While 2019’s controversial conclusion of Game of Thrones played out the presumed end of Westeros’s royal Targaryen bloodline in the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire literary mythology, HBO subsequently put into motion plans to jump back to the family’s peak era with prequel series House of the Dragon, with a 2022 window eyed. Yet, while the royal house’s motto of “Fire and Blood” might accurately describe how 2020 has been playing out, it appears that the prequel series was not set back by the pandemic.
House of the Dragon is still on track for its pre-pandemic 2022 launch window, as HBO president Casey Bloys confirmed to Deadline in a post-Emmys interview in which he also revealed that casting for the series is currently underway. The confirmation comes over eight months after a January winter TCAs interview in which Bloys told the trade that his guess for a release window was “sometime in 2022,” and that scripts were in the process of being written. While his latest update did not cover the state of the scripts, it could be surmised that progress was made during lockdown-centric 2020, seeing as the series is approaching the casting phase.
After HBO nixed an initial pilot (starring Naomi Watts) set several thousand years earlier during the era known as “The Long Night,” the currently developing straight-to-series-ordered prequel project arrives under the purview of Ryan Condal (co-creator of USA Network’s Colony), who, as showrunner/executive producer, developed House of the Dragon alongside mythos creator George R.R. Martin himself. With the presumed end of the Targaryen line having been depicted with the death (some might say self-caused,) of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), the prequel series will showcase the beginning of the slow decline of her royal house—set around 300 years earlier—bookending centuries worth of Targaryen woe. While the family’s royal ascension famously occurred during the oft-referenced conquest of Aegon I, which united the kingdoms of Westeros under one royal rule at King’s Landing, House of the Dragon will be set about a century after that event during a period of civil war among Westeros’s Seven Kingdoms known as “The Dance of the Dragons”; a conflict that should bring HBO a bigger bounty of mega-battles, dragon-dealt deaths and an obligatory array of incestuous royals.
A notion that seems to affirm this setting resides in previous reports that the prequel show’s casting process was specifically looking at characters such as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower. Indeed, those two happen to be key elements for a plot depicting The Dance of the Dragons, an ordeal centered on the royal succession to late king Viserys I after factions arose in the aftermath of royal son Aegon II’s coveting of the Iron Throne became disputed by his older half-sister, the aforementioned Rhaenyra, the daughter and only living child by the late king’s first wife. However, the alleged casting call for Alicent Hightower adds an intriguing dimension, with the character being the second wife to the late Viserys I, and mother to throne occupant Aegon II. Having previously been a Hand of the King, Alicent should bring a cunningly ruthless maternal female presence to the series that could give Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister a run for her Iron Bank of Braavos-backed money.
Nevertheless, it does seem that House of the Dragon is penciled-in for a 2022 release date on HBO. Should it carry a Dance of the Dragons-centric plot, then expect to be bombarded by ephemera centered on two distinct versions of the iconic Targaryen three-headed dragon family insignia: a gold one representing Aegon II’s faction, opposite the traditional red one representing Rhaenyra’s supporters. With a large portion of the global audience left off-put by Game of Thrones’ final season, it will be interesting to see if said audience remains invested enough in the mythos to return to the fold come 2022.