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House of the Dragon has concluded its first season, and the show went out with a major bang. After the realm-shifting events of Episode 9, the 10th and final episode of the season officially set two halves of a dynasty on the path to a civil war. That means we get a full-on Dance of the Dragons in Season 2, and for showrunner Ryan Condal that means one very important element is now gone from the show: Time jumps.
"I will say, as a reward to our wonderful audience for following us through all the time jumps and recasts, they are done," Condal told Deadline in a post-finale interview. "We tell the story in real time from here forward. The actors are playing these characters until the end. 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 gonna tell that story."
Though Season 1 of the series featured more than a few conflicts and moments of inter-dynastic tension, much of the first 10 episodes was devoted to setting the table for the conflict to come. Along the way, that meant two major time jumps and two major rounds of recasting, first to move from teenage Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Alicent (Emily Carey) to adult Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and Alicent (Olivia Cooke), and then to age up their children from precocious youths to potentially deadly teenagers. Now that the battle lines are drawn, and the final moments of the season point the way to war, those recastings are over.
Now that the battle lies ahead, of course, there's the question of how long the war will rage on HBO, where House of the Dragon has returned some Game of Thrones-level ratings for the network already. Earlier this month, co-creator (and A Song of Ice and Fire architect) George R. R. Martin suggested that the show requires four seasons to tell the full story of the Targaryen civil war. Condal's not necessarily willing to declare an endpoint for the series just yet, in part because he's not willing to declare that The Dance of the Dragons will be the end of the series.
"There’s definitely more storytelling to come after Season 2," Condal told The Hollywood Reporter. "This is the story of a Targaryen dynasty that marches on for 150 years after the events in the Season 1 finale. Kings and queens come and go as the history marches on. So the question is less where this story ends and more where does the curtain fall [on the show]. Because it’s an ongoing history being written by George as we go. It’s not like The Song of Ice and Fire books where the end is the end of the story. This is the end of a chapter in the story, and then another chapter begins. So 'I don’t know yet' is the honest answer. But we will take the time that we need to tell this story and when it dramatically needs to come to an end, it will come to an end."
Will House of the Dragon end in three more years, or will it march right on to Robert's Rebellion and the fall of Aerys the Mad King? Time will tell.
Looking for more fantasy adventure? The entire Harry Potter saga is streaming now on Peacock.