How ‘House of the Dragon’ fumbled its Season 1 finale

Is it improper to confess that I didn’t really feel a lot of something when a sure younger royal was killed off in Sunday night time’s Season 1 finale of “House of the Dragon”? Past the political and cultural ramifications of his demise — a civil battle between the Targaryens, years of unrest and tons of fabric for forthcoming seasons of the “Game of Thrones” prequel — his demise had little emotion in comparison with the shock and horror triggered by Ned Stark’s beheading in Season 1 of HBO’s earlier blockbuster.

Am I a heartless monster? In all probability, however that’s a topic for an additional time. I’d favor to put the blame on “House of the Dragon’s” resolution to swap out solid members seemingly each different episode, making it troublesome to develop into invested of their fates. (Even the loss final week of the person who’d sat on the Iron Throne all season, Paddy Considine’s King Viserys Targaryen, felt extra a method to an finish than the lack of somebody we’d come to know intimately.) That lack of character growth is why, although the sequence has largely been a thrill to observe, Sunday’s finale had a tough time sticking the touchdown.

“The Black Queen” soared greater than it idled, and provided a cliffhanger with simply sufficient battle, dragons and palace intrigue to maintain audiences hooked. And there have been many vibrant spots, resembling Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) singing to a feral dragon in previous Valryian, or the imaginative and prescient of Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) carrying her father’s crown. However it may have been positively explosive if viewers had extra time to with the present’s poor sods earlier than they have been killed off, or had been capable of forge deeper connections with the parents who’ll carry the present to the subsequent season.

The time spent on Rhaenyra’s miscarriage might need made extra sense, as an illustration, if we’d had a whole season with the grownup model of her. The demise of her mom throughout a torturous childbirth opened the sequence. It artfully in contrast the battles fought by the royal girls of Westeros — giving their lives to present life — with scenes of their males killing for sport in a jousting event. That symbolism was highly effective. However now that we’ve spent 10 episodes within the realm, Rhaenyra’s tragedy wanted to resonate on a deeper degree to justify why it was vital to incorporate within the Season 1 nearer.

It will probably’t be simple following within the muddy, blood-soaked footsteps of “Game of Thrones,” and below extra scrutiny than the unique had on the outset. Ten million viewers watched “House of the Dragon” premiere in August, making it the most important within the cable big’s historical past. However it’s clear the prequel continues to be looking for its personal, comfy stride.

In truth, final week’s episode felt extra just like the finale than the precise finale. It was succinct, highly effective and action-packed. The Greens, loyal to Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), staged a coup, repudiating Rhaenyra’s succession by crowning Alicent’s eldest son, drunken louse Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney). It ended with a spectacular dragon-crashing of the coronation by one of many sequence extra nuanced characters, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Finest).

Sunday’s crowning episode was not as tight when shifting the story from King’s Touchdown to Dragonstone, the place Rhaenyra, her household and courtroom are knowledgeable the king is useless and her authority has been usurped by her half brother. The episode’s central dramatic occasion, the demise of Rhaenyra’s second son, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), by the hands of Alicent’s second, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), in an airborne dragon chase gone awry, felt extra like a setup for what’s subsequent than a strong conclusion to what’s occurred to this point.

Who will pledge fealty and what kind of ruler will Rhaenrya (or Aegon) be? A warmonger or peacemaker? Season 2 might want to give us extra high quality time along with her and different key characters — that means we are able to actually really feel cheated when the writers kill them off.