‘House of the Dragon’ showrunner reveals what terrified him about the first season

Is House of the Dragons coming back for season two
Image via HBO

This article contains spoilers for the House of the Dragon season finale

Though House of the Dragon sprung from the phenomenon that was Game of Thrones, there was one huge difference between the way the series developed – and that was all based on how it dealt with time. The show never stayed in one place for long before leaping forward at an alarmingly dizzy pace, in a gamble that even the showrunner admits “scared the hell outta” him.

House of the Dragon season one has finally come to a close, though it has left itself right on the precipice of an all-out war. One shocking death from the last episode seems almost like fate when you consider the words of Kind Visery’s right at the start: “The idea that we control the dragons is an illusion. They’re a power men should never have trifled with.”

In all fairness, he did say that quite some time ago, with the first episode set 19 years before the last. The show jumped around a lot, pressing fast forward at times and often recasting actors to show this passage of time. It left many confused as they had to figure out who was who and keep track of it all. Speaking to Deadline, showrunner Ryan Condal confessed that the decision to move the series so quickly through time like that was a scary one.

“It did scare the hell outta me. It scared the hell out of HBO, too. But to their credit, I mean it’s really the best network in the world. They were bold and said ‘we’re HBO, we’re buying into this and we’re gonna do this.’ I’m incredibly grateful to them for it. But yeah, it scared the hell outta me. No one else has really done it before.”

Photo via HBO

Condal did bring up a series that he felt came the closest to what they were aiming for, using it as an example for how the time-hopping could work.

“I mean, the closest analog that I have is The Crown, one of my favorite dramas of the last 20 years. I’ve talked about The Crown more in our room than I did about most other shows other than the original Game of Thrones. They did it incredibly successfully. It was the proof that we could do it on a more accelerated timeline because it was so successful.”

Well, both shows are about royal families navigating their way through turbulence, personal strife, and familial matters, just less dragons in one of them.

“They went from Claire Foy and Matt Smith to Tobias Menzies and Olivia Coleman. You accepted that they were the same characters. The different thing is those are historical characters and you know who they are. But it was proof to me that if the drama was compelling enough and the story was compelling enough, that people would stay and follow the characters and not the actors. And sure enough, that’s what they did.”

Moving forward, though, Condal assures us that the rapid time acceleration is done with. The stage has been set, and from season two onward, time will behave a little more.

“As a reward to our wonderful audience for following us through all the time jumps and recasts, they are done. We tell the story in real-time from here forward. The actors are playing these characters until the end. We’re not recasting anybody. We’re not making any huge jumps forward in time. We are now in the Dance of the Dragons, and we’re gonna tell that story.

Fans may wish time accelerated just a little in real life, as there may be a two-year wait ahead before the second season comes out. Alas, we do not have writers in our own lives to move us through the duller parts.