House of the Dragonthe dragonesque prequel to Game Of Thrones continues its narrative swerves so the years go by faster than the episodes. The opportunity to draw the swords and heat the dragons?
THE CRUMBLING THRONE
After two first episodes conducted with beating drums, House of the Dragon confirms having launched a sacred challenge, which we do not know if it will remain the specificity of its first season, or is already serving as a more global note of intent. Indeed, Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik have opted for a narration based on a game of complex ellipses. In three episodes, the viewer will have gone through almost twice as many years. A narrative orientation that raises questionsand if we note in each chapter a notable progression in the dramatic intensity, this narrative architecture imposes itself as eminently singular.
Even more than in previous weeks, the temporal jolts imposed on the viewer give him the feeling that almost each scene represents a symbolic thrust, a extra notch in civil war mechanics coming. This impression of fatality is quite dizzying, as if, despite the obvious good will of all the characters, or almost, the chaos to come was inextinguishable.
Will Viserys remain on his throne?
Because, and this is the beautiful paradox of the writing of this first season, if no protagonist pretends to be an altar boy, if everyone plays their part and wants to get the most powerwealth or possible validation, he is not a character who truly feels like playing against Westeros, or rather, not one who is still a genuine cynic, no one seriously conceiving that the tensions that are emerging will be able to bring down the Targaryen dynasty.
Consequence: the tragic slips into the smallest gap, but this disheveled rhythm almost condemns the whole thing to a deceptive speed, from which one sometimes wonders if it will be possible to unhook, to find a more precise progression, a less “spectacular” but more moving dramaturgy. Some precious clues are laid out in this 3rd episode of House of the Dragon.
And I did it all with matches
TWO GIRLS ONE THRONE
If the tempo remains extremely sustained, this segment will be the occasion for several scenes which intelligently explore both the relationship between Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Alicent (Emily Carey) and the evolution of each. While their respective ancestors have transferred their own ambitions to their descendants, we are witnessing the inexorable decay of their friendship, which had hitherto been able to retain accents full of sisterhood. The equation is insoluble, just as the score that each received is equally cruel.
One scene in particular highlights the dead ends that now constitute their immediate future, when Otto (Rhys Ifans) is fired by the king, who has recently married his daughter. On the point of leaving the capital, at the risk of perhaps never laying eyes on Alicent again, he tries to open her eyes to the nature of the conflict of loyalty and interests which is tied up reluctantly. Indeed, even if she did not undertake to plot against the future Queen, the latter would be forced to attack both Alicent and her descendants, to cut short the conflict which will soon threaten the race for the succession launched.
And that’s a good position, Hand of the King?
Rhaenyra, for her part, has to face the emotional limits of a father who is both too resolute to forget that he is suzerain, and not a keen enough reader of Machiavelli to understand that his constant search for justice is depriving him of accuracy. Kind of Louis XVI who would have swapped his locks for modelshe is consecrated to his court as a man on the point of collapsing when, during the hunt which he himself has provoked for his own pleasure, he proves incapable of finishing his prey without help.
In Game Of Thrones, the blotchy predatory appetites of an excessive king caused the throne to become vacant and a myriad of disasters. In House of the Dragonit is the opposite situation that allows ambitions to sharpen andcreate a bloodbath. This idea of a mirror held up to the original series, without being fundamentally revolutionary, is particularly well done.
A rustic decor, but full of charm
HAVE A GOOD BUDDY
Daemon’s character is, since his first appearance, the most exciting, but also puzzling the screenplay has to deal with. With his airs of peroxide rebel, the prince could have turned into the Nero of cardboard, joining the cohorts of applicants deprived of thrones, busy plotting crudely in hundreds of productions in search of grimacing antagonists. But both Matt Smith and Condal made sure to add a much more endearing and complex personality to him.
Driven by a deep taste for provocation, fond of fighting and fantasizing about seizing the Throne, Daemon is not a real threat to the other members of his family. We know it from the first look exchanged between the azimuthed uncle and his niece promised to an eventful reign, the prince feels a deep loyalty to his lineage, a fortiori towards Rhaenyra.
Large pollution spike on the outskirts of Dragonstone
Their reports carry the colors of George RR Martin high. All in bombast, perversity and playing with limits, they also benefit from a quality of writing and a skin-deep incarnation that make it one of the thrilling interconnecting the multiple intrigues of this beginning of the season. Proof that HBO has thought of its shot, the duo composed by these Targaryens on the verge of a nervous breakdown is nothing like a repetition of the Lannisters of yesteryear.
Disturbing and vectors of brutality, no doubt, Rhaenyra as well as Daemon are above all two complex souls, tormented in their accession to power as well as their possible renunciation, perpetually overwhelmed by their feelings. But they don’t limit themselves to singing fleurette at the windows of our dumbfounded melancholy. The Daemon, he is also there to fart crab.
“What ill wind brings you?”
Through its eight seasons, Game Of Thrones will have established itself as the only series of its time capable of offering the general public a spectacle rivaling the fierce competition of blockbusters intended for the big screen. By dint of colossal investments and above all of an absolutely remarkable reflection upstream of filming, which has become, so to speak, anachronistic in Hollywood, the series managed to pack phenomenal jousting. By mixing hard sets, models, digital imagery and ambitious stunts, HBO’s star product will have been the breeding ground for epic television shows of the 2010s.
With the announced competition from the Rings of Power, House of the Dragon could not stay behind, and it is therefore with appetite that this third episode leaves on the occasion of its climax the keys of the dragon to Daemon. The opportunity for a technically impeccable battle scene, mixing pieces of bravery, dragonery and guts. The set of course looks like a show of forcebut beneath the raw spectacle also lies the need to cast Daemon as a skilled fighter, as well as a kamikaze strategist, capable of reversing the outcome of a battle through sheer boldness.
Perceval the Gregeois
What to lick your fingers, so much the series manages, quickly, to impose a sustained tempo, complex characters and the pyrotechnic flights of its elder. He now has two major projects to succeed in transforming the trial and go from classy entertainment to essential ritual viewing.
On the one hand, history will soon have to find its cruising speed as well as its center of gravity, so that it no longer just depends on sudden ellipses to keep our curiosity awake. Two, it must quickly vary the range of its protagonists. This is its only real shortcoming at this stage of hostilities, the chronicle of the fates of the crowned heads not being able to give us to see or to feel the life of Westeros as a whole, while the character gallery still lacks endearing second knivescapable of propelling the intrigue and our emotions beyond the mere clashes of courtiers.
A new episode of House of the Dragon is available every Monday on OCS since August 22, 2022