PLEASE NOTE: Mild spoilers ahead!
Flames dance. Red and black banners hang proudly. Dragons are everywhere. It’s clearly the age of the Targaryens. After an epic local launch in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the first episode of House of the Dragon landed at 03:00 this morning, Monday 22 August, on M-Net. It’s also available on DStv catch up and will air tonight in prime time at 21:30. We’re already itching to watch it again to pick up all the details we missed the first time round, especially the allusions to Game of Thrones.
There are several allusions and fans should be happy as to how they tie the two series together. But this is a show you can easily start watching with no prior Game of Thrones knowledge. In fact, we’re jealous of those who will get to watch House of the Dragon first and then move on to a Game of Thrones binge, watching the story unfold in chronological order much like fans who saw the Star Wars prequels first and then got to binge the previously-released films.
So, what were some of our favourite moments? Take a scroll with us…
It’s not winter
It may have snowed in parts of South Africa this weekend, but House of the Dragon’s first episode is mercifully free of ice and snow. The look and feel is much warmer, exemplified by a glorious scene with Rhaenyra and Alicent under the heart tree. There was a much more jovial mood all round, especially with an exciting tourney taking place. Then again, Game of Thrones started this way too before it all started unravelling under the heat of so much burning ambition. With the way the episode ended, and an undercurrent of malice running through some characters, this peace looks set to be shattered all too soon.
Strains of the Game of Thrones' opening theme echo within the episode. Ramin Djawadi, Game of Thrones composer, is back to score House of the Dragon and we’re here for it. The opening theme plays out explicitly over the end credits…oh, and on that note, there is no opening sequence. Will the next episode deliver one?
Have you been practicing your High Valyrian? There was a fair smattering of it in the first episode, so brush up. Of course, most of the series will be in English (what’s referred to in Game of Thrones as “the common tongue”) and it’s peppered with profound zingers like:
“The gods have yet to make a man who lacks the patience for absolute power.”
And then there’s the sheer delight of hearing words like “lickspittles” used.
The struggle for power holds sway much like it did in Game of Thrones. Is that hardly surprising? In House of the Dragon women contest their place in court and society much like Daenerys, Cersei, and Arya did in Game of Thrones; while in the time of House of the Dragon, and 172 years later when Daenerys Targaryen is born, life beyond the Red Keep never improves for the people. As the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr observed, "The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This is never truer than when it comes to human history and House of the Dragon serves as a firm reminder.
Watch House of the Dragon Express from the US every Monday at 03:00, or later that day in prime time at 21:30, on M-Net channel 101.
If you miss an episode, you can always catch up with DStv.
Follow the social action with #MNet101 and #HouseOfTheDragon.
Image credit: HBO