The following article contains spoilers for the third episode of House of the Dragon.
The third episode of House of the Dragon was perhaps the most epic episode of the series so far. The HBO series has been faring better with fans than the last season of Game of Thrones, and the third episode should have made the biggest fan of the world of Westeros very happy.
George R. R. Martin had previously revealed his least favorite thing about HBO’s adaptation of his A Song of Ice and Fire series, and a section of the third episode of House of the Dragon titled ‘Second of his Name’ may have made up for the scene Martin did not like in Game of Thrones. Let’s unpack what that scene was, why George R. R. Martin did not like it and how House of the Dragon brought this 11-year-old mistake full circle.
What was George R. R. Martin’s least favorite thing about Game of Thrones?
George R. R. Martin brought up his least favorite moment in Game of Thrones in the book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon by James Hibberd. The book features a collection of interviews with the cast and crew of Game of Thrones detailing behind-the-scenes moments throughout the entire series. Winter is Coming, a Game of Thrones fan site first drew the parallel between Hibberd’s book and the third episode of House of the Dragon, but it’s worth going into a little more detail.
The chapter of the book titled “My Book Come to Life” detailed the first season of the show, specifically with interviews regarding the pilot and the world of Westeros which George R. R. Martin created. The chapter has interviews with the cast talking about what it was like while they were still all together, the trepidation of the crew as to the scale of the production regarding their lack of experience in some parts, and it also touches upon George’s reaction to seeing the world he created in real life.
The scene that George R. R. Martin called his “least favorite scene in the entire show” was the scene in the first season of the series where King Robert Baratheon went on a hunt. Now there was no such scene in the book, as that is where the King gets mauled by a Boar, and he dies after returning to King’s Landing. Martin goes on to say “But I knew what a royal hunting party was like. There would have been a hundred guys… pavillions… huntsmen… dogs… horns blowing–that’s how a king goes hunting!”
In the scene he is referring to, only a few people including the King himself take part in the hunt. However it is not as if there were only a few people because that is how the scene should have been shot, according to Martin himself, it came down to budgetary constraints. After comparing Game of Thrones to another HBO series, Rome, he goes on to say that “at that point, we couldn’t afford horses or dogs or pavilions.” This is saying a lot, because if you cast your minds back to the first season of Game of Thrones it was still a huge production, with lots of people and some great sets. But this might be why they couldn’t afford animals or pavilions.
The crew even go as far as to comment on a battle that was supposed to be in the series, the Battle on the Green Fork with Tyrion Lannister. Instead of seeing the battle we only get a glimpse of its beginning and its end. As Alan Taylor, director of the season one episode, ‘Baelor’ describes it, “We settled the idea of knocking Tyrion out… we’re building to what we think will be a huge battle and then we missed it was fun.” The idea that we were actually supposed to see that battle in action is interesting as it may have ultimately thrown off the pacing, as that particular episode ends with the execution of Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark. Taylor is right though, as Tyrion missing the entire battle is one of his great scenes in the first season.
But HBO has been mighty successful off the back of George R. R. Martin, even just towards the end of Game of Thrones the budgets of the seasons were quite large. That has continued with HBO’s prequel Game of Thrones series House of the Dragon. The first season of House of the Dragon reportedly cost double the amount of a Game of Thrones season, coming in at $200 million. Now that is not to say that all of the money went to new battles, as there are many dragons appearing in the show and their brilliance is not cheap to put on screen.
However, the third episode of House of the Dragon did deliver on recreating George R. R Martin’s version of a hunt, as seemingly the entirety of Westeros gathered the Kingswood to hunt the White Stag which was symbolic of the next ruler of Westeros. The hunt had many of the surrounding houses – it was probably a little too far for the Starks to join in on the fun — journey to the Kingswood to partake in the general merriment and watch the King hunt the stag.
Even the tourney in the first episode, which was supposed to be in celebration of the birth of the heir to the King, seemed much larger, and more lavish than the tourneys in Game of Thrones. Hopefully, these scenes live up to what George R. R. Martin had in his head when he was writing the books, even though he does say in Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon about one of the scenes in the first season that “It was my book come to life.”
We have had tourneys, battles, dragons, and hunts, but the series is not over yet and there is money yet to be shown on screen. It is very likely that by the time the series is over some of the dragons that we have seen will be far larger, and that the chaos and destruction during the battles will be dialed up to eleven, or at least the Westerosi / High Valyrian version of eleven, which is something fans of both shows and of the world of Westeros, should be able to get excited about.
Catch HBO‘s House of the Dragon when it releases on Sundays on HBO Max.