Small Council: Let’s talk about the first teaser for House of the Dragon

HBO has released the first teaser trailer for House of the Dragon, its Game of Thrones prequel series. What did we think? Let’s watch it and discuss!

DAN: First things first: the trailer looks good. This is HBO mounting a Game of Thrones prequel a decade after the original came on the air and changed TV. They clearly poured money into this and it shows. Hell, the costumes might look too elaborate; the Velaryons are wearing a lot of bling.

It’s hard to be sure from this short snippet, but I’m good vibes from this. It’s very foreboding, menacing, etc and so forth. The wigs looks right, the dragon looks a little first draft but it’s very early for the special effects to be completed yet, and the music is a sexy somber remix of some of the Game of Thrones music. Matt Smith’s monologue sounds appropriately megalomaniacal, too. This is a tragedy, you’ve gotta pump up the hubris of it all.

I’m split on the Iron Throne. They added a bunch of swords around it so it looks different than how it looked on the original show, and a little closer to how George R.R. Martin envisions it. But they didn’t actually change the base throne. It kind of feels like a half-measure to me? I think I’d prefer if they redesigned it wholesale or stuck with the original version.

The series looks solid. What did you think watching the teaser? What feelings, if any, arose?

House of the Dragon

Image: House of the Dragon/HBO

DANIEL: Across the board, this trailer got me pretty excited. It felt like it had the production value of some of the later seasons of Game of Thrones, while hinting at a politically embroiled story much more in line with the earlier seasons. Which is exactly the kind of tone I’m hoping for from House of the Dragon.

I kind of liked that they retconned the Iron Throne to be closer to George R.R. Martin’s original description, though I wonder how they’re going to explain it in-world. Are we going to get to the end of the series, with [REDACTED] sitting on the Iron Throne and deciding the room needs some spring cleaning? Are those swords going to stick around until Robert’s Rebellion (and therefore past the end of the show)? I’m fine with the change and generally like the much edgier looking throne room, so long as it’s somehow explained why the Iron Throne no longer looks like that in the original series.

What else? The glimpse of the dragon was pretty cool, but too brief to do anything other than make me think “I want to see more dragons!” I really liked the wings on the Targaryen helmet during the fight at 0:38, and the costuming in general. Also loved getting our first glimpse of Milly Alcock as a young Rhaenyra, and am feeling more confident than ever that Matt Smith is going to kill it as Daemon Targaryen.

I’m most curious about the fight at 0:45. My guess is this is the brawl between Aemond Targaryen and the Velaryon boys (a.k.a. Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey “Strong”), which leads to a pretty gruesome injury that sets off one of the Dance’s major grudges. Seeing that in the trailer gives us a somewhat clearer picture of the timeline for the show, since that happens during Ser Laenor Velaryon’s funeral at Driftmark, while King Viserys still sits the throne. Maybe that will be an early episode climactic moment, kind of similar to how Bran got thrown from the tower? It could be a pretty chilling way to show how the tension between the various adult political players spills over onto their children to set up this multi-generational conflict.

The greatest twist of all for me though was the HBO Max plug at the end! Admittedly, this shouldn’t have been surprising…but it still stands as a pretty interesting sign of the times that HBO ended the first trailer for its next flagship show and successor to Game of Thrones by saying “subscribe to our streaming service to watch!” The streaming wars rage on.

All in all, very stoked! The atmosphere and attention to detail are on full display in this trailer, and I love it. Fingers crossed that it bodes well for the show.

FEDERICA: The trailer was everything I had been wishing for and more. We got to see more of young Rhaenyra (the Realm’s Delight!) than I thought we would, and only one scene of adult
Rhaenyra on the beach with Daemon. Prince Daemon’s voiceover is dramatic enough for his
character, although I would like to remind him that dreams did, in fact, make them kings. If
Daenys hadn’t dreamed the Doom of Valyria, the Targaryens would have perished with
every other dragon-riding family in the Freehold and they never would’ve ruled Westeros.

We finally saw a glimpse of Laena — who’s casting hasn’t been announced — when the Velaryons stride into the throne room in full style… showing those Game of Thrones Lannisters just who the wealthiest house in Westeros is! I believe that scene is Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding, as the dragon and seahorse banners suggest, and the Hightowers’ absence would imply the enmity
between the two houses. I also believe we got a glimpse into Laenor’s death scene with that
fight in a room that seems to be on Driftmark. So much hype for the Velaryons. I’m excited
about Mysaria too.

The new Iron Throne deserves a special mention. Changing such a focal point of the original
show is certainly a bold move on the part of the showrunners. They are taking a clear
and definitive step away from Game of Thrones. A welcome tradition in continuity, on the
other hand, is Ramin Djawadi’s soundtrack.

Rhaenyra walking into the throne room to face Viserys was so reminiscent of Daenerys in
seasons 2 and 8 that my eyes watered. The show is already planting seeds for the echoes in
their stories. Another frame holding clever foreshadowing is the one of Rhaenyra and
Alicent at the tourney.

I just wish we got to hear Rhaenyra’s voice at least once in the trailer, as this should
primarily be her story. I guess HBO’s marketing department accidentally made the same
point Westeros did about women’s rights…

Still, the dragon, costumes and sets brought my hype level off the charts. Despite some
mistakes, the series seems incredibly promising, and I have faith that they won’t repeat
Benioff and Weiss’ mistakes.

ASHLEYThe Wheel of Time, The Witcher, Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings — there are so many shows vying to become “the next Game of Thrones.” Seeing the next wave of big-budget fantasy TV shows feels in many ways like a testament to the enormous success of the HBO show, but we’re not done with Westeros yet. There are plenty of Game of Thrones spinoff shows in the works, beginning with House of the Dragon.

And now, we have our first glimpse. It’s not much, but as everyone else has mentioned, it shows off a gorgeous look at everyone in costume. I particularly loved our little glimpse of the Iron Throne, with additional swords scattered around it, perhaps emphasizing the brutality of the Targaryen rule. The new appearance of the throne also feels more book-accurate. I really liked that shot of Balerion the Black Dread’s skull in that dreary candlelit room. And of course, the sword battles look awesome; no teaser trailer would be complete without them. Clearly, we’ve now got the challenge of learning so many names of places and things all over again. There’s so much to love in this teaser, it’s best to watch it more than once.

The tone of the teaser looks and feels like the later seasons of Game of Thrones. I enjoyed hearing Ramin Djawadi’s soundtrack. It’s got that classic Game of Thrones melody, albeit with a welcome twist. Now all we need is a release date!

House of the Dragon

Image: House of the Dragon/HBO

SARABETH: I’ll be perfectly honest. I’m a watercooler Game of Thrones fan. I couldn’t tell you the names of half the characters and I still have about two seasons somewhere in the middle of the series that I need to watch. I’m a casual fan, and after seeing the House of the Dragon teaser I’m really excited about the new series.

When Game of Thrones premiered I tried to keep up with it, but George R.R. Martin’s world was intimidating and I got lost early on. I still enjoyed watching casually, though.

With House of the Dragon I feel less intimidated because I’m familiar enough with the GoT universe to know that it’s a story about the House Targaryen (the hair gives it away, of course). I’m ready to learn more about this enigmatic family and their legacy, which will help me understand what took place in the flagship series.

I like the idea that the story is set far enough in the past that there won’t be a need for crossovers between the series, but knowing the GoT universe there could always be a vision or two to link the past and the present. This time around, I’m eager to dive into this new series and let it capture me the way GoT captured so many fans when it came out.

AMANDA: It’s been too long since I sat down on Sunday night and eagerly waited to see what wild thing would happen next on Game of Thrones. After watching the House of the Dragon teaser, I couldn’t be more excited to experience that again — and to hop online and talk about it with other fans afterward.

I completely agree with Daniel that House of the Dragon looks like it will take the best aspects of the original series and smash them together. The intricate political storylines were always the most compelling parts of Game of Thrones, and House of the Dragon promises to put them at the center of the show. It’ll be interesting to see how the political scheming and squabbling will diverge from the original series, especially since this fight for the Iron Throne is borne of such different circumstances this time around.

With that in mind, I’d have loved to see more of Olivia Cooke’s Alicent Hightower and to get some dialogue from the other characters. Hopefully the next look at the series will showcase their personalities a bit more. Even if House of the Dragon is all about fire and blood, it’ll need compelling characters to keep us hooked. I can only hope they’ll be as fantastic and flawed as the ones we followed 200 years in the future.

The teaser’s final words also suggest House of the Dragon will be just as brutal as the original series: “Dreams didn’t make us kings; dragons did.” It’s hard to capture the ruthlessness of the Targaryen dynasty in one sentence, but House of the Dragon managed it. Clearly, they know their subjects. That’s a promising sign.

Overall, the first footage did its job: I’m officially excited to return to Westeros. After Game of Thrones’ divisive final season, that wasn’t necessarily a given. It does feel nice to have high hopes for this spinoff though. Let’s just hope the Targaryens don’t burn them to the ground.

House of the Dragon premieres sometimes in 2022.

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