DAD! Here’s a breakdown of the final House of the Dragon trailer for you!

Posted: July 23, 2022 by patricksponaugle in Game of Thrones, TV
Tags: , , ,

HBO, roughly a month before the new show House of the Dragon is set to premiere, released a final trailer for the show. They’ve previously released two teaser trailers and a series of character photos. Because my dad has read the A Song of Ice and Fire books and seen the Game of Thrones adaptation on HBO, but has not read Fire and Blood – the Targaryen history – to provide him baseline context for the upcoming show, I’ve been making non-spoilery (or, very light-spoilery) posts that focused on the trailers.

This is one of those posts. It’s long, because the trailer had close to 100 shots to present and talk about.

If anyone wants to see my previous trailer breakdowns:

Dad, I recommend you first watch the full trailer (maybe with subtitles on, just because) and then come back to read my post.

It starts off, of course and unsurprisingly, with the HBO logo. (Dad, I screenshotted all of these shots from the trailer on HBO Max, which was good quality images – mostly. I opted to leave in the banner info and timeline at the bottom of the pics, because I’m lazy. Although I like seeing the timeline indicator if I want to go to the trailer and slide the timeline back and forth to a particular spot. My screenshots would help with that.)

It starts off following a blond-haired woman entering the throneroom. The Iron Throne is in the background, with assumedly King Viserys Targaryen sitting on the throne. I’ve previously mentioned that this production has really amped up the sword-symbolism nature of the Iron Throne with it being in the center of more ruined and twisted blades, gathered by Aegon the Conqueror from the thousands of his defeated enemies.

You’ll recall the Littlefinger once made a mocking comment that the thousand blades of Aegon’s Conquest was a joke, because he’d counted and there were only 200 swords making up the throne in an episode of Game of Thrones. For a smart guy, Littlefinger was not all that smart, honestly.

Littlefinger: Hahah, such a small number of swords.
Aegon: Dude, you’re getting fixated on interior decorating factoids, when my dragons literally roasted thousands.

There’s a voiceover from King Viserys …

The dream… it was clearer than a memory,

We see Viserys, apparently looking into a bonfire. We’ll come back to this in a moment.

And I heard the sound of thundering hooves

The shot changes appropriately to riders in a forest.

That’s a blond woman in front, and a white-cloaked horseman behind her. Let’s assume that that’s Rhaenyra Targaryen, and a kingsguard escort. As there are only a handful of kingsguard (seven) my guess is that that’s Ser Criston Cole, who we’ll see a lot in this trailer.

splintering shields and ringing swords

Speaking of Ser Criston Cole, there he is now in the shot above, in a tourney combat, using a morningstar. (Medieval weapon nerds, please don’t correct me and say it’s a flail and that a morningstar is just a spiked non-flexible mace. I don’t care. George calls it a morningstar in the book.)

He’s fighting some blond armored fellow (we’ve seen different shots of this fight before in trailers, and I’ve already identified Cole’s opponent as Daemon Targaryen, wearing extra-Targaryen dragon-themed armor because Daemon is very dramatic.)

We get a good look at the Targaryen-sigil shield that Daemon is carrying…

… before Cole smashes that shield. (I’ll occasionally highlight stuff in red, don’t be alarmed.)

The scene cuts to a blurry image of young Rhaenyra Targaryen in the background and someone pulling a sword out of its sheath in the foreground. Because of the cross-guard on the sword, I would rule out the foreground person as her uncle Daemon Targaryen or her father Viserys, who both have very distinctive Valyrian steel swords.

And I placed my heir upon the Iron Throne,

There’s a blurry pan of someone (it’s Viserys because you can just make out the spike of the Valyrian steel dagger he’s almost always wearing) sitting on the Iron Throne, resting his left hand on the spikey arm rest.

His left pinky finger has a cut in it, which isn’t surprising since the Iron Throne is not OSHA compliant.

Osha the Wildling: What?
Me: Sorry, I don’t mean you, Osha.
Asha Greyjoy: Wut?
Me: I didn’t mean you either, queen.

And all the dragons roared as one.

We see a dragon soaring over the city of King’s Landing – there’s a rider atop the dragon. In the distance is the famed Dragonpit, where the dragons were stabled. You’ll recall that the Dragonpit was a ruin during the time period of Game of Thrones (roughly 170 years later – I say roughly because we might also see things happening on the show in the year 100 A.C. (or thereabouts) which is 200 years before the main Game of Thrones storyline.)

King’s Landing has enjoyed a long period of relative stability – the previous king, Jaehaerys (who was Viserys’ grandfather) had ruled for 70 years. A lot happened during his reign but it was *mostly* peaceful.

The scene cuts to a council chamber scene, kicked off with Viserys placing a cream-colored stone into a flat stone holder. I’m pretty sure this is some kind of parliamentary procedure voting system – since in the shots below, everyone has these flat marble stone holders, and some have cream colored stones, some have dark stones, which makes me feel like it’s a yea-nay system (probably just because it looks cooler for the camera if people are voting visually.)

But this does imply the kind of way that Viserys did things. One wouldn’t expect kings to have voting on matters. Viserys was kind of indecisive, and liked to please folks.

A new voice is heard, from Otto Hightower, who is the Hand of the King.

I consider the matter urgent

In the small council chamber, we see the usual types of folks. The king in the far end with a nearby kingsguard. Otto Hightower the Hand is sitting to the king’s right. I won’t bother to identify everyone opposite Otto. Opposite the King is Corlys Velaryon, the famous Sea Snake and super-rich lord of Driftmark, a thalassocratic powerhouse island. The king’s daughter, Princess Rhaenyra, is in the lower right of the frame, serving as cupbearer.

that of your succession.

Viserys has no sons, and was put upon the throne originally by a Great Council, who chose him as Jaehaerys’ grandson to succeed the Old King, over the claim of Jaehaerys’ daughter Rhaenys (or the claims of her son, Laenor Velaryon. Rhaenys is married to Corlys Velaryon.) So, Otto is trying to get some early decision on the matter, should the unthinkable happen.

We hear another voice, this time from Lyonel Strong (a council member, presumably)

Who else would have a claim?

The scene cuts to a tournament field, located right next to the Dragonpit (I highlighted that for you, dad.)

We see King Viserys’ younger brother – ready to joust – riding in the tourney ground.

Otto responds in the voiceover:

The first-born child.

Lyonel replies:

Rhaenerya? No queen has ever sat the Iron Throne.

This exchange sets up maybe the first political point in the show. When Otto Hightower is trying to establish the legitimacy, in this case, of a daughter of the king getting to succeed her father.

We cut to a beach, looks like an early-morning stroll by two young people.

It’s Princess Rhaenyra, being accompanied by Laenor Velaryon, the son of Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen. Laenor has some kind of “what’s she thinking about” look on his face.

The scene then cuts to her uncle, Daemon Targaryen, armored up and accompanied by his personal army. Okay, not really his personal army, but he’s officially the leader of the King’s Landing civic militia, the goldcloaks. Daemon worked on providing them the goldcloaks brand, and pretty much formed them into the policing force that we also see in Game of Thrones.

Why did the scene cut to Daemon? Corlys brings the conversation about succession back around.

The King has an heir. Daemon Targaryen.

The loose rules of succession as they stood in Westeros seem to favor men. With the king having no sons, his younger brother seems to be the default candidate.

I’ll just mention that when I said Otto suggesting they establish an heir for Viserys in case the unthinkable happens, I’m going to reveal some Otto motivation – for him, Daemon becoming king was unthinkable. You’ll see in the trailer that Otto and Daemon are at odds.

As the scene returns to Daemon Targaryen’s face,

looking over his goldcloak troops, we hear King Viserys weigh in.

I will not be made to choose between my brother and my daughter.

This feels like another political point to hold onto. Viserys’ and his lack of solid decision-making.

We get a shot of goldcloaks being pumped up. No comment.

The scene cuts to Rhaenyra and the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. They’re in some kind of upper reviewing stand. I’ve highlighted the board of figurines between them. There’s a semi-circle of seven slots, six of them filled, and a slot in the semi-circle’s ‘center’ (you know what I mean) holding the seventh figurine.

I like the details of the figurines – house sigils – you can see House Tarly’s huntsman on the right. There’s a featureless block next to the huntsman, like someone didn’t have a figurine handy.

Below, they’re looking at seven armored men (six of them with bannered attendants.) You can see a knight from House Tarly on the right, corresponding with the Tarly figurine on the board in the shot above. There’s a gap between the Tarly banner and the next banner, so the knight in the center must be the guy corresponding to the featureless block, who has no bannered attendant. Must be a poorer, less important knight.

And we get a good look at him, Criston Cole, who was morningstarring Daemon Targaryen’s shield early in the trailer. I wish I had that guy’s hair and jawline.

The scene cuts to Dragonstone – specifically the narrow walkway along one of the island’s ridges (we saw a lot of this in Season Seven Game of Thrones.) There are two groups of people approaching a scenic overlook area on the walkway.

We also see two dragons, presumably in the same scene. One is flying in the air, and one has an incredibly long neck.

The scene cuts to two people in a room, which of course means politics are being discussed. It’s Corlys Velaryon, talking to his wife Rhaenys.

Rhaenys is giving her assessment on politics.

Rhaenyra’s succession will be challenged.

Knives will come out.

Fun fact: in casting and costuming Rhaenys, there was some controversy. Rhaenys’ mother was a Baratheon, and she famously was a dark-haired Targaryen. Some people were mad that the show decided to give Rhaenys the classical blond look, but Dad, as you recall, you were dark haired until you were thirty and then went solidly gray (sorry to remind you of this) so I’m comfortable in thinking that Rhaenys was dark haired and then went gray early, and didn’t mind because it made her look more Targaryen.

Here’s the throne room, and a figure is walking in.

Wanted to highlight that the figure is carrying a tool in his right hand. Like a hammer, or maybe a hatchet. I’ll come back to that later.

Oh, it’s the king’s brother, Daemon Targaryen. With short hair now.

Daemon appears to be wearing a crown of bamboo or some other flexible plant material.

This is the first time in the trailer that we see Daemon with short hair. Hair length might be important when nailing down time periods. We know – because there are young versions of Princess Rhaenys and young versions of Alicent Hightower (who becomes queen) that there are two (at least two) time periods on the show.

This kingsguard is keeping Daemon from getting too close to his brother. This feels like a political point.

Apparently in the same scene, the young version of Alicent Hightower steps from behind the Throne. The Kingsguard must be cool with this.

We hear a voiceover from Rhaenyra Targaryen, the king’s daughter.

You are the king.

We see the older version of Alicent Hightower (who becomes queen…)

Rhaenyra’s voiceover continues…

Your duty is to take a new wife.

The scene cuts to Viserys in silhouette, talking to Alicent. (I think the younger version, but I’m not going to place any money bets on that.)

We then see Viserys on the Iron Throne, looking all kingly with crown and his sword Blackfyre, speaking…

I have decided to name a new heir.

Cut to long-haired brother Daemon

I’m your heir

We’re back to Dragonstone, where Daemon Targaryen has his home. (Usually, the heir presumptive is in charge of Dragonstone, although Stannis had it during Robert’s time and Joffrey was Robert’s heir – even though ironically, Stannis was the legitimate heir following the usual rules of succession since Joffrey was not an actual Baratheon.)

We see Daemon pulling his sword, backed by goldcloaks, on the narrow walkway at Dragonstone.

We hear from Corlys Velaryon’s son, Laenor Velaryon.

War is afoot.

We have a staredown happening between Daemon Targaryen and Otto Hightower, who came to Dragonstone with some troops, some Kingsguard, and probably a lawyer (the maester from the small council is there…)

Cut to another scene where two people are in a room, talking. Therefore, politics is being discussed. Handsome Criston Cole is hearing Rhaenyra consider the political situation with the Westerosi patriarchy.

Do you think the realm will ever accept me as their queen?

Remember earlier that there’s a scene where someone is pulling out a sword, and Rhaenyra is in the background? I’m pretty sure that’s connected to this. So Ser Criston is probably about to swear an oath to Rhaenyra, affirming his loyalty that should she become queen, he’d be her man. (This is my guess.)

We then hear a voiceover from Rhaenys Targaryen – Corlys’ wife, casting a pessimistic pallor over the question.

A woman would not inherit the Iron Throne.

We see Rhaenyra at the ceremony where she’s made the designated heir.

Rhaeynys continues.

Because that is the order of things.

Remember, Rhaenys had a chance of becoming queen, or that her children would be considered having a better claim over Viserys’ claim, but she was not selected by the Great Council that Jaehaerys convened to choose his successor.

Rhaenyra has a reply.

When I am queen, I will create a new order.

The scene cuts to the older version of Rhaenyra Targaryen. Is she still Viserys’ heir in this future time? If not, what happened. She looks kind of irritated in the shot.

This is probably her on a dragon. There are several dragonriders at this time, and even more dragons. One wonders if the use of dragons is how she’s going to create a new order.

The trailer helpfully reminds us that the Baltimore Orioles are playing at home that weekend. No wait, they’re letting us know when the first episode airs. I don’t know why I was talking about the Orioles in Baltimore. Lets move along.

The scene cuts to what looks like a battle aftermath. A camp in ruins, there’s wrecked ships in the distance. There’s a lone figure walking along.

It’s Daemon (with long-ish hair.)

Someone named Reggio Haratis is talking in a voice-over:

Your family has dragons.

Looks like Daemon is fighting some guy from Dorne (based on how the Dornish were dressed in Game of Thrones.) I’ll remind you dad that Dorne was not part of the united Seven Kingdoms during Viserys’ reign. They were an independent nation and not necessarily friendly to the Targaryen regime.

Daemon’s taking care of business.

Cut to a dragon egg, in a primitive incubator.

Viserys is talking (maybe responding to Reggio?)

They’re a power man should never have trifled with

Speaking of dragons, and Daemon, here’s Daemon giving his dragon a hug. Dad, there’s so many dragons on this show.

I know it’s hard to see, but Daemon’s dragon has a kind of harness/saddle around its neck/chest.

We then see someone – I think I know who it is but I’m keeping the identity a secret for now, walking at night outside.

A HUGE dragon shows up. Look, I’m not going to be talking about this, and it looks better in the trailer. It’s a situation that has some weight to it. Trust me.

Okay, now they’re just showing us random stuff. It’s a cave, fire, I couldn’t tell you who that is.

Rhaenyra and Alicent (who has a nice Faith of the Seven necklace) look like they’re getting disturbing news. Hey, fun fact, this shot originally had Rhaenyra out of focus, since it was focused on Alicent, and then focused on Rhaenyra’s reaction having Alicent go out of focus. I took two screenshots and combined them, to put equal focus on the Princess and the Queen.

Alicent Hightower (the queen) is speaking.

If Rhaenyra comes into power,

she can cut off any challenge to her succession

Alicent is talking to someone with classical Targaryen hair. Viserys? Daemon? Rhaenys? Probably not Rhaenyra. Anyway, it sounds political.

Quick shots of Daemon and his goldcloaks, to remind us that he has some Proud Boys at his beck and call, should he need to exert some unconstitutional election reforms.

Back to a dragon in flight, and Rhaenyra talking.

I am to inherit the Iron Throne.

Cut to Rhaenyra looking at the crown.

She’s having a conversation with her uncle, Daemon.

She will block my way.

Who is that she we’re talking about? There are so many characters, I can’t keep up.

Ah, maybe it’s Alicent? That math checks out.

A guy with Targaryen hair and an eye-patch (very distinctive) is sparring with Criston Cole in the courtyard. Cole is whipping out his morningstar.

Criston Cole hates shields.

Nice symmetry between Criston Cole wrecking the shield of Daemon at the beginning of the trailer, and busting – ah, I’m not going to mention this guy’s name – for reasons – let’s call him Patchy – busting Patchy’s shield here.

Otto Hightower starts talking in voice-over.

Our hearts remain as one.

A shot of young Alicent and young Rhaenyra, I assume praying. Or at least devout Alicent is praying and Rhaenyra is observing.

Alicent responds to her dad.

Our hearts were never one.

Big contrast between the shot of young Alicent and Rhaenyra and grown up Queen Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra, apparently required to hang out.

Enough interpersonal drama! Here’s a shot of Corlys Velaryon and his men, rushing into battle.

I am pleased that Corlys is smart enough to wear a helmet. Oberyn Martell should have used a helmet when he fought against the Mountain.

Speaking of dead Dornishmen, it looks like Corlys and his team are fighting guys from Dorne, just like Daemon was a few scenes previously. Those rascally Dornish! Their wives are very kissable though, if you believe the songs.

We cut back to Alicent Hightower, and the two-people-in-a-room-talking-politics algorithm. Rhaenys is talking to Alicent.

Have you never imagined yourself on the Iron Throne?

Reminder: Rhaenys has a nickname of The Queen Who Never Was. It’s a thing with her, I bet.

Remember that standoff between Alicent’s dad Otto and Daemon Targaryen? We see that there’s a dragon there too. No matter how powerful the Hightowers might be as a noble house, ultimate power is found in dragons.

Cut to a Baratheon chevalier on a bucking horse. Obviously, the horse is not spooked by the dragon in the previous shot, but it feels that way. For all we know, this guy is jousting against Daemon Targaryen, who is wearing dragon-like armor. Because he’s all about the drama.

Speaking of drama, a dramatic entrance by the crazy rich Velaryons. From left-to-right, Rhaenys Targaryen’s brother-in-law, Rhaenys Targaryen’s husband Corlys, Rhaenys Targaryen’s son Laenor, RHAENYS TARGARYN THE QUEEN WHO NEVER WAS, and Rhaenys Targaryen’s daughter Laena.

Corlys Velaryon: Oh, so I’m just her husband?

Cut to … something disturbing. Looks like a battle aftermath. Wrecked ships in the distance, and people are being secured at low tide by the shore, with a lot of crabs around. Some crab feeding must be about to begin, and high tide is inevitable for these folks. The guy in the center has a tool that looks like the one Daemon brought in the throne room, when he was wearing that weird crown.

A dragon rider is scouring the heights overlooking a battlefield. This is probably Daemon? Connected to that shot where he was fighting that Dornishman?

Cut from dragonfire to a bonfire. Since we saw Viserys early on in the trailer looking into a fire, I’m saying that this is Viserys and Alicent to the side of him. That’s a pregnant Alicent.

Rhaenyra: I’m currently heir, remember.

Here’s a guy in a mask. I’ve been told who this guy is, and I’ll just let you all find out. (I couldn’t remember all these details from Fire and Blood to make a guess.)

We haven’t seen Daemon being dramatic in awhile. Thank you. Props to Daemon for also wearing a helmet, unlike other Dragonstone residents.

Stannis: Look, I just don’t think it’s necessary. That was a show-runner decision.

Okay, Alicent is pulling out Viserys’ personal Valyrian steel dagger.

She’s making a run at someone with the dagger. (We’ve seen this shot before in earlier trailers.)

Alicent begins a voiceover.

Where is duty?

It’s Patchy! Is he Duty? (If so, according to Maester Aemon, Love is the Death of Duty, so Patchy here should avoid Love.)

Quick cut to Alicent being confronted, cut to Uncle Daemon and a gift exchange with Rhaenyra.

Where is sacrifice?

Someone’s shoulder is scandalously being exposed. We know what’s happening next. This is HBO.

Cut to an agitated dragon – a bearded dragon, wearing a harness for riding. It has eyes with a golden iris.

Speaking of irises, Rhaenyra is staring down the point of that dagger.

This scene of Alicent and Rhaenyra locked, with all the folks circled around them is like a Renaissance painting.

Rhaenyra whispers:

Now they see you as you are

Cut to a different dragon than we’ve seen before. One with a green eye. Dad, there are so many dragons and being able to tell them apart by features like eye color or facial horns might be required. Since you used to point out white oaks and red oaks for me as we were in the woods, and you acted like it was no big deal to identify various leaves, I am confident you’ll be able to differentiate Tessarion, Melys, Caraxes, Vhagar, Cannibal, Sheepstealer, etc. Gauntlet thrown down, dad.

Boom. Trailer done.

Dad, I’ve tried not to be too spoilery. I don’t think it’s too far off to signal that Alicent Hightower becomes Viserys’ queen, and that there’s a succession crisis. But I’ve been very careful not to give away too many details. The trailer itself has been shying away on some big complex factors in the inter-relationship with the Targaryens, the Velaryons, Alicent and Rhaenyra, Rhaenyra and well – Everyone. George RR Martin really tells an incredible story surrounding the Targaryen Civil War, and I am so glad that it’s airing this year, and that you’ll be in town to watch the first episode with me.


(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)

Images from HBO’s HOUSE OF THE DRAGON. I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text here. So there.

If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2022 Some Rights Reserved

Comments
  1. Very comprehensive, and impressive Patrick. You almost have me convinced that I should start watching at long last!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah, now is a good time to do so! The House of the Dragon show is set years and years before Game of Thrones, so you can come in cold and not know anything . (I am not trying to pressure you, and I appreciate your feedback, sir.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Medieval weapon nerds, please don’t correct me and say it’s a flail and that a morningstar is just a spiked non-flexible mace. I don’t care. George calls it a morningstar in the book.”

    That’s… not how it works. In the books, George says Criston Cole has a morningstar. That means, according to George, Criston Cole uses a spiked mace, because that’s what a morningstar is. The show has it wrong, plain and simple. George might also have it wrong, but we can’t know for sure. But what’s written is written. Cole uses a morningstar, not a flail.

    Like

    • I think you are wrong saying the show got it wrong. My copy of Fire and Blood has an illustration of Criston Cole beating the shit out of Joffrey Lonmouth with a spiked flail while the text makes it clear that Cole is using his favorite weapon, the morningstar. See pages 372 and 373. When I “well actually’d” myself in the passage above – that should have indicated that I know the difference between a morningstar and a flail, but George is calling a flail a morningstar in this case, so I am following suit. I feel confident that George had enough creative control over the approval of illustrations in Fire and Blood to infer that Cole’s signature weapon is not actually a spiked non-flexible mace.

      Like

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