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Not a Review of House of the Dragon


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We’ve had the opportunity to watch the first six episodes of House of the Dragon, courtesy of HBO Max, and we certainly have some thoughts about the show. We’ve placed our “Not a Review” in our Features section which hasn’t seen much use since Game of Thrones came to an end, so go read it there.



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Thanks for the (not) review. I certainly cements the idea that HoD will be a far superior show than GoT, at least in its last half.

As per your suggestion that they may have portrayed the Hightowers as blacks, I don't think that would have passed the PC muster. The Hightowers will probably be seen as misogynistic upstarts by most of the audience, and I'm afraid it may cause more problems than solve them if your only black guys are the evil family. Besides that, the Hightower children of Viserys still need to look 100% Valyrian, in contrast to Rhaenyra's strong boys.

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2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

As per your suggestion that they may have portrayed the Hightowers as blacks, I don't think that would have passed the PC muster. The Hightowers will probably be seen as misogynistic upstarts by most of the audience, and I'm afraid it may cause more problems than solve them if your only black guys are the evil family. Besides that, the Hightower children of Viserys still need to look 100% Valyrian, in contrast to Rhaenyra's strong boys.

It could have just as well been the Strongs.

Apparently Otto Hightower is written as a very smart, witty character, reflecting the fact that the guy was very learned, etc. ... so he is likely not going to appear a great villain. Nor are Alicent and Otto 'misogynistic' as such - they are the key architects of Rhaenyra's original installation as Heir Apparent, after all.

I also don't think that there is an intrinsic reason that Alicent's children have to look Valyrian in contrast to Rhaenyra's sons - the crucial feature there is that the latter don't look like either Laenor or Rhaenyra while Alicent's children clearly look like one of their parents. If some had favored their dark-skinned mother that wouldn't have been much of an issue.

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Thank you for doing this despite your hesitation. I hope you will continue to go up and down over each and every one of the episodes as they come out because your perspective as the people behind The World of Ice and Fire as well as ASOI&F/GOT super-fans is something that we deeply welcome. You also aren't afraid to tackle the tough choices and topics like, "Why is there is a huge amount of dirty sex scenes in the art? When was this a fashion?" Plus the topic that, sadly, will never die.

A couple of thoughts on your write-up:

1. Again, this is THE Westeros site (it's in the web link) and there's a good James Bond song to describe it's role in the fandom: "Nobody does it better." So it would be a grave disappointment if you guys didn't provide your running commentary on House of the Dragon. You aren't being paid for any of this and don't have any stake in the game but you ARE people who are directly responsible, in part, for getting George R.R. Martin to create the books that led to this and shouldn't be afraid to take a victory lap over it. Nor is there anyone else on the net who is as qualified or someone I'd be interested in reading the thoughts of the historical adaptation of the period of. It would, indeed, be a massive waste to have dozens of other people review these episodes and the show but not you guys.

2. I am very curious who exactly is the character being whitewashed and am going to be guessing its almost certainly Daemon Targaryen.

3. That this is a Game of Thrones "alternate universe" to the books is something that was always going to be unavoidable and is something that doesn't really need spelling out. The adjustment of the age of characters, the fact Jeyne Westerling never marries Robb Stark, Snow perhaps adapting lost plotlines like Lady Stoneheart, and so on is going to lead to differences in continuity. Which is a long way of saying, "Yeah, this isn't an adaptation of what REALLY happened in Fire and Blood, just what really happened in Game of Thrones' universe which is already the Christopher Reeves Superman to the comic book one."

4. As you note, Paddy Considine is a character that is already very different from Viserys in the books according to Martin and everyone else who has viewed him. It's just we don't really comment on it because making him a more dignified and less stupid/weak figure is something most people agree is better to watch. The one in the books was a fat moron, not to mince words (and being of the hefty side myself), while Paddy here is a great peacetime king who just so happens to be unable to divest himself of the vipers in his family.

5. I admit my own opinion of House Velaryon being people of color can be summarized as, "Yeah, they changed it for the show. That's neat." It's something that really bugs fans who have world-building criticisms and want total fidelity but they, unfortunately, can't discuss the issue without the Alt-Right scummy bad faith posters. Note I say Alt-Right versus racists because while it is racially motivated, attacks on POC in ANY genre shows is part of an organized effort by a dedicated political machine rather than a spontaneous gas roots grousing of assholes. It's important to realize the attack on black actors and their roles is not just some people being dicks on the net but part of a larger attempt at a cultural war.

6. I tend to agree with @Lord Varys that the Hightowers would have been terrible picks because the amount of hatred for that family as scheming, opportunistic, upjumped pollutions of the Targaryen bloodline (I jokingly said Aegon and Aemond are unworthy because they're NOT incest babies) would not go over well. Especially when Rhaenyra and Daemon unwittingly become symbolic of "Valyrian purity" by being the pretty white people. The Velaryons being black has its issues but at least it puts them at the center stage and doesn't make them commoners or minor characters.
But yes, I admit I feel, "It's done, best to move on." I'd feel iffier about it if not for Steve Toussaint being a fantastic actor.

(I had a similar argument for THE DARK TOWER that sadly was a dumpster fire of an adaptation: "Roland Deschain is a character you have to have an actor capable of convincing you is the single most badass muther****er who ever lived. Idris Elba can do that. That, in my opinion, trumps most other issues.")

Edited by C.T. Phipps
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5 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I am very curious who exactly is the character being whitewashed and am going to be guessing its almost certainly Daemon Targaryen.

This sounded like Rhaenyra to me, if I’m thinking of the right part of the Not A Review.

I’m really curious as to who the subject of the “unnecessary change” is. I was trying to think of which male HotD character had a similar fate/experience to one from GoT that was controversial/would be if repeated. I’m stumped, but I’m sure someone might have a clue.

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5 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

2. I am very curious who exactly is the character being whitewashed and am going to be guessing its almost certainly Daemon Targaryen.

In context I'd rather think they mean Rhaenyra there ... although the character is just a spoiled girl for most of the time covered in season 1. She doesn't do any questionable things there.

5 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

4. As you note, Paddy Considine is a character that is already very different from Viserys in the books according to Martin and everyone else who has viewed him. It's just we don't really comment on it because making him a more dignified and less stupid/weak figure is something most people agree is better to watch. The one in the books was a fat moron, not to mince words (and being of the hefty side myself), while Paddy here is a great peacetime king who just so happens to be unable to divest himself of the vipers in his family.

I'd say that George's Viserys I is just underdeveloped as hell. George didn't bother to flesh him out more nor his reign as such (tax policies, what he did to keep the peace, entertain his people, what projects of his grandfather he continued, finished, or expanded on, etc.). Adding more depth to him was necessary since he couldn't just be a fat guy in the background ... which is what he is FaB.

5 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

5. I admit my own opinion of House Velaryon being people of color can be summarized as, "Yeah, they changed it for the show. That's neat." It's something that really bugs fans who have world-building criticisms and want total fidelity but they, unfortunately, can't discuss the issue without the Alt-Right scummy bad faith posters. Note I say Alt-Right versus racists because while it is racially motivated, attacks on POC in ANY genre shows is part of an organized effort by a dedicated political machine rather than a spontaneous gas roots grousing of assholes. It's important to realize the attack on black actors and their roles is not just some people being dicks on the net but part of a larger attempt at a cultural war.

Being completely out of the Anglo-American culture war discourse this is just something that flies beyond my radar.

5 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

6. I tend to agree with @Lord Varys that the Hightowers would have been terrible picks because the amount of hatred for that family as scheming, opportunistic, upjumped pollutions of the Targaryen bloodline (I jokingly said Aegon and Aemond are unworthy because they're NOT incest babies) would not go over well. Especially when Rhaenyra and Daemon unwittingly become symbolic of "Valyrian purity" by being the pretty white people. The Velaryons being black has its issues but at least it puts them at the center stage and doesn't make them commoners or minor characters.
But yes, I admit I feel, "It's done, best to move on." I'd feel iffier about it if not for Steve Toussaint being a fantastic actor.

That was actually @The hairy bear. I agree that the Hightowers could have worked well as black people if there had to be a family of black nobles. Although I think the Strongs would have worked even better. With Larys there would have been a black villain (sort of), three tragic black hero boys, a great Hand, a big black warrior guy, and whatever Alys Rivers is going to be.

In context, there is also no real need for the writers to play up Rhaenyra as a the better person and Alicent the worser person. They could easily enough have written the story to add more tragic and gravitas to the Greens. And while Aegon II and Aemond definitely are assholes and couldn't all that easily be turned into heroes ... this certainly could work for Helaena and Daeron.

5 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

(I had a similar argument for THE DARK TOWER that sadly was a dumpster fire of an adaptation: "Roland Deschain is a character you have to have an actor capable of convincing you is the single most badass muther****er who ever lived. Idris Elba can do that. That, in my opinion, trumps most other issues.")

While I never imagined Roland Deschain as being black (since he is never described that way) ... there is no reason why he couldn't be played by a black actor. His race doesn't play a role in the story at all. So it is pretty much irrelevant on a conceptual level.

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8 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:


2. I am very curious who exactly is the character being whitewashed and am going to be guessing its almost certainly Daemon Targaryen.

I think the whitewashed character is Alicent Hightower, but I also expect some changes to Mysaria to make her more sympathetic.

Edited by $erPounce
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5 minutes ago, $erPounce said:

I think the whitewashed character is Alicent Hightower, but I also expect some changes to Mysaria to make her more sympathetic.

Weird because Alicent Hightower seems like she's being treated as the villain of this piece.

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1 hour ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Weird because Alicent Hightower seems like she's being treated as the villain of this piece.

I think by aging up Rhaenyra , Alicent is automatically whitewashed , albeit just at beginning . Alicent could be the pawn of her father in both book and the show and thus , can be pretty sympathetic . but in the books , it's an orphan 9 yr old kid she starts to treat as an enemy to the point that the highlight for 14 yr old Rhaenyra when Daemon visits is that he makes fun of queen's faction! when Rhaenyra 's older this aspect of Alicent is omitted by default. her adult version though ,could be the exact book Alicent. 

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25 minutes ago, EggBlue said:

poor HBO .... so close...

Yep I hope the key for the safe where they put the original GOT pilot and the Bloodmoon pilot has a better security than that. Apparently, the episode got leaked from one of the screening premiere as it does not have the intro and is shorter than the runtime we are expecting.

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15 hours ago, Thomaerys Velaryon said:

Yep I hope the key for the safe where they put the original GOT pilot and the Bloodmoon pilot has a better security than that. Apparently, the episode got leaked from one of the screening premiere as it does not have the intro and is shorter than the runtime we are expecting.

The finished episode didn't have the intro, unless the intro was just the Targaryen symbol flashing up on screen with no title or anything.

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

The finished episode didn't have the intro, unless the intro was just the Targaryen symbol flashing up on screen with no title or anything.

Yep we didn't have the intro in the end for the premiere. Sapochnik explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he felt the intro would take away from the Great Council cold open. He didn't specify what it would look like obviously, but he did say the intro will be in the following episodes starting next week.

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