Were the dark scenes in House of the Dragon lightened since initial release?

House of the Dragon seems to be easier to watch because the dark scenes that caused such disdain when it originally aired might be a smidgeon less dark.
House of the Dragon Episode 7
House of the Dragon Episode 7 /

When HBO's House of the Dragon first aired a year and a half ago, it was praised as a terrific prequel to the incredible Game of Thrones. The story was compelling and its telling was well-paced. The characters were engaging and well-acted. It was a worthy addition to the Game of Thrones world.

There was one issue, however, that curtailed my enjoyment of the the show: too many scenes took place in the dark or in heavily shadowed environs. It was distracting and frustrating at times.

I understand it was a conscious decision on the part of the production team. It was for authenticity and affect. Medieval castles did not have LED lighting and or even gas lanterns to hang about on the stone walls. We get it. Castles were dark, damp places and if you're not in a great hall filled with fires in multiple hearths and in sconces all around the hall, it is not going to be a well-lit place.

For a television show, however, being able to see the characters and the nuances of their facial expressions and body language are as important as hearing what they are saying. There were multiple scenes throughout the show that were difficult to watch because the scenes were dimly lit.

There were scenes in the caverns where the dragons were kept. Yes, it is a cave and it is going to be dark, but audiences need to be able to see the characters. There were scenes at night, or in tents, that were hard to watch. Even some of the small council meetings could be difficult.

The episode on House of the Dragon that went too far with the dark, shadowy theme

Everything culminated in Episode 7, entitled "Driftmark." Visually, it started out well enough, with a well-lit scene at the funeral of Lady Laena, followed by the long reception scene. After that, the rest of the episode devolved into darkness. It was more like listening to a book on Audible that watching a TV show.

From Damemon's (Matt Smith) and Rhaenyra's (Emma D'Arcy) stroll on the beach and subsequent tryst in a tent to Aemond (Leo Ashton) bonding with the dragon Vhagar to a brutal fight between Aemond and his nephews and cousins, to a public confrontation between Rhaenyra and Alicent, all was shrouded in darkness and shadow. It was all but unwatchable.

As the second season approaches, I wanted to rewatch the first season, but I felt a degree of trepidation about it. Watching it the first time was very frustrating on occasion, especially Episode 7, and I didn't know if I wanted to deal with that again. In the end, I decided that being prepared for those scenes would alleviate my vexation.

During the early episodes, I felt like the scenes weren't as dark as before. As the season progressed, it seemed obvious to me that many dark scenes had been lightened just a tad. The council meetings weren't as dark, the depths of the Dragonpit weren't as hard to see, and in general, everything just seemed easier to watch.

At first, I wondered if it was my imagination. I knew "Driftmark" would be the real deciding factor. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, as the episode unfolded, it was much easier to actually see what was happening in every scene. I could make out the faces of the characters as they strolled, rode dragons, and brawled.

It wasn't as if the scenes suddenly took place at high noon on a cloudless day or anything so extreme. It was much more subtle than that. It was done with taste, and the result makes you wondering why it hadn't been done that way in the first place.

Evidently, it wasn't just me who had a big issue with the lightning in season. The trailers for season 2 appear to have fixed those dark lighting problems. This is a welcome change from season 1.

Light and darkness are ways to set the tone in all shows and movies. It is an important for how a production wants to project certain aspects of the story. Unfortunately they (and by "they" I mostly mean showrunner Miguel Sapochnik, who left House of the Dragon after season 1) went too far, forgetting that his audience needs to see the characters to bond with them.

It is obvious to me that HBO also went back and fixed this issue in season 1. New viewers, or those like me who wanted to to rewatch season 1 ahead of season 2, will have a better experience than audiences had when it aired initially. It was what needed to be done, and good for them for actually doing it!

As for House of the Dragon season 2, it premieres on HBO and Max on June 16.

Next. Aegon II. Why King Aegon Targaryen will be the best character in House of the Dragon season 2. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and Twitter account, sign up for our exclusive newsletter and check out our YouTube channel.