House Of The Dragon Pilot Review: The Evil Prince And Adored Princess

Here’s a House Of The Dragon pilot review that breaks down what made this opening so good. Daemon Targaryen has quickly earned a great deal of scorn from the audience. So far this spinoff has succeeded in capturing the same brutal tone as Game of Thrones.

House Of The Dragon Pilot Review The Evil Prince And Adored PrincessIt’s a great time to be a Game of Thrones fan because the new spinoff is a hit. This House Of The Dragon pilot review explores what makes this first episode work so well.

The story creates a lot of potential for the rest of the series. Daemon and Rhaenyra are introduced to the audience perfectly. Also, the pilot succeeds in capturing Game of Thrones’s signature tone.

House Of The Dragon is available on HBO Max.

This House Of The Dragon pilot review contains spoilers.

House of the Dragon | Official Trailer | HBO Max

Story: A Loaded Succession

This series begins by showing King Jaehaerys Targaryen name his heir. It’s a choice between Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and Prince Viserys Targaryen. He ends up picking Viserys seemingly because he is a man and Rhaenys is a woman. The lords of Westeros favor male monarchs over female ones. So, Jaehaerys seemly chooses his male relative because he fears that the lords would rebel against a female monarch. That decision sets the plot of this series in motion. The events to come all stem from King Jaehaerys picking Viserys as his heir. However, King Viserys ends up with the same problem in the pilot, but he chooses his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen.

So, Jaehaerys simply delayed the inevitable. A woman has been declared the heir to the throne, and now the lords of Westeros are going to react.

Jaehaerys Targaryen choosing his heir.

Jaehaerys Targaryen choosing his heir.

These events set up a situation much like The War of the Five Kings in Game of Thrones. The various people in power all have a choice to make. Respect the King’s decision or throw support behind one of the other claims to the throne. This is a great set-up because there are so many directions it can go in. There are plenty of opportunities for double crosses and action-packed battles. To summarize, this pilot does a great job of setting up the rest of this series. The future holds betrayal, sword fights, and dragons.

Characters and Performances: Daemon Targaryen

The best performance of the pilot is Matt Smith’s portrayal of Prince Daemon Targaryen. He does a great job of making the audience hate his character. In addition to doing horrible things, Daemon conducts himself in an obnoxiously cocky manner. Also, he doesn’t seem to be evil for no reason. There are a few lines that seemingly foreshadow that some past events in his life have made him this way. This is a promising sign that he will be a good antagonist. Future episodes will likely shed light on what exactly happened to Daemon to turn him into the monster that he is now.

Daemon Targaryen in the throne room.

Daemon Targaryen in the throne room.

Rhaenyra Targaryen

Young Princess Rhaenyra has already captured the hearts of many fans. Milly Alcock does a great job of capturing her youthful and innocent demeaner, which distinguishes her from the other characters. However, that changes when her mother dies in childbirth, and she is named heir to the throne. Over the course of a few days, she goes from being an adored young Princess to having the biggest responsibility of anyone in Westeros.

In Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen gradually goes from being her brother’s tool to being a legendary Queen. Now in House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra is thrown into the fold over the course of the pilot. Fans will see how she handles this transition in future episodes.

Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower at the tournament.

Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower at the tournament.

Pacing and Editing: Unsustainable

Many critics have pointed out that the key events at this point in this universe’s history are spread out over many years. The pilot has a large time jump since Viserys is named heir to the throne long before the rest of the episode takes place. This time jump isn’t really an issue for this episode because it’s a pilot. So, establishing some history is appropriate. Besides the initial jump from the first scene to the second scene, the pace feels very typical. A few big events take place over the course of a few days. However, there are more time jumps to come, which may feel awkward. Hence, the pace that the pilot establishes seems to be unsustainable. So, some critics are concerned that future time jumps will make the pacing for the rest of the series feel strange. Only time will tell if that concern is valid.

Fire Will Reign Official Promo | House of the Dragon | HBO Max

Cinematography and Sound: Brutal Violence

One of the things that many critics respect about Game of Thrones is that nothing is held back. The vulgarity is explicit, the cursing is loud, and the violence is gruesome. In order for House of the Dragon to feel like part of that universe, it needs to capture that same tone, which it has so far. However, even by Game of Thrones standards, the House of the Dragon pilot is brutal. A few scenes are so gruesome that some fans are finding themselves unable to watch them. That being said, the violence is well done, which is evident in the audience’s emotional response to it. The gore is graphic, and the screams are chilling.

Introducing Rhaenyra and Daemon

In addition to being the best two characters, Rhaenyra and Daemon are also established very well. That brief moment when a character is first introduced to the audience is much more important than most viewers realize. That’s because fictional characters don’t speak or act for themselves. Filmmakers present characters to audiences who then conceive and interpret their words and actions.

Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen in the throne room.

Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen in the throne room.

Let’s examine Rhaenyra’s introduction. The scene begins with a dragon soaring through the clouds with someone on its back. It then dives downward and glides over the familiar city of King’s Landing. Once it lands, the rider dismounts and pets her dragon. This is followed by a close-up of young Princess Rhaenyra smiling very purely. This introduction does a terrific job of capturing her as a free spirited, innocent, and youthful young woman.

Daemon’s introduction is great as well. Ser Harrold Westerling and Rhaenyra are on their way to greet him in the throne room. Once they open the door, they are flabbergasted to see that Daemon has made himself right at home by sitting upon The Iron Throne. This establishes him as a cocky, ambitious, jerk right off the bat. Both introductions are very well directed and well acted.

House Of The Dragon is off to a good start. This pilot successfully establishes this series as a worthy prequel to Game of Thrones. Rhaenyra and Daemon are very effectively introduced to the audience and Milly Alcock and Matt Smith each perform well in their roles.
  • Plenty of directions to go in
  • Rhaenyra and Daemon are great
  • Same tone as Game of Thrones
  • Pace may be unsustainable

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