If you’re a fellow fan, you’re probably squirming in anticipation of the “House of the Dragon” season finale while dreading the many dragon-less Sundays you’ll be forced to endure for the next two years. After nine weeks of fire, blood and deception, the HBO original series will air its season finale on Oct. 23.
“House of the Dragon” serves as a prequel to HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and is set nearly 200 years prior to the events of the main series. The show is based on George R.R. Martin’s prequel novella “Fire and Blood” and follows House Targaryen — the messiest family in Westeros. “HOTD” expands the world of “GOT” and tells the story of Daenerys Targaryen’s ancestors back when they ruled the Seven Kingdoms. The conflict, like that of the main series, centers around a struggle for the Iron Throne that divides the Targaryen clan. Lies, scheming and violence ensue, altering the history of Westeros and ultimately supplanting the Targaryens.
While the internet is awash with comparisons between the prequel and original, “HOTD” has proved to be a brilliant show that stands on its own as one of the best series on television this season; it undoubtedly deserves the same notoriety earned by “GOT.”
What sets “HOTD” apart from “GOT” is its handling of the story’s commencement. Most fans would agree that “GOT” stumbled in its first season; it fell victim to the slow dullness of world-building, compelling viewers to abandon the show altogether. The season finale was the show’s savior, captivating and hooking previously bored viewers in just the nick of time.
But viewers didn’t have to drudge through nine episodes of banal character introductions to get to the good bits of “HOTD” — this series comes out swinging. Showrunners learned from the mistakes of the “GOT” writers and move through introductions more swiftly. Admittedly, the show sometimes feels rushed and keeping up can be difficult (this is not a multitasking friendly show). But it’s all worth it when you consider that not nearly as much plot will be sacrificed to make room for backstory.
What I love most about “HOTD” though is that you don’t have to be a “GOT” fan to like it. So far, the two series are complementary but not completely reliant on one another. The events of “GOT” essentially tell you how “HOTD” will end but this never detracts from the high stakes set by the writers. You’re almost able to briefly forget what happened in “GOT” and simply enjoy this new story. Another one of my fears that this show has proved wrong is that with a Targaryen-focused story, I’d miss out on other beloved families like the Starks or Lannisters. But showrunners have managed to create something so fresh and exciting in “HOTD” that I hardly missed the omitted families at all.
After the season’s penultimate episode, “The Green Council,” fans including myself are abuzz with excitement and simultaneously pumping the breaks in anticipation of the finale. Regardless of your excitement level, the “House of the Dragon” season one finale lands on HBO this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.