House of the Dragon Is Back, and This Time, It’s War

And then you had this cast full of beloved character actors, whether it’s somebody like Paddy Considine, or Matt Smith, a guy that I’ve loved since Dr. Who, who I think has maybe struggled a little bit to find his place post Dr. Who and post The Crown. This part, Daemon, is a perfect merging of his asshole persona in both those previous roles.

For a spinoff, the first season asked a lot of the audience. The story didn’t gallivant all over a huge map like Thrones did, showing us different visually-distinct locales. It didn’t include many of the earthy, sweary low-born characters who made Thrones so colorful. The focus was pretty tight on a specific corner of Westeros and this specific group of upper-class blond people. And it seemed like every other week there’d be a pretty significant time jump, sometimes leading to actors being recast.

That’s one of those things I know some people got kind of hung up on that during the first season. It didn’t bother me as much. It could be a little disorienting, but I think at the end of the day, especially as we move into season two, having that history associated with the characters makes it all feel a little bit more lived-in, because in theory, by the end of the first season, we’ve been with these characters for 20 years.

So those little things that were maybe slights in season one are coming back, and now they’re not fresh wounds or scabs—they’re scars. They’re deep-seated things, petty or not. And the show can then turn around and reference its own history. I think the fact that they were able to establish that within the course of a 10-episode first season is a really cool feature, even if some people thought it was a bug. And especially as we head into season two, that stuff becomes more and more prevalent.

Also, in season two, they do find ways to show us small moments where we get the perspective of ordinary folks. People that actually live in King’s Landing, blacksmiths, people who go out drinking on the Street of Silk. Having that ground-level perspective on this larger civil war helps show us the stakes of what’s happening.

You’ve seen the first half of the new season. Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t, including me, what else can we expect?

I think if season two is all about setup, then this is really all about execution. If you’re going to depict a civil war between two families, you have to really kind of care about all of the characters involved. If we start to see more and more battles and people are dying left and right and we don’t really care about them, everything feels a little hollow. So I was curious about how they were going to handle the kids this time around. One of the criticisms I had about season one, especially in the finale when they kill Lucerys, Rhaenyra’s son—that death didn’t feel like there was a ton of weight to it, because we hadn’t spent a ton of time with him. Like a lot of the kids, he felt more like an archetype than an actual character.

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