Why does the Small Council have marbles on House of the Dragon?

House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon /

House of the Dragon is here, and we already have questions aplenty. Will Rhaenyra ever ascend the Iron Throne? What sort of mayhem is Daemon Targaryen going to cause now that he’s been kicked out of the city? When will we see more dragons?

But those are small potatoes compared to the real question at hand: what’s the deal with the Small Council’s marbles?

House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO
House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

The Small Council’s little balls, explained

While Game of Thrones often had some unruly Small Council meetings, House of the Dragon takes place at a more stable time in the history of Westeros. The Targaryens have ruled for over 100 years at this point, and have implemented some institutional niceties. Apparently the marbles are one of them.

When the Small Council convenes, each member places their own ball in a little dish on the council table to signal that they’re ready to discuss business. When the council is not in session or someone is absent, the marbles all rest on a bigger dish in the center of the table, which you can see pictured above. This is not something that’s in George R.R. Martin’s books, but an invention of the show.

Now, we know how it came about. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that the little balls are an invention of set decorator Claire Nie Richards and production designer Jim Clay. “It represented the council coming in and being part of the meeting,” Richards said.

From there, showrunner Ryan Condal quickly got on board, comparing it to how modern day workers punch into their jobs with timecards. “Everybody shows up for work and they ‘punch in.’ I thought it was really cool. It’s a way of visualizing the set formality of the Small Council chamber. It’s enjoyable; we should have things that we like in this world.” House of the Dragon has hewed pretty close to Martin’s text, so it’s nice to see examples of the crew putting in things because they just enjoyed it.

Condal also told THR that the Small Council scenes were always some of his favorites on Game of Thrones, so he was keen to include lots of them in House of the Dragon. That said, he soon discovered that writing scenes of a bunch of people sitting around a table and talking are more difficult than you’d think.

New episodes of House of the Dragon air every Sunday on HBO and HBO Max.

Next. House of the Dragon is HBO’s most successful premiere ever!. dark

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