And, this being a show about the Targaryens, there will be dragons … mentioned, but, tragically, unseen for now. (Unless you count the brief glimpse of what is either a dragon or a dragon statue at the 18-second mark—at times this teaser is as dark as “The Long Night.”)
In fairness, the CGI dragons of Thrones were undeniably impressive but also a hugely expensive ordeal that required a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Since House of the Dragon doesn’t even have a release date set and only started filming in April 2021, one would assume the dragons are still in the “Emilia Clarke riding atop a giant green rig” stage of development. But with dragons as essential to the Targaryens as direwolves are to the Starks or goblets of red wine and self-esteem issues are to the Lannisters, a healthy dose of dragons on a show called House of the Dragon should be a foregone conclusion.
Of course, the emphasis on dragons—and an infamous family that Thrones viewers are already quite familiar with—could prove to be a fatal miscalculation on HBO’s part. As my colleague and Thrones superfan Riley McAtee previously noted when the House of the Dragon was announced: “Thrones was at its best in the early seasons when the dragons were not the main focus of the series. If anything, Daenerys’s dragons were such a military advantage by the time she landed in Westeros that the writers had to twist the plot of the show into knots to keep her from just marching to King’s Landing and taking her throne. … This series will live or die on the strength of everything else—the writing, characters, world-building, etc.—that populates the world around its CGI beasts.”
Beyond that, House of the Dragon will need to inject new life into a franchise whose truncated and haphazard final season made the prospect of Thrones spinoffs considerably less enticing. Game of Thrones ended, shall we say, underwhelmingly, and things have been rocky ever since: the first prequel series, announced in 2018 and definitely not named The Long Night like George R.R. Martin wanted, was axed in October 2019 after filming a pilot; another in-development series called Flea Bottom was also abandoned in July.
Still, House of the Dragon deserves the benefit of the doubt, and our attention. After all, there was a time when HBO’s disastrous pilot-making process for the original Game of Thrones seemed like an expensive shitshow, and then the show turned into one of the biggest television phenomena of all time. Hopefully House of the Dragon gets off on the right foot—even if it requires fire and blood.