This post contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Season One
Fan backlash comes with the territory of shows like House of the Dragon. Not only does it continue the adaptation of a beloved series by author G.R.R. Martin, but it comes after a largely disappointing final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Despite some unconventional choices, including a mid-season time jump that saw series leads Milly Alcock and Emily Carey replaced by Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke as older versions of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, there’s one genuine fan complaint that showrunner Ryan Condon cannot ignore.
When asked about the darkness of several House of the Dragon episodes, Condon promised The Hollywood Reporter, “The visual continuity of the show is something we will look at.” As the phrase “visual continuity” suggests, complaints about the franchise’s darkness are nothing new. This began anew with House of the Dragon episode seven, but no viewer has forgotten the eighth episode of Game of Thrones season eight, which received widespread criticism for its murky visuals.
Even as he plans to appease fans, Condon also admitted that he doesn’t see the problem in the same way. “It looked great in post and I looked great on my television,” he pointed out, drawing a contrast between preparing a film and a television show. “For TV, you’re releasing it onto a million different television screens and different setups and calibrations all over the planet,” Condon elaborated. “So it’s hard to account for everybody’s everybody’s televisions and their calibrations and sometimes the file can get compressed.” As a result, “the show can look very different than the thing that we saw and approved and released.”
Condon’s comments come at a pivotal point in fan media, as HBO and Disney continue to blur the line between film and television. Disney in particular has been subject to criticism for its visuals, with series such as MCU’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and the Star Wars entry Obi-Wan Kenobi routinely knocked for its visual effects. However, shows such as Andor on Disney+ and The Rings of Power on Amazon have managed to look cinematic on TV without darkening the screen.
Condon himself invoked Star Wars when talking about another fan issue – the popularity of Matt Smith’s character Daemon Targaryen. While defending co-writer Sarah Hess against those who took issue with her calling Daemon “the internet’s boyfriend,” Condon disparaged those “looking for the Dark Side and the Light Side of The Force,” applying simple good/bad binaries to complex characters. “This is simply not that kind of show,” he stated. Although he understands that Smith’s charismatic performance makes Daemon a fan favorite, Condon hastened to remind readers that these qualities don’t make the character “unimpeachably heroic.” That said, the writer welcomed fans to disagree with him and even “have a reasonable discussion” on social media, asking only that they “don’t attack people.”
Condon takes an equally consoling tone when discussing the show’s visuals. “The feedback was certainly heard. I get it,” he emphasized. “And we want the show to be a great viewing experience for everybody.” That statement doesn’t outline any specific steps Condon and his team plan to make for House of the Dragon season two, but it is clear that he doesn’t plan on leaving fans in the dark.