Review: House of the Dragon, "The Black Queen" | Season 1, Episode 10
HBO's prequel finds messy but meaningful momentum in the nuances of a march to war
On the one hand, the decision to not read Fire & Blood ahead of House of the Dragon’s debut made this season a more exciting experience. I had no idea of the events that were about to take place on a weekly basis, and thus could be surprised at plot points both big and small as the story of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower’s march to war played out.
On the other hand, though, over the course of the season it became clear that a huge part of the show’s appeal was in the choices being made presenting that story in relation to George R.R. Martin’s text. Within his diegetic history was one version of the facts, which showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik have—based on our discussion in the comments, and what I’ve read online—treated as a contested account of the period from the moment the show began. The appeal of the show as a “reader,” then, is seeing what the show chooses to present as what actually happened to lead the historians to their conclusions, portraying what they left out or what they simply couldn’t have known was true.