A Shot-by-Shot Analysis: House of the Dragon's First Trailer Resurrects Fire and Blood
HBO finally dropped the very first trailer of its highly anticipated Game of Thrones (GOT) prequel House of the Dragon (HOTD), and suffice to say, fans are internally and externally screaming. It’s been over two long years of dismal dragon-less content, and there couldn’t be a better time to release more stories from the fantastical mind of George R.R. Martin.
We’ve written plenty about House of the Dragon, GOT’s Targaryen-centric prequel, but here’s a quick recap: The show will follow the events of the Dance of Dragons civil war between two fighting factions of the Targaryen dynasty. It will take place 200 years before the start of GOT season one.
HOTD’s season one will likely cover the events that led to the start of the war, which are a huge plotline in itself, so we wouldn’t be surprised if season one ends with the start of the war, similar to how Game of Thrones season one ended with the catalyst of the War of Five Kings (aka poor Ned Stark’s beheading).
It’s a war of succession between the two eldest children of Viserys I (Paddy Considine): Rhaenyra Targaryen, the firstborn whose succession rights are contested because she’s a woman, and Aegon II, Rhaenyra’s half-brother whose family schemes to put him on the throne. Neither are saints, and there will be plenty of epic dragon battles in the sky that will put the Battle of Winterfell to shame.
Now, onto the analysis. (Beware of spoilers.)
1| The Voiceover
In the first moments of the short trailer, Matt Smith’s voiceover narrates, “Gods, kings, fire, and blood,” summarizing pretty much what HOTD will be about. The choice of Smith for the voiceover was not random. Smith will be playing Daemon Targaryen, uncle/husband to Rhaenyra (because let’s never forget they’re Targaryens). Daemon plays an important role in the Dance of Dragons—his scheming and ruthlessness earned him the title of “the rogue prince.” This character will no doubt be a driving force in the plot.
2| Dragons as Gods
A statue of a dragon appears as Smith narrates the word, “gods,” which is a reference to the Targaryen’s roots in Valyria. The three dragons used by Aegon the Conqueror to “unite” Westeros were named after Valyrian gods, and dragons were the Targaryen’s perhaps only advantage in the game of politics. Later in the trailer, Smith narrates, “Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did,” which echoes the sentiment made by Daenerys in season eight of GOT, in which she described how locking the dragons away in the Dragonpit made them small, “and we grew small as well.”
3| The Hand, the King, and the Sword
The trailer then cuts to a closeup of the Hand of the King pin on a dark green coat, no doubt belonging to Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), a central character in the war. His daughter, Alicent, will birth Aegon II, Rhaenyra’s half-brother and a contender to the throne. Otto will scheme to place his grandson on the throne, so expect plenty of betrayal from him.
The next shot shows Viserys I sitting on the Iron Throne, but a closer look at the sword in his hand will have plenty of GOT fans screaming. The sword he is holding is Blackfyre, the house’s ancestral sword made of Valyrian steel, which was lost in the Blackfyre rebellion (which is about 100 years away) and never appeared in GOT.
4| Introducing Princess Rhaenyra
The first full portrait shot we get is of what appears to be Rhaenyra, played by Emma D’Arcy, in her youth. This younger vision of the main character of the civil war implies that we’ll be getting plenty of flashbacks in the show as the Dance of Dragons officially starts with Rhaenyra and her six children. We’re not complaining about this younger version, though, because she looks like the spitting image of Emilia Clarke as Daenerys.
5| The Ultimate (Incestuous) Power Couple
Clearly, the Targaryens were fashioned after Lord of the Rings’ elves because Smith and D’Arcy look ageless in the next shot as Daemon and Rhaenyra gazing upon the shores of Dragonstone. Something appears to be on their minds, and since this is Westeros, it’s no doubt war.
6| Targaryens Everywhere
HBO clearly listened to the demands for more Targaryens because where GOT was scarce in its Valyrian blood, HOTD is populated by them. We have Targaryen kings, princes, courtiers, and now, knights in a tourney.
7| The House Velaryon
While some fans are eager for more Fire and Blood, others are eager for a glimpse of House Velaryon, home of Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake, who will be Rhaenyra’s Hand of the Queen. The wise old man from Driftmark once led a fleet of ships that eclipsed the Ironborn. The trailer gives us a closeup of Corlys, played by Steve Toussaint.
The next shot shows his family, the House Velaryon, joining a feast at King’s Landing, alongside his wife, Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), sister to King Viserys and a dragonrider herself. GOT was known for its strong women, and it appears so will HOTD.
8| Fantastic Sets
If there’s one thing GOT did well, it was its brilliant set design and production. HOTD is following in its footsteps, but with a darker tone intended to fit this era of Westeros. We’re excited to get weekly episodes featuring these stunning set designs.
9| Lady Mysery Arrives
A second-long shot of Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) is enough to make fans go out of their minds. If Daenerys had Varys, then Rhaenyra and Daemon will have Mysaria, the unofficial mistress of whisperers who puts Varys to shame. Mysaria, dubbed Lady Mysery, will add to the show's intrigue as she’ll be around for a while, moving chess pieces on the board based on her allegiances.
10| Alicent, the Ambitious
Cersei’s successor (or predecessor) makes her first appearance in the trailer running about with something in her hand. We have no idea what this scene is about, but Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) seems on edge, which is pretty much her state for the entirety of the war. It’s Alicent, her father Otto, and their family’s ambitions that catapult the events of the war. The family will step into the role played by the Lannisters in GOT as the ambitious lords vying for the throne.
11| The Blacks and the Greens
The Dance of Dragons will be a war between the Blacks (Rhaenyra’s army) and the Greens (Aegon II’s Hightower's army). The colors, the joust, and the framing we see in this shot seem to forebode the civil war to come.
12| A Doomed Lover
A fighting shot is shown of a man who appears to be a Velaryon, complete with silver dreadlocks. There’s no confirmation, but we’re betting that this is Laenor Velaryon, son of Corlys and first husband of Rhaenyra. Since no one survives the game of thrones anyway, we might as well let you know that Laenor dies even before the Dance of Dragons begins. His death opens the gate for Daemon to enter the scene, and with his ambition in tow, marry Rhaenyra.
13| The Iron Throne As It Should Have Always Been
If there’s one—of many—things fans took offense to in the original series, it was the depiction of the Iron Throne as a simple pointy chair. In the books, the Iron Throne was so horrific that it was a character itself. According to George R.R. Martin, he envisioned the throne to be far more monstrous than shown in GOT, but it looks like HOTD is fixing that little issue with a throne that truly reflects the ugly games that politics play.
House of the Dragon will premiere in 2022, and you can expect us nerds of Esquire to eagerly await—and analyze—every trailer to come.