Anyone who thinks House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power is fighting on the same playing field must have misplaced their accounts because, beyond those HBO crafty wizards who thought they'd launch the Game of Thrones prequel just in time for the release of the prequel on Middle-earth that Prime Video had announced more than two years in advance, the two series have nothing in common, being House of the Dragon - but also Game of Thrones - not a fantasy series in any sense. tight, but a fantasy series in a political sense.
It would be, in fact, naive to be deceived by the mere presence of dragons - for the record, in House of the Dragon, there are 17 - to think that George R.R. Martin thought of setting up a saga linked to magical creatures because, if we think about it, it was never spelled that held the bank in King's Landing, but the intrigues of power.
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The real engine from which the first Game of Thrones and now House of the Dragon started has always been that: the conspiracy to hold the scepter of greatness in your hands, the ambition to sit on that throne of swords so cold and so majestic capable like nothing else in the world to wipe out friendships, brotherhoods and blood ties in order to savor the thrill of sovereignty over the Seven Kingdoms.
House of the Dragon, which Sky and NOW will broadcast simultaneously with the United States from 22 August on a weekly basis every Monday, first with Italian subtitles and then with dubbed dialogues, is, in fact, the most Shakespearean it could be, proof that that great joker of Martin, when it came to creating a long-lasting and stable franchise over time, preferred to take refuge in safe used vehicles rather than betting on the impossible to calculate risk.
On the other hand, from the parts of HBO they know that, in this round, you can't go wrong: the last season of Game of Thrones was so wrong in the writing and in the development that in this round you have to play everything and everything to prove to fans of the series that the world created by Martin's pen is still in excellent health and still able to amaze for its intertwining and quality.
Quality that is so crucial for HBO that it had canceled a Game of Thrones prequel already announced in the press because the plot did not hold up: at this point, in short, either the ground on which you play is stable or you might as well raise the white flag and hope that sooner or later another serious phenomenon capable of bewitching the world will arrive. This is why House of the Dragon immediately gives the air of knowing where it will end, leaving nothing to chance.
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Both because it is based on a novel already published - Fire and Blood, published by Mondodari - and because we all know what will happen in King's Landing almost two centuries later, having already told the rise of the Lannisters, the unjustified delirium of Daenerys, who went from feminist heroine to despot out of the jug, and the ascent to the throne of the young Bran Stark.
In House of the Dragon we rewind the tape of 172 years, when the Targaryens are in charge even if, as we can easily imagine, it will be the thirst for that power that consumes and makes oneself lose the cause of their evil.
To sit on the throne of swords - which at a guess seems to be very uncomfortable - is Viserys (Paddy Considine), designated as heir even if the law would have seen his cousin Rhaenys (Eva Best) as legitimate in the line of succession (the world of Martin, however, is profoundly male chauvinist: no woman has ever sat on the throne of swords, and that is why Baelon, Viserys's father, has chosen to designate the choice of a successor to the council. A very Ponzio Pilato-like choice, if we think about it).
The idyll, however, is destined to die out soon: both because Daemon, the evil and ambitious brother of Viserys played by Matt Smith, the only known face of the series, has long been thinking of getting his hands on the throne, and because his daughter Rhaenyra (first Milly Alcock and then Emma D'Arcy), an almost adolescent who spends most of her days on the back of her dragon Syrax, doesn't seem interested in the affairs of the palace in the least.
Hence the hope of a male heir who could guarantee the Targaryens to continue the dynasty: a hope guarded by the queen's pregnancy faded, however, in a scene so disturbing as to make one regret the final sequence of L'Événement, the winning film of the Lion of 'Gold in Venice in 2021. Hence the scattered cards lead the council to exercise strategic alliances and unexpected betrayals to get their hands on King's Landing now that Viserys is sick and confused about the right strategy to put into practice.
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Right now, the ideal candidate to take his place once he passes away would be his daughter Rhaenyra, but we are not so bad as to think it will be a walk in health. If the plot wasn't enough to convince us that House of the Dragon is the most political series since House of Cards, those Game of Thrones fetishes that have allowed HBO to bring younger viewers closer over the years are to add to the dose: sex (many scenes of orgies consumed in medieval rooms) and violence (in the first episode we witness a live emasculation complete with a bloody scrotum zoomed in on the foreground).
The meat on the fire - including that cooked to perfection from the flaming jet coming from the dragon's jaws - is a lot, but this time HBO seems to know what it's doing. We do not know if House of the Dragon will actually be able to continue what Game of Thrones started in 2011 when the network made bingo and tombolino by betting on a series that became a champion of ratings and prizes,
bringing advertising revenues to the stars, but we certainly know that on this tour nothing has been left to chance: from the attention to the costumes of Jany Temime to the special effects of Michael Dawson, from the remix of the music of Ramin Djawadi to the psychology of the protagonists who, however, just can't make us like it Matt Smith's straight blonde wig, which however bad it may be for us will always remain one of the best Doctor Who the BBC has given us.
The stakes - especially now that platforms like Prime Video and Disney + are unleashing heavy artillery to annihilate linear television - are high, but House of the Dragon knows that what makes the difference is the loyalty of a devoted audience. and, sorry for the competitors, but in this Game of Thrones, it proved to be second to none.