House of the Dragon Season 2 Will Address a Game of Thrones Battle Problem

It seems House of the Dragon season 2 will attempt a spiritual do-over of an early Game of Thrones battle.

Tara Fitzgerald, Stephen Dillane in Game of Thrones season 5
Photo: Helen Sloan | HBO

Through its eight season run on HBO, Game of Thrones featured increasingly epic battle sequences. Jon Snow’s engagements alone highlight the escalation in martial scale from season 3’s “The Watchers on the Wall” to season 5’s “Hardhome” to season 6’s “Battle of the Bastards.”

As the show’s popularity grew, so too did its budget, creating an opportunity for more Medieval-era military spectacle. That also means, however, that some of the show’s earlier attempts at big scale battles fell a little short in hindsight.

No episode is a better example of that than season 2’s penultimate installment “Blackwater.” Taking its name from Stannis Baratheon’s Blackwater-based siege of King’s Landing, this hour-long battle was Game of Thrones‘ first real attempt at a Lord of the Rings Helm’s Deep-level battle. And for what we were used to seeing on television at the time, it was entirely successful. “Blackwater” certainly felt properly huge thanks to all its CGI ships, soldiers in heavy armor, and Tyrion’s ingenious Wildfire maneuver. It’s only after seeing some of Thrones‘ even bigger battles later on that one becomes aware of just how much the second season of the show had to leave on the table.

In George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, and in A Clash of Kings in particular, the Blackwater battle is much bigger than its TV counterpart. That’s to be expected when comparing the size of Martin’s imagination to the depths of HBO’s pocket book. Not only that, but naval battles present unique challenges that land battles quite simply don’t. That became clear in even some of Game of Thrones latter seasons when Euron Greyjoy’s supposed naval superiority was largely held in check by the show’s dragon budget.


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