It’s only been a year and a half, but it feels like we’ve lived through a seven-year winter since 2022, when House of the Dragon’s first season wrapped up. You could put a sword to my neck and I couldn’t tell you what happened in that season. What context do I need before I watch these trailers?

House of the Dragon (or “HotD” if you’re nasty) is about the “Dance of the Dragons,” a civil war that took place within House Targaryen about 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. ::inhales:: The crux of the war is the question of who has the rightful claim to the Iron Throne. Is it Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy), posited by her late father King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), to take over? Or is it Prince Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), the son King Viserys had with wife Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke)? Oh, and because this is the Targaryens, everyone has a dragon, which in Westeros is basically like having a walking nuclear weapon.

Surely the battle for the throne can’t be that simple?

You’re correct! On his deathbed, King Viserys was muttering about Aegon, and Alicent took that to mean her son was meant to take over. However, the King was talking about another Aegon — Aegon the Conqueror, who learned of a prophecy involving the White Walkers and the Targaryens being chosen by the gods to protect the realm. King Viserys told Rhaenyra about the prophecy in confidence while preparing her to take over, which is why she wants the throne. But since Alicent heard Viserys saying what she took to be her son’s name, she thinks he’s in charge. Whoops! If only these people sat down and simply had a conversation about all of this.

The other complicating factor is that during the Season 1 finale, a dragon belonging to Alicent’s other son Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) disobeyed him and ate Rhaenyra’s sons Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) and his dragon, which lit the fuse to move this fledgling cold war into an all-out war. Again, whoopsie!


Yeah, that’s a tough day at the office.

So, what are these new trailers about?

You correctly mention trailers, plural: HBO started rolling out the show’s sophomore season today with two different, competing previews, which depict upcoming events from the perspective of the Green Council (Team Alicent) and the Black Council (Team Rhaenyra) and exhort viewers to choose a side. It’s a way of playing up the “Oh, everyone involved here kinda sucks” aspect of the story of House of the Dragon, a big part of what distinguishes it from Game of Thrones—even more than on that series, all these characters are both right and wrong in equal measure.

Are there any cool tidbits shown?

Both previews are more focused on setting the table stakes of what’s in store than they are on showing new footage — but there are a handful of shots of face card MVP Matt Smith looking menacing. We get quick glimpse of Winterfell, which presumably means we’ll get some Starks in the mix this time around. Season 1 folded in the Lannister ancestors, so it’ll be interesting to see how similar or different these earlier Starks are to Ned, Sansa, and Arya.

There’s also a shot of Rhaenyra grieving Lucerys on Dragonstone during a funeral. That brief look speaks to what’s made HotD work so well as a series: the strength of the character development around Rhaenyra and Alicent. Having seen them both as kids, we have a deeper understanding of their internal logic before things go totally to hell.

The trailers also heavily emphasize the dragons. If you thought there were plenty of the beasts in Game of Thrones, you haven’t seen anything yet. There’s a reason why this civil war is called the Dance of Dragons. Prepare to see lots of burninating.

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