House of the Dragon boss explains why Cregan Stark's role is so small

Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor) may return on House of the Dragon in later seasons, but it sounds like this is all we'll see of him for now.
Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO
Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO /

The season 2 premiere of House of the Dragon began in an unexpected location: the Wall, far to the north of where our cast of blonde-haired dragon-riders are battling it out for the Iron Throne. Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen's son Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) was on a diplomatic mission to the North to enlist the allegiance of Lord Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor). In that first scene, he got it.

In the book Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin, we learn that Jace spent a good deal of time at Winterfell bonding with Cregan, none of which we really got in the show, which may disappoint some excited fans. "'Brokeback Winterfell.' I've seen that one going around," Tom Taylor told Entertainment Weekly. "I think it's brilliant. Fans, they're going crazy with stuff. I think it's so cool that people are so passionate and want to get involved. I saw a video the other day where they stuck my head and Harry's head on these guys dancing, some AI dancing and stuff. It was ridiculous, but it was so funny."

"I was just itching to do more, as well. I was in the costume. I was like, 'I just want to keep acting.' But, yeah, it's just a little tease for now."

As you may be picking up, it sounds like Taylor won't be back again this season, which is consistent with the book; he shows up here, but plays a bigger role later in the story. "We definitely always wanted that scene," House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal told EW. "For a long time, I think going back to filming season 1, I had it in my head that that was going to be the opening sequence of season 2. But as fun as that sequence is, beyond Cregan agreeing to send soldiers South, there isn't any real inherent drama in that scene. He's already sworn for Rhaenyra. We know that Starks are never going to go back on an oath, no matter which Stark swore it. So it's more of a sequence to bring us back into the world, be in a place where we're ahead of Jace — we know his brother is dead, he does not yet know it — and the fun fan service of going to the North and seeing that."

"This is the future of the realm: the two of them. It's literally the 'Song of Ice and Fire,' with Targaryen and Stark, but that only sustains itself for so long. [The scene in the show] was the version that gets all the information that you need: it's a political victory for Jace, we introduce Cregan, we understand his quandary with winter coming and having to release troops, and all that. We have so many other POVs to cover and satisfy on both Black and Green side. That was always the appropriate amount of story."

Producer Sara Hess further explained why they couldn't spend too much time with Cregan: "We end season 1 with Luke's death, and that's where we want to be," she said. "Jace very quickly gets that news. It didn't feel right to end season 1 with Luke dying and then just be at Winterfell for a really long time when you're dying to know what's going on with Rhaenyra. When you see that look Rhaenyra gives at the end of season 1, how much time do you want to spend away from that? We definitely had to pick our narratives there."

Cregan Stark and Jacaerys Velaryon in House of the Dragon season 2.
Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO /

I agree that the main drama of the show is located in the south and it wouldn't do to spend too much time on Jace's growing bond with Cregan in the North, although I think the scene could have used a few tweaks. To start, if the producers were really concerned about following up on Rhaenyra's vengeful look at the end of season 1, why start with Jace and Cregan in the North at all? It could have been more of an in-between scene. I also didn't love how the show played up the eeriness lying in wait beyond the Wall; that's a reference to the White Walkers, monsters who won't show up on House of the Dragon at all, unless things take a very unexpected hard left turn. Why spotlight a problem from a completely different show in the season premiere of your show?

I also think the scene should have been set at Winterfell rather than the Wall; that would have kept things a bit more grounded in the world of House of the Dragon specifically, rather than Game of Thrones. Maybe Jace could have gotten the message about his brother's death while he and Cregan were hunting; that also would have stuck closer to the text of Fire & Blood. I dunno, the scene felt like 30% story, 70% fan service to me, and that's too lop-sided a ratio, especially for our first scene back after two years.

As for Cregan's role going forward, like I said, he has a part to play later in the story. Does that mean he'll turn up in the already-announced third season of the show? "We'll see how that plays," Condal said. "Anybody that reads the books knows that he does play a role in the larger Dance of the Dragons. I would love to have Tom back. We really enjoyed working with him, but I think we need to play the story out a bit and see where it takes us."

For now, the story will take us through seven more new episodes this year, dropping Sundays on HBO and Max.

House of the Dragon vs Fire And Blood: Episode 2x01, "A Son For A Son". House of the Dragon vs Fire And Blood: Episode 2x01, "A Son For A Son". dark. Next

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