Condal ‘off to the races’ with ‘House of the Dragon’ S2

Following a blockbuster 2022 first season with an average 29 million viewers per episode, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” successor “House of the Dragon” begins its second season tonight as a winner.

Credit goes, of course, to co-creators: author George R.R. Martin and showrunner, writer and executive producer Ryan J. Condal who has taken control of the series.

“Dragon” is based on Martin’s “Fire & Blood” with the series set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.” It tells the story of House Targaryen.

“This season picks up a couple days later — and off we go to the next horrible tragedy,” Condal, 45, joked at a packed press conference at Warner Bros. Discovery’s Hudson Yards Manhattan headquarters.

With the series up and running Martin, Condal acknowledged, has moved on. “Well, he wrote the book, so in that way he’s always with us. But he’s very busy working in this massive universe he’s created. They” – HBO – “want to make many more shows about this world.

“He’s definitely aware of what’s going on. I do keep in contact with him. But now that we’re kind of ‘off to the races’ with the show and we’ve done a good job about rendering ‘Fire & Blood’ into dramatic form, we’re operating on our own now. In a good way.”

Despite the spectacle and dramatic deaths, “The things that I’m proudest of in the show,” Condal revealed, “are often two characters in a room, in conflict with one another. Because you’re making eight episodes, you can’t fill it all with dragons fighting each other.

“You have to have these stage stories. Those are the things that people engage with most — the character levels. So when the spectacle comes, if you’ve done your job right, you care about the characters involved with the spectacle.

“That’s why you take up this really emotional experience out of it.”
Season 1 ended up with some huge losses — in terms of characters. That loss, he said, “was a point of no return in a way. You have these two sides that share a lot of common history, that hate each other! The hatred only gets worse as things go on and the tragedies pile up.

“We just wanted to set all that stuff up so that you know all of the characters and understand where they’re coming from and what makes them weak and strong. What they want and what they love.  Then throw them into the mix and see how they respond.”

“House of the Dragon S2” airs June 16 on HBO and streams on MAX

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