It’s been just over a month since the last Emmys ceremony, but one new show is already getting awards buzz. House of the Dragon just wrapped up its stellar debut season with a shocking finale that set the stage for an even more compelling season 2. Fans are already calling for Emmy consideration for the Game of Thrones prequel. There are many creatives involved in House of the Dragon who could stake a claim for Emmy Awards next year, from cast member Emma D’Arcy to director Miguel Sapochnik to co-creator Ryan Condal. But who deserves the most recognition for their work?

GAMERANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

After King Viserys finally succumbed to his mysterious illness and passed away, babbling about Aegon the Conqueror’s dream with his last breath, Paddy Considine revealed that he received a heartwarming text message from George R.R. Martin that simply read, “Your Viserys is better than my Viserys.” Martin, the creator of the character, felt that Considine had brought more dimensions to Viserys in his powerful performance than he had originally written on the page.

RELATED: House Of The Dragon Episode 9 Highlights The Show’s Time Jump Problem

Over the course of the first season, Considine’s ever-evolving portrayal of Viserys covered decades of the character’s life. He was introduced as both too nice for his own good and so power-hungry that he’ll allow his wife to die to ensure the survival of his heir (who, ironically, still doesn’t survive the childbirth). Even as his mind and body weakened, Viserys desperately wanted to keep his family together. Considine gave the kind-hearted king one last hoorah over his final dinner scene as he desperately tried to galvanize the Blacks and the Greens.

The writing was strong in every episode of House of the Dragon’s first season, but the most memorable moments relied on other aspects of the production: Viserys’ death relied on Considine’s acting; Rhaenys’ dragon attack relied on the effects team. The most script-driven episode of the season was the seventh installment, “Driftmark,” written by Kevin Lau. Opening with Laena’s funeral (and the darkly comedic character beat of Daemon chuckling to himself during the service), “Driftmark” becomes a chamber piece in its taut final act.

After Aemond loses an eye in a late-night fight with his cousins, all their parents awaken and converge to decide how to proceed. This tense confrontation brings Alicent and Rhaenyra’s rivalry to a head as Alicent demands a literal eye for an eye and ends up slicing open her former childhood friend’s arm. The closing plot twist – Laenor faking his own death and fleeing Driftmark – rigidly adheres to the “show, don’t tell” rule of storytelling. From start to finish, Lau nailed this script.

In the first few episodes of House of the Dragon, Emily Carey gave Alicent Hightower a great introduction as she developed from Rhaenyra’s closest childhood friend to her closest royal rival. But Olivia Cooke had to portray the most challenging emotions when she took over the role from Carey after the 10-year time jump. A decade after Rhaenyra married Laenor and Criston murdered Joffrey, Alicent is a full-blown powermonger, desperate to claim her weakening husband’s crown for one of her spoilt sons.

From yelling at her naked offspring to attacking Rhaenyra with a knife to imprisoning Rhaenys so she could usurp the throne, Alicent did some truly shocking things in the second half of the season. But thanks to Cooke’s sympathetic performance, Alicent always seemed human and vulnerable, no matter how unhinged she got.

Greg Yaitanes has already won the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series once before for helming an episode of House. At next year’s ceremony, he could win the award a second time for another show with the word “House” in the title. After directing Viserys’ awkward date with his 12-year-old niece in the second episode and the thrilling battle scenes in the third, Yaitanes returned to the director’s chair for the season finale, “The Black Queen.” The directing has been terrific all throughout the first season of House of the Dragon, but the finale was particularly impressive. Yaitanes took on the daunting task of setting up the show’s future and kicking off the Dance of the Dragons. He pulled it off spectacularly by focusing on Rhaenyra amidst all the action as she resists going to war right up until her devastating loss at the end of the episode pushes her over the edge.

Yaitanes nailed both the quieter character moments and the bombastic set-pieces in the finale episode. The shocking climactic sequence is a masterclass of action filmmaking, effectively conveying the scale of Lucerys’ plucky little dragon Arrax compared to Aemond’s behemoth dragon Vhagar. This scene has its own internal story structure with rising action, as Vhagar relentlessly hunts Arrax through the stormy clouds, a seemingly happy conclusion, as Arrax escapes to calm, clear skies, and an unexpected final gut-punch as Vhagar chomps down on Arrax and Aemond is stunned into silence as he hears his cousin’s bones crunch in his dragon’s jaws. This episode is an Emmy-worthy masterpiece.

Game of Thrones is tied with Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Mad Men, and The West Wing for the most Emmy wins for Outstanding Drama Series, and the spin-off could easily follow in its footsteps. The success of House of the Dragon can’t be attributed to any one person in the cast or crew. Everybody involved in the show – from the writers to the directors to the actors to the editors to the costume designers – came together to bring this new vision of Westeros to life.

The series had a couple of drawbacks, like the inter-episode time jumps that drastically affected the story’s pacing, but on the whole, it’s one of the strongest new TV dramas of the year. And it’ll surely still hold up as one of the best dramas on the air when the Emmy voters place their votes next year.

MORE: Will House Of The Dragon End Up Being Even Darker Than Game Of Thrones?

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