House of the Dragon was better than Rings of Power for an underestimated reason.

The first season from house of the dragon is essentially a 10-hour prologue. That game of Thrones The central conflict of the prequel, a murderous Targaryen struggle known as the Dance of the Dragons, only erupts in the closing minutes of the season one finale. The episode entitled “The Black Queen” sets the stage for house of the dragonThe second season of is much more action-packed and gory than the first.

But it’s not like house of the dragon Season 1 was a boring, uneventful slog. The first 10 episodes all manage to be entertaining and impactful in their own way, and never feel like a long, drawn-out foretaste of what’s to come.

That’s an impressive trick. It’s so impressive, in fact, that it’s worth asking exactly how house of the dragon Season 1 did it.

Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in house of the dragon episode 10Ollie Upton/HBO

A 10-hour prologue — In our current era of Peak TV, it’s become common for showrunners of prestige titles to claim that they don’t do seasons so much as “10-hour movies.” Even the showrunners behind it The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power have come to call the show a “50 Hour Story,” and the show’s first season, for all its strengths, fell victim to many of the problems that plague most “10 Hour Movie” seasons on television.

You can’t say the same house of the dragon Season 1. While it certainly looks cinematic, it has actually embraced television’s episodic storytelling format in a way that’s key to determining why it works as well as it does.

Although it functions as a prologue in essentially the same way as The Rings of Power Season 1, house of the dragon‘s debut season still delivered episodes that could stand on their own.

Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower, Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole house of the dragon episode 9Ollie Upton/HBO

Episodic Storytelling – From the moment it premiered house of the dragon understood that in order for the first season to feel substantial, its episodes had to tell their own stories. And for the most part, the first 10 installments were successful.

Episode 1, “The Heirs of the Dragon,” introduces the problem of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) having no heir in the first act, and then provides a satisfactory conclusion to this problem by ending with Viserys having his Daughter Rhaenyra (Milly) gives the name Alcock), his successor. house of the dragon Episode 2 follows a similar format by establishing Visery’s obligation to remarry, which is then resolved with his engagement to Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey).

Many of house of the dragonThe first 10 episodes of are structured this way, and it’s not hard to see why. This allows each part to tell a complete story that also drives the show’s ongoing arc. Meanwhile, Season 1’s episodes, which have no clear beginning, middle, and end, essentially function as bottle episodes centered around specific events.

“Driftmark,” for example, focuses on a reunion between the estranged members of the series’ Targaryen and Velaryon families, and then follows that reunion to its violent, groundbreaking conclusions. The season’s penultimate episode, The Green Council, focuses solely on King’s Landing and charts Aegon II’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) journey to ascension to the Iron Throne.

Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen in house of the dragon episode 1Ollie Upton/HBO

That Vice versa Analysis – With the exception of the sixth part, which fails to finish several storylines too quickly, house of the dragon Season 1 consists of episodes that are both self-contained and exist within the confines of the series’ overall narrative. The first season of the HBO series embraces its television format rather than trying to resist it.

As a result, house of the dragon manages to operate in a way that so many other blockbuster shows on TV frequently don’t.

house of the dragon Season 1 will stream on HBO Max.

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