HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, will transport viewers back to the world of Westeros. The new fantasy series is set roughly 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and is entirely focused on House Targaryen, the dragon-riding royal family who conquered Westeros and ruled over its various kingdoms for centuries before being deposed.
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The premiere of House of the Dragon comes just over three years after Game of Thrones concluded its eight-season run on HBO. That means most viewers haven’t been exposed to the Targaryen lore that Game of Thrones usually presented. With that in mind, here are seven episodes you should watch again before the release of House of the Dragon on Sunday.
Game Of Thrones to re-watch before the House of the Dragon premiere
1. “WINTER IS COMING” (S1E1)
Yes, the best place to begin rewatching Game of Thrones before House of the Dragon is with the first episode. Things may change dramatically over the next 72 episodes, but the Game of Thrones pilot is still the best way to become acquainted (or reacquainted) with this world. It’s not surprising that the original, unaired Game of Thrones pilot failed; there are a lot of characters, locations, worldbuilding, and exposition in this episode, and yet the hour that did air handles it all extremely well.
It establishes the Targaryens as the primary antagonists, demonstrates how cruel and depraved they can be, and provides tantalizing and terrifying hints about the magic that lurks in the shadows of this world. It also sets the stage for the Starks to serve as the main heroes.
2. “FIRE AND BLOOD”(S1E10)
House of the Dragon will have 17 dragons, some of which will be fully grown. It’s a far cry from Daenerys’ dragons in Game of Thrones, but it’s worth remembering their re-birth. Season 1, episode 10 of Game of Thrones is a strong finale in many ways – Robb Stark being named King in the North is a highlight – but it’s best remembered, and rightly so, for Dany stepping into Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and emerging with three baby dragons.
Re-watching it prior to House of the Dragon is a welcome reminder of just how amazing these creatures are. It continues to be one of the most moving and special moments in the series. Even though Game of Thrones made Daenerys fireproof, George R.R. Martin intended for this to be a one-off magical event, and it’s important to note that not all Targaryens are completely immune to fire. Nonetheless, this is still a sign of their bonds with dragons and how mesmerizing they can be.
3. “AND NOW HIS WATCH IS ENDED”(S3E4)
An episode of Game of Thrones that is best remembered for the word “Dracarys.” It’s crucial to watch this episode before House of the Dragon for a few reasons, including the fact that it made Daenerys into the Breaker of Chains. The Dance of the Dragons will not only feature dragon vs. dragon conflict but also human deaths in a variety of other ways, making this the first concrete indication of what a Targaryen is capable of when they have a dragon at their disposal.
There’s also how Daenerys fools Kraznys with her knowledge of High Valyrian, a language that the Targaryens should use again in House of the Dragon. Elsewhere, Rhaenyra is mentioned during a brief discussion of House Targaryen’s history, which is a nice nod for knowing where the prequel’s characters are mentioned and how they fit into Westeros lore.
4. “THE DANCE OF DRAGONS”(S5E9)
“The Dance of Dragons” is the one of the Game of Thrones with the biggest or most shocking event. Sandwiched between the shocking massacre of “Hardhome” and Jon Snow’s death in “Mother’s Mercy,” there’s still a lot here that makes it valuable on re-watch before House of the Dragon, and not just because it shares its name with the Targaryen civil war that will define the prequel’s story. The key feature in this episode that lends itself to a spinoff is, of course, Daenerys riding her dragon, Drogon, for the first time. Dragonriding is an important component of Targaryen history and will appear frequently in House of the Dragon.
This solidifies the link between a dragon and its rider while also demonstrating how ferocious they are. Shireen Baratheon recounts both Davos and Stannis about the House of the Dragon’s past, with telling words like “It’s all the choosing sides that made everything so horrible.” Shireen was burned alive not long after. This is a reminder of how horrifying this story can be, and of how individuals who believe rule is their destiny would go to unspeakable lengths to achieve it.
5. “Battle Of The Bastards”(S6E9)
Rewatching “Battle of the Bastards” from Game of Thrones season 6 will give fans a taste of the spectacle to come from House of the Dragon in two ways. The episode is well known for its eponymous conflict, but before that, there’s the Battle of Meereen. This is the first time Daenerys’ dragons have been truly unleashed, swooping above the skies and pouring fire down on those below them, burning everything in their path.
It’s one of the few instances in Game of Thrones that numerous dragons fight at the same time, and while they’re not fighting each other as they will in House of the Dragon, it’s still a promising portent of things to come. When the action finally moves to Winterfell, it’s one of the most horrific, stunningly staged action scenes in television history.
6. “THE SPOILS OF WAR”(S7E4)
Rewatching Game of Thrones season 7, episode 4, “The Spoils of War” prior to House of the Dragon should whet the appetite for the Dance of the Dragons to come. This suggests Dany is an unstoppable force, and the sheer number of casualties is horrifying – and yet House of the Dragon’s dragons will be capable of so much more destruction. It’s the clearest indication of how far Daenerys is willing to go, but there’s more to it than devastation.
Jon Snow warns Daenerys that if she destroys King’s Landing, she will be just another tyrant; words that may ring true again when the characters in House of the Dragon leave such devastation in their path. There are also transactions between Cersei and the Iron Bank here, a reminder that there is more to ruling than winning wars: this will be a vital lesson for the House of the Dragon, especially while Rhaenyra struggles with empty coffers in King’s Landing.
7. “The Bells”(S8E5)
It may be Daenerys’ most divisive Game of Thrones episode, but it’s also one worth revisiting before House of the Dragon. Even though there was room for improvement and more time would have been beneficial when telling Daenerys’ story, “The Bells” serves as something of a microcosm of the tale of the House of the Dragon. It tells the tale of a ruler who turns against the people she seeks to rule, who wreaks so much destruction with fire and blood, and with discussions of that Targaryen “madness” in action.
Aside from the story issues, the spectacle here is once again incredible. But it’s also one of the episodes that best shows the true horrors of war, and the horrific impact not only on the noble houses and great warriors, but also on the common people – something that will be relevant again in House of the Dragon.
Where to re-watch Game of Thrones?
If you want to re-watch Game of Thrones before House of the Dragon, the entire series is available online. Seasons 1-8 of Game of Thrones are available to watch on HBO Max, HBO Now, DirecTV, and Spectrum on Demand. It’s also available to buy or rent on a variety of platforms, including Google Play and iTunes. Game of Thrones is also available on Sky Go and NOW in the UK.
House Of the Dragon will premiere on 21 August, 2022 on HBO Max.