“House of the Dragon,” the first spin-off to “Game of Thrones,” hit our televisions this past August, and it’s become the latest TV obsession. Based on the Targaryen civil war that occurred almost 200 years before “Game of Thrones,” the show has a star-studded cast, including Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, Olivia Cooke, and Paddy Considine.
The show was created by “Game of Thrones” author George RR Martin, with Miguel Sapochnikas and Ryan J. Condal serving as co-showrunners. Viewers will remember Condal for his work on the “Hercules” and “Rampage” films starring Dwayne “The Rock Johnson.” Sadly, Johnson doesn’t make any appearances in “House of the Dragon.”
Miguel Sapochnik is also co-running the show, having directed some of the best “Game of Thrones” episodes, including Battle of the Bastards and The Winds of Winter. Given that the show is seven episodes in, here are some things we’ve learned from the series.
Rhaenyra Targaryen is a crucial character.
In an interview with “EW,” Rhaenya Targaryen, played by Emma D’Arcy, is viewed as a critical character. In genuine “Game of Thrones” fashion, she’s married to her uncle Prince Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith. She’s also the oldest child of King Viserys I, played by Paddy Considine, and the next leader of the seven kingdoms. However, when her brother Aegon is born, things get complicated.
D’Arcy notes that Rhaenyra is someone who pushes the edges of womanhood and has a decisive eye for how gender affects power and how one occupies space. She also notes that gender affects the right to construct one’s life. D’Arcy continued, “She is a person who feels at odds with the way that she is read by the world. It’s like she has a doppelgänger. The doppelgänger is Rhaenyra born male who has access to all the things that she craves and feels to be hers.”
Challenge the status quo and be bold.
Rhaenyra is a woman who marches to the beat of her own drum. She isn’t afraid to go against what the court saved for royal women as a priority, producing heirs. She wants to have a voice and let it be heard when it matters. She also learned how to befriend dragons and outrage her mother, Queen Aemma, thus showing the audacity to change older gender roles. Instead of letting others make decisions, Rhaenyra wants to make decisions for herself and live her life as she sees fit. This desire for independence is why Rhaenyra and her father constantly bump heads.
Escape your comfort zone.
Not only does Rhaenyra challenge the status quo, but she accepts her father’s appointment as his successor, keeper of the secret dream of fire and ice, and the White Walkers’ prophecy. Rhaenyra may not have wanted to be her father’s successor, but she stepped up to the plate, thus showing loyalty to her only remaining parent. Viserys took her under his wing and taught her how to serve and lead. After all, she served as her father’s cupbearer since she was young. Rhaenyra knows that the world may not be ready for a woman ruler, but she accepts her father’s appointment anyway, prepared to step up to the throne and carry on the Targaryen name.
Learn to negotiate.
In episode two of “House of the Dragon,” when Viserys named Rhaenyra as heir to the Iron Throne, Daemon got upset and broke off on his own, stealing a dragon egg, and further dividing the Targaryen clan. After Daemon stole the egg, Rhaenyra took the initiative and went to Daemon to get the egg back. Knowing that she and her uncle are kindred spirits, she wanted to work things out in a peaceful way, which she did. Rhaenyra knew she could speak to her uncle’s heart and avoid a war, so she decided to kill two birds with one stone. Negotiation is an important skill, so we should take notes from Rhaenyra.
Don’t be scared to show weakness.
After Queen Aemma, Rhaenyra’s mother, dies and feels alienated from her father, Rhaenyra discloses that she feels lonely. Losing a client, teammate, or business project can bring up difficult emotions. However, there’s no problem with sharing how you’re feeling with a trusted confidant. Your confidant may show you a perspective that you didn’t consider before. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, then move on.
Save time for deep thinking.
As she mourns her mother, Rhaenyra’s best friend and future queen Alicent Hightower shows her that she can conquer sadness by praying to her mother’s spirit. When going through stressful times, it’s crucial to take a step back and contemplate before jumping back into life. Making decisions while you’re emotional can lead you to make the wrong one. Deep thinking can stop you from making rash decisions and allow you to put your best foot forward.
Observe before entering unknown territory.
They say we have two ears and one mouth to listen more and only speak when necessary. Rhaenyra had plenty of opportunities to examine political strategies and learn how to rule from King Viserys while serving as his cupbearer. However, her father spoke down to her one time because she spoke in front of the council instead of taking mental notes. She was trying to shine in unfamiliar territory when she should’ve observed what was happening and taken notes for later.
Don’t be afraid to pivot.
In most cases, the ego is the enemy, and Rhaenyra Targaryen was stuck with the idea at a young age that the throne was already hers. She constantly fought with her family, but the Iron Throne rejected her, cutting her whenever she sat on it. History showed that you either win with the proper support or die in this realm. So it’s okay to pivot when you need to.
We’ve learned so much from “House of the Dragon” and the Targaryen family in only seven series episodes. There’s no telling how much more we’ll know in the upcoming episodes. You can watch “House of the Dragon” every Sunday on HBOMax.