DUBAI: It is the comeback no one could have predicted. Having disappointed fans with its lackluster final season only three years ago, many were skeptical about HBO’s highly publicized “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon,” streaming in the region now on OSN+.
But the dragons have returned and so have the fans — and with gusto.
Award-winning filmmaker, movie reviewer, and head of film at the SAE Institute in Dubai, Razan Takash, aka Razz Reviews, is not surprised that fans have returned despite previous disappointment, revealing that she herself tuned in despite a fair bit of cynicism.
She said: “I think people are coming back because the world that was established in the beginning (of ‘Game of Thrones’) was so fantastic. The horrific, horrific ending of GoT bothered a lot of people not just because it was bad. It was also because it was so bad compared to something that was so wonderful.
“Trying to remember the good times after a breakup is very tough. So (‘House of the Dragon’) is more like, ‘oh, this is why we were together in the first place.’ And that world is just so wonderful and immersive and even cinematic. It feels like a giant movie and is very engrossing and engaging. And I think people gravitate toward that, especially if the story is told well,” Takash added.
For some fans, the lure of discovering more back story and lore to George R.R. Martin’s immersive world was too enticing to ignore.
UAE-based comedian and social media personality, Maha Jaafar, said: “I definitely loved ‘House of the Dragon’ a lot because I have always been curious about the back story of ‘Game of Thrones’ and the original story of where everything started. So, this answers a lot of questions, and it is very satisfying to a huge GoT fan.
“What I loved is reliving the GoT feeling again and having the same feeling. The magnificent locations and scenes in the show and all the details. Also, the thrill and excitement,” she added.
Ashley Rite, vice president of marketing and growth at OSN+, noted the relief many fans felt when they sat down to watch the show, episode two of which aired on Sunday.
“As a ‘Game of Thrones’ fan myself, I am pleased to see the series exceed all expectations. ‘House of the Dragon’ is the fantasy series we’ve all been waiting for since our last excursion into Westeros nearly three years ago.
“Alongside some of the best storytelling on screen today, the series presents a strong cast, amazing sets, and incredible cinematic visual effects, making for pure anticipated viewing each week,” Rite said.
It is a narrative that runs through many of the fan comments online, with social media users breathing a sigh of relief that the new show was staying true to what made the initial seasons of “Game of Thrones” so addictive.
In a tweet, Saudi Arabia-based designer and series fan Mohanad, said: “I feel like I’m going back to the old ‘Game of Thrones’ atmosphere.”
Series fan Saeed Arjumand told Arab News he was happy to be pulled back into the world of “Game of Thrones” despite the letdown that was the final season.
The Emirati illustrator and owner of Dubai-based comic books store Comic Stop said: “Originally, I had no hopes for the show. Most spin-offs or shows that try to follow in another’s footsteps seem to fall flat or fail. I think especially with this one, the end of ‘Game of Thrones’ left a sour taste in a lot of fans’ mouths. But I was happy to be proven wrong by the plot as it got me interested right away.
“So far, Prince Daemon is my favorite character, I love a good villain and (actor) Matt Smith is great. Matt Smith doesn’t take light roles and I feel lately he’s been branching out more to types of characters we haven’t seen him play. Everyone knows him from ‘Doctor Who’ as the good guy but it’s nice to see him play the uncle who just wants the crown,” Arjumand added.
UAE-based marketing specialist Manar Al-Harthi, said the prequel show filled a void left by “Game of Thrones.”
“Westors is filled with stories and legends yet to be told. After ‘Game of Thrones,’ I am just glad we have ‘House of the Dragon’ to fill that void. So far it did not disappoint, and I am looking forward to the seasons to come.”
Having read the book “House of the Dragon” is based on, reviewer Takash said she was excited to experience a series of “Red Weddings” in the coming episodes, referring to one of the most brutal and shocking episodes in “Game of Thrones” history.
“It’s going to be very, very brutal, and very personal, more personal than it ever got on ‘Game of Thrones’ because it’s family members that are turning against each other. And it’s basically the beginning of the collapse of one of the strongest families in the mythology of ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘A Song of Ice and Fire.’”
Episode two of “House of the Dragon,” drew in 10.2 million viewers across HBO and HBO Max, which is available in 61 countries, according to Warner Bros. Discovery. This marks a 2 percent increase from the premiere episode, which was viewed by nearly 10 million people on those platforms, not including viewers who watched both episodes on international platforms licensed to air the show – such as OSN+ in the Middle East.