HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon will be getting its sophomore season, but the total length will be less than that of the first. That’s according to Deadline, who caught wind of news inside of HBO which stated that the reduced length would be for the purpose of telling a more tight and focused story. Therefore, season two will feature just eight episodes, as opposed to ten.
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While the desire to focus on story is a convenient excuse, it’s far more likely that HBO is simply looking to cut production costs. House of the Dragon didn’t pull in anywhere near the numbers of the blockbuster series Game of Thrones, nor was it as well-received by fans and critics. At best, season one was an average and middling bit of exposition regarding the history of Westeros.
Further criticism was heaped on season one for several jarring time jumps, and distracting character recasts. I personally reviewed the entirety of season one, and recounted only two standout episodes – “We Light the Way” and “Driftmark” – with the rest averaging fair to poor. A big part of this had to do with rather anemic source material that couldn’t really stand up on its own, at least when compared to Game of Thrones’ sprawling narrative.
Whatever the case, season 2 is indeed entering production, but it won’t debut any time in 2023, according to chief content officer Casey Bloys. “We’re just starting to put the plan together, and just like last time, there are so many unknowns. It’s not to be coy or secretive, but you don’t want to say it’s going to be ready on this date, and then you have to move it. Don’t expect it in 2023.”
This suggests season two may not debut until 2024, and even then, perhaps sometime in the fall. The shift to a reduced episode count may help the overall story, but that will depend largely on the cohesiveness of the narrative. Season one handled this rather poorly, which means the follow-up season will need to forego a lot of the fluff.
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Showrunner Ryan Condal did confirm that the era of massive time jumps and recasts was finished, however. “I will say, 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.”
While undoubtedly a relief to many fans, it’s also stating the obvious. It is quite clear that a fixed timeline has been established during the final few episodes of season one, which means everything that happens from hereon out needs to progress naturally. “The actors are playing these characters until the end,” Condal said. “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 going to tell that story.”
The question is whether the Dance of the Dragons is interesting enough to pull in viewers, or whether the entire affair is better left as a footnote in Westeros’ history.
NEXT: House of the Dragon: ‘The Black Queen’ (Episode 10) Review