It didn't take long for HBO's House of the Dragon to catch on. In fact, it's a reminder of how wildly popular Game of Thrones was at its peak. It took HBO less than one week to renew House of the Dragon for a second season. Now, episode two, 'The Rogue Prince', has even higher ratings than the premiere episode.
The fans have returned in droves, but was HBO planning on using it to re-establish the story of Game of Thrones and ultimately change fans' perspective on how things all wrapped up? My theory is below.
What's the Beef with Game of Thrones?
Game of Thrones ran for eight seasons and spent a LOT of time regarded as the best show on TV. It had a stranglehold over Sunday night ratings and the Emmy Awards every year. To many, that eighth season felt rushed and discombobulated. Events transpired that seemed to fly in the face of a narrative built up over almost a decade.
At the heart of it were two massive hangups: Why did the White Walker threat end so meagerly, and how could Daenerys Targaryen make THAT heel turn?
Personally, I agree completely regarding the White Walkers. Their ending was lame and weak, and where it fits into the final season was unbecoming considering the series opened on them as THE looming threat. We don't have time to get into how I felt about Danys story, but based on the source material, I felt that her ending made sense. It all felt super rushed though.
So how could House of the Dragon possibly change that narrative?
House of the Dragon: Foreshadowing vs. Fan Service
There was a sequence in the first episode of House of the Dragon where I initially thought they were doing a bit of fan service. King Viserys Targaryen is talking to his daughter, and heir to the Iron Throne, Rhaenyra. The king shared a piece of information with her only meant to be shared with the top brass. Effectively, "Winter is coming."
The Prophecy of the Long Winter in House of the Dragon
Initially, I took this to be a little nod to the fans "remember that other show this one is based on?" But after stewing on it way too much, and seeing the second episode of the season, my mind has shifted.
I think they are telling us there is more story to come. But since the White Walker threat was eliminated before the conclusion of Game of Thrones, what could be left to tell? Here's what I'm thinking.
The White Walker Threat Still Looms
The idea of age-old prophecies is a very important part of the lore of the Game of Thrones/House of the Dragon universe. It was the crux that drove the story to what we thought was the endgame of the last four seasons of Game of Thrones. As depicted in the screenshot above, one quote from King Viserys stands out to me the most:
In particular, the line "a Targaryen must be seated on the Iron Throne" is what jumps out at me. Prophecies are meant to be open to some interpretation, but I think this is purposefully placed.
When Arya Stark drove the Cat's Paw dagger through the heart of The Night King, who was on the Iron Throne? Cersei Lannister, NOT Daenerys Targaryen. Do you want to get even more granular? The quote says "seated on the Iron Throne." Daenerys never even sat on it. She touched it but was stopped by Jon Snow before ever sitting down. A moment later, he drove a Valyrian steel blade through her heart. *cough Prophecy of Azor Ahai cough* But the Night King and the threat are dead anyway, right?
The Future of Westeros After House of the Dragon
There are many shows set in the world of Westeros beyond Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon. We have many live-action shows in various stages of development. There are also a few animated shows and a stage production in the works. One show stands out as a massive connector in my theory.
HBO has a show tentatively planned as a sequel to Game of Thrones about Jon Snow. It's serious enough that they have Kit Harington lined up to reprise the role should it move forward. That's a serious retainer to pay considering his status post-Game of Thrones where he's now part of the MCU.
I believe that ultimately they will pull a 'Stranger Things Season 4', IYKNK. Jon Snow will continue north of the wall as we saw in the Game of Thrones finale. There he will discover that they may have defeated the Night King, he was merely a general in the army. The real, true threat of the White Walkers will be there, waiting for him. As I'm sure you recall, his name isn't really Jon Snow, is it? It's Aegon Targaryen.
It could all add up. The White Walkers were far too cool to have just died. Plus, what about the babies from Craster's Keep?! Bring back the babies! If you add in this new wrinkle of the Targaryen prophecy in House of the Dragon, it adds a further reason for them to still exist.
Don't be shocked if an announcement that they are moving forward with the Jon Snow series on the heels of the massive ratings they've gotten in such a short time.
Will This Be a Recurring 'Theme'?
Pun very much intended here. In the first episode of House of the Dragon, we dropped straight into a narrated prologue. An older Rhaenyra Targaryen tells the back story of how her father came to be named king.
In episode two, we finally got an opening theme. Just like my point above, I thought we were getting some nice fan service. We had a new set of visuals walking us through what I believe are the bloodlines of House Targaryen. It was the audio that was familiar. The same theme song from Game of Thrones was back once more. Nostalgia, right?
If my theory above about the story evolving to bring back the White Walkers is true, you could argue that this world is evolving into its own media universe. Do you know of any other massive media universes that use a consistent audio theme that plays behind an ever-evolving graphical display?
Once you hear that Marvel music play, you know for a fact you've returned to the MCU. I could very much see the world of Westeros utilize this too.
Here's the TL:DR. House of the Dragon has added a new prophecy never included in the books. This opens up the need to have a Targaryen on the Throne to defeat the White Walkers. Something that never actually occurred.
HBO has a sequel series in the works already and the protagonist is the only living Targaryen. And he's heading to the north, where the White Walkers play. Through this seemingly throwaway line in House of the Dragon, they are going to reset the whole story of Westeros and retcon the original ending of Game of Thrones that left a sour taste in fans' mouths.
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