For the most part, Viserys longs for a male heir. With his wife pregnant again, his teenage daughter Princess Rhaenyra (Millie Alcock), a brilliant dragon rider, realizes that her fate depends on having a son. , while her uncle is another potential successor. (By the way, all those flowy blonde white Targaryen locks should lock up the Hair Emmys, if nothing else.)
Almost everyone seems to be playing angles that suggest they are a step or two ahead of Viserys, including Hand of the King Otto Hightower (Rhys Evans), who exercises quiet authority without raising his voice. Not a quiet whisper.
Martin shared creative credit for the show with newcomer Ryan Condal of the world of Thrones, and Miguel Sapochnick (who directed some of the most memorable episodes, including “Battle of the Bastards”) also hosted the program.
However, while HBO has apparently opened the piggy bank to ensure the look is as lavish as one might expect — and composer Ramin Djawadi’s lightly modified soundtrack goes a long way in rekindling the mood — — but a series like this is built on characters. In short, the inhabitants of the kingdom initially pale in comparison to Tyrion, Arya, or any Lannister or Stark child.
Conceived with a decade-long time jump midway through the season, the story gradually becomes more engaging over the previewed six episodes, with moments as brutal and bloody as anything Thrones has made. There is also the looming threat of war on the outskirts of the kingdom, as well as the regular use of dragons as the ultimate weapon in medieval-style aerial combat.
Back in the beginning of the original, Cersei’s character famously said, when you play Game of Thrones, “You win or you die.” In a way, this mantra reflects the show’s own big stakes and Huge returns.
House of Dragons tries to play a similar game, but 11 years after the first series premiered, the world of television has changed. In the best-case scenario, both the series and HBO may have to settle for a smaller, more qualified, less decisive victory.
House of the Dragon will premiere on August 21 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a division of the Warner Bros. Discovery Channel.