Game of groans: why is House of the Dragon so dull?

IIn the latest installment of HBO’s House of the Dragon, Lord Otto confronts the Hightower King with some uncomfortable news. Princess Renera and Prince Damon were seen in the bowels of a pleasure den, indulging in some indecent behavior – coupling, to be precise. However, his report does not mention that Anand’s haunt is no source of bliss. It is a hopeless tomb of anonymous, naked bodies, where Damon, struck by a recurring bout of erectile dysfunction, abruptly leaves his niece.

Meanwhile, Alicent Hightower shows us what it means to “serve the realm,” as the late Emma Targaryen puts it: it’s a duty to stare nonchalantly at the ceiling, awaiting the climax of her aging husband. Here in HOTD’s most sexually charged episode to date, sex among the Westerosian elite is a remarkably depressing affair, where even Rainera’s seduction for a reluctant Ser. She lures him into her room with a long game of putting the helmet away, courtship sweethearts with absolutely zero chemistry.

Is it wrong to watch HOTD and longer for the first four seasons of Game of Thrones? Its reputation may be at stake in scenes of extreme sexual violence, but GOT still gives its characters moments of tenderness and joy. The lifelessness of HOTD’s sexual abuse reflects the mood of the prequel as a whole. It has been surprisingly difficult so far, moving towards a period drama of the repressed nobility. Despite leaning heavily on the world-building of its predecessor, and having all the best resources – the close involvement of George RR Martin; The direction of Miguel Sapochnik, who brought us the very best Battle of the Bastards; And a phenomenal budget – I have to wonder, how can a show about dragons and incest still be so dreary?

Can we talk about anything other than the throne?

Photo: HBO

For all its unnecessary nudity, dragons, and surprising head-cutting, there was real X Factor dialogue for Game of Thrones. There was a way to humanize characters in dialogue while delivering essential world-building details; They told each other stories that expressed their flaws and virtues, while also providing audiences with a reason to care whether they lived or died. Take episode four, season one, when a trembling Samwell Talley meets Jon Snow in Castle Black. Naturally, they talk about girls. John tells Sam that he is still a virgin because he is afraid of having a child out of wedlock, while simultaneously revealing the baggage of being a bastard and explaining the meaning of Snow. “So you didn’t know where to put it?” Sam says. They laugh, and you believe that these people care about each other. You want their friendship to be successful.

Four episodes into House of the Dragon, we’ve spent nearly as many years, one war, and two Alicent Hightower pregnancies through—yet we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of our protagonist. Laughter is extremely rare here, and everyone in this realm seems to have a singular mind. All talk about high birth threats to the throne, succession and succession. It makes for extremely dry parties (would it have killed any great ladies in the hunting tent for the fun of it?) and even dries up the onscreen chemistry. From Ser Kristen’s debut in episode one to her coupling in episode four, she and Rainera had a total of one-and-a-half conversations, counting a cut short by the boar. We learn a little about his ancestry, but does he have a personality? We might never know.

Lord Corliss, we hardly know you

House of the Dragonfirst Look
Photo: HBO

HOTD zips through the plot with lightning speed, making little changes in terms of mood or scenes. Imagine Game of Thrones’ multiple colorful landscapes, personalities, and clever punchlines, then compress it into a uniform shade of gray. Skillful storytelling is a feature of the source material, George RR Martin’s Fire and Blood. Written through the eyes of an archer in the Citadel, it presents an account of the Targaryen dynasty 300 years after the fact. As a result, our characters feel like distant historical figures. According to the Grand Master, “Sea Snake is a super-arrogant person,” but surely there’s more to him, right? Does he have any faults? And who wears pants to his wedding to Princess Raines?

As in the book, the show’s dialogue plays a proven role, with the cadence of a conveyor belt guiding conflict to a speedy resolution. Arrangements over the years are quickly corrected—”I’ve missed you,” Rainera tells Alicent—and offscreen development is briefly accounted for. We haven’t seen Lord Corley in a while, but we’re told he’s marrying his daughter to Sealord of Braavos. It’s a show built around the absence – not just of Lord Corliss, but of laughter, texture or depth.

princess is not a personality

House of the Dragonhouse of the Dragon Series 1 Episode 4 Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, this epic series tells the story of House Targaryen.
Photo: HBO

The dutiful Alicent is understandable about Rainyra’s crimes; Teenage Rani completely surrendered her sexual agency at the age of 15. She’s working overtime these days, taking care of both her young children and ailing husband, all the while looking for a decent lord to marry her friend – and that’s what she’s thankful for? If RaineratarnishedIn the sight of these lords, she cries out, “this will ruin everything!”

The show goes to great lengths to frame itself as a struggle for womanhood against patriarchy, dialing back the open sexual violence and full-front nudity of Game of Thrones, only to make it seem non-consensual. -sections, unwanted abortions and constant discussion of birth heirs to replace with. At the end of the day it’s still a show about two teenage girls defined by the “burden of my inheritance”, as Rainera puts it. , and a little extra substance. She might actually be the worst too – a petulant brat who lies, insults the elders, and throws Otto Hightower off the petty council. But when you play Game of Thrones, this kind of brutality is a virtue. As a wise queen once said, either you win, or you die.

parting thoughts

It’s unclear whether Damon wants Rainyara, or simply wants to destroy her marriage prospects, but it doesn’t matter. Viserys tends to lift Daemon’s exile every time he jumps, so it will look like he never left.

Where is Princess Raines, the only adult female with a speaking role? Eve Best’s talent is wasted as long as she stays offscreen.

Lannister’s progenitor Jason, he’s of small game, and Tyland, the runner of the small council, is shocking. Tyrion, Tywin and Cersei will be cleaning the floor with these clowns.

Belonging to the far, colonized lands, the Mysore pronunciation of … is an interesting choice.

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