House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel series, is set to debut on HBO on August 21. A new teaser has arrived, and this one has dragons (aka, the only three seconds I care about). Is that the dreaded Vhagar? Impossible to tell! But is A dragon, anyway. Are you going back to Westeros? I have to be honest, this teaser, just like the first one, leaves me a little cold. Prequels can be like that, because ultimately, we know where it’s all going. Sure, there are some new faces in the crowd—Houses Velaryon and Hightower didn’t feature in GOT, never mind the Targaryen bastard House Blackfyre, which has a role to play in the civil war brewing between Targaryen factions. This a chance to get to know some new people in Westeros, to see a different era of conflict, but do you CARE?
HBO is counting on Dragon to be a marquee piece programming, hopefully a stalwart of the 2020s just as GOT was for the 2010s. But beyond facing the challenge of a splintered television landscape with no real watercooler shows left—GOT was the last one—Dragon must also overcome the lingering bad taste of the GOT finale. It helps that Dragon has an all-new creative crew, with new writers and a new showrunner, Ryan Condal, though GOT veteran Miguel Sapochnik is returning to direct several episodes and act as co-showrunner. But Dragon is going to have to win people back, to convince us our investment won’t be chucked out the window the minute the creative team gets tired (oh to go back in time and INSIST Benioff & Weiss just hand the show over to someone who wasn’t burnt out). Dragons are cool, so people (me) might tune in just to check them out, but the true test of how badly the end of Game of Thrones burned people will be how many people turn up to watch House of the Dragon.