House of the Dragon showrunner says next season won’t have time jumps

House of the Dragon had its first season finale this week. The first season of the prequel was paced quite differently from its predecessor, Game of Thrones. There were frequent time jumps and it spanned two decades in just 10 episodes, with some characters being recast multiple times to keep up and some characters showing nary a sign of aging (based on Crison Cole, evil doesn’t age). And despite extensive source material and some pretty potent foreshadowing throughout the episode, the last scene was somehow still shocking and sets the stage for the wars to come. Ryan Condal, one of the creators and showrunners, did an interview with the New York Times about following GoT, the complexities of the characters, and all those time jumps.

He’s whisked the characters of “House of the Dragon” through a sweeping pseudo-historical narrative, in which entire decades speed by from one episode to the next. Now Ryan Condal, a creator and showrunner of the series, is experiencing a time jump all his own.

“It’s so weird, after spending so long making the show, that the finale is airing already,” Condal said in a phone call from London, just hours before the show’s first season concluded. “It felt like it took years and years just to get that first episode aired. Then, very quickly, everything airs, and that’s it.”

On the overall reception to HotD: “I was surprised in a happy way about how quickly everybody embraced it. I really thought it was going to be more of a hill to climb because we were following the Beatles, and how do you do that? You don’t. You just try to do your own thing, and hope it connects with people. But I was shocked that people came right out the gate and accepted it, generally — this massive fandom, and tens of millions of people watching the show, and writing about it and talking about it.”

On the thirst for Prince Daemon: “I’m having trouble understanding it. We established right out of the gate, in the pilot, that Daemon is a fascinating guy, but he’s not Ned Stark. So I didn’t see it coming. To me, Daemon is the antihero of this story. He’s a character with a real darkness to him, who’s dangerous and charming in equal parts. I knew people would be fascinated by him and latch onto him, but I figured they’d do it in the way they did with Jaime Lannister or Bronn or the Red Viper. I did not think they would oddly apply this sort of super-fandom to him and try to justify every single thing he’s done as being intrinsically heroic. It simply isn’t. It’s not the case. Nor will it be in the future.”

On the time jumps and recasting: “There really is no way to tell the story of a generational conflict without spending time with each generation and understanding what happened to make things go bad. But it was very risky. As complex as the original “Game of Thrones” was, they did not do anything like this, so it was a bold choice. But we were standing on the shoulders of a giant that had done a lot of the legwork before us, which allowed us to make that bold choice, knowing we had an audience that was going to lean forward and do the hard work of paying attention to the show. They weren’t just signing up for empty-calories, popcorn entertainment. I’m really glad and proud of and grateful for the audience, who buckled up and came along for the ride. The reward for everybody is that the story from here forward happens in real time.

[From The New York Times]

It’s not surprising that the series has been a hit despite fans’ (correct) dissatisfaction with the truly terrible final season of GoT. The content is compelling and there’s a lot of talent involved. And it truly seems like Ryan and Miguel Sapochnik were mindful of the flaws and downfall of the first series and they’re trying to do their own thing, honor/interpret the source material, and not make the same mistakes as the D-bros who made the first series. I’m not surprised at the thirst for Matt Smith’s Daemon since people also think Joe from You is the pinnacle of romance. Daemon is clearly an antihero, but Criston Cole is a straight-up villain cop and he must be stopped.

I’m glad to hear that we’re done with the time jumps and the story will be happening in real time from here on out. The recasting worked, especially for the two lead actors, but there was no need to have three sets of actors for the Velaryon twins and I don’t think they needed to swap Aegon at all. The platinum blonde wigs distract from some aging nuances. And while I appreciate that they didn’t dilly-dally for multiple seasons like GoT, I do think there was a way to split the difference. Like many critics, I agree that the storyline needed to breathe a bit more and we should have spent more time with the characters. It’s Westeros so of course there were a number of sudden deaths, but they’re less impactful when the characters/actors in question have gotten less than an hour of combined screentime throughout the episodes. Things happened so quickly that I’d say there were only two deaths that warranted more than a shrug and “oh damn.”

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27 Responses to “House of the Dragon showrunner says next season won’t have time jumps”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    I am still in shock from that last sequence in the finale.

    • pottymouth pup says:

      I actually expected that but was disappointed at how they didn’t show the discovery of what occurred (unless they’ll show that in the first ep of next season)

  2. Gold ladder says:

    The first 8 episodes took place over the span of about 25 years while the meat of the story from ep 9 onwards (assuming it ends where I think it should end given the ep 1 setup) should not span more than 5 years.

    I enjoyed the first season for the most part but I think they are trying way too hard to make the characters less evil than they are in the books and it makes them look dumb rather than complex.

    • C says:

      Well, they want people to identify with the characters and give an equal amount of “sympathy” so it’s not so easy to say who is the “right” side (because if it was easy the show wouldn’t be interesting at all, lol). But I don’t think it was done to make them look less evil but show that unreliable narrative as you mentioned below. The idea that dragons don’t always listen to their riders was interesting.

  3. Jenns says:

    I really enjoyed this season. I know it was clunky at times with the time jumps, but I honestly don’t know any other way to set this story up.

    And I while people may have been thirsting for Matt Smith, I feel like Ewan Mitchell’s profile is going to blow up after being cast Aemond.

    • MMC says:

      Ewan is so great as Aemond, and it’s especially weird seeing him like this after watching him as Baby Monk in Last Kingdom. Haelena too!

  4. Nick G says:

    It is so interesting to watch this show, which deals so much more with the monarchy than GOT ever did, and pick out the comments and observations about the nature of succession, dynasties, second sons (so many of them), governance. Given the real world events, it’s fascinating.

  5. Size Does Matter says:

    I read the book but I have not watched the show. Does it track?

    • Gold Ladder says:

      Mostly. The histories books have always been told from an unreliable narrator perspective (often Maesters with a lot of biases) and the show is supposed to show what really happened. Like one character actually faked their deaths.

      The biggest change was the relationship between Rhaenyra and Alicent. In the show, they’re made to be close in age and bffs rather than having a 9 year age difference and a stepmother and daughter who initially got along.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        I don’t think they gave them a 9 year age difference. I thought the show had Alicent as 16 when she married Viserys in the show (so old enough to consummate the marriage immediately and Rhaenyra was 14 or 15

    • C says:

      I think so. This season was the whole background of the Dance and what we saw in the show this season was the elaboration on around 80 or so pages from Fire and Blood to illustrate the beginning. There are narrative changes to call back to characters from Game of Thrones but I think it works.
      People complain about the time jumps but I think they were well done. It’s what Game of Thrones Season 8 tried to do and did it massively unsuccessfully. The ones here were better.

  6. Eleonor says:

    I liked it.
    But the wig game was a mess.

  7. Desdemona says:

    This last season was filmed in my beautiful country (Monsanto, Portugal… )…. That’s all I have to say…

  8. ellie says:

    I was so disappointed by this show. I couldn’t find a single character I liked, nor a single character I liked to hate. I just… didn’t care about anybody. There was no depth to anyone. They died and my reaction was ”oh well”.

    Half the time I couldn’t understad what was happening and WHY because 10 years had suddenly passed and someone who had read the books had to explain what had happened off screen. That should be the screenwriters’ job.

    And the wigs were terrible.

  9. line says:

    For me this season was okay but the writing and the many jumps in time made it confusing . Except Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy who had a evolution of theirs caracters . The other characters of this show did not have access to develops. Also the relationships between the characters don’t exist Sir Harwin Strong, Laena and Leonor Verlayon,died very quickly with zero character building. Add to that scriptwriter decisions that make no sens. Criston Cole kills Joffrey Lonmouth during a royal wedding, violate the rule of the guest to kill a man issus from a well-established noble family of Westeros et stays in the Kingsguard. Rhaenys not wanting to start a war, consquently don’t kill the greens but kill innocent people, Alicent never wanted to steal the throne from Rhaenyra spread the rumor of the bastard of Jace, Luke and Joffrey, thus undermining the legitimacy of Rhaenyra’s skills to become queen or in episode 7, when she urges Aegon to behave better because one day he will be king. With all this, we must believe that she did not want to usurp the Iron Throne for her son, but that the idea came only when she heard the delusions of Viserys who is on his deathbed.

    • C says:

      I think the Criston Cole killing Joffrey thing was to illustrate further Viserys’s weakness at not doing anything about it and Alicent insisting on retaining him (and then swearing him to her service).
      I think Rhaenys is trying to hedge her bets and see what happens. Of course, none of the “people on top” really care about the smallfolk and that’s the case in Game of Thrones too.
      Alicent always wanted to usurp Rhaenyra’s throne, they established that with her telling Aegon he was the challenge and would be their king one day. But she was naive because she was listening to her father without really listening to him. She doesn’t understand what’s going on around her and is really just not that smart. That’s going to play out further.

      • line says:

        For Criston Cole, Viserys doing nothing for him, ok it can pass how justification but not with the house of the Lonmouth, who can hold a grudge against the crown and especially to Hightower. Rhaenys, we have no idea if she cares about the civil people or not because she is one of the underdeveloped characters in the series.

        In the case of Alicent, I prefer Alicent from the books who was not an idiot being manipulated by the men in her life, but rather the scheming queen she was, a cross between Catherine de Medici, .. Isabelle de France and Anne Boleyn

      • C says:

        If the King doesn’t want to do anything about it and nobody else cares, what exactly can the house of Lonmouth do?
        For Rhaenys – we don’t know if she cares about smallfolk or not but I would guess not given she obliterated a crap ton of them, lol. And that’s one of the points of Game of Thrones/HotD and the world the showrunners make, that these great lords make policies and events but don’t really care about the little people.
        Alicent in the books was more diabolical but I didn’t find her more intelligent. I mean, if anything, I think they didn’t change her much in the show, just made her a little more “nuanced” because it adds to the whole bffs-turned-enemies narrative they made. The showrunners themselves – and Martin presumably given his work on the show – have stated that they want to draw parallels between her and Cersei Lannister (even if they’re obviously not exactly the same). and they even requested Olivia Cooke to audition with Cersei scenes.

  10. wordnerd says:

    I enjoyed this show, however they needed some SERIOUS TW’s on a few episodes. And, it was very clear to me that men were running this show based on how they treated the multiple traumatic birth scenes. Seriously, 4 of them??? The graphic nature of those scenes did not contribute to the progression of the story and seemed to focus on the visuals vs. the characters’ experiences. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been through loss and traumatic birth experiences, but I thought they were out of touch and just looking for cheap visual ways to make the show feel “intense” vs. focusing on quality writing.

    • C says:

      I’m all over this post I know but I like this show a lot, so bear with me. I understand your view but there are a lot more women involved with this show, and it’s really apparent to me in how very little male-gaze we’ve had to encounter and that when there are scenes of violence or pain it’s not centered around the male experience of it. Emma did a great interview describing how Rhaenyra taking control of her own birth was a trauma response to what happened to her mother, the way she “begins battle” and at the same time her grief really changes her then.

    • lionfire says:

      I also have expirience with traumatic birth, and I liked the birth scene in the last episode, for example: giving irth is never easy, giving birth knowing it’s not gonna end well-horrible. And yet, women had to endure it, survive, move on for centuries, thousands of years. I think that svene shows all the horribleness of it, no matter how would it turn out, accurately. And I am glad it’s not romanticized or just passed over, I think it brings more to the series but also to portrayal of these women much more than say, a sex scene ormrape scene (like GOT liked).

  11. Colby says:

    I really don’t get the fuss over the time jumps. They had to give these characters and their relationships backstory before the war broke out or there would be no emotional stakes for the audience.

    It wasn’t confusing to understand who was who if you used context clues.

  12. Dara says:

    I hated the first episode, and was on the fence about not continuing, but glad I stuck with it. Do you suppose they did the time jumps because they weren’t sure how many seasons they would get and wanted to get to the juicy stuff in a hurry?

    p.s. If Paddy Considine doesn’t win ALL the awards for his performance, there is no justice. He broke my heart.

  13. The Recluse says:

    Sad to say, I remain OVER this particular fantasy world. I haven’t bothered to watch it. I’ve read articles in various places about its plot and I’m damned if I could tell any of the characters apart just based on the similarity of so many names. I am tired of unsympathetic characters and cynical plot developments. This may be the fallout of our current age though. The news remains overwhelming, right?

    (PS. I am also weirding out about the incest stuff between two of the main characters – oh well.)

  14. Veronica S. says:

    The last two episodes of the show killed my desire to continue watching it, personally. There was plenty that had to be overlooked in terms of pacing, but I’m not particularly amused by showrunners who spend a season building up a dark romance and getting us invested in it deciding to pull a “gotcha” adding domestic violence that didn’t exist in the books to the show. Nor was I amused by the writers condescending to fans who were watching by telling them what was right and wrong about their perceptions and the characters they chose to enjoy, while simultaneously defending a character they made a rapist for no real reason. Take a seat there, writers. You’re already on thin ice after GoT.

    Kind of a shame, IMO. I really enjoyed the show up through episode 8, even with its bumps and clear need to have been two seasons, but I went into the final episodes excited to see Alicent and Rhaenyras finally take center stage in the conflict, two women up against the challenges of a patriarchal system driving a story in their grasping for agency and power…and then it just kind of got waylaid by their need to add male abuse to it. Like, we get it writers. They’re women in a patriarchal society. The challenge is already there. No need to beat it over our heads and undermine these women in the moments they should be in their ascendency. Let me have the bitter triumph of watching them destroy a dynasty, finally getting to the arbiters of their own destiny, even if it’s one that’s destructive.

  15. Lex says:

    The first 8 episodes were painful. After the first actor change time jump things improved but it was dreadfully slow. What happened across 5, 1h episodes should’ve been condensed to 2. Scenes go for minutes longer than needed and dialogue drags agonisingly. It feels like a b/c version of GoT. Thr original GoT worked because of all the varied story lines. There is not enough intrigue or narrative to maintain interest on a single story line for a whoooole season. 2/10