Yes, House of the Dragon has purposefully brightened the lighting for season 2

For the later seasons of Game of Thrones and the first season of House of the Dragon, fans complained that the show was too hard to see. Producers are taking steps to address that.
House of the Dragon season 2
House of the Dragon season 2 /

Between the sets, costumes and special effects, HBO spends a lot of money on its Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon. So it was funny that one of the criticisms of the first season was that it was sometimes hard to see what was going on. The biggest offender was this scene in Episode 7, "Driftmark," where Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen have a tryst on the beach. They might as well have just put subtitles over a black screen for how little we could see:

Although it's not certain, odds are that these low light scenes were favored by Miguel Sapochnik, who directed "Driftmark" and served as a co-showrunner alongside Ryan Condal on the first season of House of the Dragon. He also directed several episodes of Game of Thrones including the notoriously hard-to-make-out "The Long Night."

Sapochnik left House of the Dragon after that first season, so now it's just Condal managing things. "It was my suspicion that Miguel was going to do one season and probably be done," Condal told The Hollywood Reporter. "He’d done the original Game of Thrones. He climbed that mountain, and I don’t think he had anything left to prove. So while I was prepared for it, it was an adjustment. But it was something that I think I was ready to take on."

Whatever his feelings about light, Sapochnik was a very talented director responsible for great Game of Thrones episodes like "Battle of the Bastards" and "The Winds of Winter," and it's unclear how House of the Dragon will get on without him. But one upside is that the show does look brighter than it used to, at least based on the season 2 premiere episode. "We went into season two very conscious of that feedback," Condal said of people who complained that season 1 was too dark. "Season two is much more in line with my particular aesthetic and what I think the show should look like. It’s not a massive difference, but I don’t anticipate getting the 'it’s too dark' note again."

With its lighter palette, IndieWire worries that House of the Dragon "now risks looking like everything else on TV." I'm not concerned about that at all. The images still have a ton of depth to them, with lots of shadow and texture; it's just that I no longer worry about being able to see what's going on. Like, even with brighter lighting, what other show has Renaissance oil painting-looking shots like this one?

Emma D'Arcy (Rhaenyra Targaryen) in House of the Dragon season 2.
Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO /

The new, brighter House of the Dragon drops new episodes on HBO and Max every Sunday.

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