Has House of the Dragon redeemed the Game of Thrones franchise?

The long-awaited Game of Thrones (GOT) prequel show House of the Dragon (HOD) has wrapped up its first season. But does it live up to everyone's expectations? And how does it compare to its predecessor?

The long-awaited Game of Thrones prequel show House of the Dragon has debuted its first season. Has it lived up to everyone's expectations?
The long-awaited Game of Thrones prequel show House of the Dragon has debuted its first season. Has it lived up to everyone's expectations?  © IMAGO/Picturelux

Blood has been spilled. Secret alliances have been formed. And after the Queen was viciously robbed of her crown, war is now on the horizon.

Following much anticipation and speculation, the GOT prequel series has arrived with the entirety of its first installment, bringing the whole Targaryen clan with it.

The fantasy-drama based on George R.R. Tolkien's Fire & Blood focuses on House Targaryen and the events that lead up to their civil war of succession, known as the "Dance of the Dragons." For the last 10 weeks, fans have faithfully tuned in each Sunday to see all the dragons, grimy political schemes, and awkward incest.

Prince Harry makes heartbreaking statement amid latest court loss
Prince Harry Prince Harry makes heartbreaking statement amid latest court loss

But HOD has had a lot of weight on its shoulders following GOT's underwhelming final season, and it's negatively-received series finale.

Now that HOD's full Season One is available for everyone's viewing pleasure, the question that needs to be answered is whether it has actually redeemed the GOT franchise.

Does House of the Dragon live up to the hype?

Matt Smith and Milly Alcock received praise among fans for their portrayals of Prince Daemon and the younger version of Princess Rhaenyra, respectively.
Matt Smith and Milly Alcock received praise among fans for their portrayals of Prince Daemon and the younger version of Princess Rhaenyra, respectively.  © IMAGO/Picturelux

HOD had a lot of eyes and ears on alert when the opening credits rolled and it first blared the thrilling GOT theme song in August.

Though set nearly 200 years before the events of GOT, HOD is again centered around the bloody fight for the Iron Throne.

But what makes the second show in the franchise different from its predecessor is its intriguing back history of the Targaryen clan. Maybe Emilie Clark's unforgettable portrayal as Daenerys Targaryen and her demise in GOT – which still doesn't sit well with fans - led to the improvements in its newest adaption.

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce cuddle up in new Coachella snaps
Taylor Swift Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce cuddle up in new Coachella snaps

But does it live it up to the hype overall?

It's a tough case to make since we still have a ways to go and this is just the first season. But hands down, HOD is the most entertaining new series to grace TV screens in a long time.

Across the board, the cast has been a delight. From Paddy Considine's scene-stealing portrayal as King Viserys I to Matt Smith's haunting take as the "Rogue Prince" Daemon, the acting performances are heart-stopping. And we can't forget the dynamic turns from Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke playing Princess Rhaenyra and Queen Alicent, respectively.

The cinematography and musical score for HOD gets a chef's kiss for their perfection, and the fun, though few, moments when the dragons grace the scene provide stunning imagery.

If there's a major complaint, the show's pacing and time jumps feel a bit rushed and could perhaps use some more ironing out.

Of course, it's clear now that season one is a catalyst for future seasons, since the impending civil war is a years-long battle.

But whether or not HOD has lived up to everyone's expectations, no one can deny that the GOT craze is back – and HOD is to thank.

Fans can catch up on the first season of House of the Dragon on HBO Max.

Cover photo: IMAGO/Picturelux

More on TV & Shows: