorites]


I wasn't going to watch this show, having been burned by the Game of Thrones and kind of tired of this kind of sprawling epic fantasy. But I liked this first episode? It kept me entertained, much more so than the elf show. I liked the story - I think a succession crisis is a perfectly fine backdrop for a story like this. I also appreciated that (so far) the story is fairly contained to just House Targaryen and King's Landing. Part of why we stopped with GoT was we just got tired of tracking all the sprawling stories and characters, the books are even worse. This story benefited from having resonance of the deeper back story ("look, it's a Baratheon! And a Stark!") while being focussed on a few people.

I particularly liked the scenes juxtaposing the tournament jousting with the childbirth. Ordinarily I'd be complaining about the violence, particularly the violence done to the mother. But that's part of what this show is and given that cutting back and forth between men's violence and violence in the birthing chamber, well, it created feelings. Also shout out to whoever made the jousting arena vulva-shaped, in case the parallels in editing weren't enough.

The casting was excellent IMHO. Milly Alcock is magnetic as Princess Rhaenyra, somehow they gave her this very exotic look. Also enjoying Matt Smith chewing the scenery as Prince Daemon. Although I was annoyed when they made it clear very early he was a fascist bad guy leading the Gold Cloaks; I was hoping the character would be more ambiguous.
posted by Nelson at 7:25 AM on September 20, 2022


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