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‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Is Reportedly Shorter Than the First

I just want to see all the dragons in all their detail, honestly.

Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen, played by Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith respectively, learn that King Viserys I died in the finale of the first season of House of the Dragon

The second season of House of the Dragon, HBO’s prequel to the greatest love and disappointment of my fandom life Game of Thrones, should have started production sometime around this month, according to what showrunners and producers had revealed upon the ending of season 1 last October. 

The knowledge that somewhere between Spain and the United Kingdom, the best mother-and-son duo—Alicent Hightower and Aemond Targaryen—are becoming more and more unhinged does not affect me in the slightest, I say while vibrating at a frequency that could shatter glass. Still, I have no idea how I’m making it to what is looking like a summer 2024 premiere with all my brain cells intact.

And I also have no idea yet as to how I’m feeling about the recent news—reported by Deadline—that the upcoming season 2 will reportedly be shorter than the first, with only eight episodes against the 10 of the first season of House of the Dragon, as well as six of the eight seasons of Game of Thrones.

“It is part of a long-term plan for the show, which includes HBO mulling a green light for a third season,” says Deadline, which goes on to detail how the shortening of the episode count was “story-driven.”

Deadline also gives some insight into the process that brought this decision: Executive producer and showrunner Ryan Condal and author George R.R. Martin are said to be looking at the full picture of the show to figure out which parts of the Dance of the Dragons—detailed by Martin in the in-universe chronicle Fire & Blood—should be included, and where to stop one season and start the next.

Aemond Targaryen, played by Ewan Mitchell, chases Lucerys Velaryon with his dragon Vhagar in the final episode of the first season of House of the Dragon
There’s plenty to tell after the shocking events in the skies above Storm’s End, which we saw in the final episode of season 1 (HBO)

Apparently, season 3 has already been mapped out—though not officially confirmed yet—while discussions are still happening regarding whether House of the Dragons should have three or four seasons in total. 

In a post on his blog, published around the same time as the season 1 finale last October, Martin wrote that “it is going to take four full seasons of [10] episodes each to do justice to the Dance of the Dragons, from start to finish.” Maybe discussions around the episodes being trimmed down from 10 to eight were already happening.

Be that as it may, it seems that we’re looking at an eight-episode run for season 2 of House of the Dragon. It could mean that each episode will have a longer runtime—as happened for seasons seven and eight of Game of Thrones—since the material to adapt is by no means scarce. What we saw in the first season was the setting up of the Dance of the Dragons, and what lies ahead is battle after bloody battle that it would be a pity to see sacrificed for the sake of a shorter season.

King Viserys I Targaryen , played by Paddy Considine, stands up to defend the honor of his daughter Rhaenyra in the eighth episode of the first season of House of the Dragon
There’s plenty of material to adapt, with the hope of course that the showrunners decide to cut it as little as possible (HBO)

Deadline also reports that “a portion of the plot originally intended for season [2 moved] to season [3],” and that includes “a major battle.” So obviously that sent me back to the pages of Fire & Blood to see precisely where the upcoming season might be cut off. 

The following paragraphs might contain some spoilers for the future episodes of House of the Dragon as they discuss events described in Fire & Blood. Be warned.

The “major battle” Deadline speaks of could be the Battle of the Gullet, in which Prince Jacaerys Velaryon and his dragon Vermax lose their lives; or the Battle on the Honeywine, where the youngest of Alicent’s sons, Daeron Targaryen, descends upon the blacks on his dragon Tessarion.

The Battle at Rook’s Rest, which sees Meleys, Sunfyre and Vhagar clash in the skies, happens way too early to be moved to a future season 3. While there are plenty of events that need to be put to screen— like Jace’s trip North and the introduction of none other than Cregan Stark, the terrible butchery of Blood & Cheese, and the taking of Harrenhal by the blacks,—I don’t think they would be enough to fill eight episodes and so warranting Rook’s Rest to be pushed back.

Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen in the ninth episode of the first season of House of the Dragon
Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was, and her dragon, Meleys the Red Queen, are some of the protagonists of the Battle at Rook’s Rest (HBO)

And if Rook’s Rest remains in season 2, then so will its consequences: namely the regency—I feel my sanity slipping away already just thinking about it—and the entire dragonseeds plot.

Then again, there have been rumors of the show looking to cast Daeron Targaryen for season 2 already, along with Cregan Stark and Alys Rivers, who first makes her appearance when Daemon conquers Harrenhal for Rhaenyra. It doesn’t mean that the youngest of the green siblings will make his debut in a battle, though. He could very well appear “simply” at the war table of his cousin Lord Ormund Hightower, Otto’s nephew and the Lord of Oldtown at the time of the Dance.

I feel like if they included the Battle on the Honeywine in season 2, then they should go ahead and stretch it until Rhaenyra and her side take King’s Landing, finishing the season on the apparent triumph of the blacks. Then again, that might be a bit too much plot to fit into just eight episodes.

Rhaenyra Targaryen, played by Emma D'Arcy, is crowned queen in the season one finale of House of the Dragon
While I do think it would make thematic sense to finish season 2 with the conquest of King’s Landing, I fear it would make a shortened season feel like a bunch of events that need to be ticked off a to-do list like the final seasons of Game of Thrones, so no thank you (HBO)

Still, season 3 might focus on the battles that follow Rhaenyra’s conquest of King’s Landing, maybe covering events until the storming of the Dragonpit, which of course includes the infamous Battle Above the Gods Eye. That leaves season 4 as the one to tell us the end of the Dance and the long work of putting the Realm back together, from the Hour of the Wolf all the way to the establishment of the new regency.

There’s still a long way to go before we can actually see the narrative directions HBO is choosing to follow—so all we can do is wait for casting news, pictures from the set, and maybe some teeny, tiny revelations from cast members. As for me, I will be consuming the pages of my copy of Fire & Blood as if it can make time pass faster and bring my favorite family of arsonist blondies back to me.

(via: Deadline, featured image: HBO)

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Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.