House of the Dragon season two will feel more like Game of Thrones, says creator

The fantasy hit's return will feature a cold war between the two dragon-wielding sides, showrunner Ryan Condal tells The National

Olivia Cooke and Ewan Mitchell return for the entire second season of House of the Dragon. Photo: Warner Bros
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The second season of House of the Dragon is less than two weeks away, and fans across the world are champing at the bit to revisit the sprawling fantasy universe established by the show’s massively successful predecessor, Game of Thrones.

The initial 10-episode run of the prequel series, released in 2022, exceeded nearly all expectations of fans and critics. According to co-creator and showrunner Ryan Condal, the show achieved that by honouring what came before it without leaning too heavily on Thrones.

Condal tells The National: “Following the original series is like following the Beatles. It's the biggest television series of all time, by many metrics. How do you follow it? You can't. You just have to try to create something that stands on its own two feet.”

Part of what made the story's beginning feel distinct was its Succession-like structure – jumping from major event to major event. Following members of the dragon-riding Targaryen family 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the first season of House of the Dragon covered a 24-year span, with sizeable time jumps between each of the first eight episodes, in particular.

“In season one, at least the first eight episodes, they were eight discrete chapters in the story and followed discrete timelines of their own,” Condal explains. “So it felt fast-paced to go from episode to episode, because you were suddenly jumping ahead either months or years at a time. So it could feel jarring, and there were different peaks and valleys.”

According to reported comments in 2022 by the series’ other co-creator, author George R R Martin, the span of the entire series will cover roughly 28 years in total – meaning that this season and upcoming seasons of House of the Dragon will no longer feature those significant time jumps.

Because of that, season two's pacing will feel much more familiar to legacy fans of the franchise, Condal tells The National.

“I think this season will feel much more in line with a traditional season of Game of Thrones, structurally,” he says.

“We’re in real time now. From my point of view, it will feel even faster paced because we’re not jumping from event to event. Now it feels like a snowball is falling down the hill.”

Condal is now the show’s solo showrunner, and expects that will continue for the planned third season, following the August 2022 departure of his partner in season one, Miguel Sapochnik.

“I know the job very well, I was running a writer’s room for my previous series, Colony, albeit on a smaller scale. On this show, I fully embraced it,” says Condal.

“I have a great team around me too, to help, lift the heavy weight of this thing on to our back and carry it up the hill. And we'll do that again, hopefully, in season three.”

While season one of the series showed a family in crisis, season two finds the Targaryens firmly divided into two camps, referred to as the “blacks” and the “greens”.

Condal says the new season will feel like a cold war between the two sides, particularly because the dragons that both wield are effectively weapons of mass destruction. Consequently, the story plays on the same threat of mutually assured destruction that humanity has endured in the nuclear era.

“Our characters are highly aware of the fact that there are nuclear weapons on either side of the conflict,” says Condal. “And they have to be very careful as to how they deploy them.

“As a result, there is a highly strategised approach to war. That’s why the second Aegon usurped the throne, it hasn't immediately turned to armies running at each other on a field.

“It doesn't work that way now. We want to be realistic about how this sort of march to war looks and happens.”

That does not mean, of course, that this season’s cold war will never turn hot, Condal promises.

“There's going to be battle. Oh, yes, there is. There's plenty of action to come. Don't worry.”

House of the Dragon premieres on June 17 on OSN+ in the Middle East

Updated: June 05, 2024, 3:07 PM