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House of the Dragon - The Burning Mill - Review: Two Queens Meet

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"House of the Dragon," the highly anticipated prequel to "Game of Thrones," emerged from the burning embers of its predecessor with the potential to take on a myriad of outrageous directions. "Game of Thrones" often did whatever it felt like, showcasing everything from zombies and sacrificial infanticide to incest and castration. It was known for its willingness to explore the extreme. "House of the Dragon" faces a challenge familiar to many prequels: balancing the need to lay groundwork with delivering compelling, substantive storytelling. This structural tension — being too rushed for thorough groundwork yet too slow to dive into the heart of the conflict — highlights the delicate balance prequels must strike. Fans often have high expectations for depth and complexity akin to the original series. 

We open this week’s episode with the two families, Bracken and Blackwood who have been aching to battle over any little slight, fight for their respective declarations - House Green vs. House Black. It’s a shame we did not get to see the battle but just the aftermath, which proved to be very brutal. Rhaenys and Rhaenyra have a conversation above the grave of the twins. Rhaenys does her best to counsel Rhaenyra on how to move forward. She suggests speaking to Alicent; she gives us the line from the trailer: “There is no war so hateful to the Gods as a war between kin and no war so bloody as a war between dragons.” 

Ser Criston is a nervous wreck as he should be and one his way to his first meeting he sees the changes that the immature Aegon has made regarding the knights. The meeting is a bunch of bickering back and forth and Criston comes up with a plan to ride out and take the Rivermen. Aegon declaring his is fierce as anyone and met with silence was comical. 

"The Burning Mill" - HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, Pictured: Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole. Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO ©2024 . All Rights Reserved

Mysaria and Rhaenyra’s alliance makes me uneasy. It will be interesting to see what comes of it. Rhaenyra sends her children away with Rhaena as their protector. It's a shame how underused she is. Also how her and her sister have no relationship with Daemon. Speaking of Daemon, he goes on his own little journey this episode at Harrenhal. The way it is played, it is difficult to make out if he is doing this for himself or his wife but his visions of the Ghost of Harrenhal is intriguing. 

The addition of Alicent’s brother Ser Gwaine Hightower is going to cause even more problems in the Castle. The battle he and Ser Criston had seemed unnecessary and just added for conflict for conflict's sake. Especially if we are made to believe that Gwaine does not know about the secret relationship. I wanted Baela to light them up so badly. She deserves a win. 

Rhaenyra’s counsel is starting to waiver but Rhaenys reminds them of who is in charge. I love her and Corlys’s relationship so much. It really is the most stable at this point. The “stranger” in the bar who is the Uncle of Rhaenyra will add even more drama for this season. The scene where Aegon finds Aemond at the brothel was hard to watch. 

"The Burning Mill" - HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, Pictured: Eve Best as Rhaenys and Steve Toussaint as Corlys. Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO ©2024 . All Rights Reserved

The scene I enjoyed the most was the conversation between Rhaenyra and Alicent when she snuck in the Church. Alicent truly does believe the King changed his mind while Rhaenyra now knows he was speaking of Aegon from the story. Not sure what this new development will mean going forward. This episode was slow and a lot of talking but still entertaining. 

"House of the Dragon'' has proven to be more mannered and somber than Game of Thrones. Astonishingly, for a cod-medieval series about icy blonde arguing over whose dragon is more fiery, it is more subtle. This enormous, splashy spin-off of one of the biggest shows of all time insists on being frustratingly subtle about everything. 

What did you think of the episode House of the Dragons fans? Leave a comment below and remember to connect with me on X @jereereviews for more.

About the Author - Je-Ree Olenik
Je-Ree is the definition of a Jersey Girl. A true nerd who loves her comics. When not watching tv she is a paralegal by day. She loves writing, reading, binging all the newest shows and spending time with her family. Twitter @jereereviews
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