House of the Dragon’s ‘Blood and Cheese’ Scene Leaves Viewers Cold

House of the Dragon’s ‘Blood and Cheese’ Scene Leaves Viewers Cold

House of the Dragon’s ‘Blood and Cheese’ Scene Leaves Viewers Cold



For many viewers, the trouble with House of the Dragon began with the opening credits of the very first episode.


The decision to repurpose the iconic Game of Thrones theme song for an entirely new series was strange, and it might be unprecedented in the history of high-profile spinoffs.


After all, it’s not like Frasier opened with shots of Cafe Nervosa over lyrics about a place where everybody knows your name.

The King on His Throne - HOUSE OF THE DRAGON S2E1 -- A SON FOR A SON


The decision to use Ramin Djawadi’s orchestral score was fairly minor, but some critics theorized that it was indicative of HBO’s confusion about how this show should be rolled out and marketed.


There was a time when Game of Thrones was the biggest thing on television by a wide margin, and naturally, execs wanted to capitalize on that popularity.


Related: House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1 Review: A Son for a Son


But the show’s final season was a spectacular failure, and producers Ryan Condal and George R.R. Martin (who wrote the books upon which both series were based) may have wished to ever so slightly distance themselves from the clash between the Starks and the Lannisters.


And they should have easily been able to do so, as HoD focuses on a different war of succession, this one taking place roughly two centuries before the main action of Game of Thrones.


Unfortunately, by shifting the action and cutting ties with GoT showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the franchise might have lost the magic that made its original outing such a surprise hit.

The Queen Mother's Candles - HOUSE OF THE DRAGON S2E1 -- A SON FOR A SON


Burning Bright, of Flaming Out?


Maybe you’re a diehard fan of the show or one of the viewers who felt a little lukewarm about Season 1 but decided to give this spinoff a second chance.


Either way, you’ve likely encountered the usual complaints:


The pace of House of the Dragon is considerably slower than that of Game of Thrones.


There are too many scowling blonde characters with confusingly similar names.


Season 1 devoted so much time to backstory and place-setting that it felt like a slog at times.


You can contest the validity of those complaints, but there’s no denying that they’re pretty common across the social media landscape.

Alyn of Hull - HOUSE OF THE DRAGON S2E1 -- A SON FOR A SON


With Season 2, the show faced an additional challenge: a 22-month hiatus.


That’s roughly 4,000 years in this, the era of the TikTok-ified attention span, and there were concerns that HoD wouldn’t be able to lure its core audience back, much less attract new viewers.


Did Sunday night’s House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere assuage those fears?


Related: House of the Dragon: Will a Nearly Two-Year Hiatus Leave Fans Uninterested In a Return to Westeros?


Well, it depends on who you ask.


A Lukewarm Reaction


After some expository scenes that probably baffled the hell out of anyone who didn’t bother refreshing their memory before tuning in (or at least paying ultra-close attention during the recap), the episode rapidly picked up steam.


In fact, it seemed like the writers were acutely aware of the criticism that the first season was a bit sluggish at times.

Matt Smith on the second season of House of the Dragon


Viewers familiar with the source material might have experienced a mixture of dread and excitement when they realized that this was the episode in which characters nicknamed “Blood” and “Cheese” would savagely dispatch Aegon II’s son Jaehaerys.


The murder was cold-blooded, carried out by an odd couple pair of hit men, possibly on the order of Daemon.


The sounds were horrifying, and the mother’s grief palpable — so why did so many viewers feel that the whole scene smacked of anticlimax?


Did the “Blood and Cheese” Storyline Curdle?


Echoing the sentiments of many viewers on X, Vulture’s critic wrote that the scene “should have been more base and barbaric.”


For all the flaws of its later seasons, Game of Thrones was never shy about “going there.”


And HoD featured some memorably gnarly scenes in its first season.

Ser Criston Cole - HOUSE OF THE DRAGON S2E1 -- A SON FOR A SON


Some of them were enough to make your skin crawl, like crabs skittering across the flesh of a departed villain. So why did the show play it safe this time?


Now, we don’t think anyone is saying that they wanted the camera to linger on a scene of a child being brutally butchered.


But the murder of Jaehaerys has been compared to Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding — the moment at which the tide turned entirely because of a shocking and brutal act of violence.


Related: House of the Dragon Season 2 Fan Theories: Who Is Cregan Stark, and Why Does He Matter?


There are ways that House of the Dragon could have generated a similar impact without a graphic depiction of Jaehaerys’s murder.


However, based on the response on social media, they failed to do so.


Yes, “Blood and Cheese” trended on Sunday night and Monday morning, but most of the top responses were complaints that the scene wasn’t as disturbing as it should have been.

A Queen in Mourning -- HOUSE OF THE DRAGON S2E1 -- A SON FOR A SON


It’s just one scene, of course, but the reaction encapsulates much of the criticism of the entire series.


Has House of the Dragon Failed to Take Flight?


Jaehaerys’s murder didn’t hit home the way it should have, mainly because the show spent so little time developing his character.


HoD often seems so fixated on lore and world-building that it forgets to make us care about the people at the center of this story.


Say what you will about Weiss and Benioff, but for all the ways they fumbled at the goal line, those two knew when to slow things down to focus on character development.


They realized that if it weren’t for Tyrion Lannister’s charisma or the tender moments between Arya and the Hound, the show might start to feel like one endless info dump.


GoT’s bawdy humor and more sexually charged storylines might have tested the patience of some viewers, but those moments prevented the series from feeling like a Wikipedia page about the War of the Roses (with dragons).

The Hand of the King- HOUSE OF THE DRAGON S2E1 -- A SON FOR A SON


Obviously, it’s perfectly fine for House of the Dragon to experiment with a different pace and tone.


It would be tiresome if the show offered us nothing more than microwaved Game of Thrones leftovers.


Related: When Going Off the Rails Makes Excellent TV


But if the writers can’t figure out a way to generate a bit more heat of their own, we might have to demand that they relinquish the rights to that badass theme song!


What do you think, TV fanatics? Is House of the Dragon still flying high, or is this show in danger of flaming out?


Hit the comments section below to share your thoughts!

Tyler Johnson is an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic and the other Mediavine O&O sites. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and, of course, watching TV. You can Follow him on X and email him here at TV Fanatic.



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