Last night’s stunning season finale of House of the Dragon left us with quite a cliffhanger—and we’ll have to wait a while to see what comes next. Shooting for season two of House of the Dragon will begin in 2023 with its release to be determined, but the Game of Thrones series can likely be expected to bow in 2024. Showrunner Ryan Condal talked to Variety about how the end of season one will lead into the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.
Now about that ending: when asked if it was always planned to end with Lucerys’ (Elliot Grihault) demise, Condal told Variety that the young prince’s death via dragon brawl was always the plan. “I looked back at the original bible that I wrote for the series back in May of 2019, and that was in there as the endpoind,” he said explaining why he departed slightly from author Geroge R.R. Martin’s original plot. “It just felt like the one-two punch of Viserys dying, the Greens seizing the throne and telling that story from Alicent’s team’s perspective, Rhaenyra’s team finding out and putting in place the engines of war and then setting the dragons off and having this horrible thing happened over Storm’s End—the story is called the Dance of the Dragons. To kick off the war/end the first act of our story with the first dragons dancing seemed to be the right dramatic place to leave everybody off.”
As viewers saw in the season finale, Queen Rhaenyra was first not inclined to immediately rush to war, a deliberate choice to make her stand apart from the men of the realm. “You see her weighing her decisions—weighing her responsibility that she took with the Song of Ice and Fire, the thing she promised her father, that she would hold the realm united and at peace as he tried to do. But at the same time, her birthright has been stolen. Those things are diametrically opposed to one another. ‘How do I serve both? I can’t. It’s paradox. What do I do?’ She’s just not going to rush headlong into anything,” Condal explained. “You’re seeing what Viserys probably saw in her, that she’s capable of nuanced thought and the ability to think through problems. While all the men around the table, including Daemon, just want to immediately jump on dragons and go burn King’s Landing, she’s not quite ready to do that just yet.”
However, when news is received that Lucerys—affectionately known as Luke—was killed by Aemond’s (Ewan Mitchell) much larger dragon, it doesn’t matter if the fight was started by the beasts. This turn of events ultimately breaks Rhaenyra’s heart and lands the blow needed to push the war to start. Condal gives credit to episode director Greg Yaitanes, who oversaw that powerful last shot of Emma D’Arcy. “The very last action line of the script was, ‘Rhaenyra looks up and war is in her eyes.’ That was in the first draft of that script. That was always the plan for ending the season, because after all this internal debate that Rhaenyra goes through over the course of the episode, everything changes the moment that she learns about the treachery at Storm’s End and the death of her son,” Condal revealed, and added, “I think we probably did three or four takes of it. And Emma, man, did they nail it. Just incredible.”
House of the Dragon season one is available to watch on HBO Max.
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