“House of the Dragon” kept viewers on their toes throughout its first season by constantly jumping through time between episodes, most dramatically in Episode 6 when the show jumped 10 years and recast the roles of Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock to Emma D’Arcy) and Alicent (Emily Carey to Olivia Cooke). Had co-creator and author George R.R. Martin gotten his way, the show would’ve featured even more time jumps and re-castings because he would’ve started the series 40 years earlier than where the pilot began.
“One of the big issues with all of these writers was where to begin,” Martin said in a video interview with Penguin Random House. “[‘House of the Dragon’ showrunner Ryan Condal] began in [Episode 1] with the Great Council where the Lords vote that Jaehaerys’s heir — he’s just lost his son Baelon, who has died of appendicitis — so who is his heir now? And the lords vote to choose Viserys over Rhaenys.”
Martin said “that [beginning] was not handed down by some muse from ancient Greece. We — myself and the other writers — had a lot of spirited discussions about where to begin that story.”
One of the series’ writers wanted to start “House of the Dragon” with the death of Viserys’ first wife Aemma (which is shown in graphic detail later on in the pilot episode), while another floated the idea of starting with Viserys’ death (which doesn’t take place in the series until the eighth episode). Martin’s “favorite” idea was to start “much earlier.”
“I would have began it like 40 years earlier with the episode I would have called ‘The Heir and the Spare,’ in which Jaehaerys’s two sons, Aemon and Baelon, are alive,” Martin said. “And we see the friendship, but also the rivalry, between the two sides of the great house. You know, Aemon dies accidentally when a Myrish crossbowman shoots him by accident on Tarth and then Jaehaerys has to decide who becomes the new heir. Is it the daughter of the older son who’s just died or is it the second son, who has sons of his own and is a man and she’s just a teenage girl?”
Martin added, “You would have had 40 more years and you would have had even more time jumps and you would have even more re-castings and, yeah, I was the only one who was really enthused about that.”
“House of the Dragon” is renewed for a second season, but showrunner Condal has already promised to fans that there will be no more significant time jumps or re-castings. The 10-episode first season of “House of the Dragon” is now streaming on HBO Max.