HBO House Of The Dragon: 9 Do’s And Don’ts The Game Of Thrones Prequel Show Should Learn From The Original

Game of Thrones had its fair share of mistakes toward the end of its HBO run, and I'd hate to see House of the Dragon do the same.
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HBO, House of the Dragon, new series, Game of Thrones, Dragons, Targaryens
HBO "House of the Dragon" Title Card - Copyright: HBO, Shan Shan Fu

Dare I say it, there may not be a better fantasy show than HBO’s Game of Thrones. The series was a worldwide phenomenon all thanks to the original vision of George R. R. Martin, and needless to say people are dying for more content. However, as wonderful as the show is, it’s not all perfect, and I’d hate to see HBO’s prequel show House of the Dragon, a series based on the history of House Targaryen, make the same mistakes.

Here are 9 Do’s and Don’ts that HBO’s House of the Dragon should follow. SPOILER ALERT!

1. Don’t: Rush Character Arcs

Game of Thrones is known for its methodical web of plotlines, characters, and events that shouldn’t be rushed.

Game of Thrones, Daenerys, Dragons, Iron Throne, Season 8, HBO
Daenerys Claims the Iron Throne - Copyright: HBO, Paste Magazine

What some may consider drawn out, others consider patient writing that allows the story to unravel in good time. Seasons 1-5 did this exceptionally well, and season 6, too, continued this formula. However, seasons 7 and 8, known for their shorter episode count, rushed plotlines and character arcs in a way that clouded over logic and reason.

The biggest moments of Daenerys becoming the mad queen and the white walkers being defeated both happen fast and leave audiences underwhelmed and thinking: “When did Daenerys become so crazy?” and “I thought the white walker battle would take more than one episode.

I’m not saying these events aren’t spectacular to watch, but they don’t make much sense logically, and they don’t fulfill the patient, methodical storytelling that made the earlier seasons so great. Slow and steady wins the race.

2. Do: Keep Huge Spectacles to a Minimum

Game of Thrones was no stranger to big blockbuster moments, and they succeeded in delivering surprise twists and tears to our eyes.

HBO, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Wildfire
Wildfire Destroys the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing - Copyright: HBO, TIME Magazine

Our jaws dropped when the Great Sept of Baelor was blown to smithereens by wildfire, when the white walkers attacked Hardhome, and when Jon Snow came back from the dead. But what makes these moments great is that they are exactly that: moments.

Have you ever heard the term “less is more?” Seasons 6-8 started to forget this term, shoving in big spectacles multiple times a season.

Don't get me wrong, watching dragons rip Lannister soldiers to shreds is exhilarating, but with more and more mind-blowing events every season, they begin to feel less thrilling and meaningful.

Desensitization is real, and it’s a slippery slope in the Game of Thrones universe. Please please, HBO, remember that less is more.

3. Don’t: Lose Sight of Continuity and Logic

With countless characters, events, lore, and plotlines, Game of Thrones can get very intricate very fast, so it’s important to pay attention to continuity.

HBO, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Daenerys, Dothraki
Daenerys stands with Dothraki soldiers - Copyright: HBO, DNA India

Movies and TV shows have dedicated script supervisors and teams whose job it is to keep continuity, and I’m not necessarily criticizing those individuals. However, the later seasons of Game of Thrones started to lose their focus on this, and it added to the finale’s confusion.

For example, during The Long Night, Daenerys orders her Dothraki to attack the white walkers, an order that gets the Dothraki killed. But in the following episodes, we see the Dothraki alive and well. Hmm.

Logic, too, is a concern since there were many characters who lived through The Long Night when realistically they shouldn’t have. Samwell Tarly, despite being a fan favorite, was shown to be surrounded by white walkers with no help in sight but is later seen to have miraculously survived. Hmmmmm.

I’m not saying HBO can’t have a little fun with such an amazing fantasy series, but they shouldn’t forget the realism and logic that made the series so attractive in the first place.

P.S. Look out for coffee cups on set!

4. Do: Accurately Adapt Characters

Something that I can’t criticize is HBO’s stellar success at character adaptation.

HBO, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Peter Dinklage, Tyrion Lannister
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister - Copyright: HBO, Medium

The actors are ridiculously well cast, doing an exceptional job at bringing the books to life on screen. George R. R. Martin, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, has commented on the character adaptations as well, specifically praising Peter Dinklage’s casting as Tyrion Lannister.

Any good book-to-screen adaptation needs to remain faithful to the source material, and with such a massive character-based series as Game of Thrones, I hope HBO continues to cast such excellent performers, and design their costumes and aesthetics faithfully to George R. R. Martin’s original stories.

I mean, no one wants a brunette Annabeth situation from the Percy Jackon movie when she is specifically described as being blonde in the book, just saying.’

5. Don’t: Raise Too Many Characters From The Dead

Jon Snow's resurrection made fans cry tears of joy, but another resurrection may not be as impactful.

HBO, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Kit Harrington, Jon Snow
Kit Harrington as Jon Snow Rising from the Dead - Copyright: HBO, Hollywood Reporter

To be fair, I haven’t read the entirety of Fire and Blood, the book upon which HBO's House of the Dragon is based, so I can’t say for certain if characters will rise from the dead. However, due to the popularity of Jon Snow’s resurrection, I hope HBO follows the “less is more” approach with resurrections as I hope it will for big spectacles.

Resurrections are spectacles in themselves since they are rare and difficult to conjure, and that’s what makes them special. Death is the root of everything Game of Thrones believes in, most notably seen in Eddard Stark’s execution, Joffrey’s poisoning, and the phrase “Valar Morghulis” (all men must die).

It is the finality of character deaths that makes resurrections so valuable and shocking, and if HBO were to write in too many resurrections then the show would lose a lot of the dramatic tension that made Game of Thrones so successful.

6. Do: Write Multiple Plot Lines

This is a no-brainer, but I figured I’d add it to the list anyway.

HBO, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Maisie Williams, Arya Stark
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, Blind in Braavos - Copyright: HBO, NYTimes

A Song of Ice and Fire thrives on interwoven plotlines, with characters charting their own adventures and occasionally crossing paths. It’s the format of the whole series and we love it.

Fire and Blood isn’t written in the exact same fashion as Game of Thrones, but there is still a hint of George R. R. Martin’s love of character-based chapters. The book Fire and Blood recall the history of House Targaryen in a mostly textbook-Esque manner but is interwoven with tales of historical figures. This allows HBO’s House of the Dragon room for the paralleled plotline formula we know and love from the original series.

I’m not saying HBO should alter events in the book just to appease my plotline hopes, but there’s an opportunity to create a masterful plot web that HBO could benefit from. Besides, TV shows inherently have multiple plotlines anyway, so let’s see it happen!

7. Don’t: Rely Upon The Original Series For Views

Everyone loves a good call back, but not when it's used as a cash grab.

HBO, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Bran Stark, Three-eyed Raven
Isaac Hempstead Wright and Max von Sydow as Bran Stark and the Three-eyed Raven - Copyright: HBO, The Hollywood Reporter

Due to the fact that House of the Dragon is a prequel series to Game of Thrones, there are undoubtedly going to be references and easter eggs to people, places, and events that we’ve seen before. Fire and Blood is a story about the Targaryens after all, Daenerys’ lineage, so sneaking in subtle nods to the future wouldn’t go amiss.

However, despite loving the original series, fans of Fire and Blood aren’t looking for a show filled with callbacks, they want to see the untold story of the Targaryens. Don’t smother us with too many easter eggs or similarities to the original show if it’s not needed.

HBO already has fans hooked, so they should take this opportunity to expand upon what we already know, not reiterate it.

8. Do: Show Us More of The Places We Love

Not to be confused with my dislike for callbacks, House of the Dragon will hopefully explore more of the places we know and love.

HBO, Game Of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Dragonstone, Targaryen
Dragonstone, Home to House Targaryen - Copyright: HBO, Watchers on the Wall

This probably isn’t something we need to worry about since we’re definitely going to learn more about Dragonstone (the island residence of house Targaryen), but there’s a difference between referencing the original show and expanding upon the lore of the great houses.

Hopefully, HBO won’t forget Winterfell, the Wall, or Harrenhal, the people who lived there, and how the houses looked 300 years prior to Game of Thrones. Maybe we’ll even learn more about the fall of Valyria and how its leaders acquired Dragonstone.

The whole reason for the show is to explore characters and events that we've only heard mentions of in Game of Thrones, but I hope HBO really dives in and expands upon as much of Westeros and Essos as it can.

9. Don’t: Skip Ahead of George R. R. Martin

Die-hard fans of George R. R. Martin know well that HBO’s series overtook Martin’s written work after season 5, effectively becoming more and more like fan fiction for the show’s final three seasons.

HBO, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin, Creator, and Author of A Song of Ice and Fire - Copyright: Entertainment Weekly

The show’s third act didn’t necessarily get riveting reviews, and it’s clear that it’s because the show was no longer following George R. R. Martin’s unique method of storytelling. I’m not saying that seasons 6-8 weren’t good, but they might’ve been better had the showrunners had more source material to draw from.

This is no slight on Martin, who has been anxiously working on the sixth installment for ten years (yes, you read that right), and who tried to advise HBO on how to end the series without giving too many secrets away.

In the case of House of the Dragon, Fire, and Blood is a one-time installment, so HBO has free reign over all the book has to offer. However, a beloved franchise like this may demand multiple seasons, so HBO should be careful about what they decide to include in the series.

Take the delayed HBO Dunk and Egg series for example. The series will follow the adventures of duo Aegon V Targaryen and Ser Duncan the Tall 90 years prior to Game of Thrones, but George R. R. Martin has yet to finish these novellas, and so the project was put on hold.

HBO should continue this strategy for House of the Dragon by holding off on including certain material Martin has yet to finish writing, lest we have another season 8 fiasco on our hands.

Summary:

HBO's House of the Dragon isn't set to debut until 2022, but there is plenty of Game of Thrones content to absorb until then! Read the books, rewatch the series, or follow George R. R. Martin's blog where he discusses his progress on his sixth novel The Winds of Winter. See you at the premiere next year when "Fire Will Reign."

Chris is a recent Brooklyn College grad who's eager to share his thoughts on entertainment, lifestyle routines, and the state of the world.

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