This article contains spoilers for all released episodes of House of the Dragon.
In the most recent episode of House of the Dragon, the kingdom of Westeros jumped forward through time yet again. So far, in this season, there have been six time jumps (assuming that you count the gap between the prologue and the start of the series' main events). Old King Jaeharys chose Viserys over Rhaenys in the prologue, then we jumped forward to the ninth year of Viserys' reign, eleven years after he was chosen by King Jaeharys.
Daemon was banished from King's Landing at the end of the series premiere, after which there was a six-month gap before the start of the next episode, during which the prince took to Dragonstone and announced his plans to take his mistress as a second wife. At the end of that episode, Lord Corlys approached Daemon about forming an alliance and the episode which followed, Second of His Name, picked up three years into the duo's conflict with the Crabfeeder in the Stepstones. Then, when episode four starts, Rhaenyra is about to abruptly call off her months-long search for a husband.
The most impactful jump, though, occurred at the start of Episode 6, The Princess and the Queen, with the show zooming ahead ten years and replacing several principal players, including Milly Alcock and Emily Carey as Rhaenyra and Alicent. The most recent episode, The Lord of the Tides, began after a similar amount of time, leaping six years into the future, and replacing all the child actors we had just met with new, older child actors.
All of this has worked well for the show, allowing it to cover the broad swath of time leading up to Viserys’ death and the beginning of the succession crisis in earnest, the war for the throne known as Dance of the Dragons. Similarly to how Game of Thrones taught audiences that no character was safe with Ned Stark's death at the end of season one, House of the Dragon has used this debut season to set audience expectations. This is a show about characters, yes, but it's primarily a show about the history of Westeros. That means that characters will fade in and out on the basis of their importance to the story of the continent, not the other way around.
It has required a significant paradigm shift. Few seasons of TV cover this much time, and House of the Dragon has done an admirable job sailing those largely uncharted waters. And, as George R.R. Martin recently said, the first season likely would have been criticized for being too slow without the skips. But, it has led to the series feeling a bit unmoored at times. Given that Viserys has looked considerably worse for wear each time we've seen him, that we swapped out two of our leads mid-season, and that other characters are constantly getting recast, it can feel a little hard to get your sea legs when a new episode starts.
Season one has had the difficult task of getting us from the proclamation of Rhaenyra as Viserys’ heir to Viserys’ death, a period of time that spans decades. The time jumps were necessary to get us to, what I assume will be, the meat of the series going forward. Viserys seemed to die at the end of The Lord of the Tides, and spoiler alert the preview for Episode 9 begins with Otto Hightower proclaiming "The King is dead." After misunderstanding Viserys' statement about Aegon's dream, Alicent now believes that Viserys intended for their son to be king. The preview for Episode 9 shows a significant increase in scale, with lots of epic crowd shots. We are headed to war.
Per A Wiki of Ice and Fire, that war will only last for three years, from 129 to 131 AC. So, given that the war seems to be the crux of this series, I'm hoping that timeline means the action slows down from here on out. Now that we’ve made it to the point that everything has been leading up to, I hope the show can take the time to let its characters breathe.
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