The first season of House of the Dragon has been full of politics, war, betrayals, and schemes. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, according to showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the pair describe the debut episodes of the series as a “slow burn” and one that will pay off in the later seasons. This is similar to the narrative structure of Game of Thrones, as both shows spend time properly setting up their characters, the stakes, and alliances before fans are given the massive battles and shocking backstabbings that would come later on.
Sapochnik says they aren’t worried about fans growing impatient, as he feels they left enough drama in the first season to keep people’s interest. He tells THR, “No one ever said to us, ‘When’s the drama going to start?’ There’s a real advantage to taking the time to get to know the characters because the investment is worthwhile.” Sapochnik continues, “House of the Dragon season 1 is a slow burn. And it’s worth it because there’s enough in there to keep everybody interested, but we have purposely tried to move away from doing spectacle so that when we return to the spectacle we can do it properly.”
Sapochnik knows all about spectacle, as he’s responsible for directing some of the most beloved episodes in Game of Thrones, with some of the biggest battle scenes. He’s the filmmaker behind Hardhome, which saw the first main introduction of the Night King, and Battle of the Bastards, which featured a gruesome and realistic take on medieval battles. Unfortunately, Sapochnik stepped down as showrunner following the first season’s debut; however, he could return to direct future episodes of House of the Dragon.
The Showrunners Say the Time Jumps Are Needed to Tell the House of the Dragon Story
Audiences have seen numerous time jumps through six episodes of House of the Dragon. Most recently, during last week’s episode, Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke took over the roles of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower. The younger actors, Milly Alcock (22) and Emily Carey (19), needed to step away from the part, as a 10-year skip occurred between episodes 5 and 6. Of course, all the new actors presented are a considerable risk for House of the Dragon, but showrunner Ryan Condal says they needed to include the time jumps to better tell the story.
“I’m excited about the pace and the structure of the story that we’re telling in the first season. It’s very complex. It happens over a long period of time because children need to get married off and then grow up themselves and then have children of their own who grow up in order to tell the story of this generational war that is fought. HBO gave [showrunner Miguel Sapochnik] the creative latitude to tell this incredibly complex story in a really patient and character-driven way that sets up a first season so that it launches you into one of the most famous and bloody conflicts in the history of Westeros — if not the most.”
Fans can watch the rest of the season play out with the new cast members as House of the Dragon premieres on HBO and HBO Max every Sunday at 9 pm E.T.