I thought I would start this one off by saying that these are more just some thoughts I had on the first episode of the Game of Thrones prequel series rather than a “review” as personally, I don’t think it’s fair to review something when we don’t know where it’s heading.

House Of The Dragon is, as mentioned above, a prequel series to the ever-popular Game Of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s prequel book, Fire & Ice. It focuses on the Targaryen family and is set 172 years before the birth of Daenerys.

I have to start off by saying that after the final two seasons of Game Of Thrones left such a bad taste in my mouth, that my excitement factor for this was below zero. I didn’t watch any trailers or read any news on it. To put it bluntly, I did not give a shit about this show. But as it released two days ago, of course I was going to watch it. I didn’t hate it but I certainly was not as high on it as a majority of people seemed to be.

I will try my best not to always compare it to Game Of Thrones, but avoiding comparisons completely is impossible. But the strength of GoT wasn’t the White Walkers, or the political intrigue, but the characters. The vast majority of characters were deep and interesting, and, while it isn’t fair to judge these new characters completely off of one episode, I am yet to get that vibe from anyone except one character, maybe two, but more on them a bit later.

The cast for HotD is actually pretty stacked; Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans and Matt Smith have all had solid careers in both movies and TV and play major characters here too. Considine plays the current King, Viserys I. Ifans plays his Hand, Otto Hightower, and Smith plays the brother of the king, Daemon. The former two are solid with what they are given, with Hightower being the “maybe” I mention above about being a potentially interesting character.

However, Matt Smith is electric as the king’s brother. He clearly has a chip on his shoulder and, even in this episode, does some pretty reprehensible shit, but the argument for why he has done it can be seen, giving him a “shades of gray” moral vibe, and I dig that a lot. The problem with Matt Smith however, is that he absolutely blows everybody else away when he is on screen with them. He is so very clearly the best part of this first episode, and is the one character that I am hooked on so far.

The other thing that is worth mentioning is that this show clearly has a bigger budget than GoT, which makes sense. Not only is there more CGI (with dragons being more present, it was needed) but also the show in general just looks… better. I don’t mean that in that the show is better than GoT, but moreso that it just looks better. It looks cleaner, like better cameras were used etc. Also, for those that missed the ultra violence and nudity in the later seasons of GoT, fear not, as both things are back in abundance in this episode.

One person I really wasn’t too interested in though, and it’s a problem as she is positioned as the main character, is the character of Rhaenyra, the daughter of King Viserys. She has a great storyline set up for her, which I won’t reveal here, but the actor was just not believable to me. That being said, a new actor is cast for the older version of the character for later in the season (not a spoiler, is in the trailers), so maybe that actor will be better.

So while this wasn’t good enough to get rid of the bad vibes that the final two seasons of GoT gave me, the first episode left enough interesting seeds to at least get me wanting to watch next week. I think it’ll be a must-watch for diehard fans of GoT, but maybe there isn’t enough there YET for new viewers. But absolutely check out this episode for Matt Smith, if no other reason.