How 'house of the Dragon' fumbled its Season 1 finale

Is it fallacious to admit that I didn’t really feel a lot of something when a sure youthful royal was killed off in Sunday night’s Season 1 finale of “house of the Dragon”? past the political and cultural ramifications of his dying — a civil battle between the Targaryens, years of unrest and tons of supplies for forthcoming seasons of the “recreation of Thrones” prequel — his demise had little emotion in contrast with the shock and horror triggered by Ned Stark’s beheading in Season 1 of HBO’s earlier blockbuster.

Am I a heartless monster? in all likelihood, however that’s a topic for an past regular time. I’d want to place the blame on “house of the Dragon’s” willpower to swap out forged members seemingly every completely different episode, making it troublesome to finally end up to be invested of their fates. (Even the loss final week of the one who’d sat on the Iron Throne all season, Paddy Considine’s King Viserys Targaryen, felt extra a methodology to an finish than the dearth of somebody we’d come to know intimately.) That lack of character enchancment is why, although the sequence has largely been a thrill to watch, Sunday’s finale had a extremely effective time sticking the touchdown.

“The Black Queen” soared better than it idled, and supplied a cliffhanger with simply enough battle, dragons and palace intrigue to maintain audiences hooked. And there have been many brilliant spots, equivalent to Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) singing to a feral dragon in outdated Valryian, or the imaginative and prescient of Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) sporting her father’s crown. however it absolutely might have been positively explosive if viewers had extra time to with the current’s poor sods earlier than they had been killed off, or had been in a place to forge deeper connections with the dad and mom who’ll carry the current to the following season.

The time spent on Rhaenyra’s miscarriage would possibly want made extra sense, as an illustration, if we’d had a full season with the grownup mannequin of her. The dying of her mom all by way of a torturous childbirth opened the sequence. It artfully in contrast the battles fought by the royal women of Westeros — giving their lives to current life — with scenes of their males killing for sport in a jousting match. That symbolism was extremely effective. however now that we’ve spent 10 episodes inside the realm, Rhaenyra’s tragedy wished to resonate on a deeper stage to justify why it was important to incorporate inside the Season 1 nearer.

it might presumably’t be straightforward following inside the muddy, blood-soaked footsteps of “recreation of Thrones,” and beneath extra scrutiny than the distinctive had on the outset. Ten million viewers watched “house of the Dragon” premiere in August, making it the largest inside the cable massive’s historic previous. however it absolutely’s clear the prequel stays to be wanting for its personal, comfy stride.

the exact actuality is, final week’s episode felt extra simply like the finale than the exact finale. It was succinct, extremely effective and movement-packed. The Greens, loyal to Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), staged a coup, repudiating Rhaenyra’s succession by crowning Alicent’s eldest son, drunken louse Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney). It ended with a spectacular dragon-crashing of the coronation by one in every of many sequence extra nuanced characters, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve best).

Sunday’s crowning episode was not as tight when shifting the story from King’s touchdown to Dragonstone, the place Rhaenyra, her household and court docket are educated the king is ineffective and her authority has been usurped by her half brother. The episode’s central dramatic event, the dying of Rhaenyra’s second son, Lucerys (Elliot Grihault), by the fingers of Alicent’s second, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), in an airborne dragon chase gone awry, felt extra like a setup for what’s subsequent than a strong conclusion to what’s occurred up to now.

Who will pledge fealty and what sort of ruler will Rhaenrya (or Aegon) be? A warmonger or peacemaker? Season 2 would possibly want to current us extra extreme quality time collectively with her and completely different key characters — that methodology we’re in a place to basically really feel cheated when the writers kill them off.