House Of The Dragon Won't Be 'What You Love Wrapped Up In Different Packaging'

No one can deny that HBO's "Game of Thrones," based on the novels by George R.R. Martin, was a juggernaut of a series. It had the world riveted for eight seasons, and won a whopping 59 Emmys. After each episode, water coolers were abuzz with people wondering if Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was dead and which of the Starks would survive, with book readers looking knowingly at non-book readers while they speculated on future plot points. Fans may have been angry about the final season's character turns and rapid pace — myself among them — but its reach and impact cannot be underestimated.

This summer, we're traveling back to Westeros for the prequel series "House of the Dragon," which is set centuries before "Game of Thrones" started. Back then, Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) ancestors and their dragons ruled the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. From what we know of the story, there will be jockeying for the position of heir to the Iron Throne, a look at the gender politics of Westeros, and definitely some fire-breathing creatures that ensure the Targaryen dominion over the people. 

If that sounds a bit too familiar to you as a "Game of Thrones" fan, co-showrunner Ryan Condal ("Colony") wants you to know that it's not going to be a rehash of what we've already seen and (mostly) loved. 

The fall of Rome

In an interview with EW, Condal promised that this isn't the same show, just set in an earlier time period. "We have this huge legacy to carry forward," he said, and the "House of the Dragon" creative team wants "to do that in the best way that honors what came before, but also doesn't do the thing that I think a lot of sequels do: Here's [what] you love wrapped up in a different packaging."

It's nice to hear, though, from the trailers that have been released so far, to the very distinctive look of the Targaryens, I do wonder. Don't get me wrong. I'm very excited to watch. Despite my great anger at how the final season went down — parasocial relationships are a real psychological phenomenon, folks — I do want to see what happened to put us at the start of "Game of Thrones." Condal addressed that as well, saying, "I wanted to tell a story about the height of Rome before the fall and see the Targaryen dynasty at its very apex so that we can understand the thing that was lost when it all fell apart."

That caught my attention. The time just before the fall of Rome is such a fascinating period in history — a huge and seemingly successful society rotting from within. I don't need to comment on what's going on in our own world, I'm sure, or point out how a show like this seems to be very timely in that respect.

What is dead can never die

Lest you fear that they're trying to make it too different from the original series, "House of the Dragon" is still going to respect its predecessor. In an earlier interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the other co-showrunner and director, Miguel Sapochnik (who directed "Game of Thrones" episodes like "Hardhome," "The Long Night," and "Battle of the Bastards"), explained: 

"I think we were very respectful of what the original show is. It wasn't broken, so we're not trying to reinvent the wheel. 'House of the Dragon' has its own tone that will evolve and emerge over the course of the show. But first, it's very important to pay respects and homage to the original series, which was pretty groundbreaking. We're standing on the shoulders of that show and we're only here because of that show. So the most important thing for us to do is to respect that show as much as possible and try and complement it rather than reinvent it."

My only concern is how they are going to pace things. I certainly didn't agree with every decision that was made on "Game of Thrones," but no other season felt as rushed as the final season did. It was like they just asked the writers' room for some ideas on how to wrap up stories super quick, and picked all the wrong ones. Here's hoping "House of the Dragon" will take its time and develop each character and storyline. 

"House of the Dragon" will premiere on HBO Max on August 21, 2022.