House of the Dragon Season 1, Episode 1 Premiere Review - The Heirs of the Dragon

George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novels A Song of Ice and
Fire comes to life again in the new HBO series House of Dragons, a prequel to
Game of Thrones.

The First Episode of The House of Dragon starts on a really
good note, reminding us in a jarring way of the nudity, violence, and
politicking that have come to be the way of life in Westeros.

I have digested several audiobooks about the histories of
Westeros and the various noble houses, however, seeing these stories come to
life with modifications, makes for quite a better experience.


The episode begins with the Great Council at Harrenhal where
“The Old King” Jaehaerys having no direct heirs, as
his sons have died called for the Great Council at Harrenhal to decide who
would succeed him. Viserys the son of Jaehaerys’s fourth son, is chosen over Rhaenys, the daughter of Jaehaerys’s third son.

We are then moved forward 9-10 years into the reign of Viserys
and come upon the never-ending intrigues, court politics, and relationships
that almost always centre around the unfortunate question of who would succeed
the King. Everything is always about who will sit on the iron throne, the marriages,
discussions, friendships, wars, and encounters are always about the throne.


I love how they fleshed out the characters with the first
episode, setting the scene, taking positions and letting the audience start calibrating
their emotions about whom to like, whom to hate and who to be wary of. 


We quickly meet Rhaenyra, Viserys’ daughter and can see that
she is young, boisterous, brave and will definitely be a force to be reckoned. 

Viserys' wife Aemma is pregnant and from the look of it she is having a
difficult pregnancy, we get an insight into Aemma and Rhaenyra's
relationship and their conversation set the tone for us about the status of
women in this society, while Rhaenyra has the aspirations of being a warrior, her
mother quickly reminds her of her expectation as a woman. 

Rhaenyra is friends
with Alicent Hightower, the two girls are very close, almost sisters and the
contrast between them can be seen in their interactions. Where Rhaenyra is
brave, outgoing, smart and sure, Alicent is more mellow, obedient and unsure.


We meet the small council and Alicent's father, Otto
Hightower who is the Hand of the King. We are wary of the men that sit on the
small council, knowing well enough how political and deadly they can be, we
have been well versed in the art of governing in the small council from Game of
Thrones, so we understand that it is not so much about what is said, but what
is unsaid. This is why there is a gentle foreshadowing as Lord Corlys “The Sea
Snake” Velaryon, Master of Ships draws the attention of the King and Council to
reports of a vicious military threat in the east, known as the Crab Feeder a vicious
pirate killing and maiming pirates along the seashores that mark the Seasnake's
stronghold, while the small council does not pay much attention to his
warnings, we know well enough how these little itches can become life
threatening sores if not attended to.


At the small council, the empty chair of the King's younger
brother Daemon Targaryen also hints at the rebellious
nature of its absent occupant, we see Daemon control the city watch and met out
his own kind of justice on the criminals of Westeros without trial or consultation,
maiming and killing whomever he adjudges criminal. It is a show of brute force
which is not answered later by his brother when he is informed. Viserys is peace-loving
and mild, even when Daemon, an obvious thorn in his side refuses to give his
assurance not to repeat the vicious act, Viserys does not act. I couldn’t help
but wonder how a king can make or be counselled into making a stupid decision
such as giving an army to someone he should be wary of. Viserys’ weakness can
be seen in the fact that he does not see Daemon's ambition for the throne and
then proceeded to make him Commander of the City Watch. At the end of the
episode, he finally sees it but alas, it is too late. Although, the complication of Daemon's character can be seen in his relationship with Rhaenyra which is warm and close.

Coryls is the husband of Rhaenys “the-Queen-who-never-was”,
she is the daughter of Jaehaerys' third son, the woman that was passed over for
the throne in favour of Viserys, the son of Jaehaerys’ fourth son at the great
Council at the beginning of the episode. You know that would be a touchy topic,
but it doesn’t stop a Baratheon from calling her, “the-Queen-who-never-was”
when he asked for her favour at the heir's tourney, the tourney the king
organised to celebrate the birth of his son as Aemma went into labour. The
tourney saw Daemon, the King’s brother dismounted from his horse by Sir Cole,
whom I’m sure would play an important role in what's to come. As the Tourney
progresses, the King is called away to Aemma's labour chamber where the baby
has breached and has to make the difficult decision to cut the baby out of her
in a very archaic C Section. It is again a jarring realisation about the status
of women in this society as vessels to bring forth children, I am still shaken by
that scene.

As the Tourney outside got bloody, so as well did the Labour
chamber, I couldn’t bear it. It’s just horrible and one of the most disturbing scenes
I ever saw on tv, even though I fast-forwarded, I still saw the bloody bed and
struggle as Aemma, having no say about what was happening to her met a very horrific
end. Aemma dies, but the baby survives - only for a day.

At the Funeral, Rhaenyra is filled with grief as she lights
the funeral pyre with dragon fire, you might wonder if Viserys doesn’t have a dragon,
he did in fact, I’m sure we would get more insight on this as the show

After the funeral, Otto Hightower, the king’s hand quickly
instructs his daughter Alicent to befriend the King, she is reluctant but she
is obedient.


Daemon and Otto are at loggerheads when the former finally
shows up at the small council, which is to be expected of like minds, as both
are quite ambitious and covert the throne from what we have glimpsed so
far. The King is informed by his hand about his brother's celebration of his
son's death and quickly exiles him to Runestone to be with his wife and finally
recognises and crowns Rhaenyra as his heir.


At the end of the episode, we see that the famous theme song
by Ramin Djawadi has been retained, while I was intrigued to hear what the new
score would be, I was still excited to hear the familiar tune during the
closing credit.

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