House of the Dragon: Why Blood and Cheese can "never top" the Red Wedding

Everybody who's read Fire & Blood knows that there's a very disturbing scene coming up in the second season of House of the Dragon. But can it possibly stand up to the most famous moment from Game of Thrones?
"The Red Wedding" #ForTheThrone Clip | Game of Thrones | Season 3
"The Red Wedding" #ForTheThrone Clip | Game of Thrones | Season 3 / GameofThrones

If there was a single point in time when Game of Thrones went from being a popular TV show to a phenomenon, it was the moment in season 3 where Walder Frey killed Robb and Catelyn Stark at a wedding. People posted videos of themselves in shock and horror, and people started to watch the show on the edge of their seats knowing that anybody could die at any moment.

We're just a few days away from the season 2 premiere of the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon, based on the book Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin. This story is set over a hundred years before Game of Thrones, but people still expect shocking moments. House of the Dragon is poised to deliver one in the form of a revenge scheme involving a pair of new characters named Blood and Cheese. The short version is that people in Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen's camp want revenge for the death of Rhaenyra's son Luke at the hands of her nephew Aemond Targaryen. Rhaenyra's husband Daemon, ever hot-headed, takes it upon himself to get vengeance, and the results are very messy.

There's been a lot of hype over Blood and Cheese ahead of the premiere, with some people forecasting a "Red Wedding moment." House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal has some objections. "It was just about telling the story and telling the character story," he told Games Radar. "And I do dispute [the comparison] a bit. It is certainly a shocking moment. But the reason the Red Wedding was great was because it was shocking, but it also eliminated these two people you saw as – and certainly once Ned Stark died – you saw Cat and Robb as the stars of the show. They were the Stark family, and to eliminate them both in such a shocking way, at a wedding of all things: you can never top that, particularly because that's already happened."

"So that's one of the challenges making the show, is everybody's like, 'Well, where's your Red Wedding and who's your Cersei.' And so you're constantly in the shadow of that great original series. So no, we just set out and try to tell our story as it happens. And that particular event has its own place in the narrative, and certainly, it's shocking and awful. But it's really more of a way of dramatizing how terrible war is and how quickly things can get out of control, particularly in medieval time periods such as this. So we're less interested in the shock value of it and more interested in the character experience through it, and then what happens to the characters as a result of it afterwards."

When people talk about a "Red Wedding moment," I think what they mean is a TV moment that blows them to the back of the room with how surprising and shocking it is, and I think Condal is right that a lot of the power of the Red Wedding comes from the fact that it kills off two major characters. Without giving away spoilers, that doesn't happen with Blood and Cheese, and I agree with Condal that the comparison is a bit misguided.

But will Blood and Cheese have a legacy of its own? We'll find out when the season 2 premiere, "A Son for a Son," airs this Sunday, June 16 on HBO and Max.

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