House of the Dragon is a Masterclass in Subtlety

 

House of the Dragon is a great show! I just wanted to preface that fact before I said anything else. I cannot tell you how much it pleased me that Ryan Condal and George R. R. Martin not only released a creative experience, but a faithful one as well. I didn’t read any of the books mind you, as I am not much of a reader, but the general tone that I get from the comments made under posts on YouTube and in different subreddits tell me that it’s in a good place so far.

 

I’ve watched the entirety of Game of Thrones before and I can say that this show does a great job of using the same cinematic aesthetics that it did. I didn’t feel lost or disoriented simply because I’d been here before. I’ve already seen the vast lands of Westeros, and I’ve followed the heroes and villains of the story travelling them.
While we may be introduced to new characters and even newer Dragons, there’s always that consistent vision that we’re all still wandering the lands of our most esteemed fictional characters. It’s a great feeling to be back in all the drama, hysterics and politicking that never fails to impress. That’s why today, I’ll be trying my best to tell you why House of the Dragon is a Masterclass in Subtlety!
But before this, let me just encourage viewers who have not yet seen this show to watch the first seven episodes before looking at this content, as spoilers will most definitely be present in this review. Furthermore, I’ll be breaking down my thoughts into parts, which will contain various little pieces of information that make the show all so good!
The Dragons

 

Alright! Right away, we should start off slow and first unravel the part that everyone was excited about. As soon as the news dropped that we were going to be getting a prequel series after the not-so-successful ending of the last one, a lot of people were thrilled, a lot were sceptical, and we all know why. But what I’m sure raised everyone’s attention was there were going to be way more Dragons. We were going to get small dragons, big dragons, dragons of all sizes and shapes, and so far, they have been successful in showing a different variety of dragons in the show in just seven episodes so far.
There are around eight or ten dragons at this time, and while we may not have seen all of them in their winged glory, the series has shown a great deal of their distinction regarding their shapes, sizes and imposing presence, though not for very long due to the show being a lot more about the drama surrounding the several houses and politicking more than anything else. But be that as it may, the entire reason for this video is to break down why House of Dragons does this so well, so regardless of anything, we still very much love it! The dragons are the most visually stunning creatures in the show, and nothing is more stunning than the great greyed beast herself, Vhagar.
Vhagar is claimed to be the largest and oldest living dragon in all of the known world. She is the last survivor of Aegon’s Conquest. Yes, that Aegon who everyone wants to name their child after. She is also the only creature still alive who was around to see Valyria at the height of its power. Without a shadow of a doubt, this old girl is a colossal force of nature that can instil fear into the hearts of every man, woman and child if its rider so pleased. Just as we’ve seen in the show itself, other dragons pale in comparison to her stature, and even more so, her riders.

 

According to the books, Vhagar hatched from her egg on the island of Dragonstone during the long-lasting Century of Blood. Vhagar was named after a god of the Valyrian Freehold, and at some point in time, she was claimed by Visenya Targaryen, sister to Aegon the Conquerer. Visenya first rode Vhagar, demonstrating that she could be a dragon rider. After Visenya, Vhagar was then ridden by Baelon Targaryen, who was then succeeded by Lady Laena of House Valaryon, who we see was able to successfully claim her spot on the creatures back after asking King Viserys about her whereabouts back in episode four. Lastly, at least up to episode seven, we see that Vhagar’s latest rider is Aemond Targaryen, son of King Viserys and Queen Alicent Hightower.

 

Vhagar is indeed an imposing force, and in some ways, she has been revealed to be wise in her ways, as when Lady Laena shouted, “DRACARYS!” in efforts to, relieve herself of her own life, after much hesitation, Vhagar realized that by helping Lady Laena in this act, she would be showing a form of compassion which would, in turn, relinquish her rider’s pains. And through this, we can determine that Vhagar has some sense of understanding towards her rider’s emotions and well-being. This rang as one of the highlights portrayed by Vhagar’s character. She’s not only big in size, but also big in heart.

 

We’ve seen other dragons as well that engrossed our attention within the very same second that they appeared. An example of this was Daemon Targaryen’s dragon, Caraxys. Caraxys is a bright red dragon with a sharp ferocity within it that intimidated even the most war-hardened warriors. Caraxys had earned his nickname “Blood Wyrm”, due to him being the fiercest in the dragon pit. Though Caraxes was half the size of the huge Vhagar, in battle he is formidable, fearsome, and experienced. Such attributes were demonstrated in the Battle of the Stepstones, where we witnessed Daemon dominating the battlefield with Caraxys’ strength and fiery nature. This dragon is nothing to be scoffed at in the slightest. I can only wonder about the many more battles we’ll get to see with him.

 

Following these two dragons, we have another that we haven’t seen much of, but have gotten to witness them spewing flames on dozen of its enemies. The dragon I speak of is none other than Seasmoke. Seasmoke was a pale-silver dragon that was ridden by Sir Laenor, as this was the dragon he was bonded with. Seasmoke as I’ve come to realize was fairly young, but as you could ascertain, he was a formidable force on the battlefield, exterminating scores of men with its fire-breathing. Since his rider, Laenor was able to successfully fake his death, we do not yet know what will happen to Seasmoke. Will he go with his bonded rider? Perhaps another fate awaits this dragon. We cannot yet tell.

 

Additionally, in the introductory scenes including the first time we saw Princess Rhaenyra, she can be seen riding her own dragon named Syrax. This was a female dragon that has so far only been ridden by Princess Rhaenyra herself. In her flight scenes, Syrax is shown to be gold in colour and quite nimble in the air. Lady Alicent had made a comparison between Syrax and Caraxys in terms of size, but by episode 2, when both dragons stood atop a great wall, we can ultimately determine that Syrax is smaller than her senior, Caraxys. While this dragon may not have been in any scenes involving action, one can only hope that she grows into a fearsome beast as her counterparts have.

In a later episode, we’re introduced to Dreamfyre, a dragon that evidently belongs to Princess Helaena Targaryen. I’m not entirely sure if there is a bond between the two, as no scenes depicted her riding Dreamfyre, nor any interactions between them have been observed on screen. I only know that Dreamfyre is her dragon. Perhaps in later episodes, I’ll get to see some form of cooperation that dragon riders have with their dragons concerning these two.

 

 

Prince Aegon Targaryen has a dragon as well, which can be seen in episode seven ever so briefly. The name of his dragon is Sunfyre, being similar in name to that of his sister’s dragon Dreamfyre. While Sunfyre’s appearance was short, only emerging in two separate scenes, we know that it is of comparable size to that of Dreamfyre and Meleys.

 

Moving onto another dragon, we have Meleys, a beast who earned her moniker of “The Red Queen” because of her red scales and pink wing membrane. Meleys is also not shown much as we only see her in a few scenes, both with her in the air, but only one with her rider who is Rhaenys Targaryen, cousin to King Viserys I.

 

And finally, the last dragon I’ll be speaking about is Vermax, who is bonded with Jacaerys Velaryon, who we can perceive as still being young and currently not fully trained. It gives the impression of needing more guidance since it did not immediately heed the instructions given by Jacaerys. Nevertheless, this dragon may yet grow into a powerful asset as many of the dragons before shown have.
The Plot
From what I can understand, King Jaehaerys, the predecessor to King Viserys, was able to successfully govern his kingdom for over 50 years, creating long-lasting peace for his people and the royal dynasty. But on account of his failing health, King Jaehaerys needed to choose a successor to his throne, aiming to keep stability within his kingdom after his untimely death. In regards to stability, King Jaehaerys chose to elect his heir using votes from different lords who held important positions within Westeros. There were many candidates for the king to choose from, but in reality, there were only two that ever had the chance of sitting on the iron throne. These two were Rhaenys Targaryen and Viserys Targaryen.

 

Rhaenys Targaryen, being the eldest child of King Jaehaerys, was the rightful heir to the throne, but Viserys, being cousin to Rhaenys and Jaehaerys’s only living male descendant, the king and his lords had decisively made the decision to elect Viserys to sit on the iron throne. Now, the beginning of the show is set some years in the future, where we come to understand that Viserys is now king, with one daughter, Rhaenyra and an unborn child, both mothered by Aemma Arryn. Although the characters believe that this is the beginning of a new, peaceful era of the Targaryen bloodline, we the viewers have an understanding that this is just the start of a chaotic state of affairs that will slowly tear down this lineage of pale-haired dragon riders.

 

The series eventually scopes in on the life of princess Rhaenyra herself, as her family is met with tragedy, and she will have to step up to become heir to the throne due to her being King Viserys’ only living offspring, at first . There are many who don’t want her to take the throne because of differing beliefs held within the many houses in the show. Factions will develop and divides will form within the family. With everyone having their own aims and reasons for siding with or against Rhaenyra, we get to see an insight into how this turmoil will affect everyone.

 

House of the Dragon attempts to illuminate its numerous character and their own political affiliations, thereby highlighting the many things people will do to achieve greater power for both their house and themselves. The main houses incorporated in the constant power struggle include that of House Targaryen, Hightower and House Valaryon, as the somewhat main characters emerge from said houses. Throughout the television series, we will get to see the high stations of authority held by the characters, and how these stations are succeeded, not just by skill or renown, but by blood and family.

 

I will admit that I got a bit hasty and decided to write this review because I wanted to show my appreciation for it. I can’t help but acknowledge that there is an intensity to the show that I believe is more present in this than it was in Game of Thrones, and thusly I would like to extend my way into the juicer parts of the show that I deem, the best. That is the absolute Drama that the show produces. It’s enough to make even the most steadfast of us gossip to our friends about what will happen in the next episode, discussing theories, certain political relationships developing and the various obstacles the show will have to tackle in order to portray a realistic environment such as this. Without further ado, let us move into part three, The Subtlety!
The Subtlety
You can probably already tell, but this is the part that I’ve been waiting to speak about for a while now. The subtlety, but more specifically, the subtle communication in House of the Dragon is phenomenal! It’s impactful, it’s selective. It’s discerning. Communication here seems to be the strongest trait that this show possesses, and it shows! Whether it’s scenes that portray a character’s judgement and how it will affect others, or scenes that aims to make intimidation its biggest factor, communication is always at the forefront of these moments! And it’s not just words that are used to convey these messages to both the viewers and characters, but the use of body language utilized by the actors plays an integral part in portraying indirect messages.

 

The ability to create a powerful scene without dialogue is a gift in itself! There are many occasions that I could point out that do just this, but I won’t because I’m not that scrupulous. Subtle glances around a room, looks exchanged between two people, awkward gestures being made in response to a thought one has. It’s all being captured here, and I have to say that it is the best subtle communication I’ve ever witnessed on video. The characters with moving dialogue may be few indeed, but they are remembered. One such persona would be Otto Hightower.
Almost every dialogue scene including the Hand, Otto Hightower, brings such weight to it. This man can speak! This is someone who knows his advantages and the weaknesses of others. He has people all over the place working for him. He can’t lose! Scenes with him give the impression that he always has something else up his sleeve. Constantly having the upper hand can do that for you. Another persona that is similar to him would have to be Larys Strong, as he looks to have many assets in his pockets, and is willing to do almost any grim deed needed to achieve his goals.
I’m going to be quite honest. This makes me want to read the books now, but I won’t. I much prefer the cinematic experience over that of the imaginary… because…reading. This was my review of House of the Dragon so far. I do enjoy the escapades and the continuous build-up of tension that brings life to these personas. Can’t wait to see what they get up to in the last three episodes left, as I’m sure, feathers will be ruffled.
 
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