‘House of the Dragon’ continues to excite

The show’s plot lines have become more engaging as its finale approaches


Virginia Noone, Photography Editor

Tensions are running high as we approach the final two episodes of HBO’s “House of the Dragon”. We’ve come a long way both time-wise and character-wise since the beginning of the season when we were introduced to a teenage Rhaenyra and Alicent, a rogue Daemon and a healthy King Viserys.

Roughly 16 years later, there’s an entirely new slate of characters that were conceived earlier in the season that are now young adults vying for the throne. Just like the previous “Game of Thrones” series, the plot is centered around power dynamics, romantic entanglements and morality. Unlike the previous series, the heart of the story lies in Rhaenyra and Alicent’s complex female friendship.

Over the first few episodes, it seemed as though the build-up to Daemon and Rhaenyra’s relationship — romantic yet incestual — was the center of the series. However, as the episodes have progressed, the complicated dynamic between the two girls is really what dictates the rest of the side plots.

The girls start as trusted confidantes and true friends — essentially sisters. Through no fault of their own, they’re torn apart through duty, family and extenuating circumstances. After Alicent is forced to marry King Viserys, Rhaenyra’s father, and then Rhaenyra betrays Alicent’s trust by lying about her virginity — it seems though their friendship is indelibly tarnished.

That would be a proficient and acceptable storyline. Predictable, even. However, the writers of the series seem to have an understanding of the complexities of female friendship and how often they’re oversimplified in the media. The typical plot is as old as time: two women are friends, a man gets in the way, one chooses a man over the friend and they become mortal enemies. Throw in over-sexualization, and you’ve got a hit show — but the HOD writers didn’t do that.

What “House of The Dragon” has done is allowed for animosity between the characters while also intertwining it in a deeper love and understanding of each other’s pain and struggle being in a world dominated by men. They’ve successfully executed this difficult and often unattempted task by showing their shared struggles being in unsatisfactory marriages, raising children and fighting for respect amongst less intelligent characters.

Both “Game of Thrones” and “House of the Dragon” have done an excellent job of making the audience connect to and empathize with the characters that exist in an imaginary world that is very far from our own. The series could at first glance be a form of escapism, but the issues it deals with are very present in our own world.

Women fighting for respect without having to emulate men — very real. An elderly leader who’s trying his best but struggles to maintain respect and authority, extremely real. Balancing your individual life with that of your family — too real.

We tragically do not live in a world where dragons fly around, everyone carries cool swords and people memorize elaborate dances — but we’re not so detached.

Looking toward the final two episodes, what can viewers expect?

Well, the king is finally dead! Thank God — it was becoming gross. It was getting pretty difficult watching him essentially decay into a living corpse and then try to force his insane family to have a wholesome dinner. At least he found peace. In an entirely improvised scene, Matt Smith, the actor who plays Daemon, helped the King to the throne when he fell. The King was later able to sit between Alicent and Rhaenyra one last time before he kicked the bucket.

So now we look to the younger generation for a prince to fulfill King Viserys’s prophecy, which he accidentally told to the wrong woman — Alicent not Rhaenyra — in the final scene of the last episode.

“To unite the realm against the cold… and the dark. It is you. You are the one. You must do this,” he says to Alicent.

He means to tell Rhaenyra that she’s the chosen one but instead makes Alicent believe that her joke of an eldest son, Aegon, is the chosen one and must inherit the throne.

With the King gone, the remaining characters gear up to fight for the throne. In the final episodes, we are sure to see alliances unravel, secrets unveil and violence ensue. I can hardly wait for Sunday at 9:00 p.m.