June 20, 2024

CABLE | Burning Down the 'House of the Dragon' – HBO Season 2

"Make it a son for a son."
Emma D'Arcy Ryan Condal Alan Taylor | House of the Dragon HBO | Season 2
1:26 Pictures Inc. / Bastard Sword
HBO's long-awaited sophomore season of its blockbuster Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon, set nearly two centuries prior during the thick of the beginning of the fall of House Targaryen's legendary three-hundred-year reign over the Seven Kingdoms, moves beyond author George R.R. Martin's complex fantasy lore found in the fictional in-universe history book, Fire & Blood, meant to fill in the backstory of the still unfinished A Song of Ice and Fire novels.

Co-creator/showrunner Ryan Condal continues to build out the show's central bitter feud between warring families in true high fantasy soap opera fashion. Journeyman filmmaker Alan Taylor takes over the reins from Miguel Sapochnik (still an executive producer) as the series' primary producer/director and advances the darkly grim tone and moody cinematography.

Stars Emma D'Arcy (Team Black) and Olivia Cooke (Team Green) as Rhaenyra and Alicent extend their deep-seated rivalry leading their respective Targaryen factions in pursuit of control of the Iron Throne through dangerous strategic allegiances. A long, silver-haired Matt Smith does more fine dramatic work as the menacing, power-hungry uncle-husband to the would-be Queen Rhaenyra while looking for his own place in rule.

Matt Smith Emma D'Arcy Ryan Condal Alan Taylor | House of the Dragon | HBO Season 2

HotD's debut season (spanning two decades) treated us to some juicy feminist machinations in a patriarchal medieval fantasy setting revolving around the perils of giving birth, bearing male heirs, and being the first in line for the crown. Reproduction is seen as both a threat and tool while the balance of how power is chased, wielded, and passed down provides all the intrigue for seeding future conflicts.

What makes House of the Dragon so rich a world long before the sordid happenings of GoT is its bold narrative decisions that mess with and fast-forward the existing dense mythology around Westeros. All the characters, particularly the empowered female ones, act and curry favour with clear (albeit often misguided) motivations in the pursuit of attaining power definitively. The much-ballyhooed "Dance of the Dragons" civil war between Targaryen households is now in full swing.

House of the Dragon's second eight-episode season airs weekly on HBO and is available to stream on Crave in Canada (and on Max in the U.S.).

More | YVArcade / Chronicle / Inverse / Vox

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