House of the Dragon episode 6 takes a major 10-year time jump in the action — and however it plays out in the long run, it’s exactly the kind of move the show should be making.
One of the best parts of House of the Dragon, HBO’s so-far-so-good Game of Thrones prequel series, is how co-creator George R.R. Martin and showrunner Ryan Condal reaped storytelling philosophy from Netflix’s The Crown. Peter Morgan, creator of that series, knew it was impossible to linearly chart every beat of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign (RIP), so from the first season, the drama bounced from significant moment to significant moment, with each hour playing like a stand-alone film.
House of the Dragon’s time jumps make Martin’s “history” of Westeros from the book Fire & Blood come alive with equal significance. Knowing that every week, viewers will catapult ahead by a few months, or even years, means that episodes can just deliver the good stuff. Game of Thrones found epic scale in the map (which it often had to cut corners to fully chart); House of the Dragon finds that same scope in time.
One of the worst parts of House of the Dragon is that I am but a feeble man who often needs to be told exactly where and when things are happening in a story of this scale, and yet there’s no hand-holding. Consider me a big fan of when David Fincher used screen-filling WordArt to scream things like “FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA,” in Mindhunter. While the locations in the contained drama of House of the Dragon are fairly easy to follow (although who doesn’t love a map?), I’ll admit that I’ve never been five minutes into an episode and felt confident that I knew when things were playing out. The Crown has the advantage of being based on, you know, real history, with Morgan often winding his way to “aha!” realizations of what each episode will focus on. House of the Dragon drops you headfirst into Targaryen history, and while the show’s backstabbing pleasures require no real context, I can’t help but want that foundation.
So for anyone else thrilled by the journey who could also use a bit of historical footing, here is how far our characters have already come since the premiere:
Episode 1, ‘The Heirs of the Dragon’ cold open
Martin documents time in his A Song of Ice and Fire texts using a B.C./A.D. equivalent called “AC,” an abbreviation for “After the Conquest.” In 1 AC, Aegon I Targaryen was crowned king after conquesting his way through Westeros.
House of the Dragon opens in 101 AC, 197 years before the events of Game of Thrones’ first season. We get one major scene in this time period: King Jaehaerys I Targaryen announcing that, after his son Baelon kicked the bucket, his new heir would not be the genealogical choice of his eldest grandchild, Princess Rhaenys, but his eldest grandson, Prince Viserys. What we don’t see is Jaehaerys die — in 103 AC, according to Fire & Blood — and pass the crown to Viserys.
Later in episode 1, aka most of ‘The Heirs of the Dragon’
It’s tough to say exactly when House of the Dragon gets going, but a title card explains that the show picks up nine years into King Viserys’ reign. Do the math, and we’re at around 112 AC.
Episode 2, ‘The Rogue Prince’
The show’s first time jump leaps ahead by six months, as tensions with Daemon Targaryen — not to mention the factions in the Stepstones — begin to escalate.
Episode 3, ‘Second of His Name’
Three years later — so, around 115 AC — shit is getting real in the Stepstones. Whatever talk of war there was back in episode 2 has exploded into true violence, with Prince Daemon wiping out the Crabfeeder with the help of Lord Corlys Velaryon. This is also when Alicent Hightower is quite pregnant with her and Viserys’ first kid, who we’ll eventually see as more of a worthy heir to the throne after the next time jump.
Episode 4, ‘King of the Narrow Sea’
The time jump in episode 4 is a bit murky, but we know that Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen has been urged to find a husband, and has spent at least a couple of months since Daemon’s triumph looking for someone worth her while. This is also when Daemon and Rhaenyra have a bit of a fling. Here, the show diverges from Martin’s Fire & Blood timeline, which saw Daemon pronouncing himself King of the Narrow Sea around 109 AC.
Episode 5, ‘We Light the Way’
House of the Dragon and its source material continue to split in episode 5. Most of Daemon’s exploits in Fire & Blood are taking place around 115 AC, but when we pick up with the troubled fella, likely around 114 AC on the show, he’s already staging his new-ish wife Lady Rhea Royce’s untimely death. We also see Rhaenyra’s wedding to Ser Laenor Velaryon, which has been slightly shifted up in time from when it occurs in the books. But Condal has lined it all up to make history more digestible for when the big jump happens…
Episode 6, ‘The Princess and the Queen’
The halfway point of House of the Dragon’s first season makes a 10- to 15-year time jump (according to Olivia Cooke, who now plays Alicent) to around 124-129 AC. As anyone who has flipped through Martin’s Fire & Blood will tell you: This is when shit gets ugly. And it’s already been pretty ugly. But at least we know when the ugly shit is happening.