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Last month, we got word that HBO's new hit fantasy epic House of the Dragon will be moving forward without one of its formative creative voices. Miguel Sapochnik, who became a vital part of Game of Thrones in its final seasons and shepherded the prequel show forward as a co-showrunner, will not play a major role in the upcoming second season, remaining in the credits only as an executive producer. Now, Sapochnik's creative partner on the show, co-showrunner Ryan Condol, has addressed his collaborator's departure for the first time.
"It was definitely in Miguel's mind," Ryan Condal, who will stay on as showrunner for House of the Dragon Season 2, told Entertainment Weekly. "He's definitely lived in Westeros for a really long time. I was always potentially aware that he might have just set this one season up on his feet and got the feather in his cap of doing a show that he co-ran and had a hand in the conception and casting and making of, versus the original series where he definitely became a producer at the end, was certainly I think [Thrones showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan["D.B." Weiss]'s most trusted filmmaker, but not in the way that he participated in House of the Dragon. So it was always in the back of my mind."
Condal, who co-created House of the Dragon with Game of Thrones worldbuilder George R.R. Martin, developed the look and tone of the show with Sapochnik, one of the Game of Thrones' most important directors, who in addition to showrunning directed three episodes of Dragon's first season, including the series premiere. Now, Condal will continue as the sole showrunner, while Sapochnik moves onto other projects as part of a first-look deal with HBO.
"I think at the end, he felt like he had said what he had to say," Condal said. "He's a tremendously talented filmmaker, which is obvious from the work that everybody is seeing and will continue to see with episode  and 7. I think there's lots of stories that he has left to tell. And honestly, as a fan of his, I'm excited to see where he goes next."
Sapochnik's last episode as House of the Dragon director (for now, at least) will be the upcoming seventh episode of Season 1. He'll be replaced in Season 2, at least in part, by another Game of Thrones veteran: Alan Taylor, who directed several of the most pivotal episodes of the show's early seasons, and whose other television work includes The Sopranos, Deadwood, and Mad Men.
"That's a director that I just would have assumed was not available, but I've always wanted to work with with Alan," Condal said.. "He's a legend, has worked on almost, I think, every one of my favorite television shows of all time. When HBO brought him up, we jumped all over it. We got on the phone and we chatted. We hit it off very quickly. He had already seen, I think by that point, the first episode of our show and was really excited about what we were doing. It was just a fast friendship that we developed. I'm excited to work with Alan and see what he brings to House of the Dragon."
House of the Dragon airs Sundays on HBO.
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