House of the Dragon Season 2 will only be eight episodes long, two less than the first.
HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon was a summer blockbuster hit and is one of the platform’s most popular series since the original breakthrough fantasy show. According to a Deadline article, the fantasy series will have its season two run cut a bit short of what viewers and showrunners expected. The upcoming second season will consist of just eight episodes, two episodes leaner than the previous season’s ten.
In the past, seasons of both the original Game of Thrones and its prequel had run for 10 episodes except for the final season of the original series, which was a 13-episode arc broken up into two parts. Reportedly, the team behind House of the Dragon conceived initially of a three or four-season series. This shift in the number of episodes included in the season may make a huge difference in how they approach the narrative, what details and events they can include, and ultimately how the narrative unfolds from season to season.
House of the Dragon is a prequel series to the original Game of Thrones and adapts George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book. It is set 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones and focuses on the story of House Targaryen.
House of the Dragon stars Milly Alcock, Eve Best, Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Fabien Frankel, Rhys Ifans, Sonoya Mizuno, Matt Smith, and Steve Toussaint. Tyan Condal, George R.R. Martin, Sara Hess, Vince Gerardis, Alan Taylor, and Miguel Sapochnik executive produce.
Executive producer and showrunner Ryan Condal worked closely with author George R.R. Martin in devising the narrative arc of the series, and long-term planning could be part of the reason for the episode cut. Part of the trick of adapting book content to the television screen is that books often follow different kinds of narrative arcs, ones that don’t always translate neatly or evenly over a season of television. It seems like a great deal of thought and attention is being put into figuring out which battles to include and when, and how the series’ full story will impact the arcs of each season.
HBO has already invested a ton in House of the Dragon. The series had a $200 million production cost and was bolstered by the biggest marketing campaign in HBO’s history. This worked out well for the series’ first season, which reached 130 million viewers in the U.S. alone.
Still, the series now has competition for HBO’s most popular series, as surprise breakout hit The Last of Us is on track to surpass House of the Dragon as HBO’s most-watched series since the original Game of Thrones. This could complicate how HBO moves forward with House of the Dragon, as the network could shift its attention to expanding the budget and production for The Last of Us. Season two of House of the Dragon will be important to see if the series can match the critical and commercial success of its first season and HBO’s most recent breakout hit.