What House of the Dragon Season 2 Will Have in Common With The Shining

House of the Dragon season 2 is set to introduce some horror elements while paying homage to The Shining, The Witch, and Macbeth.

Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) in House of the Dragon season 2
Photo: Ollie Upton | HBO

This article contains no spoilers for HOUSE OF THE DRAGON season 2. But it does broadly allude to events from the source material FIRE & BLOOD.

House of the Dragon season 2 is merely one month away from its June 16 premiere on HBO. As such, many fresh tidbits are beginning to trickle out about the next batch episodes for the Game of Thrones prequel.

The latest, and most substantial download of information arrived yesterday in the form of a massive, revealing new trailer and an equally massive, revealing feature from Entertainment Weekly. While we’ve already delved into the former, there’s a detail hidden in the later that deserves further exploration.

Amid EW‘s sprawling, well-written report focusing on House of the Dragon stars Emma D’Arcy (Rhaenyra Targaryen) and Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower), there’s a passage from series writer Sara Hess that invokes an unlikely source of inspiration for season 2: The Shining. Yes, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic, adapted (loosely) from Stephen King’s book of the same name, came up in the House of the Dragon season 2 writers’ room. So too, did Macbeth and Robert Eggers’ spooky 2015 debut film The Witch.

Ad – content continues below

“There’s a haunted goat!” Hess told EW. “We definitely were thinking of it as [The Shining‘s] Overlook Hotel. It’s super fun in that it’s atmospheric. [Daemon] can’t sleep. There’s weird shit going on. He’s not sure if it’s real or if it’s in his own head. We just wanted to have unexplained things and then use that as a conduit to lay him open a little more than he would be in normal life.”

Believe it or not, House of the Dragon season 2’s Shining and Witch comparisons are on point and it’s all thanks to Westeros’ spookiest haunted house: Harrenhal in the Riverlands. And that just so happens to be where Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) announced his intentions to march upon and occupy at the end of season 1.

Harrenhal featured prominently on Game of Thrones (Arya spent much of season 2 there) and it looms large in George R.R. Martin’s Westerosi history. Commissioned by Harren the Black, who was the last King of the Isles and Rivers (with dominion over the Iron Islands and the Riverlands), Harrenhal was meant to be the biggest and most powerful fortress in the whole world. And it was – for about 20 minutes. No sooner was Harrenhal completed than when Aegon the Conqueror swept down upon The Riverlands and burnt Harren’s whole line to extinction. Harrenhal itself was left in ruins, lingering on only as a shell of itself and a monument to House Targaryen’s power.

Over the years, the ruins of Harrenhal were “gifted” to many great Houses. Nearly all of these houses suffered ruin themselves, leading to understandable concerns that the castle was cursed. House of the Dragon viewers got to see this “curse” in action in season 1 when the treacherous Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) burned the rest of his family alive in a staged Harrenhal fire. As head of House Strong, Larys still technically owns the castle. But Daemon seems to believe it’s ripe for the taking.

As the EW feature notes, at the core of all the weird happenings Daemon experiences in Harrenhal will be the mysterious wet nurse Alys Rivers (Gayle Rankin). Believed to be a bastard daughter of Lord Lyonel Strong, Alys flirts with the magical and occult in the way that other Game of Thrones characters like Melisandre once did. She is remembered in history as a witch. But of course, not everyone in Westeros believes in such superstition. We’ll see where Daemon, and the viewers, fall on that spectrum soon.

House of the Dragon season 2 premieres Sunday, June 16 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

Ad – content continues below